Australia, Religion, Politics – A Discordant Blend

Another – dare I call it – colour piece from the inimitable Jaycee. Many thanks!

My first connection with the amalgam of religion and politics started at an early age. 1956. Grade One at St. Theresa’s Catholic School. It was late summer, I know, because I remember seeing the sharp black shadow of the corner of the tuckshop building angled across the verandah just outside the classroom door. Also, I suffered from an incurable blight of my birthday being on the very day school returned after the summer holidays. I have to surmise from my now advanced age and experience that the door was open to let in a cross-breeze as the heat and odour from fifty odd (that’s ‘odd’ as in generic, not psychotic – we weren’t protestants, you know!) kiddies would be too much for even the most hardened teacher to bear.

She was a small young nun, was our teacher. Sister Mary Francis. I remember that too, because I loved her as I grew older. Well, her face at least, for it was still the days of the habit. But hang on a sec – back on topic!

Late summer, just before noon (the shadow, remember?), when the Principal, ‘Mother’ Mary Margaret, came into the room and said “Good morning, children”. .”Good Morning–‘Mother’–Marrgrit” (automatic chorus). And we were soon exhorted to say a Hail Mary to the Virgin Mary so that communism wouldn’t take over the world. We all had to scramble to kneel in the aisle between desks.

It seems to have worked.

But it never cured my hives, you know. God = mysterious ways. Though I have to wonder: if greed and envy, those two driving forces of rampant capitalism and prime suspects in the list of the seven deadly sins, get no mention in “prayers to stop taking over the world” but communism, a doctrine in its purest intent (just like religion) being a plan for equality of communities on earth gets canned as being “ungodly” – what gives?

This idea that there is a whole population waiting with bated breath for some god-like revelation that will fix the economy, solve climate change, steer the nation to a more moral and ethical path (that’s the end of religion then!) and make the Liberal Party look like a reincarnation of the Church of The Sacred Heart Chapel Choir all singing in tune … well … it just ain’t gonna happen, so put away the banners, the prayer-books and the excuses. There never has been and there never will be divine intervention in Australian things – ask the indigenous people! – except in your own mind and in your private dreams. Best wishes and good luck to you on that!

But now we have these fanaticised young men sacrificing their sweet youth and future potential to the dubious reward of a heavenly afterlife. .Yes, the Mormon Church has a lot to answer for. as, of course do the other Abrahamic religions. I am forced to recall the dangers these impetuous youths place themselves in with the tale from one of my mates in days gone by, when he was having a face to face brawl with his wife in their housing unit – a screaming, plate-thrower of a brawl. He, typical male, was strategically stationed by the most convenient escape route, she, cunning woman, by the ammunition, when the doorbell rang. Being just there he flung the door open just as the last dulcet tones of Avon Calling! faded away, to see two wide-eyed, smartly dressed young men (one with finger still attached to bell-button) standing there. You know them: sharp-pressed white shirt, slim tie, black suit trousers, patent leather shoes so polished you could see your soul or women’s underwear (or perhaps both) in the reflection. One studied look up, then down and to the satchel was enough for my mate. “Ge-het fucked!!” was his most insalubrious greeting for these men of god. The door slammed and the young men turned away, but not before being heard to mutter in that distinctive American drawl, “Well, mahey the lawwd have merrsee on HIS soul!” Dangerous work, the work of god.

However, it is an American thing, surely, this religiousising of politics in the West – the vacant ecclesiastical stare, the glib reference to god. It’s certainly un-Australian. All those childhood years of catholic indoctrination taught me only two things: (a) never take religion seriously, and (b) always leave the Melbourne Cup sweep kitty in the hands of a nun. Not to say religion hasn’t penetrated (is that the right word?) into the political life here, it’s just that in Australia –I like to believe –it has followed the well-intentioned path of European Christianity via plain, run of the mill bribery and corruption. sort of like Fagan and his child army. god bless ’em – just simple down-to-earth deceit. Why, even when I was an altar boy under old Father Collins (be nice), I could see there was a degree of honest intent in the religious soul. Once, I snuck a look around the door from the altar boys’ into the priest’s vestry and there he was, with a small glass of the altar wine in hand and he gazing deeply into it, presumably looking for its soul (I’ve seen the same look since, with other men, before tackling a “hair of the dog” on a Sunday morn). Then he softly consecrated it with, “Saint Benedict, bless my soul ! ” and quaffed it in one gulp, kissed the cross on the surplice, and ascended to the fray. It was Pentecost – he must have needed it!

Tho’ surely, I can’t help but feel that if these young people were given a glimpse, a vision splendid, through the window of sage old age. they might be inclined to pass off all those incandescent actions and violence as nothing more than what seemed – a good idea at the time – and go a different course. Such is the impetuousness of youth. Foolishness and impropriety are at their beck and call, and it can only be luck and chance that get some through the passage of youthful intensity, for there must be some truth in the Boomers’ chant that fitted the age like a dick in a sock and served a whole generation so well: Make love, not war.

On that note I remember sitting in the Darwin Hotel one balmy ’70’s afternoon with my old-time mining and travelling mate, Bernie Babler, and talking of one childhood associate: Louie Lewourick, a keen, gangling always opened-mouthed, spikey-haired lad with coke-bottle glasses.

“I remember us two kids, the day after Guy Fawkes night,” Bernie recounted. “At the park we found a skyrocket that hadn’t been used so we fired it off, keeping an eye on where it landed so we could get it back,” … a sip of beer … “It landed behind the Caltex garage there on South Road and we ran like hell to get it, but we couldn’t find it. There was this old canvas-hooded car there – a Whippet or Model ‘T’ or something with the big petrol tank behind the open back seat. It had no petrol cap and I said to Louie, Maybe it went in the tank?” … another sip of beer … “I gave him a box of matches I had [all boys had matches – good scouts] and he lit one and held it to the opening to look in.” The result I will leave to your imagination – except that luckily the tank had been without a cap and empty for so long that there was no volatile explosion. Only a whooshing rush of heat and flame out of the opening that left Louie, when he looked up at Bernie in shock and surprise with his glasses falling down off his face … “He – he looked like Al Jolson in one of those minstrel shows.” Bernie laughed at the memory, until I asked him what in heaven’s name made him think of doing such a stupid thing. He sipped his beer and started to formulate a ‘rollie’. “Dunno … seemed like a good idea at the time.”

781 thoughts on “Australia, Religion, Politics – A Discordant Blend

  1. NormanK,
    You forgot to mention the Abbott laugh, ‘Ack! Ack! Ack!. It makes my skin crawl when I hear it because it is so obviously forced.

    Though, I must say, I find so much in common between Abbott and Rudd. The dead eyes, the ability to turn it on when a camera is around, the secret menace that they keep behind closed doors, though not completely hidden, because we have heard some stories that got out. Ugh! Neither of them deserve to be Prime Minister.

    Btw, can you retouch a photo to make the eyes look like they are smiling and full of warmth?

  2. Ooops! Better go to bed. Just noticed the time. 🙂

    Goodnight all! Sad day tomorrow, when the sky will be crying for Hazel Hawke in Sydney. 😦

  3. Btw, can you retouch a photo to make the eyes look like they are smiling and full of warmth?

    Sure. Mess with the pupils, put light into the iris, recolour the iris to suit background or costume. Smile wrinkles around the eyes.

    These days they could make a duck look handsome.

    Rudd squints his eyes when he smiles so that they can’t be read but he does a much better ‘hail fellow well met’ than Abbott..

  4. What’s this all about?

    Geoff Pearson ‏@GCobber99 1h

    Tony Jone came unstuck when he polled Q&A audience asking them if PM should stand down 10% yes 90% No Brandis and richo were stuned

    Did that happen?

    Yep. “Almost no-one” (Tony Jones’ words) put up their hands for the “make way for Rudd” option.

    The Libs are scared of him beating Abbott and the Labor supporters hate him. Adds up to a pretty low score for the Ruddster.

    Now the media buffoons talking fanciful scenarios like recalling parliament and all that rubbish.



    They lost!

  5. Bushfire Bill’s analysis and assessment of the situation was spot on again.

    Which particular one of my analyses was that? I make so many….

    (and they’re all for free!)

  6. …but then again,

    if we looked at things from this perspective:

    The Prime Minister of Australia awakens early each morning has, perhaps, a cup of tea with her partner. Maybe they even have one of those comforting, banal chats that most have. Reinforcing the normality of their relationship, if only for a few much needed minutes. An oasis of calm before the phone starts ringing and the day proper begins.

    I imagine there is, on any given day, all of the distractions that administering a one trillion dollar plus economy, the wellbeing, including the physical, mental and financial health of 23 million citizens. Not to mention ensuring their freedom to pray to whomsoever they worship, in a place and time of their choosing. All of this, plus more, on top of driving education reform, the pricing of carbon, a national plan for the disabled and, along with a dedicated team of very able Ministers, look up and see that the future, in an increasingly complex world, can be the very challenge that will define us as both people and nation.

    Then, after morning smoko…

    I take the view that the PM would look a Rudd challenge, should one eventuate, as an annoyance and, along with the cpg, a distraction. The main focus will be, has been and will always be the implementation of strong, fair, well designed policy. That’s as it should be. Until Thursday.

    I just don’t believe that the PM has the time for despondency, anger or rage. Although I think she has a cold, burning disdain for both the traitor and parasite. Hang those hats on whoever you believe them to fit. But there is one other reason for her not feel anger.

    Julia Gillard has all of us, the ” left ” to feel it for her. We can vent her spleen for her. All can rail, shake fists at the sky, thump chests and scream in pent up anger. We can, and have, challenged the one sided debate, the cruel unjustified barb and though, at times, we feel alone, unheard and irrelevant we’re not. Imagine, for just one moment, how much crueller the barbs and unjustified pilloring would become if we on the left didn’t blunt and, on occasion, deflect them.

    We all draw strength and inspiration from the Prime Ministers courage and spirit. Equally, in my belief anyway, she draws from us as well.

    We fight.

  7. OK you guys remember I did this for you :-). Just suffered almost 40min of that Q&A, lovely Ms Summers being the exception (Matt was OK but a bit timid). Part of Q&A where that vote segment is in start at 36:05 of Lateline you can find on ABCs iview.

    Now I can sleep, it was not even 10% there were maybe 15 hands up in that whole audience.

  8. ok.
    Anne Summers was brilliant, as was the young woman in the audience who challenged Brandis. Richo was appalling. Sloane got squashed for her childcare worker comments.

    But the ALP MP Mark Thistlethwaite(??) was excellent. He spoke about achievements and policy, he kept going when Sloane tried to interrupt, he kept on those topics even when Jones tried to pull him into gotcha responses. Either he has always been like that, or the ALP has got serious about media training.

    Brandis ended up looking like a bully, talking down to the young woman asking about sexism, and the man asking about the Coalition blocking a bill to prevent nursing homes etc discriminating against LGBTI elderly people.

    Brandis got hatching on IView, he was most offended and very pushy when these two challenged his answers to their questions. He was not confident in his usual obnoxious way.

    it is worth watching, ignore the slogans, study the panelist/audience responses. Something has changed. Even the questions were weird. How did the attack on Judith Sloane’s blog comment slurring childcare workers ever make it onto the list?

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I sense a change is happening, something is different.

  9. slav g
    Matt was effective though. he stuck to his answers which he turned into policy/achievements a number times. He could have been more cutting but maybe that is not him or he was a bit stage QA stage struck. I think it is his first time on QA as well.

    Actually thinking about how awful Brandis was, Matt Thistlethwaite (??)’s manner was the opposite and he came over as a decent and thoughtful guy, concerned about people.

  10. Elliott, the young bloke who said he was offended by the ‘blue tie’ speech and jg’s ‘gender card’ playing, was instantly rendered irrelevant for me by wearing a t-shirt with an image on it of a a bicycling body of a woman with bare legs but no head as the image ended just over her breasts, at the neckline.

    credibility fail.

  11. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I o a change happening, something is different.

    Could it be that the media gummy sharks have finally realised there are no easy meals to be had with Gillard, and the frantic thrashing about of the Libs has finally attracted their dim-witted attention?

    JJJ opened the Alistair Campbell comments that Abbott needs more scrutiny if he want’s to be PM… ya think? I couldn’t find the story (in text) on their website yet, but there is a video of the interview. The Editor’s Picks describes it as “Division is Labor’s problem”, yet the video page itself says “Julia Gillard is impressive”! “Spin Doctor’s Nose Picks” more like.

  12. I don’t know how things will play out over the next couple of days.
    What’s given me some thought though is first of all Gary Grey on Friday raising leadershit. Then I think it was Conroy and then Combet.
    These are PMJG’s staunch allies and I suspect a strategy of some sorts. As I said I don’t know what but PMJG has a game plan

  13. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    Well well. Mr Junior Pinstripe is backpedalling on Ruddstoration.
    Good luck Boof. It will be a difficult gig with that cattle and the mental condition they are in!
    What a surprise! The only thing missing is to disclose what Coles – and others – pay for certain items and to compare that with what they sell them for.
    Oh dear!

  14. Section 2 . . .

    Who gives a sh*t?
    One could be forgiven for wondering whether this witness has links to the “Catholic mafia”.
    And it’s not just this policy either!!
    Lenore Taylor lays it all out on what would need to happen for Ruddstoration to occur.

  15. Section 3 . . .

    Alan Moir has had enough of Rudd’s continuous crap.
    One from Cathy Wilcox on Sydney cyclists’ woes.
    David Pope conflates Australian cricket with politics.
    Pat Campbell thinks it’s all just theatre.
    Some great work here from David Rowe with Nelson Manf=della as the super moon.

  16. Watched the Alistair Campbell interview – let’s hope that he had a long discussion with McTiernan – I think they know how this needs to be played – but fast!! Also, so interesting that he sees the same qualities in PMJG as most of us do. That’s worth fighting for – no way she is going to pass the baton to anyone this week without a fight!

  17. Good Morning Brave and True Souls for Gillard (or should that be, ‘Souls for Common Sense? 🙂 ),
    Anyway, leonetwo is going to come down on me like a ton of bricks 😉 but I heard this morning that a story in The West Australian has Kevin Rudd ‘demanding’ that Cabinet members go to Julia Gillard and ask her to step aside for him!!!

    The man has been consumed by revenge, and is so far up himself he doesn’t know sh*t from shinola anymore!

  18. Talc answering a question ‘Has Rudd stalled?”.

    Talc: WWTE Why ask me? Ask Joel Fitzgibbon or someone like that.


  19. Good morning, fellow Pubsters!

    I marked the last examination script at 6:05am today. Free, free at last 🙂

  20. C@t,

    The man has always been a few cents short of a dollar but his all-consuming desire for revenge has really sent him on the course for the need of a place in a mental home for the deranged. Quite frankly, I feel sorry for his family having to watch their loved one destroy himself.

  21. Saturated Murdoch as well as saturated fat at Maccas. Daily Telegraph on the counter with attack on Julia’s knitting; same was being discussed on ABC News Radio, and now same on Sky News! Trying to spin it as a failed gender war against Abbott – keep digging, guys…

    Conga line of Libs at doorstop earlier (Pyne: very bad government, Morriscum: boats!)

    Move along – nothing new to see here.

  22. I sincerely hope the LOTO doesn’t make a speech at Hazel Hawkes would be no more than a political point for him and an insult for the family!

  23. Of course you know, Fiona..they will be queuing up outside your office door seeking to persuade you to boost their marks by a point or two because..” Last time I got a distinction!…”

  24. Jaeger,

    So, they’ve been reduced to attacking the PM because she likes to knit. At one stage they attacked her because she didn’t carry a handbag.

  25. foreverjanice – Impressive as it was done in Parliament Sq in normal traffic on a Sunday afternoon!

  26. I don’t feel sorry for Rudd’s family. Who do we think has been encouraging his deluded behaviour? Abby the Labrador?

    I can just see breakfast Chez Rudd this morning, the whole damn tribe newly flown in from all over, sitting around encouraging Kevin to go for it, feeding his mania, urging him on.

    Don’t feel sorry for that bunch of over-privileged, smiling assassins. Just be thankful that they are never going to be our First Family ever again.

  27. Fiona – I bet you’re glad to see the end of that lot … but there’s always more looming on the horizon.


  28. I didn’t need to torture myself with watching Q&A last night, I got the gist from the tweets of those brave enough to sit through it. So I’ve seen what George Brandis said about Julia Gillard choosing not to have children. I wonder how Julie Bishop felt when she heard his comments? Perhaps she will soon realise that she is nothing more than the token female, used and abused, always the ‘good loyal girl’ doomed to be deputy leader forever, never good enough to be leader because a leader has to be a bloke with kids.

  29. A list of 40 bills the real R-W in the UK Parliament would like to introduce (lots of these are just like some ‘measures’ members of our Opposition have suggested):

    They’ll want to bring back hanging next: What right-wing lunacy is there inside the Tory rebels’ ‘Alternative Queen’s Speech’?

    Banning burkas, introducing ‘Thatcher Day’, privatising the BBC and, yes, even reintroducing the death penalty, the Tory right-wing rebels’ ‘Alternative Queen’s Speech’ was as laughable as it was chilling

  30. This is Rudd’s handmaiden, Bruce Hawker, outlining the latest strategy to Marius Benson to shoehorn Rudd into the top job despite the majority of Caucus not wanting him. He’s just going to bypass them now, and as I said before, lean on the Cabinet Ministers to do his dirty work for him:

    [audio src="" /]

    If you can be bothered. 🙂

  31. So, they’ve been reduced to attacking the PM because she likes to knit.

    I didn’t read the article, but I think the “remarkable” photo was from Australian Women’s Weekly. Appealing to women so “clearly” an attack on Abbott and men. It’s pathetic.

  32. Jaeger,
    Caroline Overington is Deputy Editor now of The Australian Womens Weekly and obviously hand-balled the photo on to her former colleagues at Murdoch Propaganda Press. 🙂

  33. The Womens Weekly is going the way of all the other magazines with sales falling. I was internet polled the other day about it – had I bought the curent issue with Bec Hewitt on the cover? (No). Did I intend buying it within the next week? (No). Sorry, we have already had enough reponses like yours.

    I’m sure the Weekly will do an Abbott story before the election, with happy snaps of Tony, Margie and Two of the Girls grinning for the cameras with those toothy fake smiles. And not one right-wing shill will call that ‘opportunism’ or ‘a stunt’ or a ‘last-grin attempt to win votes’.

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