It’s all uphill from here. Old people are the happiest of all


Everybody wants to be happy and we often assume that the younger you are the happier you are. But the truth seems to be that happiness increases with age. In the last couple of decades happiness has been studied by researchers across the world.The results are striking. Four variables seem to impact happiness: gender (women report greater life satisfaction than men); personality (extroverts are...

Haters, Adam Goodes & the Elusiveness of Empathy


Life has a way of surprising us. In the last 12 months, as the symptoms of my Parkinsons have become more pronounced, I have experienced a deep generosity of spirit from family, friends and strangers. For many the default response to my disability has been empathy and a desire to help. One might hope for this from those who are close, but I had never expected it from complete strangers. Yet the...

The New Bigotry


In recent weeks Facebook has been filled with anti-Muslim diatribes. They all share the conviction that there is only one form of Islam in the world, that it aims at the imposition of islamic law on all people, and is not afraid to resort to violence to achieve this objective. Anyone who is a committed Muslim is seen to share this conviction, and if they appear not to it is simply a clever ruse...

Celebration and sorrow. Two keys to a life well lived


There’s an interesting episode in the Gospels where a woman brings a jar of expensive perfume, cracks it open and pours it upon Jesus. His followers, who have caught his concern for those living in poverty, grow indignant, protesting to the woman that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to those who were struggling. Jesus stops them, telling them that this woman has done a...

Why I need to dance like a crazy man


Last week I was reminded of a delightful anecdote from Dr Paul Brand, the medico who did revolutionary work on leprosy. Brand, who grew up in India, was sent to boarding school in England at the age of nine. When he was fourteen he received a telegram telling him that his father had died. The young Brand was heartbroken. A few weeks later a letter arrived that had been written by his father just...

On the occasion of Sandy’s birthday


Today is my wife’s birthday, and it causes me to reflect on the extraordinary people we get to share life with. Sandy and I have been together since we were eighteen years old. She is without doubt the great love of my life, and I am humbled by the fact that she chooses to spend her life with me. I want to say words that sum up who she is, but whatever I come up with seems inadequate. How...

A Jesus I Can Follow


The last decade or so I have really enjoyed reading the works of “Jesus scholars”. They are part of a movement often described as “the quest for the historical Jesus.” The quest starts with the assumption that the Jesus pictured by the biblical writers and church tradition is quite different to the Jesus who walked the earth. So they try to peel away the layers of...

“Justice didn’t do a thing to heal me. Forgiveness did.”


“Justice didn’t do a thing to heal me. Forgiveness did.” This is the closing sentence of Debbie Morris’s remarkable book Forgiving the Dead Man Walking. On a Friday night in the 1980′s sixteen year old Debbie and her boyfriend Mark were kidnapped while on a date. After shooting her boyfriend in the head and leaving him for dead in the woods, the kidnappers subjected Debbie to...

On The Importance of Doing ‘Nothing’


Aided by a couple of days off and a flat mobile phone (thanks to a lost battery charger), I have spent the last three days doing ‘nothing’. I am so used to being busy doing ‘something’ – writing an article, preparing a sermon, running a meeting, dreaming a new idea into being, writing emails, worrying about an unfinished task. But the last three days I have not done...

There Goes the Neighbourhood


Natalie Jean Wood died in her Surry Hills home  sometime between 2003 and 2006. Her body lay undiscovered until July this year. For more than eight years no-one noticed she was gone, no-one missed her, no-one mourned her passing. I wonder if the same thing could happen in my street. I live in suburban Australia. The village, a world where communities were small and neighbours shopped, socialised...

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