Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Noel Pearson and Lateline and the Lord's Teaching

Last night Noel Pearson was interviewed on Lateline. I just watched the clip on the following link :

If you have 20 minutes to spare, watch and listen to the man. He is being interviewed about the Howard government's policy to intervene in Aboriginal communities where there are children at risk of (or already suffering) sexual and physical abuse.

Noel Pearson is an Aboriginal from Hope Vale, and a Lutheran Christian. His approach in dealing with the political process seems to refect a deep knowledge of the teaching of the Lord. The Lord told his disciples, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. " One interpretation that I make of this command is that we who are called to follow the Lord should understand, with serpent-like shrewdness, the way that powerful people will seek to manipulate and to use us according to their interests. I also take it to mean that we disciples should be utterly transparent and guileless in our own dealings with all people, and especially those who are vulnerable. I see Noel Pearson as understanding well that there are political aspects to the Howard government's present policy on intervention in Aboriginal communities. But I also see him as being transparent and guileless in his defence of vulnerable children.

I have always read Noel Pearson's writings with interest and sympathy. He's no Aboriginal Messiah, of course, but I look with hope to what may happen as a result of his outspoken leadership on issues of vital importance to Aboriginal people and all Australians.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sophie Scholl

Last night the Meg and I watched ‘Sophie Scholl’ – a recently released movie about the White Rose student resistance movement in Munich during WWII. There are many movies that leave me feeling defiled, but this is not one of them. Instead the movie presents well and sympathetically the interplay between faith and political action. What’s more, without having to descend to tiresome moralizing, it got me thinking about the need for our own nation to be scrupulous in upholding laws that are in accord with natural law. Anyhow, this is my first movie recommendation on this blog.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Popper and Polemical Theology

This is another quote from Magee, but this time it’s about his friend Karl Popper, and what Magee learnt from Popper’s way of arguing. I would love to read more polemical theology that was written following Popper’s example (and I would love to write polemical theological with Popper as a guide).

“One of the things that impressed me most, and has influenced me science, was Popper’s way of dealing with opponents. I had always loved argument, and over the years I had become quite good at identifying weak points in an opponent’s defence and bringing concentrated fire to bear on them. This is what virtually all polemicists have sought to do since ancient times, even the most famous of them. But Popper did the opposite. He sought out his opponent’s case at its strongest and attacked that. Indeed, he would improve it, if he possibly could, before attacking it – over several pages of prior discussion he would remove avoidable contradictions or weaknesses, close loopholes, pass over minor deficiencies, let his opponent’s case have the benefit of every possible doubt, and reformulate the most appealing parts of it in the most rigorous, powerful and effective arguments he could find – and then direct his onslaught against it. The outcome, when successful, was devastating. At the end there would be nothing left to say in favour of the opposing case except for tributes and concessions that Popper had himself already made. It was incredibly exciting intellectually.” Bryan Magee, Confessions of a Philosopher pp152-153

Magee, Science, and Metaphysics

Here is another quote from Magee. I plan for there to be many more yet. This is a nicely put observation on the relationship between science and metaphysics. Enjoy:

“To may working scientists, science seems very obviously to suggest an ultimate explanation, namely, a materialist one; but a materialist view of total reality is a metaphysics, not a scientific theory. There is no possibility whatsoever of scientifically proving, or disproving, it. The fact that it is held by many scientists no more makes it a scientific theory than it can be said to be an economic theory because it is held (no doubt) by many economists. Science is compatible with metaphysical outlooks of widely differing and mutually incompatible kinds. Some of the most path-breaking of twentieth-century scientists, including Einstein himself, have believed in God. The founder of quantum mechanics, Schroedinger, was attracted by Buddhism. For the individual there is not, and never has been, a conflict between fully accepting the claims of science and holding non-materialist beliefs. The realization that this is so seems to be spreading at last, though the number of people who assume the contrary is still large.” Bryan Magee, The Confessions of a Philosopher p.218

My Little Pony and Hot Wheels

In our household there are many sorts of devotion. I think that it's fair to say that my daughter Francesca has developed a devotion for My Little Pony, and my son Oscar has developed a devotion for Howheels. I provide photographic evidence for your consideration.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Magee and Politics

If you’ve been reading this rather inactive blog site, you’ll know that I’m rather keen on Bryan Magee’s ‘Confessions of a Philosopher’. Recently I found some comfort in rereading his reflections on his years as a Labour Party MP in the UK:

“At one and the same time they were richly educative years and disillusioning. Learning about everyday politics, and how to function effectively as part of it, was wholly to the good, but I was dismayed to discover how small a role ideas and ideals played in it all – and, to the extent that they did play a role, what shabby ideas and ideals they were, for the most part. Most political activity was actually a pursuit of self-interest in the light of situational logic. It was opportunistic in character; and in the Labour Party’s case originated with the material interests of the trade unions in particular, and after them the less well-off fifth or sixth of society. Most of the ideas articulated were rationalizations of this activity, and they went out not in advance as a beacon and guide, but after the event as justification. Most of these rationales were based on rudimentary notions of common humanity, justice and fairness, and when expressed by ordinary party members came out as a form of wet liberalism. That, at least, was the case with the majority. Alongside them was a substantial minority who were tougher in practice and more astringent in theory, and they were the dissident left. Their guiding light was Marxism, expressly so with many intellectuals, though more often making itself felt as an unarticulated influence on people who were not primarily intellectuals – and on their many organized groups who acted as apologists for the Communist regimes, and engaged in lying about them while savagely attacking anyone who told the truth. I found all this appalling.”

As I said, I found some comfort in rereading these words. I’m encouraged not to expect too much from our political leaders; and to I’m encouraged to pray for them.