Monday, 4 November 2013

Saturday, 14 September 2013

SEPTEMBER 14, 2013

Hello there wonderful Fossil Free-ers!

On the tail end of the warmest winter in Melbourne's history, and the warmest 12 months in Australia since records began, it's time to talk about what we can to do stop our University investing in fossil fuels...

First, the good news!

We had a meeting with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) last Thursday and they were super keen about the campaign! If all goes according to plan, a motion will go through the next branch committee meeting of the UoM NTEU to endorse Fossil Free MU!

Our Open Letter to the University is written and ready! You can have a read of it here.

The Postgraduate Environment Network (PEN) has agreed to sign on to our open letter

Grant Blashki, Nossal Institute for Global Health, The University of Melbourne Chair of Environmental Working Party, World Organisation of Family Doctors and Medical Professor at UoM has signed on to our open letter.

Robyn Eckersley, Professor and Head of Political Science in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne has also signed!

Our upcoming events to get involved in:
  • Tues 10th Sep, 6pm @ RMIT University Building 13, Level 3, Room 9: Double Film Screening of Do the Maths and Mining the Truth
  • Thurs 12th Sep, 12-2pm @ Burnley Campus: Fossil Free MU Stall
  • Tues 17th Sep, 12-1.30pm @ Physics South- Laby Theatre: Do the Maths Film Screening + Discussion
  • Wed 18th Sep @ Parkville Campus: Carbon Carnival: An Event to Raise Awareness about Fossil Free MU. More info to come!
  • Thurs 17th Oct, evening @ Physics South- Laby Theatre: divestment forum. More info to come!
Please respond to this e-mail if you would be interested in getting more involved with one of the stalls, or would like more information.

Thanks again for your support!


Fossil Free MU Team

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Climate change: what next? Melbourne, 17 August

This event was held at Trinity College on 17 August 2013.


"Climate change: what next? Powerlessness, Faith and Movement-building" will include
  • Climate scientist Barrie Pittock as a keynote speaker, addressing themes including climate science; risks due to global warming; social responsibility; caring for nature and advocating for the rights and wellbeing of people, particularly Aboriginal communities in remote areas of Australia 
  • Cath James from the Uniting Church on "Signs of environmental hope in the church"
  • Worship and reflection with Sandy Yule
  • A speaker from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition on "how a movement can change climate change"
  • Jacques Boulet from Borderlands on the changes to our lifestyles that are needed to address climate change
  • Don McArthur, postgraduate student, on climate communication when “the facts” are not enough
  • Pat Long from Earthsong on what is going on when we risk destroying the very system on which we depend for survival: what is shaping our perception and behaviour, why change can be so difficult and how new awareness can be empowering.
  • Reflection on responding to climate change with Pat Long from Earthsong and Sandy Yule


Broad themes for the day include:

  • What is the current state of the climate debate in Australia?
  • Where do we find signs of hope?
  • What is happening in the climate movement?
  • What do faith perspectives have to say about how we respond to climate change?
  • What is the meaning of “repentance or atonement in relation to climate change?
  • What changes need to be made now to prevent catastrophic climate change? What would this roadmap include?
  • How does climate change link to the history of colonisation of Indigenous Peoples?
  • How do we respond as people of faith, Christian and otherwise? 


Climate change is probably the most difficult issue confronting us, and especially young people. As people of faith we approach this challenge with humility and hope in God’s grace and love that we will be able to find solutions, large and small, to make our way forward.

This gathering seeks to bring together a community of people interested in addressing these issues.

In the space of a few hours, our hope is to study together, and explore the dimensions of this issue as it directly relates to our personal lives and God's role in it and also to itemise in some form what we need to do at a local, national and global level for future generations and for the Earth which is our home.

Images: NASA,, RitaWilaert, Flickr

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Queensland SCM May 2013 Newsletter

1.    A Challenge for Theology from a Gospel Incident

Here's an invitation to explore the dynamics in the foreground (and background) of the context surrounding Jesus' actions and words as depicted in the gospels. The great majority of gospel scholars consider that Matthew not only copied Mark's account but often altered it. Also, feminist gospel scholars have alerted us to the interesting dynamics contained in the interesting accounts of Jesus encounters with women in the gospels. Here's an invitation to see what your thoughts are in response to the questions below.


24. From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25. but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 28. But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ 29. Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ 30. So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Matthew 15:21-28
21. Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ 23. But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ 24. He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ 25. But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ 26. He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 27. She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ 28. Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

  1. What ethnic, social and religious dynamics are present in these 2 accounts?
  2. Should the woman be regarded as a. feisty b. impudent c. brave d. brazen   e. a nagger (Matt. 15:23)  f. ungodly (Canaanite) g. persuasive  h. desperate. 
  3. Is it valid to conclude that she changes Jesus' thinking? Why? If it is valid, did Jesus need to change his attitude to Gentiles and/or (ii) to women? 
  4. A study of the redaction (editing) that Matthew does of Mark 7:24-30 is also of interest. Note the variations in dark print across the two accounts. Most gospel scholars believe Matthew edited Mark's account. Why are the changes made?
And now for something semi-serious.

A good-hearted SCM'er from Perth, Kate Watts, passed on to me the following 10 points WHY MEN SHOULD NOT BE ORDAINED. It comes from the progressive evangelical website linked to the fine Christian journal called SOJOURNERS. Mindful of the arguments put up to prohibit women's ordination, these are a mirror image, as well as an echo, of the opposing arguments. (Some of the entries have a particular American flavour.)

Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained For Ministry
  1. A man’s place is in the army.
  2. The pastoral duties of men who have children might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.
  3. The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and chasing cattle. It would be “unnatural” for them to do ministerial tasks.
  4. Man was created before woman, obviously as a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
  5. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. Their conduct at football and other sporting venues clearly demonstrates this.
  6. Some men are handsome, and this will distract women worshippers.
  7. Pastors need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role. Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
  8. Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus they would be poor role models, as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
  9. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was betrayed by a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment remind us of the subordinated position that all men should take.
  10. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep sidewalks, repair the church roof, and perhaps even lead the song service on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the church.

Thanks to our respondents, we’ve tracked down the original source. This list is the work of Dr. David M. Scholer, a former professor at Fuller Theological Seminary.

This SCM Newsletter has been compiled and sent out by Rev Dr Ray Barraclough, Secretary of the Qld SCM Area Council.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


By Christine Tsoi ( HKSCM,  intern for ASCM)

I am very happy to share Hong Kong SCM's news with you and there're some brief notes about their structure, programs and strategies.

-          Chaplain
-          Consultants
-          Exco
-          1 full time staff
-          Two registered university branches
-          Summer interns

-          Monthly auto-pay donation from senior fds
-          CWM/ Nethersole Fund├áEcumenical Channel
-          Scholarship from the universities club , support us with the summer camp
-          One-off non-monetary donations
-          Annual Walkathon
-          Regular Newsletter
-          2-3 Books in recent 2years which are about current social issues       

  •  Writers are activists we met thought demonstrations, students, SCMers, senior fds, other people who are concerned about the issues
  • Very low budget publication as we have volunteers for design, editing etc.
  • Sell books at low prices to attract people and sell when on demonstrations, and in small bookshops
Regular Activities&Strategies:
-          Theology Tutorials

  •   Basic & Advance, during Summer Holidays, hold weekly in June-August
  •    Social Movement Course -- To help participants to clarify what they believe
  •     teach students how to conduct a social movement
  •         may ask participants to initiate a small movement
-          Universities branches activities

  •    regular bible studies
  •   thematic sharing / discussion, invited guest speakers may also attract other students
  •   student-oriented topics
-          Bible Studies

  •  topics are initiated by the participants, focus on Biblical verses / teachings that make them feel confused
  •     feminist bible study method, from Yong Tingjin

-          Demonstrations

  •  send email to invite people to join us, even if we are only two people, we still join the bigger demonstration. Some people may know us from the demonstrations, coz we are with our banner, (advertisement of who we are)
  •    with mobile forums
  •    with prayers/ Taize prayers

-          Ecumenical Asia Pacific Students and Youth Network

  •  With local ecumenical youth organization: YMCA, YWCA, IMCS, IYCS, CCA-Youth, WSCF-AP in order  to connect with youth
  •    EASY-Net Week,
  •  Forum
  •  visit Orthodox Churches
-          Summer Camp
-          Joint Activities

  •     With different NGOS
  •     Civil Human Rights Front,
  •     Joint Civic Education
-          Exploration Programs

  •   Visit Taiwan SCM as we share similar situations and have the same writtenlanguages
  •     Visit different NGOS in TW which our SCMERS are interested in

-          Sexual Christ Forum
-          Different forums about current issues from Christian perspective
-          senior friends meeting

Ecumenical Channel:
-          Essays, Videos of the forums, Reports of the activities
-          Reflections on sexuality, politics, mainstream thinking, etc.
-          Theological reflective journals

Do SWOT analysis
-          to know our standpoint in the society as Christians
-          to develop on what we have

Shares from the staff about movement strategies
- stick to our spirit: significant minorities, Luke 4:18-19
- work hard on social movements, holding events and analyzing current social issues
- work with people with mission & passion& action
-join other groups with the same concerns on an issue

Big social issues in recent years that we took part in and concerned:
-          Urge for the Universal suffrage in 2012
-          5 District Referendum Movement
-          2010Anti the high speed railway, Choi Yuen Village
-          2010 democratic development of HK amendments
-         the developer’s hegemony
-          the doubt about one-country two-systems
-     the corruption of HK Chief Excutive 
-          the control of the Beijing government
-          HK post 80s youth group
-     Occupy Central in HK
-     Dockworkers' strike for improving working condition and salary   

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Demoniac narratives - ASCM Bible study 21 March 2013

21 March, 2013
Bible Study notes
Study led by Rev Dr Sandy Yule
The story about Jesus healing the Gerasene Demoniacs
We compared the similar narratives from Matthew 8:28-8:34, Mark 5:1-20 & Luke 8:26-39

-          It’s likely that Mark’s version inspired both the ones from Matthew and Luke.

Matthew 8:28-8:34
Mark 5:1-20
Luke 8:26-39

Description of the man
-          So fierce
-          A man
-          With unclean spirit
-          He lived among the tombs, and no one could restrain him anymore, even with a chain, for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces, and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones.
-          5:3-5:5
-          After healing
-          Clothed and in his right mind

-          A man with demons
-          For a long time he had worn no clothes, did not live in a house but in the tombs 8:26
-          Was driven by the demon(8:29b)
1.      Do we know people like this? Disturbed and different, and unable/refusing to be ‘├žontrolled’ by society’s demands [clothing and housing, such basic needs, define his differences from ‘normal’ people]. What is our response to them? Try to change them because we think they are 'wrong', think we know best what's good for them, so refuse to accept their choice of way of life?

2.      Why did the man live in the tombs?
Because the magic that he used to gain power came from the dead? OR Because he’s mentally ill OR He’d been exiled?
Description of the evil spirits
Two demoniacs
Only one; Unclean spirit
-One demoniac again,
-unclean spirits

What are the evil spirits today? Corporate greed? Lust for personal power? Fanaticism? Righteousness in a narrow sense.
Number of Legion
Many (refer 5:9) ,
Maybe two thousand, as there were two thousand swine
Plural, many
To name the problem is the beginning and sometimes the most powerful tool in solving that problem. Are we able to name our 'legion'?
Conversation with Jesus
Asked two questions; AND Jesus said only one word: “Go”
-          Yes, very detailed, every action /conversation is described. AND most interesting is that Jesus failed the first time he tried to drive the evil spirits out.

Do words solve problems or sometimes cloud them and confuse us?
Failure is not necessarily a negative thing, sometimes it is what spurs us on, sometimes it points out to us what we're not doing right and gives us time for reflection.
Where the evil spirits are driven to
Comment: to be driven into the swine = permanent eradication, no chance of being ‘revived’. Abyss = possibility of re-surfacing from the very deep perhaps subconscious.
2 Demoniacs,
The whole town
Jesus and his disciples (they)
A man
Unclean spirits

Jesus and his disciples (they),

Why did the Gerasenes ask Jesus to leave ?
The herd of swine rushing down to the lake and drowning – a symbol of total economic loss?

Area the swine herd went to
The city and the country
The city and the country
Relevant? Maybe not, but good for us to think about how to decipher what is important in the Bible and what is not so significant. Not every inspired word is required for our Christian lives.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Prayer: Personal development stages

By Barrie Baker (WA SCM)
(First appeared in Jubille Grapevine)

I owe a great debt to those who taught me to pray. They did so, not by means of any form of structured teaching, but by praying around me and including me with them. In Sunday school, at home, in church services, I was swept along by and with others, and gradually moved to an autonomous experience by the time I was sixteen. 

What did they actually pass on to me? 
Most importantly, I caught an awareness that I was not alone in this existence: that if I were up against loneliness, death, bewilderment, or confusion, there was a harmony that I could relate to and communicate with, and that was always available. This harmony I came to know as God, but only after much instruction and life experience. Before that realisation I knew it as personal and holy love. 

So I was able to pray before I had faith, just as a baby knows a mother’s love before he or she has an awareness of the personality of the mother. 

I started to experiment with prayer, looking for attractive and meaningful arrangements of words that were able to catch hold of my attention. I found wonderful combinations of words that swept me along. I could remember them and use them as a focus. But these forms could gradually lose their magic; catch and hold my attention less and less. If I had strong emotions or concerns that did not relate to these words then the harmony was replaced by pain. I wanted to throw these words out: they hurt me. 

I next looked for all the principal concerns in my (and that of others) world and built them into a list. I would focus on the members of that list and seek to look through them to God behind, hoping that God, the objects of my concern, and I could be harmonised. But, like all lists, it needed maintaining and had a structure that was coming from me and not from God. 

Later, knowing that God can and does change people’s lives and behaviours, I sought to use prayer as a means of changing my behaviour to be closer to that of God’s desire (that is, to make my behaviour less sinful). However, I was never really sure exactly how my behaviours affected people, so I had problems praying about relationships whose natures I did not fully understand. It could have been prayer wide of the mark. 

Each of these developmental stages has left a useful residue for my prayer life. Words, lists and self-analysis are still part of my prayer. But behind these means is an awareness that my relationship with God is healthiest if God puts the structure in. I put in the time, reflect on where I am in God’s world, and wait. Sometimes God gives me an insight, renewed confidence, or a command. 

Sometimes, but not always, a miracle occurs whereby the God of my prayer changes me according to His dearest wish, and sometimes I know this. 

What a precious gift!