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Archive for the ‘Politics/Popular culture’ Category

Seriously ACA*. As if The Chaser didn’t have enough reason to make fun of you.

I just caught the tail-end of a story ACA was running about The Chaser’s hilarious attempt last night to get a woman into the prestigious ‘Melbourne Club’, one of the country’s oldest gentlemen’s clubs that enjoys the patronage of some of Australia’s most wealthy and influential elite – none of whom happen to be female.

If you didn’t see the segment on The Chaser last night, it went like this: The Chaser team’s Julian Morrow showed up at the club with a mannequin dressed as female governor general Quentin Bryce and wanted to know why she couldn’t join (like her male predecessors, who were all honorary members of the prestigious club). When the club threw him out, he grabbed the mannequin, mounted it on a pole and threw it over their back fence, before proclaiming ‘finally, a woman into the Melbourne Club! This is for women everywhere!’

Tonight, ACA asked the question, have the Chaser boys gone too far?

They then interviewed a female ‘families and equality advocate’ (is that a real job description or a made up one?) about The Chaser’s newest prank and she, unsurprisingly, took ACA’s side and denounced the behaviour as sexist and in bad taste. ‘It’s uncalled for,’ she said. ‘An uncalled for depiction of how women should be treated.’ Later on, she went on to say, ‘I thought the skit bordered on treason.’

Hmmm. So what you’re saying is the feds should be concentrating on the real terrorists – forget Al Qaeda, it’s The Chaser who represent the most dangerous threat to our national security. Throwing mannequins over brick walls – what’s next? An underground nuclear test?

No wait, that was Pyongyang.

Later in the show they revealed The Chaser’s response to the ACA story: ‘The point of the exercise was to show as much disrespect as possible to the Melbourne Club for excluding women. This is what happens when a bunch of guys try to make a feminist point.’

Now fair enough, I don’t agree with everything The Chaser does, and quite often they overstep the mark. But honestly ACA, how can anyone take you seriously anymore?** After all, ACA is not known for its journalistic integrity or relevance – in fact, it’s fairly notorious for blatant sensationalism and tackiness. It’s home to what I like to call the ‘Bart’s People’ story*** – shallow stories that have no real impact or insight, but instead appeal to the petty predjudices of the masses and play on their emotions for cheap ratings.

Keags and I will sometimes play a game when watching ACA**** called ‘Spot the Villain’, wherein we try to identify the story villain by looking at the visuals and listening to the music. Most of the time it’s fairly easy, with quaint little story titles such as ‘Bogan Bystander Backlash’ and ‘The Secret Exposed’. The opening sequence usually consists of an ominous-looking, grainy image of the said villain(s) walking in slow motion to a menacing tune. This is followed by an idyllic picture of the pensioner, disgruntled investor or anyone without his front teeth (usually on his front porch, perhaps with a mug of tea, or an old photo album for a touch of nostalgia) who was shamefully wronged by the villain in the previous scene. What follows is a rich tapestry of slander, lies and half-truths, constructed so persuasively as to ensure the public form the correct opinion about the issues raised by the end of the show.

Because clearly, we are incapable of making up our minds for ourselves.

*A Current Affair. Get with the times, people.

**Not that anyone took you seriously in the first place

***Remember the episode where Bart had his own show? That’s what I’m referring to.

****On the odd occasion we watch the show simply to make fun of it. Come on, we’re only human.

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The Wedding Trap

Ah, the wedding industry can be a cutthroat one…

I walked into a *certain* wedding stationary shop on Charters Towers Rd yesterday (shop 255B *cough*) wanting invitation ideas and advice. I strode right up to the front of the shop – which is unusual for me, seeing as I’m usually the customer sneaking around the back shelves hoping that the overly-extroverted, overfamiliar, generic shopkeeper (who seems to follow me around) doesn’t suddenly corner me with a boisterous ‘How are you going today?! Is there anything I can help you with, anything in particular you’re after? We’ve got a snazzy new section over here all at marked down prices…..’

To which I usually stand there stupefied, with an anxious smile on my face and beads of cold sweat running down my brow, only to mumble something about ‘just looking thanks’, before hi-tailing it out of there before my introverted brain implodes from excessive social stimulation.

 Anyways, back to the stationary shop.

 I boldly asked the friendly, middle-aged shopkeeper if she could help me with invitation ideas. She gestured towards some albums on display containing examples of her work, and I smiled appreciatively. But before I could do anything else she looked at me with a not-unfriendly, but ‘see-if-I’m-kidding’ kind of smile and, peering over the top of her specs, said: ‘You *are* going to buy the invitations from our store aren’t you?’

Me: (Nervous laugh, awkward smile) ‘um…ye..’

‘Because if we give you ideas then we prefer you to use our materials’ (stares more intently over the top of her glasses, eyes piercing)

Me: (More awkward smiling, sweat beads forming) ‘yeah…(clears throat)…yes um, well I guess that’s fair enough’

At that point I proceeded to walk awkwardly around the store, looking at the different types of paper and cardboard, (and occasionally looking awkwardly at the shopkeeper) hoping that they had the right colours and styles, seeing as I was now locked into an unspoken contract with this lady, and could only exit the store empty handed at my own peril. I expect if I had attempted to leave the store I would’ve been met with:

(Blocking door) ‘Where do you think you’re going?

Me: Um…ah…

‘You’re going to another stationary shop, aren’t you?!’

Me: ‘Um’

‘Boys…’

Suddenly I am bagged and thrown into a dark room where an old Italian man speaking in a husky voice and surrounded by suit-wearing goons asks me why I have been so disrespectful to his family. He says because it’s my first indiscretion he’ll overlook it, but if there’s any more funny business he won’t be so forgiving.

At which point I am thrown out onto the street, only to wake up the next morning next to a horse head.

Ok, so maybe that’s a *slight* exaggeration (and an infringement of copyright).

But seriously, weddings mean big bucks. And, being an already over-crowded market, business owners will do anything for your patronage, seeing as merely attaching the words ‘wedding’ or ‘bridal’ to a product or service can quite feasibly increase the retail price by at least double for no apparent logical reason, other than the fact that most brides are not thinking rationally. In an industry filled with gratuitous amounts of hype and hot air, it’s all too easy to get swept away and not realize that a wedding invitation contains exactly the same amount of cardboard as a non-wedding invitation (despite the fact the wedding invite often has an exorbitant markup). Tread carefully my friends, because the bridal industry is a frightening, unpredictable place for the novice, and you just never know when you’re going to wake up next to a horse head.

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Just thought I’d publish my response to an essay Keagan posted about Zimbabwe on his blog:

http://blog.chiscorp.com/category/personal/politics/

I recommend you read it, and continue to pray earnestly for this troubled country, that God would uphold His saints there, deliver the people from poverty and violence and bring Mugabe and his despicable Zanu-PF party to justice.

Some very complex, difficult issues there. As a Christian, I can relate to such problems on a spiritual level, knowing that God is sovereign, ultimately just and will soon silence such evil, punishing the guilty forever. However as an Aussie who has grown up in safety, security and relative affluence, I cannot even comprehend what it must be like to feel unsafe and persecuted in your homeland, and to have to make a completely new start in a country like Australia, only to be continually reminded of the turmoil in your country on the evening news. Particularly frustrating must be the fact that Rhodesia was once one of the most prosperous, affluent African nations and in 30 years has descended into genocide, poverty, starvation and utter chaos, all because its leader and his party (originally instated by the west, ironically) has become mad with power, transforming a former democracy into one of the most despicable autocratic regimes in the modern era.

I, like many other Christians, continue to pray earnestly for Zimbabwe, for the welfare of the people (particularly the persecuted church) there, and that a democratic government would be installed and that these inhuman perpetrators of evil would be brought to justice.

I still don’t know where I stand on the issue of sentencing Mugabe and Zanu-PF to death. Its true, life sentences would fail to adequately pay for the crimes they have committed, but only the Lord is worthy to carry out death and final judgement. 

I think military intervention is the only option left. Economic sanctions is a pathetic attempt on behalf of the indifferent west to respond to political pressure to act. The UN needs to rise above its current status as a mere good-intentioned, tepid body of the affluent west and use its available resources to apply real military force, to detain Mugabe and Zanu-PF officials (and subject them to a Nuremberg-style trial), establish a democratic, elected government (most likely under Morgan Tsvangirai) and establish some semblance of economic stability (using the resources of the UN and associated humanitarian organisations). Once a stable government is established, Zimbabwe can focus on rebuilding its fledgling economy, attending to its crumbling infrastructure and re-establishing a sustainable agricultural sector that will propel the country towards economic self-determination. This is no longer an issue of race – but an issue of economic sustainability and political stability – and whether that involves a white or black farmer or MP is completely irrelevant. If a white man with agricultural experience establishes a successful farm and contributes to the rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy then let him continue to farm. Let’s end this racial nonsense that has lead to the demise of so many fomerly prosperous African nations. The so called ‘war veterans’ have failed. It’s time to usher in a new era of accountability and diplomacy.

But until this happens, I will continue to pray.

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Today I read perhaps one of the most disturbing things I have read in a while…

I was diligently researching my contribution to this week’s clinical case (no, really) and on one of the websites I came across a link that said: ‘94% of doctors don’t know you can cure cancer without chemotherapy or radiotherapy’. Intrigued, and with cynical blinkers on high alert,  I clicked on the link, and I got a website called:

http://www.cancertruth.net/, which is basically a website flogging some guy’s book (and in this context the word ‘book’ can be used interchangeably with ‘anti-administration, scientifically-unfounded, politically-motivated, propaganda drivel hogwash’) espousing a ridiculous conspiracy theory about the real nature of cancer, about the fact that the AMA and the drug companies are working synergistically (yes I rock at nerdy humour) to outlaw anything that may resemble a real cancer cure!! Yes that’s right, those megalomaniacal malevolences in white coats at the AMA have concocted a plan so scheming, so devilish, that they have the entirety of the American medical profession conspiring to rid the world of any chance of a cancer cure, so that patients will continue to suffer the cruelty and injustice of ‘standard’ treatments such as radiotherapy, chemo and the like. According to one ‘casual observer’, MD, who I assume can’t possibly be a real M.D., but rather likes to experiment with letters behind his name, claims that the ‘AMA, and oncology centres have too much interest in the status quo’. Another guy (next to a picture of himself in one of those old fashioned photos where they put a sock over the lens – yes, Mad knows what I’m talking about) asks the question: ‘do [doctors] really want to stop the spread of cancer and cure the patient?’. Hmmm, that’s a tough one. So we go to medical school for 6 years, complete our internship, residency, perhaps some research on the latest cancer therapy, and specialist training over a period of, well, half our life, under the guise of wanting to cure disease, reduce suffering and save lives, when in fact the medical school and hospital system is really an evil fascist organization indoctrinating us to be evil pro-cancer militia! In fact, one of the criteria that aspiring young doctors are marked against in the medical entrance interview is ‘demonstrates an interest in taking over the world and an understanding of the wholistic, multidisciplinary approach to patient suffering.’

Seriously man, get a real job, stop wasting my precious time and trying to make a quick buck out of people who are suffering. And for crying out loud please give your medical degree back to Kelloggs, they need it more than you do.

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I was watching snippets of Australia’s Next Top Model yesterday avo on You Tube (yes, yes, probably not the best use of the Internet. What’s that you say? Yes, I was at the Bible talks on the Internet a few weeks back… very challenging stuff. So what was I doing looking up trashy model shows on the Internet you say? Well, uh, good question. I was…*scratches head*…evidently doing quality research for my blog. So its settled then. Now where was I?)

Ahem. Ah yes. Aussie Top Model. It’s quality entertainment, they put about a dozen highly strung, uber-competitive, wafer-thin girls in a house, and they attach the house to a giant robot and get it to shake the place up for a few weeks. Ok, the robot thing mightn’t be true, but you can appreciate the outcome is effectively the same.

I’ve learnt many valuable things from watching these girls:

One: is that no matter how many times you think a sentence has been saturated with the word ‘like’ – you are, like, so wrong! You can always fit in at least half a dozen more – even if its at the expense of standard English grammar, which let’s face it, is just a little old hat for this savvy, fashion-forward generation. And fashionistas never wear old hats – unless of course they’re vintage, which I’m told is the new black. Or it was 3 months ago…

Two: models really do disappear when they turn sideways.

Three: and perhaps most disturbingly, is the way these girls treat their food, their bodies…and each other. There was one episode where the girls talked about a ‘colleague’ (and I use that term loosely) who had been baking lots of scrumptious goodies for the girls to eat. A seemly benign, selfless gesture right? On the contrary – in model world this kind of thing is tantamount to sabotage! Yes that’s right, she was baking the girls very sweet, fattening, chocolaty treats and wooing them to eat  – whilst not daring to eat a morsel herself! The others, after becoming aware of this devilish plan, decided to rally together so they wouldn’t succumb to ‘temptation’ – and risk their knife-edge spot in the competition. Now, it strikes me as rather odd that the only temptation these girls recognize is food and anything else that changes their bodies. Never mind the temptation to bully, back stab, slander or belittle the other girls in the house, food is the ultimate temptation, and ‘fatness’ the absolute sin.

 To me, this exemplifies the way our world has so idolized our physical bodies to the point where beauty is our ‘god’ – and it has mastered us in every possible way, from our eating, drinking and clothing, to what we do in our spare time and spend our money on (botox or spray tan anyone?) to what determines our social hierarchy and maintains our status quo. An individual’s merit is inversely proportional to their BMI, (and based solely on their physical attractiveness) and consequently those that fit the bill are excused from all kinds of outlandishly self-serving and egotistical behaviours, some of which are embraced as ‘self-love’, ‘assertiveness’ or ‘healthy self-esteem.’ What utter nonsense.

The Bible, of course, has a very different perspective. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting (Prov 31:30). Our Earthly bodies are broken and decaying as a result of our sin, and whatever physical beauty we have now, whatever attractiveness or splendour we have in youth will inevitably fade with age, until we return to the dust on the ground from which we were formed.

Our behaviour, on the other hand, our inner heart motivations are of much eternal importance and are very important to God:

‘To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech’. (Prov 8:13).

What we say, how we behave towards others, what we think, and most importantly, our core attitudes are the things of eternal significance, the things which matter most to our God. Whether we’re fat, short, skinny, bald, stunningly beautiful, or club footed and covered in spots does not matter one inkling – all that matters is whether our hearts and our bodies are clothed in humility, patience, kindness, selflessness and most importantly, a fear of our great and wonderful God.

 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight’.

1 Peter 3:3

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I get a wonderful buzz each month when my favourite publication, The Briefing, arrives in my mailbox courtesy of my local postie. I would recommend it as essential reading for all socially-conscious Christians, but not if you’re shy of robust debate! It’s always a stimulating, challenging read, tackling the difficult issues in theology, current social trends, interdenominational relations, and the knife-edge interface between the atheistic secularists and, well, us. Its engaging stuff, leaving me with much to think about until the next enthralling edition arrives a month later (as nerdy evangelicals go, I’m somewhere towards the extreme far end).

In this month’s edition, there was an article by Kel Richards about environmentalism and how it has become the ‘new morality’ in our culture. He points out that in today’s society (aptly described as a ‘bizarre mix of indulgent consumerism and staunch environmentalism’), not only do we derive our morality from environmentalism, it has also become a source of ‘spirituality’ – evidenced by the fact that swimming with dolphins or planting a tree are no longer merely recreational activities, but a way of ‘communicating’ with ‘mother nature’. He also makes the point (which honestly, drives me to the point of utter incredulity) that abortion is now seen as a largely ‘morally neutral’ medical procedure, while harpooning the whales for Japanese restaurants (which, don’t get me wrong, is pretty darn awful) raises great moral indignation and ends up in people doing all sorts of risky and sometimes foolish things to save them.

God has appointed us as stewards over his creation, commanding that we ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ (Gen 1:28). Part of this stewardship entrusted to us involves caring for the creatures of the earth and thus far in human history, we’ve done a fine job of recklessly plundering the earth for our own greedy ends (a testament to our selfish, fallen nature). But when the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens take the place over human life, a life created in the image of God and precious in his sight, it shows a gross distortion of the natural order of the world that God has put in place. And, it doesn’t matter what form this human life takes (whether a pregnant woman, a foetus with an extra chromosome, or an elderly man with dementia), it is still inherently dignified and precious and we are to treat it with the upmost respect.

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And now to something completely different…

I have noticed a disturbing trend amongst the cut-throat and sometimes acrimonious world of Australian breakfast television (Sunrise vs. Today – who will win the ultimate showdown?); I refer to it as ‘society fixing’ – when the presenters stray waay outside their realm of expertise and make sweeping generalizations about the ‘problems’ they’ve identified in Australian society that need to change – and then proceed to go ahead and change them. Now I’m sure this began out of genuine altruism, and it’s truly wonderful when people with initiative take action to enact positive change in our world (and even better when it comes out of a desire to show the love of Christ!), but does anyone else find it slightly perplexing that this is coming from a breakfast show, of all places. Who would’ve thought that great advances in social justice, women’s rights and the like would come from a brand of television that perhaps the more naïve amongst us would label ‘frivolous’, or at worst ‘flippant gratuitous hogwash’. Call me naïve if you must, but I fail to see how a millionaire entrepreneur such as David Koch can champion the cause of ‘working Australians’ or qualify to make sweeping facetious comments about social conservatives and the terrible impact their policies have on ‘ordinary Australians’ – well that’s all very well but last time I checked you are NOT an ordinary Australian!

But, in all fairness, its not just old Kochie and his sidekick Mel who lead this glorious ‘toast and eggs’ social justice front, they do occasionally consult ‘experts’ to comment on these issues:

Such as women in difficult or abusive marriages. Its OBVIOUS that Koch and Mel appreciate how delicate this issue is and how important it is to get a spokesperson to comment who is a leader in this field, someone who has ‘done it tough’, and even better, a woman with personal experience who can offer help and support to these women:

And what better ‘expert’ than the editor of fashion magazine Marie Claire Jackie Frank! (is there anything magazine columnists can’t do?)

Boldly condemning the ‘evil’ that is the church who (gasp!), offer women and their husbands support on how to reconcile and work through their issues (if their marriages are indeed salvable), and provide guidance from God’s word and prayer – how DARE they offer these hurting, vulnerable people nourishment from the ‘bread of life’! How DARE they care enough to intervene and offer emotional, financial and desperately needed spiritual support? What impertinence!

As Kochie said, ‘these women don’t need God, they need counseling and shelters’. Well, as an expert in this aspect of social justice, women’s rights (and the practical outworkings of the Christian faith), who I’m sure has personally counseled these women and knows from experience the issues they face, he certainly has a right to comment.

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