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Tips on Faith Sharing

(Photo: Used by permission)

Engaging the apathetic Aussie.

The tips here will encourage further reflection. The following may not be ground breaking because there is no one formula. We must always be contextual.

The aim is not to make people more moral, to get people "joined up" or to simply get alongside of non-Christian people. Incarnation must also involve proclamation.

The New Atheism is a passing fad but it could convince some that they don't need to believe because Hitchens didn't. Pick low hanging fruit, leave high fruit to mature.

Don't let your Calvinism constipate you!! Persuade by any legitimate means.

You must believe it. If this is not obvious why should they believe you? Wesley once said, "Catch on fire for Jesus and people will come and watch you burn."

Most Aussies are not irreligious. Most have met a genuine Christian at some time. Many just can't see the relevance of Christianity.

Aussies want to hear it as it is. They want to know what you really think? Don't pussyfoot around or lecture. Point to a strong, BIG Jesus. God is the Lord of Hosts-of armies.

Many people are wounded, hurt and empty inside. Life is cluttered with idols, "gap filler-toys," substitutes that get in the way.

The "moral" approach, while valid, (all have sinned and fallen short) is not as effective as the "Living Water" approach.
Sin is not just failing moral commandments; it is also a matter filling our lives with idols, substitutes for God that blind and enslave us. What is the top priority-idol in the person's life, family, money, sex, pleasure, footy, fashion? Do these things bring real freedom? A guitar string laying on the floor, rather than strung in the neck of the guitar is dysfunctional. How do you repent? You rest in the saving work of Christ. You replace the repulsive power with a greater power, with a stronger affection-the Glory of God. (The book "You can Change" can be a great resource)

Start with things they accept as true. Sacrifice-Anzac, injustice, death really prompts people.

Avoid criticising others. Get them started with good books, DVD.

Engage worldviews. People don't believe in God, but when a friend dies, they suddenly believe in heaven. Point this out. Many have a shallow worldview. Hard words require a strong relationship.

Cultivate an underpinning joy because life is good for you.

These tips were noted at a Seminar led by the "down to earth" evangelist Andrew Grills who is also an Army Chaplain. The venue was the 14th Men's Convention, Belgrave Heights, Victoria. Recordings of speakers can be obtained P (03)97526855 Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

E.A.(Ted) Curnow May 2012.

Tired Christians

Facing Today's Pressures

Amid the positive happenings and stories of our time about the church becoming more technology-savvy and contemporary the Christian Research Association reports on church attendance projections. These projections show that from 2006 to 2026 all Christian denominations, with the exception of a few, will decline in numbers. Dr Hughes has said that over the past two decades churches have struggled to accommodate changes in society by trying to provide diverse forms of worship. Many Christian ministers and lay-people today are trying to faithfully serve in stressful situations.
As institutions decline or diversify, as finances and resources are reduced, as complexity and regulation increases, the structures and patterns that supported ministry in the past increasingly become liabilities that drain energy and stifle initiative. As a result those involved with the ministry of the church can become very tired, weary, depressed, even frantic, sweating it out every Sunday to keep "the show on the road."
Some time ago Major Ian Thomas pointed out that as the church has learned to appropriate the death of Christ as redeemer, so it needs to appropriate the life of the risen Christ that empowers action.

Facing Bankruptcy

Major Thomas recalled his own experience of being worn out, tired and discouraged. "When I decided to quit I thought God would be disappointed---in fact I found out He was overjoyed." For Thomas it was a matter of rediscovering that God moves into our bankruptcy to make perfect His strength in our weakness. The rediscovery changed his life and ministry and he points out that it is not until we have jettisoned the last vestige of self-confidence, the sinfulness of what we are, our own inherent destitution, that we see the significance of Christ's resurrection.

Encountering a Living Christ.

Instead of Easter Sunday being an academic exercise when we acknowledge the redemptive significance of the cross that pronounces our requital, (eg what Jesus did) we need to appropriate Jesus is now, that He is alive. "While what Jesus did because of what we have done is important, we need to see that what He is, is to take that place of what we are. That is the Gospel designed to restore us to our own humanity."

Seeking More.

"God cannot give us more than He has given us. When Christ comes to live in us, when we are restored to God by acknowledging Jesus death was for us and the Holy Spirit comes to indwell your human personality with the resurrection life of Jesus Christ, God gives us all He can afford. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. When God gives us Christ, He gives you and me, with Him, embraced by Him, all things. There is not one single person who is converted who does not have dwelling within their humanity all the illimitable resources of deity but the tragedy is that we can sit on it and never know it is there."

The Big Picture.

Paul writes in Ephesians 2.10, "For we are what Christ has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life." "Jesus did not come to do his best for God, to do his best to redeem humanity some how. Every step he took, he took triumphantly, every word he spoke, thing he did, every decision he made was a Divine fulfilment of a plan agreed as between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in eternal ages of the past. It was simply that the Father-had the yielded humanity of Jesus in which to tell the story until he could cry triumphantly, "It is Finished," and then the Father raised him from the dead and exalted him to his the right hand. That same Lord Jesus had his own programme to fulfil through you and me and all he is waiting for is for our humanity to be yielded to him today as his humanity was yielded to his Father. The moment we become available to Jesus Christ, to be who he is in action, we are caught up into that predetermined purpose for which we were first created, we have now been redeemed and we prove what is that good, perfect acceptable will of God." (Rom12.2

Living the Adventure Now

Thomas jolts us into rediscovering that we need to let the baggage go, it is not a matter of propping up the past, meeting the expectations of others or trying to prove ourselves.
We share a vital relationship with a risen Lord that allows Him to indwell our personalities and from there allows Him to express Himself in terms of our daily behaviour. The Lord Jesus who died for us also rose for us, rose to share his life with us. Every day can become a huge adventure of stepping out into his timeless plan. We may well say, "Lord we don't know who you are going to talk to today, what we are going to bump into but it's going to be our privilege to yield my humanity so you can be in me, where you please, doing what you want, how you want to do it and any time you like."

"Jesus died that that we might be caught up into this adventure of proving daily that good and acceptable, perfect will of God. God himself working in us that which is well pleasing in his sight, being himself the very dynamic of all his demands, the cause of his own effects, the source of his own activity and the origin in us of his own image in action."
That is the Christian life lived in the awareness of his risen presence now.

Rev E. A. (Ted) Curnow May 2012

Review of an address by Major W. Ian Thomas.

 

Discovering Daily

The Christian life fleshed out in the personal experience
of Bonney Haine, a forgiven person.

Discovering daily who God really is.
Discovering daily God's love for me,
such mercy, forgiveness, amazingly free.
Discovering daily He does answer prayer.
Discovering daily what grace really means,
unmerited favour beyond all my dreams.
Discovering daily God speaking to me,
(He speaks through the Bible)
Once blind now I can see.
Discovering daily every day that I live,
that all that I need He freely will give.
Discovering daily Christ working through me,
accomplishing daily what never could be.
Discovering daily I can't but He can,
thanking Him daily for my place in His plan.
Discovering daily how real life can be,
when living in Christ and He's living in me.
Discovering daily a song in my heart with,
anticipation for each day to start.
Delighting and basking in love so divine,
secure in the knowledge,
that I'm His and He's mine.
Besides mere contentment, excitement I see,
A daily adventure,
Christ alive and living in me.

 

 

 

A very Courageous Heart

A Courageous Heart (M, 2009) - Also known as The Courageous Heart of Irene Sendler.
The story of Irene Sendler has become more well-known over the last few years, particularly through documentaries and research on Jewish children who survived in Nazi-occupied countries with the help of non-Jewish families. Irene was a member of the "?egota Committee" (the Polish Council to Aid Jews (Polish: Rada Pomocy ?ydom), a centre for Polish resistance in German-occupied Poland from 1942 to 1945, and a leader in helping to save Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto by smuggling them out in a variety of ways. The children were also saved from death as many of their families died in the ghetto or in the concentration and extermination camps. This raised other questions after the war in terms of the question of finding and returning the children to their wider family, or keeping them in the families they had in many cases come to accept. This particular subject has been explored in various documentaries and Irene Sendler herself featured in one documentary released in 2011 ‘Irene Sendler, in the Name of the Mothers' in which she speaks about the pain of all the mothers. Sendler was recognised as one of the Righteous among the Nations by the Yad Vashem (the Holocaust's Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority in Israel) and received a number of awards, notably very late in her life from the Polish Government. The film is a Hallmark Hall of Fame and has a strong historical setting and acting, with Anna Paquin in the lead role. Paquin is best-known for winning the Best Supporting Actress in the film The Piano in 1993, the second youngest winner at 11 years of age. While dealing with a distressing subject the film does not dwell on the obvious misery and difficulties in the ghetto, but simply and realistically portrays the deteriorating situation. There is also a continuing consideration of religion and faith as Jewish parents wrestle with giving up their children who they know will be raised as Catholics. Certainly the children old enough to speak, learned prayers and Catholic practices, principally to ensure they would not be identified as Jewish. This film is now made available on DVD through Christian sources and lends itself to many ensuing discussions.

The Artist?

The Artist (PG, 2011)
The Artist not only won the Oscar for Best Film this year, but also awards for directing, costume design, original music score, and Best Actor for French actor Jean Dujardin as silent film star George Valentin. This film has also collected many other awards and now has the record for the most Césars for any French film. While The Artist is quite fun to watch, it is a one-off novelty movie, given it is a [mostly] silent film. I believe its recognition has been more to do with this, and the fact that in the Academy Awards there are now more movies in the line-up for Best Picture and it is difficult for any film to win unless it totally dominates the Academy's imagination.
The Artist is really a homage to the silent film era and in that sense is nostalgic for a different Hollywood era. I thought Jean Dujardin's comment about film itself was illuminating. "I discovered that silent film is almost an advantage. You just have to think of the feeling for it to show. No lines pollute it. It doesn't take much - a gaze, an eyelash flutter - for the emotion to be vivid."
The story reminded me of some elements of my favourite musical Singin' in the Rain as this also has a silent film star struggling with the idea of the new ‘talkies'. The film plays on the idea of the ‘It Girl" - aptly named Peppy Miller, who this time is well-positioned to take on the talkies and move ahead as the star for a new age. John Goodman has a very apt supporting role as the movie mogul and helps to illustrate how the movie industry in the developing years was very much a tight-knit community run by a benevolent dictator.
As I stated at the front, it is fun to watch, but while I could watch Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds again and again, once was enough for The Artist.

When Love is Not Enough

When Love is Not Enough (2010, TV Movie for Hallmark Channel)
An excellent title! It causes one to pause and think. Hollywood often gives these types of stories a twist to ensure that ‘love' will conquer all. How can love not be enough? In a day when people equate love for a panacea for anything, and believe ‘all we need is love'; this is indeed a very challenging story.
When Love is Not Enough won best TV Movie at the 2011 PRISM Awards (for accurate depictions of mental health and substance abuse). It is a Hallmark Hall of Fame film and features well-known Hollywood personality Winona Ryder, and character actor Barry Pepper in the lead roles of Lois and Bill Wilson. An earlier Hallmark film, My Name is Bill W. explores the life and times of Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Most people will be very familiar with AA, and would be aware that is has elements of a Christian foundation and history. The film highlights Bill's early pledges on the Bible, his failings and constant requests for forgiveness, and illustrates his early Christian experiences. Many AA meetings are today held on church premises. I regularly meet AA members near the ACC Office as there are three meetings held each week in our host church (Newtown Mission). (Note: I am not intending to discuss or comment on the on-going questions of spirituality and the various issues that have arisen from the early years of AA).
A smaller number of people would be aware of Al-Anon, a group providing support and counsel for the families of alcoholics. Lois Wilson was the wife of Bill Wilson (known as Bill W.), the co-founder of AA with Dr Bob (Smith). Lois realised early on that Bill's drinking did not consume only him, and saw how families often exhibited symptoms and developed significant problems arising from their love and support of the alcoholic member. The foundation for this group can be seen in the following exchange from an early meeting time.
Lois Wilson: No it would be no trouble, really. Erm I could make some tea, I, I could actually use someone to talk to tonight.
Anne Bingham: We came all the way from Westchester County. I'm Anne Bingham.
Lois Wilson: Anne, I'm Lois Wilson.
Anne Bingham: If I don't drive him here I can't guarantee that he'll make it so I make the drive.
Lois Wilson: For years I used to hide the keys from my husband. I was afraid he'd kill himself or someone else.
Anne Bingham: Exactly
Informal family support groups started from about 1939 with the wives often meeting while their husbands were at their AA meeting, but it was not until 1951 that Lois and Anne founded Al-Anon. Today Al-Anon has over 24 000 groups in 115 countries and also works with teenagers and drinking. For more information see: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/australia/
It is interesting to consider again the overall context of this film - love. Lois often felt resentment during the development of AA, especially toward the male members of AA, because she felt her strong love and commitment should have solved his problem. This of course does not tell the whole story about change in a person's life, but the film helps one to understand that we cannot change people even if you love unconditionally and give them all your support. I was often reminded about Jesus' parables of grace and forgiveness, and how he taught us to pray: ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.'
Available from Heritage HM Film Distribution or your Christian retailer.

License to Kill (1984, TV Movie)

Noting the quote in my review above, I thought it was helpful to highlight this film that tells the story of the death of a teenage girl by a habitual drunken-driver. The film focuses on the reactions of the key figures, including the husband and wife of the daughter killed, and the husband who killed the daughter and his conflicted wife. While matters of faith feature in only a small way, the film provides an opportunity for people to consider how they would react themselves when such a tragedy occurs, and especially to consider how their love for their partner helps or hinders their addiction. It is also an early film for prominent actor Denzel Washington (The Book of Eli). He plays the over-worked public prosecutor. The film was inspired by true events in the late 1970s and early 1980s, an era that witnessed the introduction of a range of legislative initiatives in the USA designed to reduce drink-driving, particularly among teenagers.
Peter Bentley

Equality is about Escape

Fran Kelly recently interviewed Alain de Botton about his book, "Religion for a Atheist" (Monday 20th February, ABC National Radio). De Botton says it's time for atheists to start appropriating many of the useful things offered by religion. He says the secular world can learn a variety of useful lessons from religion. It's sense of community, use of music, architecture, symbolism, ceremony etc.

He didn't use these words but I understood him to be saying, 'It's time secular society took over the rich concepts behind Christian marriage, worship, the Gospel, Christmas, funerals, etc in order to replace them with secular values without reference to supernatural God.' While we have recently had a vocal and aggressive, anti- Christian, atheist lobby speaking out, this suggestion goes one step further and needs to be taken seriously.

The modern concept of equality grew out of the Reformation insistence on the equality of all people before God. It found its strength in the fact that it was seen as a permanent right because it was derived from something beyond the social, political whim of the day. God's love was a love that encompassed all and it required equal respect of all people. We may well ask, "How does the strong secular appeal for equality today then differ from the equality that Wilberforce sought for the oppressed slaves of his time"?

In general terms today the claim is made that there is an injustice that stems from sexual and gender preference not being given equal worth under law. In our culture our laws are an extension of a theistic foundation that says because God's love is for all people and all people need guidelines and protection from exploitation. This means the state of marriage in this country has never been about promoting inequality. It has never advanced that some people are privileged, better or of have more worth than others. It has however always been about a relationship between a man and a woman.
It needs to be clear that the popular notion of injustice and inequality has its origin not in an imposed, oppressive Christian institution but it stems from a deep felt need to eliminate all distinctions between gender because they can only imply that one is better than the other.

Rev Ron Brookman from "Living Waters Australia" in making a Christian response claims that when the male and female gender is attached in this way then for Christian people the very image of God itself is attached. This does not mean that there is a hidden conspiracy or humanist plan somewhere but there should be no mistake that there is a less talked about agenda behind the equality debate that is not so much about marriage equality as it is about seeking liberation from God and a morality that holds us accountable.

The author Dinesh D' Souza points out that Epicurus once said, "The problems with gods is that they seek to enforce their rules and thereby create "anxiety" in human beings. They threaten to punish us for our misdeeds both in this life and the next."
D'Souza goes on to claim that there is a moral order built into the creation and that the conscience is the common connecting principle between the creature and the Creator. Paul the Apostle suggests that all people know that there will be a time when they ultimately give an account of themselves. He wrote about how we handle this when he described humanity as suppressing a universal consciousness of God and exchanging the truth about God for a lie. Rom 1.21-25 Perhaps the secular attempt to escape the conscience, to eliminate God from our consciousness was behind the comment of a Gay activist recently who spoke to Jim Wallace who heads up the Australian Christian Lobby. He said, "We don't just want marriage equality, what we really want is you."!!! Brookman, who has himself come out of the Gay scene has said the angst surrounding the issue is not so much a matter of homophobia, rather, he said he has come to understand that inside the Gay person there is a deep fear and need to assert that their body and gender is supreme, "it is a tension within so they don't feel right in themselves." This inner tension within can posses a person and manifest in a sense of injustice that sets itself against God and the rest of society.

Seen in this light the passionate quest for social equality must be understood in the greater context of the new secular morality, an ideal that seeks wholeness of life through placating the conscience, by eliminating and banishing God. Christian marriage is consistent with the eternal moral order of the Creator but it has never been a guarantee for an ultimate fulfilment that can only come from knowing the love of God.

A secular morality that seeks equality, a personal liberation and all the benefits of life without the God behind life is a morality that is yet to discover that you can shape your own ideals and values around yourself, but to have the inner resources to deliver on them is another matter altogether.

Rev EA (Ted) Curnow Feb 2012

 

Helping Marriages in Australia

Introduction

How can the church encourage and support marriages in Australia, and especially in our own communities and congregations? While we can issue statements, discuss theology, and put in submissions, there is a need to consider to also some practical ways to reach out to people in increasing times of challenge and stress and at a time when basic ‘marriage knowledge' is at a very low point. I believe more work can be done especially at the pre-marriage time, as people's expectations and understanding of marriage are so varied today and often contribute to significant conflict. I list below a few thoughts to begin a conversation and welcome your contribution and comments.

1. Development of Community Marriage Policies among local churches

Studies in the USA have shown that local churches can influence a region by having the same basis for pre-marriage counselling, and also jointly supporting and encouraging marriage enrichment programmes. Some churches in an area have signed up to a common Marriage statement.

2. Mentoring programmes in churches

Churches could also consider implementing mentoring relationships, helping younger couples with positive older role models. A very interesting article reflecting on marriage and programmes in the USA considers many aspects related to community marriage policies, mentoring and education.
(‘Can This Institution Be Saved? ‘, A curious alliance of helping professionals is working to rebuild marriage in a culture of divorce. Tim Stafford, 11/05/2004, Christianity Today, November 2004, Vo. 48.) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/november/26.52.html

3. Increased training for Ministers and those appointed to undertake weddings.

In some cases ministers are ill-equipped to undertake pre-marriage education, marriage counselling, or even adequate referral, perhaps sometimes related to their own personal circumstances and issues. I am increasingly bemused by ministers living in circumstances other than their church's doctrinal position on marriage and then actually providing pre-marriage education and officiating at marriages declaring the church's position. Church resources should be provided to help interested ministers have an opportunity to train and receive education and specialised training, perhaps to then provide help in a region or presbytery.

4. Church Schools - pre-marriage education

It is perhaps not widely considered, but denominations educate a large section of the Australian population and while certain courses on relationships and sexuality are taught, church schools could do well to prepare relevant contemporary marriage preparation courses for students that reflect the denomination's understanding of marriage, not only as a foundation for society, but to help young people come to a theological understanding of marriage.

5. Increased Funding and Support for Pre-Marriage Courses

Denominations could put more money into sponsoring and encouraging pre-marriage education. Research has shown how helpful pre-marriage courses can be as a foundation for better understanding, or even to prevent a possibly disastrous marriage from happening. Far better for people to understand they should not have married, than to marry for the sake of expectation or because the wedding has been arranged.
Prominent researcher Robyn Parker comments: "Examinations of the effectiveness of marriage and relationship education programs are typically relatively complex and small-scale, short-term studies of particular programs that demonstrate some improvements in couples' relationship satisfaction and relational skills. Such studies are unable to draw conclusions as to whether these programs can reduce the likelihood of divorce. However, this article reports on a recent analysis of a large-scale survey in which lower odds of divorce were found to be associated with participation in a pre-marriage education program." (Robyn Parker, ‘The effectiveness of marriage and relationship education programs', Family Matters, AFIS, No. 77)

6. Marriage Enrichment Courses

Very few denominations put significant resources into this area, and yet some even bemoan the state of marriages in their own denomination. In the UCA, fewer resources have been put into Growing Together in Marriage, though the South Australian Synod is continuing to promote this ministry which was founded by the UCA in SA in 1981. GTIM is also endorsed by Baptist Churches in SA.
http://www.gtim.unitingchurch.org.au/

7. Promote Marriage Week

Marriage Week is developing as a wider inter-denominational event with a common agenda to support marriages in a time of increasing challenge. In 2012 this will be held 9-15 September. Congregations can join as members and list their events on the website. A variety of ideas and suggestions are provided and resources for services and events: http://marriageweek.org.au/

The website also contains a helpful link to over twenty marriage ministries and courses: http://marriageweek.org.au/marriage/index.php

Peter Bentley
Peter is the Executive Consultant for the Assembly of Confessing Congregations.

 

The Alternative Gospel

The Alternative Christology of American Churches

Recently a friend gave me a copy of the book Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, written by Michael Horton and published in America by Baker Books. The book is a scathing critique of the American Church, both liberal and evangelical. Horton believes that the American Church has deviated from "the faith once delivered to the saints" in a number of inter-related ways.

Firstly, he says that American preaching and practice indicate that American Christians are focused more on themselves than on God and his saving work for all believers. "It seems," he says, "that we come to church less to be transformed by the Good News than to celebrate our own transformation and to receive fresh marching orders for transforming ourselves and our world rather than being swept into God's new world."

Horton's concern is that the American church is getting dangerously close to the place in every day life where the Bible is "mined for relevant quotes but is largely irrelevant on its own terms."

Sin has been trivialised in this theology. It no longer refers to a wrong against God but only a wrong against ourselves for failing to achieve our potential to be happy and to feel good about ourselves. There is no place in this theology for Psalm 51:4-5 where the author acknowledges "Against you (God), you alone have I sinned".

When sin is trivialised in the way it is by this alternative gospel and God's love takes care of any alienation that might occur there is no longer any place or need for reconciliation or atonement.

The question then arises, what is it that Christ does? The answer seems to be that Jesus Christ is "just a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a saviour who has already achieved it for us." Jesus' life and death can no longer be understood as atonement for sin or as a mediator between us and God. The most we can say about him is that he was a great philosopher, teacher, example, adviser and partner in helping us to achieve our own aspirations but we are left to do the hard work of achieving our goals and doing whatever it is we are called to do. This is not good news and not the gospel which the New Testament sets forth and the Church has affirmed through the centuries. It is more like the heresy of Pelagianism which troubled the Church in the fifth century which asserted that we must share the task of achieving our salvation.

The second major heresy Horton finds widely spread in American Christianity is Gnosticism. This heresy was a major challenge to orthodoxy in the early church. Gnosticism minimized the witness of the apostles and the Scriptures and maximized the inner experience of the individual. Truth is no longer to be found in creeds and confessions but in being alone with God. The tendency is well illustrated by the old hymn, "I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses". Certainly it is important that we should have a sense of God's presence through the Spirit but unless we have the highest respect for the historical witnesses there is no telling how we will end up.

These developments in American Christianity may seem to be of little relevance for us but with the constant flow of gurus from the USA we are bound to feel the influence of Christless Christianity here. Horton warns us to be wary.

I found the book very interesting, though not everywhere easy reading, but I would commend it to all Australian church leaders who are committed to the historic Christian teaching on the person and work of the Lord Jesus.

Gordon Dicker
Gordon Dicker is a past Moderator of the NSW Synod, and former Principal of UTC.

This review was first published in the Feburary 2012 edition of ACCatalyst.

Red Dog

Red Dog (PG, 2011)
Already out on DVD is the popular Australian film Red Dog. Any film about a dog is usually a winner (and it did win Best Film at the inaugural AACTA awards), but this film also appears to be a homage to Australian mining communities. The legend of Red Dog is now well-known. He was the companion or ‘common' dog for many in the mining community at Dampier in Western Australia during the 1970s. Much has been written about Red Dog and there is a seemingly never-ending range of bumper stickers and souvenirs, but this movie was based on Louis De Bernières 2001 book Red Dog. The dog colloquially known as The Pilbara Wanderer has a dedicated statue erected near the entrance to the town of Dampier.
Rio Tinto helped to finance the film and the film does have a public relations aspect about it, as the mining people are basically all warm good-hearted people.
US actor Josh Lucas plays John Grant, the person who is Red Dog's real master. The film combines elements and references from many Australian films, even in the techniques used one can see the influence of iconic films such as Wake in Fright, Mad Max, Crocodile Dundee through to The Castle, and even Hollywood films like Cats & Dogs.
John's love interest is Nancy (played by Rachael Taylor), the mining company secretary, and one all the miners have an interest in, but the American wins her heart.
The Red Dog legend is told through flashbacks and stories as people gather in the pub while Red Dog is struggling in a room nearby to survive (he has been poisoned). Everyone has their own story to tell, and Red Dog appears as the quintessential companion, matchmaker, therapist and good mate.
While promoted as a family film, there are some scenes that need to be critiqued. There are no overt sex scenes, but the main couple end up in bed quickly. The scenes with the pub and drinking and partying are of course the most authentic, but there are some demeaning references to women and the fun attitude toward drunkenness and recovery is something that should never be accepted. Ironically there is not as much swearing as one would expect from this context. The one Christian scene reinforces religion in a traditional role.
Red Dog has themes of mateship and loyalty. It is also about people searching for life and truth in a hard world. While it may be stereotyped, at least it did not have the dog sacrificing its life for the town.
Peter Bentley is the Executive Consultant for the ACC.

 

 

The Iron Lady

The Iron Lady (M, 2011)
Most members will have heard the expression "The Iron Lady", and many of you may have thought of seeing the film. It is well worth viewing and will no doubt bring back a few memories for people familiar with the Margaret Thatcher era. Meryl Streep adds another excellent role to her portfolio of character portrayals that have garnered her many accolades over four decades. She plays Margaret Thatcher through the later years of her political life, weaving back and forth from the period of her political leadership to her "twilight years" as the present Baroness Thatcher. She is most effective as the elderly Baroness.
Alexandra Roach plays the younger Margaret Roberts in some typically well-cast period scenes, highlighting the move into politics accompanied by future husband Denis. They were married in 1951 and he died in 2003, and it is her memory of, and relationship to Denis that cements the film as almost a form of romantic drama, a love story that did not end with death.
Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979-1990, and is often linked with the other significant leader of the period Ronald Reagan who was U.S. President during the 1980s as they were both highly profiled in the end times of the Soviet era. Thatcher's Prime Ministership had many significant events, including high-level disputes with Trade Unions, the Falklands War, continuing IRA matters including the Maze Prison hunger strikes, and the bombing of the Brighton Hotel during the 1984 Conservative Party Conference.
The film is not a straight historical drama, as the writer and director have chosen a psychological approach, with Baroness Thatcher reflecting on her life, mostly with Denis still around, giving input in sometimes odd and amusing ways which irritates her, but also clearly shows their terms of endearment. The film also illustrates present issues with dementia, and this is one of the aspects that has made it controversial-the other being that it is neither an apologia or left-wing critique for Thatcher's policies, thus satisfying neither party.
There are some excellent and memorable sayings that go to the heart of the psychodrama and they attempt to show how the Thatcher character was built.
"It used to be about trying to do something. Now it's about trying to be someone"... "Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become... habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become."

In 2007 Margaret Thatcher's statue in the Houses of Parliament was unveiled. In her brief speech she commented: "I might have preferred iron-but bronze will do ... It won't rust." This concluding comment brought to my mind many biblical references, and given Thatcher's Christian background and deeply held convictions, the lack of any direct Christian consideration within the film makes one wonder why some of these deeper spiritual and eternal questions were neglected.

Peter Bentley