M, Bali earthquake and multiculturalism

I can’t resist quoting M’s latest Facebook travel update:

Had almost 40km bicycle ride today to immigration office in Denpasar, it was interesting ride on Bali chaotic road but I feel very safe as all the drivers not aggressive and very patient and calm! Having a couple of Guinness at Kuta beach and watching sunset, actually there was a little earthquake at this morning in Bali, whole hotel was shaking I thought it was someone having sex, I was saying “ what is going on please stop it”

Also on Facebook another friend has sounded a challenging note about multiculturalism. He is referring to an opinion piece in Monday’s Herald.

Dr Justin Koonin is in a bubble and so are all advocates of multiculturalism – a political accommodation for demographic reality but like most governmental sleight of hand, unsustainable and hypocritical. Unsustainable because in a few decades our people will carry the genes from four continents and they will follow a culture that is yet to be experienced. They will not practice one or all of their grandparents customs for they will be imbued with the contemporary Anglo culture. Moreover, a culture incorporates laws governing the conduct and relations of its communities. British law reigns in all Anglo Saxon lands. There is little accommodation for any other legal code. Furthermore, the connection between Hitler and religious freedom is somewhat thin. .

Rather than picking through all that I refer you to some older posts of mine. Not all the internal links in those posts will work, though quite a few still do. That’s one of the downsides of hypertexting meeting time and net decay, but for what they are worth here goes:

personal identity

First: Malouf and Maalouf: reading July 2005. Then: 2007 — Religion: Who Needs It? — The Heathlander.

It is all very hypothetical though. Religion isn’t about to go away, not in my lifetime or probably in yours. Me, I am a believer in God who does not believe in magic books. So I agree entirely about the dubious morality of much of the Bible, but not of all of the Bible, and ditto for the Quran, though here is an interesting conundrum for the world as Muslims tend to be wedded to the magic book principle even more than Christians or Jews. Rather than go into all that here, I refer you to entries on my archive page under the tag “Bible”.

So I do not identify with this characterisation of religion:

…Rather than a rational discussion of morality culminating in a series of arguments, religious morality is just a set of rules written down on paper, with no attempt at rational explanation and no critical discussion of the issues. Moreover, believers are positively discouraged from thinking for themselves about morality, and are rather indoctrinated or terrified into blindly following whatever their “Holy Book” or “religious teacher” has to say. That’s not morality, it’s tyrannical brainwashing…

Rather, I do lean towards this comment in Meanjin Vol. 65, no. 4, 2006:

Modern-day Christians have to stop thinking that they do not need to engage in dialogue because they have found their good shepherd. Having to engage with those of a different faith is not always comfortable. But in our post-secular society, in which the boundary between belief and unbelief is much less clear than for previous generations, interfaith dialogue is the way of the future…

We are becoming a society in whch secular and religious cultures coexist, and indeed can sometimes learn from each other. In that sense we may be moving to a post-secular generation.

— Constant J Mews, Monash University

Next Is Australia a Christian country? — also from 2007.  Finally, from 2011: Being Australian 11: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 4.


NZ reclaims Sirdan

In just a week’s time my friend Sirdan (and Missie the Jack Russell) moves into the new house in NZ, not far from Wellington. Our friendship goes back to the Albury Hotel in Darlinghurst — last century!

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Here are a few glimpses of Sirdan:

With Missie, Rosebery 2010:

Una’s, Darlinghurst:




2011 — Surry Hills


Postponing– poning a post? Hmmm…

July is always a month of reflection — my 76th very very soon! And that always reminds me of my Uncle Neil, after whom I was named having been born so close to his birthday during World War 2. A bit later in the month comes my mother’s birthday; if she were still alive she would be 108!

And the person once known as Mr Rabbit is 37 this month too! Unbelievable.

So I was going to post some portentous stuff about the passing of time, but I will refrain…

Instead, here is a tram in Paddington when I was 16! “R1 2023 turning left into MacDonald Street from Brown Street Paddington 1959. Photographer Peter Sage picture from Lindsay Bridge flickr.”  The world of SIXTY years ago seems to me just yesterday sometimes…


Meanwhile M is still in our near north-west, last seen in Yogyakarta heading soon for Bali. His travels began 11 June! He has posted A LOT of great pictures on Facebook. I have featured a few, and here are two more. Enjoy!



A really short sample from M’s travels

M is having an eight-week sojourn in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. As of this moment he is, I think, in Sumatra. He is — and has been for years — a wonderful photographer, with an eye for people going about their business and amazing scenery. He also has a sense of fun. I am offering just four out of the many he has so far posted on Facebook — I haven’t counted, but it is a lot!

The first one in fact is from a return visit three months ago to his family in Shanghai — a trip I hadn’t been aware of. And yes, that’s M.

The next is something I would not have expected in Singapore:


The next is from Kuala Lumpur:


Finally, back to China. I think this is Suzhou.


M visits The Gong

Had a surprise phone call Sunday morning: M and a friend were driving down to Wollongong and wanted to lunch with me. We settled on City Diggers. Their Sunday menu was particularly good yesterday.

M (who had a serious accident on his bike a few months back) has healed well, though he is still off work.


The view from Diggers looking north, five years ago, when they were still working on the new Mall in Crown Street.

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Intersection of Crown Street Mall and Church Street, looking south — 2018