Saturday, July 16, 2022

Greg Craven Does Monty Python

I sat next to Greg Craven once. It was a Zoom event with six of my Facebook friends on screen as well. This virtual group was a small snapshot of a much larger audience for the launch of Craven's book, Shadow of the Cross, Catholic Social Teaching and Australian Politics. I didn't buy the book but I did read the article Greg wrote for the Australian which the Catholic Weekly chose to reprint this week. This reflection is my response to the article.

What a hoot!! When I first read this, I thought it was a new script for a revival of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The manic hyperbole is the very stuff you could see John Cleese delivering from a first floor window of Fawlty Towers. Look at this litany of memorable quotes: 

  • Smug Catholic left 
  • grand mugwumps.
  • radical gang of lay bomb-throwers 
  • The Molotov cocktail faction 
  • religious Bolsheviks 
  • muttering imprecations. 
  • perfidy of bishops and politically incorrect laity. 
  • new Catholic managerial class. 
  • brash, confident and self-regarding 
  • despised, stumbling bishops 
  • want is to get their own pious hands on the levers of power. 
  • Catholic haute bourgeoisie 
  • grey-haired boomers, male or female, in love with the swinging 60s 
  • woke church. 
  • condescending ideology 
  • ideological bureaucrats 
  • woke, weak and wounded, and under their control. 

However upon reading the comments I realised that this is meant to be a serious piece of religious journalism. The author is not back pew Catholic and reminds us that he is Professor Greg Craven. The last person I knew who was called “professor” was Julius Sumner Miller of TV fame.  

The best throwaway line in this piece is where Greg Craven launches into what he calls the “new Catholic managerial class”. These are the clever Catholics who run major operations in  education, health and welfare. Professor Craven describes such Catholics as “brash, confident and self-regarding". I seem to remember somewhere back in recent history that Professor Greg Craven featured as one of the Australin University Vice Chancellors receiving over the one million dollar mark in annual renumeration. Do I see pots and kettles outside Greg’s home? 

Catholics appear to be less inclined to tick their box in the latest Census and if you read the comments on the Catholic Weekly Facebook page where Professor Craven's article was shared you might understand a reluctance to identify with some commentators and their friends.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Days to connect in person or virtually between now and September 2022


Image Source

There are good (and often important!) reasons to connect every single day.

Here are a few days to help get you started.

And remember, every day is neighbour day!

July 22        National Pyjama Day is all about wearing your favourite pair of PJ's to help The Pyjama Foundation raise much-needed awareness and funds for children in foster care.  

July 24         Stress Down Day is a fundraising event to help cover the cost of running Lifeline's 24 hour telephone counseling line - 13 11 14. Workplaces participate by enjoying a day of stress reducing activities, including wearing casual dress to work, in exchange for a donation to the cause.

July 25-31     Library and Information Week - The Australian Library and Information Association has been running Library and Information Week since 2001 - a week for all libraries and information services throughout Australia showcase their resources and services to their communities, through programs and events. Whether it's a library in your school, community, university, hospitals, cultural or law institutions, this week is an opportunity to learn more about what they do and the important roles they play in our local communities.

July 25-31       National Pain Week aims to contribute to the de-stigmatisation of the experience of chronic pain; work towards creating healing relationships between the person in pain and their pain clinician/s, and to reduce the isolation and suffering of people in pain.
July 29        Schools Tree Day - Each year around 250,000 Australian school students participate in Schools Tree Day - a special National Tree Day event just for kids. It's a great opportunity for children to learn about nature, get outside and have fun at the same time. This Schools Tree Day, all schools and their students are encouraged get involved and plant some trees for a healthier planet.

July 30       The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.

July 31       National Tree Day - Planet Ark is calling for people to connect with nature by getting involved in National Tree Day, Australia's largest tree-planting and nature care event. People can participate by becoming National Tree Day site coordinators or attending plantings in their local areas.
August 1-7    CafĂ© Smart brings together coffee roasters, cafes and coffee drinkers around the country to help people who are homeless. Participating cafes generously donate $1.00 per coffee sold to fund local projects.
August 1-7    Homelessness Week is an annual event to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness in Australia via national and local community events, including providing information on the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.
August 1-7    National Landcare Week is a time for all Australians to acknowledge and reflect on the great work being carried out by over a hundred thousand volunteers who give up their valuable time to care for the country. Landcarers across Australia grow our food, look after our environment, care for our coastlines, and protect our native animals. National Landcare Week was created to celebrate the hardworking Landcarers who are fostering a better environmental future for all.
August 1 - October 31  The Great Northern Clean Up, is an event of Clean Up Australia, takes place during the months of August, September and October - a time of year which is more suitable for communities living in the tropical North (i.e. northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.)
August 8   Dying to Know Day is an annual day of action dedicated to bringing to life conversations and community actions around death, dying and bereavement.
August 9   International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples is a day used to celebrate and recognize the stories, cultures and unique identities of indigenous peoples around the world.
August 12   International Youth Day is a reminder that investment in the worlds’ youth will provide a better future for all.
August 13-21  National Science Week celebrates the contributions Australian Scientists have made to the world. There are hundreds of activities, events and debates across the country during the week.
August 15-21  Keep Australia Beautiful Week. The aim of the Keep Australia Beautiful campaign is to demonstrate the easy ways people can help the environment and also save money by making a few simple changes around the home and in their daily lives.
August 16     Cupcake Day for the RSPCA is the biggest bakeoff in the Southern Hemisphere and involves Cupcake Cooks around Australia baking cupcakes and hosting a Cupcake Party to raise vital funds for the RSPCA.
August 19     World Humanitarian Day is used to increase public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in this regard, as well as to honour all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause and those who have lost their lives in the cause of duty.
August 20-26  Book Week. Each year, many schools and public libraries from all over Australia spend a week celebrating books and Australian authors and illustrators. Classroom teachers, teacher librarians and public librarians develop activities, offer competitions and tell stories relating to a theme to highlight the importance of reading.

September 4-10 National Child Protection Week continues to embrace the overarching message that ‘Every child, in every community, needs a fair go’. In particular, this year they will be shining a light on children growing up safe and supported.

September 8
  R U OK?Day is an annual National Day of Action and a reminder that every day is the day to check in with your friends, family and colleagues. Ask R U OK? No qualifications needed, because a conversation could change a life.

Monday, May 16, 2022

National Volunteer Week 2022

One of the practices I learnt from my parents was the value of volunteering in the local community. They modeled  their belief in faith and neighbourhood in action and commitment.  My father was a life long member of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Geelong.  As well as a weekly meeting, Dad looked after the management of  Halstead Place, a hostel for rough sleepers. He also cared for the garden at our local parish Church and was a regular on the Meals on Wheels program.
My mother came from a family where commitment to school, church and community was ingrained as the way of living. As well as school Mothers Club and canteen rosters, Mum joined committees for the local parish and in later life, the management committee at her retirement village. As with many homemakers Mum also volunteered an amazing volume of cakes and goodies for fetes and fundraisers.  When our family were sorting out finances after Mum’s death we discovered her incredible generosity to causes and campaigns that worked for the common good.
I inherited much of this understanding and commitment to volunteering.  Some of my most treasured young memories are the days when my Dad would “dink me” on his bike to the hostel where he cooked and cared for rough sleepers.
On this National Volunteers Week I give thanks to those organisations that have provided me with opportunities for “Changing Communities. Changing Lives”  The change has been in my outlook and understanding of the world and how we work together to build community.
At 69 years old I look back with gratitude to the groups and communities that provided volunteering experience and life long learning for me:
As well as groups and associations I have been able to volunteer my services as a photographer to friends and public events as a citizen journalist. This is a role where I am able to use my images to  challenge social exclusion, prejudice and injustice.
As I begin a new era as a senior citizen I have taken up membership of advocacy groups such as   COTA for my generation.
My hope is to continue to volunteer for my community and causes that promote social change. I hope that through my volunteering at this stage of life I can mentor a new generation of awareness and commitment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Songs Of A Lifetime

A 69th Birthday

On Monday 23 February 1953 Alex and Kath Robertson welcomed their first born child, named Anthony Gerard. There were no headlines in the world news, no posts on Facebook, just a few lines  in the Birth Notices on page 2 of the Geelong Advertiser.

I  acknowledge the land of the Wadawurrung people of the Kulin nations where I was born and pay respect to Elders, past, present and emerging.

So on this day I give thanks for my parents now deceased, my sister and brothers, cousins and relatives of several generations who nurtured, loved and challenged me.

I give thanks for the neighbours, school friends, work colleagues, travel companions, lecturers, employers, lovers and life friends who have shared the journey over 69 years

I wish a "Happy Birthday" to each of you for your celebration of the birthing day in your life. May the year ahead be a time of growth, compassion, commitment and love in so many ways for each of us.

To celebrate  the  beginning of my 70th year  I am updating  my digital biography. Yes, here in images are the highlights captured by other peoples lens. If you have an image you would like to contribute feel free to send it in for inclusion. Please feel free to add comments and your memories of these moments.

Tony, A Digital Life 

Friday, February 18, 2022

A Naked Anniversary

On March 1, 2010  Spencer Tunick carried out a series of installations titled "The Base" on the Sydney Opera House Forecourt and inside the Opera House. 

The installations were carried out as part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and were Tunick's first large-scale installation in Sydney, with over 5,200 participants. I was one of those 5,200 naked bodies and one of the 2,000 plus who were invited into the shoot in the Great Hall of the Opera House.

I had been to a few naturist events prior to this and was used to seeing other unclothed bodies of diverse shapes.I had played in the annual Anzac Day Nude cricket match at Belongil Beach and documented the first Brisbane Naked Bike Ride in 2007.My calendar of events always includes World Naked Gardening Day. I even have a naked patron for my Holy Irritant blog. 

After this shoot I was a feature in an exhibition at the  2012 Pride Art Show

My parents ensured that our childhood and home life was filled with reading ,music and clothing. I'm not sure where the DNA preference for nudity came from. My digital life collection  showcases my wardrobe and I even have a site for my Tees , called Credo Threads. 

So here I am twelve  years on from my  nude encounter with 5199 other people on a chilly morning in Sydney .I remember arriving at 4 am to register and getting my wristband which allowed me to join the select group for the indoor shoot in the Great Hall. Despite the large crowd and the fact that our clothing and personal items were left in plastic bags on parkland next to the Opera House, there was no report of theft or other disturbance.

I remember the conversations about religion, sport and politics. I remember the good humour and respect as we weaved and turned like a football crowd. I ended up close to the front row and was almost in touching distance of Grant Denyer doing a live feed for Sunrise My highlight was being in the group that were taken into the Great Hall for a shoot. As we left the space at about 9am we mingled and met staff and tourists arriving for the usual days activities.

Tunick has amazing crowd control using his ladder, a megaphone and clothed minders. The spirit of the occasion left an endearing memory of the respect, fun and  comfort of moving around with  naked people of all shapes and sizes. This is all the more amazing when you consider that we were asked to  lay on the ground, face front and back and then invited to embrace someone.

All participants received one souvenir photo of the event. Mine is framed and  acts as a great conversation starter when we have exhausted religion, politics and sport.  As you might imagine the challenge in a large group photo is identifying  yourself. Unfortunately I was absorbed into a mass of naked flesh and am still trying to find myself.

My anniversary celebration will be spent enlarging some of the pics online and searching for my nondescript  body whilst attempting not to gawk at the  surrounding awesomeness.

For those from faith traditions feeling a little awkward about nudity here's a little spiritual encouragement

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Friday, December 03, 2021

Just Dates December

The scroll version is available here

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Just Dates November

A scroll down version of this presentation is available here

Friday, October 01, 2021

Just Dates: October

A large scroll version is available here

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Supporting the Romero Centre in Brisbane


Making a public stance about values and beliefs can take many forms from signing petitions to acts of civil disobedience. As a photographer I have used my work to highlight issues of diversity, justice making and inclusion.

On the other side of the lens I have been happy to be photographed at public events that  promote my  values and beliefs. Knowing that these images go into the public domain I hope to inspire, influence and challenge those who follow my social media feeds.

Today I am  honoured  to have my image  feature in the currentnewsletter of the Romero Centre . I encourage you to read this publication and  support a local community project here in #Brisbane.

2021 Welcome Walk