Letters to the editor – March 2017

Unclear reflection

There are times when I hesitate to take Crosslight home because I cannot understand a lot of what is written.

The sentences are often so long that I have to go back to the beginning to try and get the gist of its meaning.

What has finally caused me to write is in the November issue’s ‘Pilgrim Reflection.’ The article starts “Is there any theology that does not have a context? Is there any theology which can avoid a hermeneutic of suspicion? Clearly the answer is ‘no’.”

If a person does not know what ‘hermeneutics’ and ‘contextual theology’ (used 11 times) means, the whole ‘Reflection’ is meaningless.

Please use simple language or is Crosslight only for theologians?

Dorothy McNeill
Williamstown, VIC
God’s power

I would like to respond to the letter entitled ‘God’s coal’ by Colin Kent (February Crosslight).

Mr Kent expresses the fear that, without reliance on brown coal from the Latrobe Valley, industry will fail because power supply from wind and solar is not constant. Mr Kent fails to recognise that continuing reliance on fossil-fuelled power supply has not and will not save our industry. Alternatively, renewable energy technologies are a growth industry.

There is no proposal to shut down coal-fired power immediately, but we do need an orderly transition to benign 21st century technologies if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The issue of intermittent supply of power is simply a technical challenge that is being addressed with the capability of our God-given creativity and intelligence. Soon, technical advances will allow for storage and delivery of reliable baseload power derived from renewable resources.

In the past, we thought that asbestos and tobacco were beneficial, but now we understand that these commodities, like coal, are not good for us or our planet. God has also given us intelligence and discretion to choose alternatives that are not destructive.

Julie Rosewarne Foster
Ellinbank, VIC
I read the letter from Colin Kent, Latrobe Valley (Crosslight, February) and his concerns about the possible demise of the brown coal power generation. I thought I should alert both Mr Kent and Crosslight to some new material now commenced production which can, among its attributes, capture so-called ‘greenhouse’ gases (about which so many people are concerned) and thereby reduce the ‘carbon [sic] emissions’ from the thermal power stations to zero. Unlike expensive and futile ‘carbon capture and storage’, the use of this material as a filter in exhaust flues will produce something useful: a natural fertiliser.

And then there is the real solution to producing clean, cheap, reliable and safe electricity: modern nuclear fission. No – not uranium-fuelled light water reactors being used in present old nuclear power stations, with the accident risks (Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima), but a later development of a completely different ‘walk-away-safe’ technology. By the way, the US had one of these running back in the 1960s before closing it for political reasons. And what was the reason? You can’t make bombs with this technology! (And nuclear waste can be recycled and used with only a very small quantity of low-level waste remaining.)

Perhaps your readers might like to check things out for themselves. Here is technology that can solve many problems for which the Church is most concerned, especially for the poor in the developing world. I’ve sorted out some information that may be checked via this interactive PDF http://galileomovement.com.au/media/ShouldYouReallyBeAlarmed.pdf.

Once you wrap your mind around this you might reach the conclusion that I have: God is a lot, lot smarter than we mere mortals think!

Michael Spencer,
Burwood, VIC

Inequity in education

I agree with Bryan Long that it is shocking that Australia has the most inequitable education system in the developed world (Crosslight, November 2016).

Like Bryan, I believe that the Gonski reforms held out the best opportunity in decades to address many of these inequities and I share his disappointment that these reforms were not well supported by Australian churches and religious schools.

The Uniting Church in Australia has had a strong record of speaking up for those who are the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society.
At present over 730,000 Australian children live in poverty. Many go to school hungry each day.

The vast majority of these disadvantaged, at-risk children and young people attend poorly funded and under resourced government schools in low socio economic suburbs and regions around our nation.

Education is one of the most important ways of helping people living in poverty build lives that enable them to have all their needs met.

It is therefore essential that government schools receive all the staff and resources they need so that they can properly provide their students with the opportunity to earn incomes well above the poverty line and participate fully in the workforce and the economy.

It would be wonderful if the UCA and all schools and colleges that are based on a Christian ethos prioritised and spoke up for the educational needs of the poorest students in our society.

Rev Robert Van Zetten
Highton VIC

Call for memories

It gives me pleasure to announce the research and writing of the history of Prahran Mission, 1946 to 2016. The publication will appear in 2017 in a book format, with a launch date to be announced in due course.

We respectfully request information from those with former ties to Prahran Mission, particularly prior to 1990.

This could include photographs, publications, letters, flyers, reports or, perhaps most valuably, personal recollections. We make this appeal to former staff, volunteers, donors, clients and members of congregations who forged links with the Mission. As readers may be aware, Prahran Mission was part of the old Prahran Methodist circuit and the wider Methodist community was a staunch supporter of its activities. This continued under the banner of the Uniting Church.

Prahran Mission’s work – childcare, material aid, low-cost dining, Meals On Wheels, mental health, aged care, youth programs and others – has been a feature of inner-city Melbourne over many decades. This is especially around Prahran, Windsor and South Yarra, but more latterly as far afield as Mount Waverley and Cranbourne.

It is a rich history, stretching back to humble post-war beginnings through to the present, ever-changing welfare landscape. The book will cover the organisation’s development, its people, programs, leadership, church ties, challenges and achievements.

Any material / memories will be gratefully received at
E: elliot.cartledge@prahranmission.org.au or P: (03) 9692 9500

Elliot Cartledge
Prahran Mission, VIC

I am writing the history of the football clubs that used to play in Auburn, Melbourne such as the Hawthorn Amateurs/Districts/Citizens and Auburn FC. I am also including a short history of the South Hawthorn Presbyterian FC, AKA South Hawthorn United.

This club was formed by South Hawthorn Presbyterian Church on Tooronga Rd.

Any memories of this club or even of the church to provide context, would be appreciated. Please contact James Nicolas on 0407511057 or cobrascfc@gmail.com.

James Nicolas
via email

Pension pain

In refuting my claim (December Crosslight) that the savage cuts to the pensions “will destroy the retirement plans of hundreds of thousands of the present and future retirees”, David Stannard (February) asserted “ in fact the 10 per cent of pensioners affected can end up living on a similar dollar amount as they were before.”

David’s statement that affected pensioners “can supplement their pension reduction from their investments” and “once these pensioners have used their investments down to the applicable level, they can then qualify again for the full pension” glosses over the long-term effects of the savage change to the assets test.

Until 31 December, a single home-owner pensioner with total assets of $542,500 (comprising personal assets of $55,092 and investments of $487,408) was receiving a pension of $9,798 per annum and interest from a government guaranteed bank Retirement Account of $10,337, providing a total income of $20,135 pa.

On 1 January the pension was cancelled leaving the pensioner with only the $10,337 interest as income.

A full pension is payable when the total assets are reduced to $209,000 (including investments of $153,908) so, by spending $333,500 this pensioner then qualifies for the $22,804 per annum full pension. The bank interest on the $153,908 is just $2834 (Centrelink deems it to be earning $4264) so the pensioner then has a total income of $25,638 pa. – $5513 pa more income but without the security of the $333,500 nest-egg.

The same increase in the pension is obtainable immediately by spending the $333,500 on home improvements, holidays and gambling, but not by making large gifts to support charities, churches, family members or friends.

The change has destroyed the long-held belief of saving for a rainy day and will do nothing to sustain our welfare system into the future.

Robert W Parry FCA
Yarrambat VIC
Rose-coloured editorial

I have been concerned for some time at an apparent reluctance of Crosslight to take a clear position on what may be perceived by some as ‘sensitive’ or ‘controversial’ matters and believe that many among your readership would appreciate you being more forthcoming.

This concern was somewhat vindicated by the statement in your editorial to the November edition that “Crosslight seeks not to denigrate other denominations or faiths”. Such a policy sounds very gracious and commendably tolerant but in my opinion is in danger of drifting into one of ‘all gods are equal’ (Mammon?), ‘being nice to everyone’ and of viewing the world through rose-coloured glasses.

I believe a good number of your readers would appreciate a sharper, more incisive reporting of existing /potential problems threatening the good order of our communities. However defined, if a religion, denomination, ideology or government policy is seen as a detriment to our society, let’s hear about it – call a spade a spade and avoid the stifling /limiting of alternative views.

While recognising that care regarding what is put into print must be exercised, I believe there must be room for your journal to take, promulgate and defend positions – particularly in regard to aforesaid other religions and government policies, as you have done in the past in relation to such identified problems as those caused by the people trafficking etc.

Issues currently crying out for some stronger treatment by an independent journal such as yours I believe to be same-sex marriage, safe schools (particularly that human sexuality is a matter of personal choice rather than our biological cell structure), changing of gender on birth certificates, abortion and euthanasia. A summary of questions likely to arise in personal discussions with neighbours / friends /family on SSM as drafted by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney recently would be helpful to many of your readers.

I was heartened to read the centrespread article in December Crosslight reporting on the AGM of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations. The fact that the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart and the Anglican Bishop of Tasmania were invited visitors at the conference as well as our own President was pleasing and testament to the ecumenicity and credibility of that group.

I look forward to reading of outcomes arising from your closer examination of these and other vexed issues as foreshadowed in your November editorial.

Dennis Litchfield
Mount Waverley, VIC.

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