Billy Graham dies at 99

Some time ago I posted some memories and reflections:

Frameworks for belief– 3 – 1959 through to 1966–part 1

I mentioned the 1952 death of my sister in the last of these posts.

jeanetteme1

My sister and I in the late 1940s

There is no doubt this had a profound effect on my view of life and the world and inclined me towards a religious path, though I did not really take it up until around seven years after her death. Among her last words were “Don’t worry, Jesus is with me.” How can one not be affected? Even sixty-one years later I remember with amazing vividness the events of the days when she was taken from Auburn Street Sutherland to St George Hospital, never to join us at Vermont Street to which we are moving at the time. My poor parents! A year later I was in the same hospital being operated on for the same condition that had ultimately killed her. It was around that time I dreamed of Death standing by my bed.

When I finally did go to Sutherland Presbyterian Church, however, even though the minister (Cam Williamson) had been visiting Mum from time to time, it was rather at the invitation of Ross McKay, a Sutherland Primary then Sydney High classmate – and girls were among the attractions.  So I joined the Presbyterian Fellowship Association around 1957 or 1958, and around the same time began attending the Inter School Christian Fellowship at Sydney High and reading the Bible via Scripture Union notes obtained there. I had a daggy copy of the Revised Version, a pocket edition that had been Grandpa Christison’s, and I remember being quite sneaky about reading it in bed late at night. My father caught me once and I reacted in such an alarmed way that I now think he thought he had caught me wanking. (That too, of course. I was a pubescent boy after all. But think of the guilt! You have to have lived back then to know about that!) Anyway, he looked almost relieved and told me I could read the Bible if I wanted to.

The climax – no wanking pun intended – was in 1959.

Last night I was 15 again…

16 FEB 2009

On Compass last night was a documentary that really took me back: Billy Graham Down Under. Radio National also covered it.

gallery-13

1959 Billy Graham Crusade gathering at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

Source — Australian heritage photographic library.

I wasn’t there, but did go to the Sydney meetings with Sutherland Presbyterian Fellowship – even if the minister expressed a few doubts about the phenomenon, though he broadly supported it. I also went independently with some school friends, including one Jew, being 15 at the time.

From Compass, where the transcript has now appeared:

Narration
143 thousand people had crammed into the MCG and another 4,000 stood outside listening to hastily rigged up speakers. They had come from all over the state and they wanted to be part of the action.
Judith Smart – Historian
I was eight at the time. I was a member of the Malvern Baptist Sunday School. The Baptists were very evangelical and they decided that they should take all the Sunday School to the Billy Graham crusade.  We weren’t close enough to actually see Billy Graham but his speech was quite astonishing.

No, I didn’t go forward when the call came. I had already done that at a Fellowship Camp at Otford a month or two earlier. Oh, and in Sydney I was close enough to see the man quite close, comparatively speaking, in at least one of the meetings.

It was all rather amazing. Sydney had never seen such crowds, particularly for a religious gathering. On the last day the overflow filled the stadium next door as well as the SCG itself.

One of my teachers did mutter something about Nuremberg rallies, I recall. We thought that quite out of place at the time.

My trip back to 1959 did produce a Ninglun’s Specials entry: Memorabilia 15: 1959 — or thereabouts where you will find some quite wonderful super-8 footage of Sydney in that period. Not mine; a YouTube member posted it.

Much water has gone under the Harbour Bridge since then!

That was a profoundly emotional experience, that one at Otford. I can see now how I was in a sense set up for it, given the psychology and emotional state I have been indicating, and the fact I was rather a lonely and imaginative child.

RELATED: Shire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood 2: 1958, Shire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood 3: 1959 – 1961, Shire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood 4: Cronulla 1961-1962, 1964-1969.

Advertisements

Coming up to seven years since I smoked!

 March 2011 revisited — 1

Here’s how it began for me:

And that dominated this blog for the next couple of weeks, though by 9 March I was back home.

Of course that should be 2011…

Meanwhile. and not unrelated:

  • 30 days, 17 hours, 34 minutes and 24 seconds smoke free.
  • 1537 cigarettes not smoked.
  • $992.00 and 11 days, 17 hours of your life saved.
  • Your quit date: 2/28/2011 2:00:00 PM

The quit date is the approximate time the ambulance arrived…

cigs-inside

NOTE: The Quitnet calculator is no longer with us, but as a guess, seven years 2011-2018 would roughly be 130,000 cigarettes not smoked!!!! That’s over $12,000 a year times seven! $84,000!!!!

And SIXTY years ago I….

How’s that for old?

1959sbhs2b1

From Sydney Boys High School. See Found–something from my last year at high school (1959) and Memento mori – another from the Class of 1959.

My History score crashed the following year, thanks to a bad habit of guessing what would be in exam papers… Worked in 58, not in 59. The teacher, Frank Allsopp, used me as an awful warning for several years into the 60s – by which time my History score so recovered at Sydney University that in 1962 I topped Asian History, then an exciting new field. I think I recently saw a death notice for one of the two lecturers in Asian History at that time, Marjorie Jacobs. India was her specialty. The other lecturer was Ian Nish, expert on Japan and China. It was a very good course. See also My Asian Century.

See also 50 years on – 1: a classmate’s story (2009). And in reminiscent vein: 1959 revisited, Trams down Cleveland Street via Memory Lane, The year my voice broke…, 1957 or MCMLVII and Nobel prize winner’s obituary triggers memories.

Lenny Basser, left, and my good friend Roger Dye far right.

1958 when we were 15 – Roger and I, that is.

I was living in Kirrawee in 1958.

avery

Avery Avenue, Kirrawee, where I lived 1956 through 1958, behind the tree on the left. And yes, we were close to transport. That’s the Cronulla line on the right. It took about an hour and a quarter to get to SBHS from here.

Sundays found me at Sutherland Presbyterian Church, Flora Street Sutherland, where I had recently joined the youth Fellowship.

Vintage-Sterling-Silver-And-Enamel-Presbyterian-Fellowship-Association

See Frameworks for belief — 2 – my world 1952 to 1959. A repost and À la recherche du temps perdu — 12 — some churches.

PB280458

Sutherland Presbyterian Church and manse. I was an elder here  at the age of 21, and Sunday School Superintendent. In the mid 1960s exciting events occurred in this church, the congregation mostly leaving to form the Presbyterian Reformed Church. At that time I resigned. See my 2008 post Uncertain dogma, The Shire, and related musings. See also this search for Calvin.

 

Looking back 20 years: the Japanese surfer

Back in 1998 I became a student again, part-time, at the University of Technology in Sydney.  A one-year course gave me lots of letters after my name: Grad Cert TESOL (UTS)! While I had been among other things ESL teacher at Sydney Boys High from 1996, I actually had no formal qualification in that field, other than the in-house training — and it was good too! — that I received at Wessex College of English in 1990.

One thing I haven’t mentioned publicly before is that Michael was so pissed off at my attracting a HECS debt that he insisted on paying the fees for me upfront — neither the first nor the last example of his generosity. He’s travelling in Vietnam right now, by the way, but you may recall we had lunch together in Surry Hills on just about the hottest day on record for Sydney.

WIN_20180107_13_02_21_Pro

One highlight (of many) in that 1998 UTS course was a learning journal: My year with a Japanese Backpacker. You can read the whole thing there. Here is part:

19 August, 1998

I first met ‘Hiro’ a month ago at the Flinders Hotel. He had just finished an eight week English course and had to move out of his home-stay accommodation the following Saturday, or so I gathered after a very tortuous conversation. A few days later he rang to let me know he had found a place in an Eastern suburb near the Harbour. I did not hear from him again until the night before last when he rang to arrange a meeting. After sorting out that Neil was my name and not the name of the hotel, we managed to make an appointment for Tuesday at 6 at the Flinders Hotel. Our communication obviously succeeded as he turned up at the appointed time.

His English pronunciation is clear. The text of his talk is heavily reliant on content words (in the right order) but very weak on inflections and grammatical words. His strategic competence is highly developed. Conversation required intense concentration on both sides with (at stages) frequent recourse to body language, paraphrase, repetition and a Japanese-English dictionary. The month spent living with an English speaker, looking for work, and generally going about town has led to some advance in his spoken English.

He had mentioned at our earlier meeting that he would like to practise his English with me. Since he is a very handsome young man, and since I had met him in a gay bar after all, there were dimensions to this situation. I determined to explore the situation tactfully, but I have not seen any analysis of the appropriate registers and genres for dealing with such a cross-cultural situation with someone of very limited English.

His family grows flowers, he told me, and he himself wanted work in photography, art or floristry. In the context of Australian culture one might by now have been drawing probably false conclusions about his being in a gay bar. (It proved to be a false deduction: he was unaware he was in a gay bar. The delicate matter of sexuality was successfully negotiated at our second meeting.)

From the age of six he had wanted to go overseas; an uncle had been living in America at that time, and it was to America he first wanted to go, but the pictures in an Australian travel brochure persuaded him to come here. He was drawn by Australia’s natural beauty and the surfing. So he sold his car (a Subaru) and came last May.

He said he wanted to experience all things. He wanted to meet Australian men. He wanted to learn English. Most interestingly, he wanted ‘a big heart’; eventually I worked out he meant an open mind–he found Japan too narrow.

Our conversation turned to religion. Having heard a sermon at a funeral he began practising Zen meditation. Asked what he got from it, he said ‘Nothing. Nothing is good.’ In the context this made perfect sense. We looked up dharma and Tao in his dictionary and discussed them wordlessly, as is appropriate.

At the end of the evening he proposed we meet again in a month or so, hesitant to be too demanding as I had been telling him how busy I was. In parting, we thanked each other for a very pleasant evening, and the best English lesson he could have had.

His real name was Kyohiko, from Sendai, a place much affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Yes, I have wondered, but I don’t know.

Sequel: 23 March 2000

“Hiro” returned to Japan at the end of May 1999. In the last six months of our friendship we met monthly to go to a jazz bar near my home. My Shanghainese flatmate was a bit dubious about “Hiro” at first, but towards the end, as he was planning his own 12 months overseas “pilgrimage”, he and “Hiro” found they had a lot in common! The other nice thing about “Hiro” was that, while straight, he did not have a homophobic bone in his body! Makes you feel hopeful about the world

Horror movies right there on my TV…

Too much Cory Bernadi perhaps…

So here I am recuperating from casting my say in the Postal Survey.

mesep17

Actually, I was reading an ebook: Gone With the Wind in fact.

Last night I felt a bit gone with the wind myself as I watched Classic Countdown on ABC. It was very good. Lots of uninterrupted acts.

But was it all really over 40 years ago? And did I look like this back then?

15078581_10211401224136102_7961353461393643886_n1