Still Safe?

I first came across the Safe Schools Coalition several weeks ago. I went into their website one day during lunch hour. While I must say I learned a lot reading some of the material on that site, I wasn’t sure I’d leave those matters in the hands of schools, if I was a parent to school going children.

I’m glad my child is now an adult. I need not be apprehensive about having my child taught sexuality on terms set out in the Safe Schools website. I have however, so many friends and relatives who still have (or would have) school going children, who would be subject to the those matters.

So I started sharing stuff on social media, and wondered how parents felt. This weekend I started to get an idea of how others thought and felt.

Last Thursday night at the church small group meeting at the Maury’s home, someone suggested the material per se wasn’t problematic but left in the hands of teachers who do not subscribe to Biblical teachings and who like to think of themselves as progressives, it could easily be used to teach sexuality in terms that would be highly uncomfortable to me. Someone remarked that is probably how someone who is not a Christian, would feel about religious education. To someone like me who still think there is a right and wrong – based not on my own standards but on the Bible’s – that is not a bad thing. I believe Christian education is good for mankind. I believe teaching sexuality on terms set out in the Safe School coalition site would not be good for mankind. So there…

Friday night we caught up with the Hipos and Chews at the newish Peppers on Fire restaurant on Mahoney’s Road. We thought it was new as I only noticed it last week but Jesslyn told us it had been opened for several months now. We had some very good Sri Lankan food there and talked, touching briefly on the Safe Schools matter.

At church yesterday, Mike McNamara said Lyle Shelton of the Australian Christian Lobby will be on Q&A tonight and asked for prayers for Lyle (boy is he going to need them). Mike also mentioned Safe Schools and thought Lyle would no doubt touch on that tonight.

Finally yesterday arvo after church Tress and I went and visited Carrie and Jonathan in their new home in Mulgrave, only a stone’s throw from Waverley Park/Hawthorn HQ. There we also met Joshua and Lu Fong and again we also touched on Safe Schools – we talked more because between those 2 couples they’ve 5 school going children. They all said they were not at all comfortable with what Safe Schools was doing.

Yesterday and this morning John Howard was reported to have voiced his concerns over Safe Schools. I’m glad that got a lot of airwaves and column inches. Malcolm Turnbull would not have provided that sort of voice and Abbott was always going to be lost in the messaging, not because he was incompetent or incapable but the bias and hatred against him is so ingrained in so many levels of community that his voice would always be drowned by howls of hatred against what in many minds, he represents.

And so it was a good weekend – many catch ups with friends and getting comfort that many still care and want to voice their concerns over things I care about.

Today Kiddo and Mic come down from Canberra to spend a week with Tress and I. I look forward to seeing them again, and to talk, eat and spend time with them.



Week Wheel

We spent Saturday arvo out in Maribyrnong. It took us well over an hour to crawl through the inner city tram tracked roads to get there, but it was worth it as we spent the arvo with Ruth and Jonathan and 6 chek and 6 chim. Oh and little Micah of course.

Tress and I had stopped at a butcher in Box Hill the night before and we were thrilled they still had a couple of racks of ribs as we had wanted to do a roast pork ribs for the lunch with Ruth & Co. It was just past 6pm so we got the ribs and some fruit for Tress to do a fruit salad and then went home and walked the little fellow before settling down to a glass of vino. Tress had a big lunch so didn’t want dinner so I made a little bruschetta thing with toasted bread, little cherry tomatoes and smoked salmon – all left over pieces in the fridge – and top with a generous drizzle of olive oil. I then marinated the ribs and kept it away in the fridge.

Saturday morning we roasted the ribs, Tress pottered around in the garden, I did a quick vacuum and when the roast was done we cleaned up, packed the food (roast, fruit, Chinese New Year love letters, wine) and joined the traffic crawl.

The last time we caught up in a similar fashion was back in May last year, when Micah had his full moon. 6 chek had spoken about his impending China trip with a lot of enthusiasm then. He was going to spend a few months in Fuzhou to do mission work. He was going to teach the scriptures and 6 chim was going to help him and also teach English. He sounded excited and even asked if me to consider coming along.

On Saturday though, he sounded less excited. I think he has now seen more and that made him think how people can work better there. He lived simply, did not eat well and saw heavy workload heaped on the local church minister. He was totally self funded too. He has been invited back but sounded less sure about going this time.

The arvo went past really quickly and we left just before 5.

Church the next day was good – Peter talked about the state of human depravity and touched on the gay marriage issue a bit, all in the context of Romans 1:18ff. I’m still wondering about how to serve and a presentation by Kids Hope Foundation participants was very good but it needed people to do work during school hours. Maybe continue to just be there on Sundays, small groups and Men’s breakfast for now, and see where the Lord leads.

After lunch at Madam K’s we went to Westfield Doncaster for a bit of shopping before returning home to watch “Salmon on the Yemen”.

It was another weekend before another week of grind at the wheel. The challenge would be to continue to be challenged, week after week of normal grind.


It was a Chinese New Year weekend – it was the eve on Sunday and we had a nice little get together dinner at Gerry and Jesslyn’s newly renovated home. I had done a ribs barbie and Tress and made a fruit platter and there was plenty of food so it made for a very slow Monday at work the next day.

The weekend had been an ordinary one. The usual run of now familiar again activities was broken only by a nice breakfast at a cafe on Jolimont Street on the other side of Springvale. We had been there once before a couple of years or so earlier. After breakfast we went home, did some gardening (me) and laundry (Tress), got the food for Sunday, made some soups for the week, before settling down for an old movie – “Narrow Margins” starring Gene Hackman and Anne Archer. It was an old fashioned “thriller” played out mostly on a train ride up the east coast of Canada.

Church the next day started a Romans 1-7 series and it again got me thinking about what is it about the “life transformation” message of the gospel I’ve been missing out on. A piece on the gospel coalition site yesterday prompted that same question. Will it simply be about talking to others about Jesus and the gospel? I dont recall the last time I did that and I guess that should be disturbing.

I hope I dont lose this thread…

We watched bits of a program on TV last night. It was a documentary of the Anita Cobby killing and I said to Tress I recall sitting in a court in Sydney, trying to follow a murder trial for the first (and only) time in Australia, not long after commencing my law studies in UNSW. My Criminal Law lecturer had strongly encouraged us to attend the trial and so I dutifully went. I have to say I remember so very little now, even with the detailed re-telling of the events in the show last night.

30 year anniversary notwithstanding – the Cobby murder happened in February 1986 – I wonder how much of this has been prompted by the success of shows like “Making a Murderer” on Netflix. Tress and I had been transfixed for several nights by that show. I had been skeptical and found out that the producers (Moira Demos and Co) had not been totally open, and (according to the Wisconsin AG dept) key information have been kept from viewers. It was good TV nonetheless and I wonder if I ought to feel lousy for watching it simply for the entertainment value.

I have no doubt the whole Cobby murder trial had “entertainment value”, horrible as it may sound. The interviews, flashbacks, footage and re-enactments – while staples for documentaries, have all been given fresh focus by Making a Murderer and was so worthwhile as a venture for TV program makers. And we were happy consumers, until of course, we immerse ourselves in some other activities … such as telling others about Jesus?


There was a meeting invite at work yesterday. It was for a “town hall” meeting called by the CEO. Earlier in the day, an announcement had gone out to the stock exchange, in relation to some federal police investigations into the conduct of past company executives.

I came into this job with eyes wide open. My employer has a very messy history. It’s US operations had a horrible reputation of corruption of public officials to win supply contracts. Its CEO was charged and found guilty and has been awaiting sentencing proceedings. Sure, that was all in the past and since a couple of years ago, there has been almost wholesale changes to the board and senior management.

The more recent repercussions of the US history on its Aussie parent are being felt afresh, even from the time when I accepted the offer of a role. The announcement yesterday made all of this very present and while I have had my share of being in organisations having all sorts of engagement with authorities, those past experiences never really arm one to simply brush off fresh encounters with nonchalant disregard. It stayed on my mind, as it did when the prospect of this role first came up through my recruiting agent.

Andrew had told me about the role back in September/October last year. I had then looked at the position description document and when I did my research of the company, my interest waned and I said to Tress then that I would not be actively pursuing this role. The company’s recent history was an issue. I kept it in prayer nonetheless, as I had continued to miss Tress and Melbourne very badly.

At the interview with the person who is now my manager, I got the sense that everyone at the company recognises its problematic past and wants to do everything possible to deal with that as well as look forward to growing the company again. The new people want to start afresh. That theme of a second go, a fresh start, another opportunity to get it right and build something all over again – it appealed to me. As a half centurion who has had a very forgettable track record of a very ordinary sinner, the idea of being given another go appealed to me.

It still feels a bit counter-intuitive. Being in a hip industrial part of Melbourne, working on the first floor with production facilities downstairs, sitting across engineers and developers and all housed in a building across the road from what I recently discovered is a brothel Рthis all feels surreal. Yet, there is the attraction of being in such a down to earth, fair dinkum, and almost raw environment which also provides such a juxtapose of circumstances it almost creates a conundrum that is addictive. Strangely, I want to come in each day to see where this will be heading, how it will pan out. There is certainly work to be done. Tenders to process, contracts to review, policies to be written, insurances to manage Рoperational as well as strategic stuff that fill in the hours and turn then over fairly quickly.

Maybe I’m still basking in the contentment of being home with Tress again. I sense however, that being in my present workplace is another phase in that trajectory of waiting on the Lord, wondering what surprises lurk around the corner as I seek to sojourn on a path of knowing God and being part of what He is doing.

This morning on the drive in, the windscreen kept fogging up and Tress and I had to work the air conditioning and windscreen wiper the entire way. Sometimes a journey requires constant working to attain clear vision. The constant working becomes a feature of the journey. It kind of feels that way now. It has been for a while.

Different sort of waiting

The drive in this morning took a lot longer – just over an hour, which is about 20-25 minutes longer than it has taken us so far in this experimental period. While in our heads driving in to work remains an experiment, I suspect it would be pretty much the settled mode of commuting to work. When I refuelled last night, the bill came up to $30. It was a very cheap $15 per week per person for us to drive in to work. The parking is probably the clincher, with both Tress and I having parking space available, for no extra charge. The peak hour traffic – while it can be bad (like this morning) – is blunted by 3AW. The always entertaining Ross & John makes the morning drive lighter and Tom Elliot makes the drive home a little more thought provoking.

We got home last Friday a little than usual, as we stopped somewhere to get me a new shaver. We were at The Glen, a shopping centre we haven’t been to for a long time. We then got home, and settled down to finish the week by watching the tennis. Murray took 5 sets to defeat a player Ross & John described as someone who looks like he has been put together by a bunch of engineers. Milos Raonic is a tall, angular, often expressionless and very efficient up and coming player. He had beaten Federer in an earlier tournament in Brisbane so was a bit of a “to watch” player. We didn’t watch till the end, as the vino had put me into Snoreville…

On Saturday I woke far too early and so I read. “Girl on a train” was a page turner but I had to put it down to get a bit more shut eye before the weekend starts. That morning I the little furry ball a bath and he who was very affectionate. He protested being blow dried by repeatedly burrowing his head into my chest, and each time looking up to give me a big lick on my nose. Tress washed the sheets/laundry and later we went to Madam Kwong’s for lunch and then got some groceries. I wanted to start making soups for freezing again. We then went home and started watching “Making a Murderer” – another feather in Netflix’s cap. We had dinner reservations at 6.30 somewhere in Hawthorn and had to tear ourselves from that very engrossing series, to make dinner.

Dinner was at “Once a Tailor” on Glenferrie Road. After dinner we went back to watch more tennis before hitting the sack.

The next morning after talking it over with Tress we decided to continue supporting a young couple from St Alf’s who are doing good work in Thailand. At church, leaders got “commissioned” and Tress and I continued discussing how to serve through St Alf’s, in 2016 (and beyond). I had wanted to do something to serve at or via St Alf’s for a while now but the Canberra detour in 2015 put paid to those thoughts and aspirations. God’s grace in day-to-day matters has been so evident I feel it wrong to not revisit those thoughts and aspirations once that grace has allowed me to settle back into Melbourne.

The waiting on Him theme needs to likewise, be revisited albeit in a different context.

“StaKs (St Alfred’s Kids)”? Something else?

Last night, we watched more of “Making a Murderer” but I hope weekends ahead wont be made up of just this armchair sleuth stuff. God’s grace requires a service response. I hope He shows Tress and I soon, what this is to look like.