The Fine Line Between Monsters and Heroes. On the Passing of Nelson Mandela


Nelson Mandela, the greatest statesmen of the past fifty years, passed away this morning. He will be eulogised, lionised, and turned into a god. Yet what strikes me about Mandela was his vivid awareness of his humanity, his humble recognition that he was just a man like any other. As he wrote in his autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom I wanted first of all to tell the people that I was not a...

My Most Popular Posts


I started this blog in January 2012, and this is post 200. Thanks to Google analytics I am able to track which have been the most read. Here’s the top 5. 1. “Wives, submit to your husbands”. Why We Mistakenly Assume This is God’s Word to Us Today 2. Dancing with the Devil. Nestle, Chocolate and Child Labour 3. Myths About Poverty. Myth #1 – People are Poor Because They’re Lazy 4. Belief...

Good to be alive


I’m on the train travelling from Sydney home to Newcastle. The sun is shining as we pass over a shimmering Hawkesbury river. The music of Mumford and Sons plays through my headphones. And I can’t help but feel it’s good to be alive. There are some significant challenges in my life right now, challenges that have engulfed me in swirling emotion and uncertainty. Nonetheless, as I...

The Kindness of Strangers


Tonight I set off for a Jervis Bay fishing trip. With my son Lachlan, good friend Steve, and Steve’s son Nick in the car and the boat trailing behind, we were all looking forward to the trip. And then it happened. The trailer started to vibrate, and after pulling over we discovered the right side trailer when was about to fall off. A little investigation revealed the cause – a...

Wear Sunscreen


A marvellous graduation speech from last century by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune. Enjoy! Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’98: Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will...

Global Citizenship. Putting the National Interest in its Place


When it comes to sport I am an unabashed nationalist. There is something delicious about beating the English in cricket, the All Blacks at rugby and the US at anything- not that we’ve been doing much of that lately. But there lies the problem with nationalism. While it may be relatively harmless when applied to sport it is not so benign in other ways. Nationalism is part of identity. Who am...

The Wisdom of Nelson Mandela


This week has seen the world preparing itself for the death of Nelson Mandela, one of the towering figures of our age. Thought I’d share some of my favourite Mandela quotes: I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities...

Does God Have a Plan for My Life?


I heard a preacher on Radio Rhema this week who said something along these lines God will clearly reveal his will for every decision in your life. For God has a plan for every area of your life and he wants to reveal that to you. Really? God had it planned that I would marry Sandy in 1987, move to Newcastle in 1995, and go to work for Baptist World Aid in 2005? Did God also plan that I would...

Two Ends of the Train Carriage


I’m sitting in the middle of the first carriage on the train from Central to Newcastle. It’s 8.30 am and every twin seat is occupied by at least one person. At the first stop a lady gets on and politely asks the gentleman sitting in the three person seat at the rear end of the carriage if she can sit. He replies with a very friendly “Sure, no problem!”, and shifts his...

You Are Not Special


High School graduation speeches are supposed to be inspirational. Last year Wellesley High School English teacher David McCullough, Jr, took a different tack.  He  told the students You are not special.  You are not exceptional. Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister...

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