Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Blogger is tired. I'm moving over to Wordpress. If anyone still reads this, you'll need to change your links and such to

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

An opportunity to work for peace

How seriously do we take Jesus' call to be peacemakers?

Here is an opportunity to stand in the way of warmaking and say 'yes' with your life to the God of peace.

Operation Talisman Sabre is a series of joint military exercises taking place July 6-25 2009, involving almost 30,000 Australian and US troops across 8 areas in Australia engaged in live fire and invasion training. The highest concentration of troops is in Shoalwater Bay Training Area, a pristine wilderness area on the central Queensland coast. People from around Australia are coming together to say 'no' to this practicing for war, and yes to practicing for peace.

Here's how you can get involved at whatever level you feel comfortable (or challenged!):

* Come to planning meetings in your own state
No matter where you are, we can probably hook you up (especially in Melbourne or Brisbane) with the details of regular meetings. This is one way to see what's already happening and whether there's a role you'd like to take.

* Awareness raising around your capital city and solidarity actions
We need people who will be in the cities and towns during the exercises to raise awareness of what is happening in Shoalwater Bay. It may mean a vigil, a petition, or just talking to family and friends, but get together with a group and make it fun.

* Participate in nonviolence trainings
There will be at least two trainings (probably more) run in Melbourne in the lead-up to the games so that people can be as fully prepared as possible. It will also give you a chance to get to know some people who might be going up, and to test the waters of what kind of actions you might take around where you live or at Shoalwater Bay itself.

* Come up to Peace Convergence in Shoalwater Bay
Plan to take some annual leave or RDOs and join the peace convergence. The festivities kick off with the C2C (Committed to Change) Festival in nearby Byfield. The main gathering weekend will be July 10th-12th, but people will be present for the whole three weeks of the exercises (July 6-25). See the Peace Convergence website for more details.

* Consider taking direct action
It is likely that there will be groups of people who will take direct action to nonviolently stop the exercises or otherwise nonviolently resist them, some of whom will take actions risking arrest and some of whom won't risk arrest. Everyone will have the opportunity to be trained and fully prepared beforehand.

Such people also need the support of teams of people who are prepared to do all the necessary logistical work (picking up and dropping off, legals, prayer, personal support), so even if you don't want to risk arrest yourself you can still play a role in helping those who do. It would be helpful to start forming affinity groups (there's a good definition of affinity groups here) soon.

As my good friend Fr. John Dear says, "Nobody has to do everything for peace and justice but everybody's gotta do something!" So I encourage you to prayerfully discern what role you might take towards a more actively nonviolent life.

Please pass this on to your own networks and keep spreading the word!

Abundance is a state of mind

Nice article here in a week when I'm finishing my chicken coop, made almost entirely out of materials I've found around the house or neighbourhood.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Prayer for Peace Tree and Ahmad-Shah Abed

If anyone still reads this, I ask you to be in prayer for our good friends at Peace Tree and their friend Ahmad-Shah Abed who was murdered in Perth earlier this week. Details are still a bit sketchy but the news services are carrying the story.

Articles are here, here and here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

they can't be serious

I wrote to a number of politicians and senior officials about Talisman Sabre 09, and got a reply today from the Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon...I noticed the paper is quite heavy gauge, and when I held it up to the light I noticed this watermark on the first page.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Opinion piece

So like I said I have a new role at Urban Seed, so I've been thinking about articles I could write.

The other morning I was on my way to work when I saw my neighbour, and we stopped and talked. I asked how she coped in the heat last week - three 44 degree days in a row - and she said not so well. Then she started to talk about global warming, and how she thought that might be the cause because we've never had heat like that before that she can remember (and she's been in that house for more than 50 years). And then she threw up her hands and said, "What can you do? Nothing." And I immediately thought "no! that's terrible! we can't think like that!" but then I thought "but what can I suggest that would be useful to an elderly lady?" and basically said something feeble about having to do something. And then on the way to work I remembered the Wendell Berry quote and the article was born. Enjoy.

Fostering a dangerous climate of addiction

MY OLDER Italian neighbour was lamenting the recent hot weather. "I think it might be climate change," she said, and threw up her hands despairingly. "What can we do?" She sighed. "Nothing really." I could sympathise, of course. Despair about the future of our planet is in no short supply. But I couldn't help feeling that despair is a luxury we cannot afford.

As Wendell Berry, the Kentuckian agrarian poet and essayist says of the climate crisis, "The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependent on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."

The science is overwhelming. Greenhouse gases, caused largely by our insatiable appetite for cheap, abundant energy, are heating the planet, melting ice caps and altering the climate, and we are nearing the dangerous tipping point towards catastrophic runaway climate change. Yet we continue to rely on unsustainable fossil fuels and our water use ignores the reality of this dry continent.

If this is the reality, why do we continue living as we do?

I work for Urban Seed, a community that has made a home in the heart of the city of Melbourne for about 15 years. We offer a free lunch, and often share it with the city's most marginalised, many of whom struggle with long-term drug, alcohol and gambling addictions. Over the years we've learned a thing or two about addiction — how insidious it can be, how destructive of wellbeing. But most of all, we've learned that addiction is not confined to someone shooting up heroin in a back laneway.

Often the executive on Collins Street buying the latest technological wizardry to "keep up" or the person shopping for this season's designer handbag are equally addicted — though some addictions are more socially acceptable than others.

Often I would sit with Luke as he slumped, defeated, over his lunch.

His addiction to the pokies had seen him blow his entire pension cheque at the casino — again. He would speak of how he had told himself just the night before that this time he wouldn't do it. But the human capacity for self-delusion is immense. His denial of the odds led him to believe that this time it would all be different.

Such is our problem with climate change. We are addicted to the very things that accelerate global warming. We know the problems but remain in denial about what it is going to require of us to fix them. Like an addict who thinks they can control their addiction or stop any time they like, we cling to the train as it hurtles towards the abyss.

Addictions often develop because of a need to escape a reality that is too difficult to face. Whether it's a heroin user escaping childhood abuse or an insatiable society escaping the reality of a world of finite resources, the same dynamic is involved.

Rudd's recent "consume our way out of recession" policies are a perfect example. Despite the fact that we know our overconsumption is accelerating global warming, this Government, which was elected on taking "real action on climate change", is encouraging us to buy more, consume more. The desalination plant is another exercise in contradiction — the logic of replacing one problem (lack of water) with another more destructive one (pollution, massive energy consumption). Yet without the Earth there is no human life and no economy.

Perhaps what we need is a 12-step program to rid ourselves of our addiction to destructive habits. Our experience at Urban Seed is that addictions are not cured by government policy or one-size-fits-all solutions. They are cured by slow, costly, patient, local, personal work. So it will be with climate change.

We need prophetic communities of imagination who can lead us to an alternative future — one that does not deny the realities of the ecologies in which we live but co-operates with their processes and yields to their limits.

But as any addict knows, the first step is admitting you have a problem — first to ourselves and then to each other.

So let me begin with this: My name is Simon and I am an addict.

Reverend Simon Moyle is public engagement co-ordinator for Urban Seed.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Washed up at 31

So I've started a new role at Urban Seed doing public engagement and advocacy, and as I work on the ideas for a newly developed Seeds website I'm discovering that I'm about 3 years behind technology and social practice. And now I'm wondering if I can catch up.

Isn't 31 a little young to be too old?

He's really not the Messiah

"I guess when Obama says this stuff...I don't think he really means it. And that gives me hope."
Jason Jones.

Monday, February 02, 2009

More on the vigil and NCYC

Here's Shane Claiborne's take on what we did (sure he gets a few details wrong, but whatever).