Ruse of Engagement

Tress has an offsite meeting at work this morning and planned to get into office early before that and today being my usual day-off gym for me, we decided to come in together early. I got in just after 7am and if I started work I’d probably be itching to leave the office soon after 4pm. So I decided to do some extracurricular work in the form of reading some material and before long my attention drifted towards some articles on The Sydney Institute website.

Soon I drifted onto the correspondence section and zeroed in on some exchanges between Gerard Henderson and Robert Manne. The latter is a chairman of the board for The Monthly and often contributes articles himself. In at least one article, he made some comments about Gerard Henderson who then griped about having no right of reply, with The Monthly having no letter to the editors section. The response was that there was a letter to the editor section exists in the online version of The Monthly but quite rightly, Henderson’s concern may have been I believe, that the print and online editions may have very different audiences and one who reads the print edition – especially a subscriber such as Henderson – would probably expect to be able to have a reply on the print edition.

A subscriber may only read the print edition and may never see responses to what has been written, if the subscriber does not read the online version. Cross medium readership must be a voluntary outcome, not compelled by any reason. Also, there’s always the chance that an online edition runs the risk of “tampering” later. In my (not quite Luddite) mind the print edition would have these readers’ feedbacks well, in print and therefore less subject to issues of veracity or integrity.

Robert Manne did give Henderson some back to be fair and quite a big swing too. He may have copped some beatings in many ways but more than anything else and as always, what I am heartened to see is the rigour of engagement. It’s like watching two footy players from opposing sides jumping, diving, running and jostling, intercepting and tackling to win and use the ball to kick a goal. In many ways the outcome is important only to appreciate the tussle which in itself gives life to an otherwise banal existence. It’s an engagement not to achieve one upmanship or as time fillers but as a corporeal fulfilment to an otherwise 2-dimensioal relationship. By engaging thoroughly to flesh out a contest a relationship takes on new dimensions, even new heights.

When I read earlier today of the carnage that still litters the lives of Jason and Mel I wonder yet again why there is such a lack of engagement to bottom out this debacle that has beset the leadership of LifeGate Church of Christ in Glen Waverley for so long. Why have the leaders there inflicted such damage on another erstwhile leader and thereafter extract themselves of any further engagement so that the injured leader is left to lick his own wounds? It would have beggared belief had this occurred in any other context. That it happened in a church, with the chief protagonist and top attack dog a full time paid senior pastor is incomprehensible. The rest in the pack were all leaders – members of the church board. All ganged up to inflict damage on another brother and fellow leader. How could this have been?

I have asked Jason to walk away – shake the dust off his sandals and head to another pasture. This callous group does not deserve anymore of his time. But relationships are hard to be extricated from. My 8 years in that cauldron took me nearly a year to shake off. My dear friend had 15 years there. It would take him longer for sure but this total lack of engagement from this couldn’t care less group is doing the worst possible thing for my friend. It didn’t start that way of course. Pastor Tham Fuan Yee had given them the impression he was eager to work with them, and had called them “God-sends” but alas, that engagement was a mirage which has turned out to be an absolute desert that parches. I once called Pastor Tham Fuan Yee a curse that kept on cursing. I am inclined to think that continues to be the case.



Brooding and contemplating

It was a stinking hot day yesterday and we were glad we had the air conditioning put in recently – it worked a treat. Tress and I had a very good barbequed whole snapper with a delicious salad and after that we had watered the plants to soften the impact of the heat when the little black furry ball started chasing birds in our lawn. There’s probably a nest somewhere because as I moved to the front lawn, he darted out towards a bush and then straight through across the road towards the park. I had to chase him down and drag him back before he tore into the poor thing. We took him out to the park and oval later anyway but his interest was firmly fixed on those birds.

Summer means the regular tv programs have stopped and so last night we were half expecting programs like Four Corners to come on at the ABC but a Rick Stein India offering came on instead. It was probably just as good but I was then reminded of Heston Blumenthal being interviewed by Ross and John at 3AW where Heston was asked why Britain produced a disproportionate number of celebrity chefs, with sneered remarks on Nigella Lawson who was recently reported as being a coke user.

I first started enjoying all these cook shows when the Chinese American (or was he Canadian) Martin Yan had his show which was screened in Malaysia on Sunday afternoons. His tag line “if Yan cook so can you” was goofy but catchy and I have playfully used it every now and then while in the kitchen. Then it was that eccentric British Floyd, who was habitually inebriated, sometime overly so even in front of the camera. But he was loads of fun and even though my culinary education wasn’t a key outcome of watching those shows, it gave me some broad/basic ideas of ingredients, styles, methods, etc. Now, there’s a plethora of these chefs on tv and other than news and sports, they continue to form the bulk of my tv watching hours – which is all a bit of a time waster to be honest so it is something I hope would not last beyond this year.

I’m hoping for an incremental involvement in my local church in 2014. We’ve been there since May this year and so we’re into our eight month now. When activities resume in February we’d be closing in towards a year so hopefully we’d be a little more than just a Sunday morning presence.

I wonder what 2014 holds generally. More of the same probably and I hope the art of doing the same thing repeatedly becomes something I acquire and appreciate. It would be a big step for me in many ways. I have to say while I do not dread the things I do, they no longer provide me with the level of excitement or satisfaction they once did. I don’t mind doing it still – for as long as the foreseeable future requires – and much as many people would experience, I too would have to come to terms with the fact that for the most part, life is an uneventful experience. The occasional event that gives an elevated sense of being or experience is precisely that: occasional event.