Why even Republicans like me got sucked into the royal wedding


Try as I did to resist, this last week I found myself pulled into the vortex of joy that was the royal wedding. In the leadup I disdainfully dismissed it as the pompous ceremony (and yes I mean pompous ceremony not pomp and ceremony) of an elitist and sexist institution that regarded the church as chaplain to its power… except that what I found was a celebration of love and marriage that captured...

Sometimes I feel like the luckiest man in the world


We are sitting side by side on a flight to Brisbane. Ours was the first flight out this morning, which meant we were up at 4am. Sandy dozes beside me and I once more find myself incredibly thankful that this woman has shared her life with me. We’ve been married for 30+ years and yes, we each have annoying little quirks. When Sandy pulls out one of her many lists that demand certain chores...

Life Skills for an Age of Populist Rage


Populism is everywhere at the minute. It’s particularly pronounced in the rise of Trumpism and Hansonism, but is found on the left, the right and the centre whenever people seek to win over an audience with arguments that confirm the fears, biases and prejudices of that audience but fail to take account of the breadth and complexity of  the issue being addressed. And although I try my...

A doctor, five nuns and the Concorde. An unexpected tale that will warm your heart


I read a delightfully heartwarming story this week. In September 1989 Dr George Lombardi received a phone call. On the other end of the line was a woman wanting to know whether he was the Dr Lombardi who was an infectious disease specialist. She introduced herself as the representative of a world figure and Nobel Laureate who was suspected of having a viral haemorrhagic fever and wanted to know...

Learning the Art of Forgiveness


I have been fortunate to go through most of my life without the need to do much forgiving. Yes there have been exchanges of angry words and disappointments at how I have been treated, but with a few exceptions, nothing that has inflicted deep wounds. nonetheless from those painful episodes where I have needed to forgive this is what I have discovered about forgiveness. 1. Forgiveness is a gift I...

The Space Between Hope and Disappointment. Or Why Following Jesus Is Gloriously Frustrating


The Space Between Hope and Disappointment. Or Why Following Jesus Is Gloriously Frustrating I live in the space between hope and disappointment. I am a hoper. A few weeks back I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, at the very spot Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech, and it was profoundly moving. It was a place of hope, a shrine to the possibility that...

Who are the happiest people in the world?


Upon their return from countries with high levels of poverty I often hear people say “they might be poor, but they seem so much happier than us.” It’s a comforting thought for those of us who live with great wealth. But it’s not true. The 2016 World Happiness Report has just been released and it shows that the top 10 countries are all affluent industrialised nations and...

The greatness and the blindness of us all. Reflections on a visit to George Washington’s farm


I am in Virginia, United States of America, for a conference. Two days ago I travelled to the farm and mansion of George Washington, the great military leader who triumphed over the British in the war of independence and who went on to become the first President of United States. The estate is magnificent. Grassy fields and forests overlooking the Potomac River. And Washington himself is...

New Year’s Eve 2016. A Year to Love


I am spending New Year’s Eve on Lord Howe Island with Sandy and some friends. Yesterday I wandered through the Lord Howe Island museum and came across an exhibit that quite moved me. On June 16, 1951 two young men, Tom Payten and Bryant Smythe, set out on a fishing trip. Later that day Tom’s father wrote this in the front of his bible. “Last saw my dearest boy Sabbath 16 on his way fishing...

On Turning Fifty


I turned 50 today. It’s one of the birthdays with a zero in it, which is supposed to invest it with greater significance than any other. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s a good opportunity to reflect. If you had asked the 20-year-old Scott Higgins to describe where I would be, who I would be, and what I would be doing at 50, I’m not sure I would have come remotely close...

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