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Anglican Diocese of The Murray

News last night that my friend of more than thirty years, the Right Reverend Ross Davies, has resigned as Bishop of The Murray.

Over the last year, a Special Tribunal of the Anglican Church has been meeting to consider charges brought against Bishop Davies by the Archbishop of Adelaide and the Bishop of Willochra.

These charges included disgraceful conduct, wilful violation of church ordinances and wilful and habitual disregard of his consecration vows.

The Tribunal was to hand down its findings today.

It is not clear whether the Tribunal will still make its findings public. That the Bishop has accepted a payout of $150,000, whereas up till now he had been insisting he would not leave unless given close to $1 million, suggests that a deal may have been done – ‘Leave now, and leave with some diginity, or …’

There seems little doubt that the charges would have been upheld. This would have given The Murray’s Diocesan Council grounds to reaffirm its earlier vote of no confidence, and a firm basis for his dismissal.

I am still concerned for Ross’ well-being. He must be dreadfully confused and unhappy. He seems unable to see or believe that he could have changed the outcome by changing the way he behaved.

Even at the beginning of this year, if he had genuinely apologised for (and not the previous ‘I’m sorry if anyone is upset’ kind of apology) the bullying and manipulation, lies, vindictiveness and financial mismanagement, and promised to try to undo the harm he had done, and genuinely tried to do so, he could have stayed in office with the good will of both people and clergy.

There has always been a great deal of respect for the office of Bishop, and a great deal of caution and compassion in the way some very difficult issues have been handled. Credit to Archbishop Jeffrey and Bishop Garry for their attempts to juggle care for Bishop Davies, justice for the Diocese of The Murray, and proper and open processes.

I have been grateful too, as have others, for the enormous amount of work the Voice of the Laity has done, for the fair-mindedness it has shown all the way through, and for its steadfastness in the face of constant and often unpleasant opposition.

This outcome is not something to celebrate, yet many people, and faithful lay people in particular, have worked hard to find a way for Bishop Davies and the Diocese to move forward. That will now be possible.

Update:

No deal was made. The Bishop has demanded that the Tribunal drop the charges against him. His resignation seems to have been an attempt to forestall the tribunal’s making, or making public, any findings against him.

His argument seems to be that since he has resigned, and purports to have relinquished his holy orders (something he cannot do, as he knows), the Tribunal now has no jurisdiction over him, and cannot properly investigate any claims against him, nor make any findings on the basis of those claims.

He is wrong.

The claims relate to Ross Davies’ behaviour when he was Bishop of The Murray. The Tribunal has not only the right, but the responsibility, to investigate those charges, and if the evidence warrants doing so, to make appropriate findings and recommendations.

Update 2

The Tribunal has found eight of the nine charges against Bishop Davies proven, and recommended he be removed from office.

Disgraceful conduct in this context means behaviour which, if known, would bring the Church into disrepute.

The tribunal found he bullied and threatened parishioners and regularly attended services for other denominations.

‘Regularly attended services for other denominations’ sounds trivial.

But it was more that he regularly attended other churches in Adelaide when churches in his own rural diocese had no priest, and it was part of his duty as Bishop to provide them with ministry.

A sad day, but a new beginning for the Diocese of the Murray.

A last update to this story. This is a link to the findings of the Special Tribunal. This document is in the public domain.

I am glad that there has been official recognition of the emotional abuse suffered by lay people and clergy over the last ten years. That recognition and validation is an important step in their healing, and a public demonstration of the church’s commitment to justice even in the most difficult circumstances.

However, I am sorry that every member of the Tribunal was from the liberal wing of the church.

The document linked above makes it clear that theological matters did not enter their considerations at all.

But perception matters, and the perception of fairness matters. Whatever the reasons, the fact is that the only two conservative anglo-catholic bishops in Australia have been forced out of office this year.

Given the view in some quarters that there is widespread persecution of traditionalist anglo-catholics in the Anglican Church of Australia, it was foolish not to take every possible step to ensure that the proceedings which led to those outcomes were above criticism.

Having said that, it is entirely possible that the Archbishop and the Primate did seek a credible, experienced conservative to sit on the Tribunal, and were unable to find one willing to do so.

I am sure Ross will now seek to be received into the Roman Catholic Church.

I hope they will find a ministry for him. He is a gifted teacher and administrator. It would a great pity if those abilties were lost.

What Religious Wars?

A superb short article by Anthony Esolen at Touchstone Magazine’s Mere Comments blog:

It is a commonplace among our ruling class that religion is irrational and inherently divisive, fostering hatred of one group for another.  On the rationality of religious faith, Christian philosophers and theologians have long spoken, and I am not going to repeat their arguments here.  It is the supposed tendency to divide and to foster hatred that puzzles me.

Let us leave Islam out of consideration, and the largely defensive wars waged by Europeans against Islamic aggression.  Where are the religious wars in human history?  Name them.  Not Greece against Persia, not Athens against Sparta, not Rome against Carthage, not the Germanic invaders against Rome.  Where are all the religious wars?  In the Middle Ages, the Church, in lay movements such as the Truce of God and the Peace of God, served to restrain the violence of the ruling class.  Yes, medieval city warred against city, but the warfare was not religious, nor was it inspired by religion when in the late Renaissance, Catholic France under Richelieu cast her lot with the Protestant Scandinavians against their common foe, the Hapsburg empire.  That Thirty Years’ War is the best candidate for a truly religious European war, and it is no doubt the one remembered most keenly by the philosophes of the eighteenth century.  But England continued to war against France, not over religion but over control of various colonies.  Name, one after another, every war waged by England, France, Spain, Germany, or Italy from the Thirty Years’ War until the present, and you will find much bloodshed, but not because of religious hatred.

I look at the last hundred years, and see hatred wherever a European people has turned away from its Christian heritage, to exalt some idol in the place of God.  Look at Albania, that miserable nation.  Look at the gulags in the Soviet Union, or the forcible elimination of Confucian piety under Mao’s cultural revolution.  How many millions of people died of starvation in the Ukraine under Stalin, while the ruling class in America, represented by the liar Walter Duranty, looked demurely away?  How many people of both parties in America, people of the ruling class again, whose religious faith was rather in “progress” than in Jesus Christ, looked benignly upon the rise of the nationalist Hitler, and praised his clear grasp upon the problems of population and eugenics?  How many people of that same ruling class still give Mao a free pass, or forgive the dictator Castro for his excesses now and then?  Spanish Catholics are loathed for having favored the nationalist Franco rather than the communists in the Spanish civil war — and what were they supposed to do, when the communists were murdering priests and nuns, as they had done shortly before, in Mexico?

There’s more …

Australia’s Leading Expert In Irrelevance

Former Australian Prime  Minister and big job at the UN hopeful Kevin Rudd gave a few tips today to the UN General Assembly on how to increase its level of irrelevance.

Speaking to a session to which almost one third of delegates turned up, Mr Rudd warned that:

“If we fail to make the UN work, to make its institutions relevant to the great challenges we all now face, the uncomfortable fact is that the UN will become a hollow shell.”

Oh Kevin, say it ain’t so….

Fortunately, having a deep awareness of what the great challenges are, Kevin was able to point the UN in the right direction:

“The unconstrained carbon emissions of one state impact on the long-term survival of all states.”

“Climate change is no respecter of national or geographic boundaries.”

“The most immediate and pressing threat to the physical security of Australia’s wider region lies in the scourge of natural disasters.”

Just put Kevin in charge, and you’ll see what heights of irrelevance are really possible.

Sorry, Julie, I don’t Agree

I like Julie Bishop. She has been a loyal and hard working deputy leader of the Liberal Party under three different leaders. It is not often I disagree with her.

But she said today that she thought it was important that Australia support India’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games.

No. It’s not.

Or at least, it is less important than the safety and health of athletes and other visitors.

India has had seven years to prepare for the games. The games begin on October 3rd – a week from today. But athletes are arriving to filthy conditions, collapsing beds, non functioning taps, toilets and other basic amenities.

National teams could stay in hotels in the city, at substantial additional expense. But it would not be safe for them to do so. The Indian government has said it cannot guarantee the safety of visitors outside the games village and games venues.

I’m surprised they think they can guarantee a safe location anywhere.

There have been at least fourteen major terrorist attacks in New Delhi since the year 2000. Hundreds of people have been killed.

There have been clear threats from islamic terrorist groups to kidnap athletes and other games visitors. These threats are not new. They have been made by al-Qaeda for the last several years.

Given the high level of risk to games visitors, it is simply inexcusable that India does not have adequate facilities in place a week before the games, and as athletes are arriving.

The Rising Tide of Stupid

Over forty morons were arrested in Newcastle in New South Wales today.

It is not that stupidity is illegal in Australia. In fact the government relies on it for lottery income.

These particular morons, repesenting ‘Rising Tide Newcastle’ broke into an area of the Port of Newcastle where coal is stored, and climbed up coal piles, loaders and terminals with banners protesting climate change. They managed to shut down the operation of the world’s largest coal port for most of the day.

No one denies that sea level has risen. It has been doing so for the last 10,000 years. The rate of increase has slowed rather than risen over the last three decades.

John Daly, sadly missed, made this submission to an Australian Federal Parliamentary joint committee on the Kyoto Protocol.

In it, he notes that there are myriad reasons for local sea level rise and fall, and that records showed that there had actually been a slight decline in sea level at Newcastle over the period for which data was then available.

Changes in sea level are not correlated to short term changes in climate, just as changes in atmospheric or ocean temperature are not correlated to preceding changes in atmospheric CO2.

But hey, why let an annoying detail like the facts get in the way of a good protest?

Incidentally, seaframe measurements of sea level over the last eighteen years show virtually no sea level rise in the South Pacific, including for the supposedly ‘endangered by climate change’  Kiribati and Tuvalu.

No rise in sea level in the South Pacific
No rise in sea level in the South Pacific

Some People Disagree With You. Get Over It.

The BBC website featured a picture of that silly old bugger Sir Ian McKellen protesting against the Pope.

Sir Ian was wearing a T-shirt that said ‘Some people are gay. Get over it.’

I am fairly confident, Sir Ian, that Pope Benedict is fully aware that some people are gay. He is faced with almost daily demands to apologise for, and make reparations for, the behaviour of a small group of predatory homosexuals over whose actions he had no control whatever.

And, Sir Ian, when was the last time the Pope turned up at an event featuring you, and publicly demanded you change the way you think?

Never?

So what makes you think anyone would be interested in your turning up uninvited to tell the Pope how to think?

But that’s the problem with these diversity loving liberals. They can’t stand anyone having an opinion that diverges from theirs.

Eda Anderson is a perfect example. She turned up to protest as well. ‘I think it is unacceptable for the UK government to part-fund the visit of a man who does not represent me or my beliefs,’  she said.

Oh. Right then. Before any future visits from heads of states are agreed to, we’ll just send the Prime Minister around to your place to check that the opinions of the proposed visitor are perfectly in accord with yours, shall we Eda?

More of this inclusiveness except of anyone they disagree with was seen this week in Sweden, where thousands of morons turned out to protest the fact that some poeple voted for a party they don’t like.

‘I’m not sure what should be done,’ said twenty one year old Thomas Zebuehr, ‘But something has to be done.’

The funny thing is, these loons complain that those who have the unspeakable bad taste to disagree with them are Nazis, racists, sexists, right wing extremists, or whatever other terms they think will cause the most damage. But they, the compassionate leftists, are always the ones who seem to want to shut people out or shut them up, or just get rid of them.

And I won’t even get started on the greenies’ calls for the suspension of democracy so that anyone not suffering from global warming derangement syndrome can be forcibly silenced and sent for re-education.

Educating the Educators

GK Chesterton said ‘Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.’

That is not my favorite Chesterton quote. He also said ‘A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.’

Both are apposite when thinking about contemporary government-run education.

Last year my wife completed a post graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education.

The theme of every unit in this diploma was that the little blighters educate themselves. All you need to do, as an educational facilitator, is to provide them with a rich learning environment.

In particular, you shouldn’t think of teaching them anything, or of directing their learning in any way. This may harm their self-esteem, curiosity and creativity. Children will absorb the numeracy and literacy skills they need as they need them. Their learning should be self-directed.

Apart from being complete and utter bollocks, what struck me most about this course was how carefully structured it was.

By the time you get to post-graduate level, you have a pretty good idea of how to study, and of the gaps in your knowledge. Of course, as Donald Rumsfeld remarked, there are also unknown unknowns – things you don’t know you don’t know, and this is where a good teacher comes in handy.

But in this course, every student had to read the same articles in the same order, and was expected to come to the same conclusion. Namely, that education works best when it is unstructured.

The lecturer, being a humourless left wing git, saw no irony in this at all.

Post-graduates can be expected to take most of the responsibility for their learning. Kindergarten and primary children cannot. The whole world is unknown unknowns to them. They have no way of knowing what they need to learn, or how to go about learning it.

Sadly, most primary teachers in Australian state schools, never having been educated themselves, cling to the romantic ideal of student directed learning.

The one area where this does not seem to apply is political/environmental issues.

At government schools around the country, students are regularly subjected to emotionally laden, reason-free, questioning forbidden, programmes of indoctrination on matters environmental.

One recent example is is the ghastly consequences of palm oil farming. Single-minded and empty headed guest speakers are inflicted on the students, who are also obliged to watch heart-rending videos of forest clearing followed by pictures of sad looking orang utans and little elephants.

They are then encouraged to act globally by telling other people what to do.

For example, students may wish to write to Australian companies which use palm oil, threatening not use their products unless they cease to do so. Or they may write to the Indonesian ambassador expressing their dismay at Indonesia’s apparent disregard for the welfare of its endangered species.

The arrogance is astonishing. As is the complete lack of concern for the families whose livelihoods such actions will destroy.

Students then file home in a bored but confidently self-righteous fashion, leaving a trail of litter, and perhaps bashing a few penguins to death along the way.

Believe me, it happens.

The end result is listless and resentful students, whose self-esteem really is damaged because they know very well that they are not achieving or learning anything worthwhile.

But teachers, in a frenzy of rose tinted delusion, return to the staff room to congratulate themselves on what a wonderful job they are doing, oblivious to the consistently appalling behaviour, and equally appalling academic results.

Why We Can’t Make Good Cheese

OK, so this is hardly a burning issue. And Australia does make OK supermarket, frozen food cheese.

But exceptional cheese requires unpasteurised milk. Because like good wine, really good cheese is complex. That complexity requires a variety of cultures.

The question is, should Australian producers be allowed to make, and Australian consumers allowed to consume, cheese made from raw milk?

‘Allowed to?’

Yes. We are presently not allowed to. Because a committee has decided the health risks are too great. And members of that committee naturally claim that those who question it are motivated purely by greed.

There are some very minor health risks. In modern manufacturing these risks are almost non-existent for harder cheeses, and only marginally more for soft cheeses like Brie.

But Australian consumers are babies. So even if cheesemakers label their products as being made from raw milk, the government still won’t let you make the decision to buy them.

Muslims Have More Rights

And are safer in Western countries than in any Islamic country.

So says Muslim woman Raheel Raza, formerly of Pakistan:

The Pakistan ambassador gets up and leaves in obvious annoyance that a woman should be allowed to speak to him in this way. It would never happen in Pakistan!

She makes the same point, that she would not have the same freedom of expression in her country of birth.

Nor are Muslims victimised in the West. So, she says, they should stop whining and get on with being responsible citizens.

Incidentally, I am thoroughly fed up excuses for muslim violence which are based on claims of oppression and provocation by the West.

The simple fact is, the Koran and the example of Mohammed both encourage violence against unbelievers.

The usual response to this fact from islamic leaders and appeasers is to deny that it is so.

Then when examples from the life of Mohammed are given, and verses from the Koran and the Hadith, the claim is made that it is not fair to point the finger in this way, because the Koran and the Bible are morally equivalent since the Bible also includes verses which incite violence.

This is either dishonest or ignorant.

The Bible tells the story of God’s revelation of himself to a small desert tribe, who initially undertood him through their own culture and modes of thinking and acting, which were typical of the time.

Gradually, as the Jews understood the nature of God better, and the nature of their relationship to him, they were led from ‘an eye to an eye’ (meaning measured and comparable response to injury – already an improvement on existing law) to ‘Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who insult you and persecute you.’ (Matt 5:44)

In the Bible, the later verses of love and forgiveness overwrite the harsh verses of a thousand years earlier.

The Koran is exactly the other way around. It takes a small group of desert dwellers, and leads them from the savage temperament of their time, into even deeper savagery and cruelty.

The later verses of violent aggression overwrite the early verses of reluctant tolerance.

The Koran undoes the Bible. They are not morally equivalent.

Gillard: What I Said Before, Forget About It

Julia says things are different now. And they are. She doesn’t need you to vote for her anymore, and won’t for the next three years, by which time you will have forgotten. So bye, bye promises.

Also, Julia says the Opposition should stop acting like an opposition, and just be nice. By being nice she means they should agree with everything she says.

Apparently, now is not the time to be disagreeing about stuff. We should all agree about stuff. Like a carbon tax, and the National Broadband Netwreck.

But the job of the Opposition is to oppose. To pick holes, to ask questions. To try to ensure that legislative and executive decisions made by the government are in the best interests of the country.

Which may not always co-incide with the best interests of the ruling party.

But Julia wants to keep a light burning:

“With restraint and civility we can put aside the empty rancour of partisanship and seek to work together,” she said.

“We can strengthen opportunity for all Australians and build an enduring legacy for future generations.

“That is how we will honour Ben Chifley and keep the Light on the Hill burning bright.”

At yesterday’s Liberal conference, Mr Abbott says Ms Gillard’s admission that several election promises will be broken due to the hung parliament is an example of why she cannot be trusted.

“The more we see of Julia Gillard, I’ve got to say, the better Kevin Rudd looks,” he said.

“I never thought I would say that, but Kevin Rudd looks strong and principled by comparison to the current incumbent.

“We have Prime Minister Gillard saying that she has a blank cheque to break promises.

“What an outrage. If the Prime Minister did not believe that she could put her election commitments into practice she should not have accepted a commission from the Governor-General.”

Hear that Julia? If you did not believe you could put your election commitments into practice, you should not have accepted a commission from the Governor-General.

Unwarranted Assumptions

It turns out unwarranted assumptions are the largest single source of renewable energy.

Take for example the Zero Carbon Australia, 2020 report which claimed that all of Australian energy could com from renewable energy sources by 2020. Ted (F.E.) Trainer, a well known Australian energy theorist pointed to some of the plans flaws,

To summarise, my back of the envelope impression is that when the foregoing points are added the ZCA conclusion is out by the following factors:

i. The efficiency gain assumed for electric vehicles should be perhaps halved.
ii. The assumed proportion of travel that can be transferred to electric vehicles is too high, in view of how well people and freight can be got to intended destinations by light vehicles and public transport, and in view of what people will accept.
iii. The embodied energy costs of plant might be much more than 10 times as high as has been assumed.
iv. Far more storage for solar thermal needs to be assumed, perhaps 96 hours, as distinct from 17.
v. The amount of solar thermal capacity might need to be trebled I am right about the peak vs average issue.
vi. Very optimistic assumptions and estimates have been made throughout, including regarding costs.

Trainer was not the only critic of the ZCA plan to point out its unrealistic optimism.

Dave Burraston has offered fact based critiques of the ZCA plans assumptions about wind implementation time, and solar facility construction times Martin Nicholson and Peter Lang, offered a long and detailed critique of the ZCA plan. They note, BZE make a number of assumptions in assessing the electricity demand used to calculate the generating capacity needed by 2020. In summary these are:

1. 2008 is used as the benchmark year for the analysis. BZE defend this by saying “ZCA2020 intends to decouple energy use from GDP growth. Energy use per capitais used as a reference, taking into account medium-range population growth.”.
2. Various industrial energy demands in 2020 are reduced including gas used in the export of LNG, energy used in coal mining, parasitic electricity losses, off-grid electricity and coal for smelting.
3. Nearly all transport is electrified and a substantial proportion of the travel kmsare moved from road to electrified rail including 50% of urban passenger and truckkms and all bus kms. All domestic air and shipping is also moved to electric rail.
4. All fossil fuels energy, both domestic and industrial, is replaced with electricity.
5. Demand is reduced through energy efficiency and the use of onsite solar energy.

Thus the net effect of these assumptions is to reduce the 2020 total energy by 58% below the 2008 benchmark and 63% below the ABARE estimate for 2020. The plan thus assumes that over 50% of energy demand will simply disappear by 2020 because of efficiency improvements.

The Nuclear Green Revolution site from which that comes is a left-wing climate alarmist site. But their analysis of the costs and practicality of so called renewable power is spot on.

If the whole disastrous anthropogenic global warming scary monster thing were true, and if reducing CO2 production by 20% would really do something to stop it (it isn’t and it wouldn’t), it would be possible to do so. But not with ‘renewable’ engery.

Reducing CO2 and other greenhouse emissions by 20% could be done if the pointless NBN was cancelled, and the $45 billion planned to be wasted on that was instead spent on nuclear power and the introduction of fuel cell technology for most land transport.

And that wouldn’t be a bad idea anyway.

Tough Love

In an address by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk to members of the Nicean Club at Lambeth Palace a couple of days ago. (The Nicean Club is a group of Anglicans who seek to strengthen relations between Anglicansim and the Orthodox churches.)

Why do the Churches, both East and West, still remember the Fathers of the Nicean and later Ecumenical Councils with such gratitude? Why are the great theologians of the past, the opponents of heresy, revered in the East as ‘great universal teachers and saints’ and in the West as ‘Doctors of the Church’?  Because throughout the ages the Church believed it to be her principal task to safeguard the truth. Her foremost heroes were those confessors of the faith who asserted Orthodox doctrine and countered heresies in the face of new trends and theological and political innovations …

All current versions of Christianity can be very conditionally divided into two major groups – traditional and liberal.  The abyss that exists today divides not so much the Orthodox from the Catholics or the Catholics from the Protestants as it does the ‘traditionalists’ from the ‘liberals’. Some Christian leaders, for example, tell us that marriage between a man and a woman is no longer the only way of building a Christian family: there are other models and the Church should become appropriately ‘inclusive’ to recognize alternative behavioural standards and give them official blessing. Some try to persuade us that human life is no longer an absolute value; that it can be terminated in a mother’s womb or that one can terminate one’s life at will. Christian ‘traditionalists’ are being asked to reconsider their views under the slogan of keeping abreast with modernity …

… we feel that many of our Anglican brothers and sisters betray our common witness by departing from traditional Christian values and replacing them by contemporary secular standards. I very much hope that the official position of the Anglican Church on theological, ecclesiological and moral issues will be in tune with the tradition of the Ancient Undivided Church and that the Anglican leadership will not surrender to the pressure coming from liberals.

It is a longish address, but well worth reading. I doubt many Anglicans will.

What’s Wrong With Machete

I like a good action movie.

I suspect that the action movie demographic is primarily us rednecks.

Liberal hippie types seem to like nancy movies like The English Patient. I watched that. I even tried to like it. But for heaven’s sake…

Then there was Sex and the City, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Steel Magnolias, etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum. Meaningful stuff, apparently, about relationships and stuff.

Us blokey conservative types like movies where things actually happen, where there is a story.

So Machete, which features Danny Trejo and Robert de Niro, should be a must on the viewing list. Maybe not a blockbuster, but a solid box office performer.

Nope.

Unfortunately, Machete is another example of a Hollywood director forgetting why people pay money to go to the movies.

To be entertained. Not to be lectured.

I’m not the only one who thinks so:

“Machete,” which opened nationwide Sept. 3, is as politically charged as a film can be without the words “Michael” or “Moore” attached. It doesn’t just argue in favor of letting illegal immigrants become U.S. citizens. It paints politicians who support enforcing the borders as cold-blood killers, sub-humans we should squash like insects.

And that’s … OK. My biggest beef with the film is that it’s borderline awful. Being a right-leaning film critic means you get used to absorbing film messages that clash with your own principles. You see it, note it, and then move on.

Yep. There are lots of well made films with political messages I don’t like. There are even video games with messages I don’t like, but still play.

I love Flower, for example. That is about as nancy a game as you’ll ever find. You are a petal, floating about bringing colour to tired landscapes, setting windmills in motion, etc. But it’s fun.

But no film can be fun when everything grinds to a halt every few minutes so one of the characters can nag you about how dreadful America is, and how it should let anyone in who wants to come, granting them full benefits and rights of citizenship.

Note to Australian directors: If you want people to watch your films, stop nagging!