Chosen At Random

Written by Anthony Douglas on Sunday, 22 April 2012.

There’s plenty of fun to be had playing with oxymorons: pretty ugly, military intelligence, old news, Microsoft Works. The list goes on, and on, and on - from absolute possibility to zero deficit. Ain’t English grand?

But the headline above the last paragraph wasn’t what it says it was. I spend a little time each week on this front page, attempting to write something that’s interesting, edifying, and stimulating. I choose my words carefully, or I try to.

I don’t get together a committee, a panel of experts, or a theological faculty. And I’m therefore not disappointed that these bulletins likely help keep our recyclers in business once their usefulness is done.

All my labours are as nothing, though, compared to what brought us our creeds. Some, we know, were hammered out by scores of theologians, weighing each word, debating meaning, with their lives literally on the line. Others have their origins hidden in a gap in history. All, however, have stood the acid test of the passage of time, and that is due both to the providence of God and the power of their well-chosen words.coins

Take ‘the Father Almighty’. To the cynic, an oxymoron; to the believer, a profound statement of the compatibility of love and distance, power and service, otherness and connection. Such coins have two sides for a reason, and they are doubly precious.

Climb Every Mountain

Written by Anthony Douglas on Friday, 28 January 2011.

Fifty years ago, Tony Bennett and Shirley Bassey were both making money from a tune from a new Rodgers and Hammerstein musical called The Sound of Music. ‘Climb Every Mountain’ was written as the climax to the first act of the show, as an exhortation to young Maria to face up to her future. It’s a time of challenge and change, but Maria is to ‘climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow’ until she finds her dream.

Here at St Peter’s, we have a mountain (Coolangatta), a stream (the Shoalhaven), and … if not a rainbow, then the promise and command of God to serve him where we are, and he will be with us. Our ‘dream’ is to stand as a beacon, shining the light of the gospel into the hearts and minds of the people of this town, and this year is indeed the start of Act II for our church, now that we have become our own parish.

It will be a year of both challenge and change, but one that we are glad to face together. So, come on, strap on the hiking boots, and let’s get going!


Written by Anthony Douglas on Saturday, 11 December 2010.

Julian AssangeThe story of the moment in our news is undoubtedly Wikileaks – not only does it make good copy, but we can claim its founder, Julian Assange, as one of our own…and we do love to see Aussies succeed on the world stage, don’t we?

Among the more alarming parts of the story has been the way some public figures in the US have responded to the most recent leaks: “He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands.” “We should treat Mr. Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets.” “Mr. Assange should be put on the same list” – a list of those that can be killed without trial. “He should be treated as an enemy combatant.”

Strong words – stronger even than those used against Wikileaks’ likely source. What caught my eye, however, was how personalised the attacks have been. It has definitely been Assange, not Wikileaks, that has borne the brunt of the vitriol. Assange does not operate alone, however, so that raises the question: why are the critics not focusing on the organisation instead of its figurehead?

The answer, I think, is that we like to individualise blame. When BP flooded the Gulf of Mexico with oil, it was the CEO who copped the flak. When Black Saturday bushfires caused so much destruction, it was Christine Nixon, the police commissioner, who was criticised for her failures – not the fire, nor even the chief of the fire brigade! We like to move any guilt far from us, so if we can blame a faceless corporation, that’s good. And if we can blame a particular individual within that organisation, even better. There’s no chance of the blame leaking back to us.

Wrong? Certainly. But also, just a little bit, right. Perhaps there is here just the faintest echo of a hunch that we can’t afford to be found guilty. As we’re reminded again today from God’s Word, the blame we deserve has been individualised, laid upon Jesus, and led to his death. And there’s no leakage back.

Reflections on Synod

Written by Anthony Douglas on Monday, 25 October 2010.

And so we return to normal life…Synod for this year is over, and it will be another twelve months before Shoalhaven Heads takes its own seats at synod next year. As I said last week, there have been some surprises for me, and I wanted to tell you about the most welcome one.

A Post-It Note

Written by Anthony Douglas on Monday, 19 July 2010.

At long last, our application to become a provisional parish is on its way to Archbishop Peter Jensen. An idea that was floated as a dream years ago … a suggestion last year that we might be ready to apply in 2010 … a determination at our annual general meeting that we would do so … a draft application circulated in May … signed off by parish council in June … and finally, an unadorned B4 envelope, postmarked Shoalhaven Heads, will be on his desk next week.

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