Friday, July 29, 2016

Why Australia Needs Pauline Hanson!

Love her or hate her, Pauline Hanson is in the political spotlight again after being voted back into the Senate at the last Australian Federal election!  Personally, I don't agree with most of Pauline's views and I am often offended by her public comments.  You only need to read my blog posts on asylum seekers, poverty & justice, Christian values, and interfaith dialogue to get a sense of my political views.

But far from writing her off as an "irrelevance" as did former Prime Minister John Howard or dismissing her as "not a welcome presence in the Australian political scene" like current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Pauline Hanson represents an important voice that needs to be heard.

No, I haven't gone mad!  Nor do I support "politics of fear and hate" (as categorised by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten).  So please stay with me as I explain why I think Australia needs Pauline Hanson...

There has been a seismic shift in social dialogue about critical issues facing Australian society with a strong left of centre voice primarily represented by mainstream media. Tolerance, inclusion and compassion are today's socially acceptable values with any views interpreted as violating these values condemned and shut out of the conversation. Recently, a number of celebrities have been publicly criticised and censored for expressing such points of view.  On the surface this appears to be a positive shift in societal attitude, but below the surface another type of intolerance is emerging that violates the same space that is being defended.  When opposing views are labelled or stifled, robust conversation descends into one-sided commentary that pushes frustrated views underground.  If these views are not allowed to be expressed in respectful public dialogue, no matter how distasteful they may be, they will manifest themselves in behaviours that may have far greater social consequences than offending someone. 

People need to be heard.  Leadership consultant Patrick Lencioni says, "people don't so much have an innate need to have their own way as to have their way considered." Someone like Pauline Hanson has been granted a platform by 587,250 frustrated Australians to have their voices considered.  We may disagree with some of these voices but we need to listen to them.  To dismiss them as 'stupid' or 'bigoted' without considering the concerns underlying their view of reality only serves to widen already deep divisions among Australians.  During the 2013 election, former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson is quoted as saying, "The greater the potpourri of ideas we've got in a pluralist society the better the chance we have of getting good policy out of it."  We will never resolve the serious issues facing our country while we continue to suppress complex views and demonise the people who attempt to bring them to the table for open discussion.

I may not like or agree with Pauline Hanson but Australia needs people like her who have the courage to represent unpopular views that are rumbling under the surface.  My fear is that unless the tone and manner of public debate changes soon, these rumblings will erupt into serious social unrest.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Froome Factor

Every year I spend 21 sleep deprived nights watching the greatest bicycle race on the world pro cycling tour and every year I am left inspired by the extraordinary efforts of elite athletes who push themselves to the limit to achieve their goals. The winner of this year's Tour de France is one such athlete.  

British cyclist Chris Froome from Team Sky demonstrated what it takes to be a champion and three time winner of the TDF.  Despite my own team and country loyalties, it is hard not to be impressed and inspired by the way Froome approached and executed his race.  His teamwork, toughness, tenacity and tactics is what earned him the victor's podium in Paris after three weeks of spectacular racing and the admiration of cycling fans all over the world...


Froome is the leader of a strong team that is well resourced, committed to a common goal, and who ride as a single unit to support their leader.


Froome got back up after every crash and pushed on through the pain demonstrating unshakeable physical and mental strength.


Froome abandoned his broken bike after interference from the crowd, running up the hill with sheer determination to hold onto his overall lead.


Froome surprised everyone by his risk taking tactics to attack the peloton on the descent after a tough climb, resulting in him winning the yellow jersey.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Who Am I?

While talking to the Lord this morning He reminded me of some important truths about my personal holiness. Far too often I fixate on 'who I am NOT' and lose sight of 'who I AM' in Christ. When I focus on what I am lacking (that is, my sinfulness), I am unable to see what I have (that is, God's righteousness). The former has "[my] mind set on what the flesh desires" (Romans 8:5) whereas the latter "fixes [my] eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2). This is not a denial of reality but a view of reality through different lenses. Jesus restored the image of God within fallen humanity through a vision of His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The present reality is being transformed by the presence and power of Holy Spirit through whom "inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). Therefore, we should "fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Joseph Prince nailed it when he wrote, "It is time to awake to righteousness and sin not. Believe that you are righteous and you will start living like a righteous man or woman of God" (Joseph Prince, 'Destined To Reign').

God's righteousness in me has nothing to do with who I am or what I have done but everything to do with who Christ is and what He has done. Right belief always leads to right behaviour! In this case, right belief is much more than an intellectual understanding of a new reality but an integrated application of this inherited new reality in Christ.

“Righteousness represents the state of God’s character – his goodness, his purity, his character.    We inherit God’s righteousness when we have faith and believe in him.    Faith and belief in the spirit of God’s grace is what constitutes our righteousness."  (Mae Elise Cannon, 'Social Justice Handbook')