Outrage of public ‘marking’ of athlete contrasts with deathly ‘marking’ of Mosul Christians

A highly-paid athletics coach publicly criticises a highly paid athlete, in the midst of our wealthy country’s medal spree at the Commonwealth Game.
Mosul, Christians, Nasrani, Isis, Iraq, Syria
Sally-Pearson-Eric-Hollingsworth-Commonwealth-GamesMassive media space is devoted to expressions of outrage and an attempt to understand how this could happen.

The coach, Eric Hollingsworth, is ‘stripped’ of his Commonwealth Games credentials and stood down from his role which is now described as untenable. The athlete, champion hurdler Sally Pearson, has received widespread support and will continue to compete at the Games.

No one was oppressed, no one lost their home, no one was killed, although Hollingsworth is being sent home in disgrace so must be feeling life is pretty bleak.

At the end of the day, it is a sporting drama which serves to distract us from the more chilling public shaming and marking occurring in the Middle East, in particular in the major Iraqi city of Mosul.

‘N’ for Nasrani

Some may think it is outrageous to link these seemingly unrelated events – Commonwealth Games spat and terrorist genocide – and yet the issues have jostled with each other for public attention, sharing page space and news feeds and pubic interest. They share the common theme, although of different scale, of those in power publicly ‘marking’ others in their charge and this is enough of a parallel for me.
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Gay protest could be Court’s toughest tennis challenge

It could be a hard-fought three setter between tennis legend Margaret Court and proponents of gay marriage such as Kerryn Phelps over Court’s uncompromising views on the topic.

Dr Phelps has tweeted a call to Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu and Tennis Australia to rename the Margaret Court Arena before the Australian Open in Melbourne next week. And there has also been a call for people to protest by displaying rainbow flags at the tournament.

Pastor Court, a winner of 62 Grand Slam titles and now senior minister of Victory Life Centre in Perth, said she was ‘sad’ that her views on marriage were being brought into tennis, but that she would not be running away.

A Facebook page, ‘Rainbow Flags Over Margaret Court Arena’ has attracted 660 Likes while a recently added ‘NO Rainbow Flags Over Margaret Court Arena’ so far only has two. However many comments on the former page are actually in support of Margaret Court.

In The Australian, Ps Court explained that her views on gay marriage were based on the Bible and that she did not hate homosexual people.

“I have always said I have nothing against homosexual people,” she said. “We have them in our church. I help them to overcome. We have people who have been homosexual who are now married.

“When I spoke a month ago and stood for marriage, things came back from tennis players who probably didn’t read what I wrote. It had nothing to do with people personally or tennis players. I remember speaking to Navratilova 10 years ago on something she brought up with me and I said ‘Martina, I love you, God loves you, but a wrong doesn’t make a right’.

“I think I have a right, being a minister of the gospel, to say what it says from a scriptural side.

“I have always been a champion and always loved what I do and love tennis. I think it is very sad they can bring it into that. It is hard that they can voice their opinions but I am not allowed to voice my opinion. There is something wrong somewhere.” Read more

While Pastor Court’s views have been consistent and well-known for a long time, she spoke out on her blog in August about family and marriage and also during the gay marriage debate at the ALP Conference in December.

Tebowing may yet be a word in Australia too

Tim TebowUS media commentary has been prolific for some time regarding  Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow and now is nudging its way into Australian newspaper columns.

Fairfax papers’ such as The Age in Melbourne today reported how ‘America fawns over God’s anointed NFL star’ but even well-known Australian religious cynicism put barely a dent in the 24-year-old Christian grid-iron player’s almost miraculous aura.

The article describes how Tebow’s remarkable run of last quarter comeback wins even over more fancied rivals has captured the imagination of football and faith fans alike. Says The Age:

“Even Americans who have never tuned in for a Sunday afternoon game have come to admire Tebow’s humble demeanour and his religious devotion, which they say makes him an ideal role model for youngsters.

Some have been disarmed by his matinee idol looks and ripped physique. Others see him as a potent anti-abortion symbol, after hearing the now familiar story of how his mother had refused, against her doctors’ advice, to terminate her pregnancy while carrying “Timmy.” She now is one of America’s most vocal pro-life advocates.

But real superstardom for Tebow has come because of his exploits on the gridiron.”

And then there is Tebow’s typical after-touchdown celebration which sees him drop to one knee, eyes closed and head bowed in prayerful thanks. The pose has been dubbed ‘tebowing’ and while hearing American stars give thanks to God is commonplace (even those whose lifestyles belies any hint of an interest in God) Tebow’s is undoubtedly sincere and is catching on fast.Read More »

Visualising God at 300km an hour: Senna

Watching cars go round and round has never been a favourite pastime – I get enough of that in Sydney traffic – but as in every facet of human existence, there are personal stories embedded that make even Formula 1 racing interesting.

Asif Kapadia’s new documentary, Senna, tells one of these stories and while there is a fair bit of round and round, there is also an interesting investigation into the life, talent and faith of one of the sport’s most revered figures, Ayrton Senna.

The Brazilian Senna was a superbly talented, and some would say, a dangerous risk taker who had 41 wins and three World Championships which earned him the reputation of being one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all times.

He was well-known for his religious convictions which seemed to heighten for him as he raced.

“Somehow I got closer to God and this was very important to me. I visualized and saw God who is a part of me,” Senna said after one race. When reflecting on his love of racing, Senna says, “I think God gave me this chance.”

Frenchman Alain Prost, one of Senna’s key rivals, held an equally strong belief: that Senna’s personal companionship with the Deity made him a hazard to other drivers.

In one confrontation between the two, Prost says, “Ayrton thinks he can’t get hurt.” Senna responds, “Just because I believe in God does not mean I’m immortal. I know I can get hurt.”

The documentary shows the fulfilment of these words when Senna is killed in a crash  in 1994 at the age of 34, while leading the field at the San Marino Grand Prix. The crash was caused by a mechanical fault and a camera strapped to his car continued to film throughout the tragedy.

Many people from all walks of life talk about the experience of feeling close to God when engaged in an activity that they sense to be their very specific calling and gifting. I once hear a rugby league winger say he felt he was born to score tries. As strange as it seems, maybe Senna was born to drive, and there was no other way to die.

Senna is showing now at Palace Leichhardt – check guides for other cinema times.

Australian Cadel Evans wins Tour de France

Australian Cadel Evans has won the Tour de France after converting a 57 second deficit into a more than 90 second victory in the final time trial of the historic 108th year of the vent.

While the official finishing line awaited Evans on the final day of the race in Paris, his victory was sealed when he snatched victory during the time trial on the penultimate day of the event.

The day before, during the final climbing section of the race, a bike breakdown appeared to have left Evans far removed from leadership contention in the Tour de France. But an amazing fightback then brought him within reach of victory with just the time trial to come.

With the same steely resolved he has shown all race, and in fact for years of Tor de France competition, he finished the 42 kms in 55 minutes and 40 seconds, nearly three minutes faster than Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck who until then was leading the event.

Evans, now wearing the yellow jersey, led the contingent of riders into Paris with an overall race lead of about 96 seconds. Tradition dictates that leaders are rarely contested on this final leg, all he needed to do was finish the event with the main group which he did, riding onto the Avenue des Champs-Élysées as the first Australian winner.

Not much is known of the inner motivations of Evans other than he was a country boy who learned to ride a bike at a very young age, got used to riding alone in the country areas in which he grew up (around Katherine, Armidale, Barwon Heads) and that he once rode in a race with a Tibetan flag on his undershirt to support Tibetan freedom.

His mum, Helen Cocks, says, “He is a simple man who likes simple things. He will be the same Cadel [after winning the Tour de France], probably just relieved,” she said. And in Chiara, his Italian wife, she said her son had a partner who kept people’s feet firmly on the ground.

Oh, and he barracks for Geelong in the AFL – enough said.

Wikipedia supplies these biographic details for Cadel Evans:

Cadel Evans wearing the yellow jersey as winner of the Tour de France, 2011.

“Evans was born in Katherine, Northern Territory. He is married to Chiara Passerini, an Italian music teacher whom he met at the end of 2002. The two were introduced by a friend of her father’s. Evans inherited his surname from his great-grandfather who hailed from Wales, and his first name is also of Welsh origin (‘Cadell‘ being the name of three Welsh kings).[3] Evans attended Eltham High School in Melbourne, Victoria during his teenage years. In 2008, Evans wore a cycling undershirt with the Flag of Tibet and supported freedom for Tibet.[4][5] He said: ‘Trying to bring awareness of the Tibet movement is something someone in my position can do. I just feel really sorry for them. They don’t harm anyone and they are getting their culture taken away from them. I don’t want to see a repeat of what happened to Aboriginal culture [in Australia] happen to another culture.’ Evans has stated that it was his early years growing up in Armidale that was the inspiration for his cycling career. Additionally, the city’s higher altitude gave Evans an early edge in competition. Whilst living in Armidale, Evans attended Newling public school.”

Meanwhile, the elation in France is in stark contrast to the grief of Norway. While we weep with those who are weeping in Norway we take a moment to rejoice with those who rejoice in France and Australia.

A unique view of Cadel's winning time-trial effort, thanks to Paper Camera

 

Lockyer’s last Origin moments captured on Paper Camera

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Darren Lockyer played his last game of State of Origin rugby league as part of Queensland’s 34-24 defeat of NSW in front of a record-equaling crowd at Suncorp Stadium tonight.

The Australian, Queensland and Brisbane captain said before the game he wanted to finish with no regrets and he accomplished this with another superb performance personally and by his team.

There are few players who have carried themselves with as much control, dignity, fairness and talent as Darren Lockyer and so although I’m a NSW supporter, I could not for a moment begrudge his moment of well-deserved glory.

Tonight I also downloaded a new iPhone app called Paper Camera which has just been released and applies some funky and creative filters to your photos.

I was able to record (above) Lockyer’s lap of honour with some special effects. Enjoy.

And if we could all follow Lockyer’s ambition – to finish with no regrets – our lives would certainly be freer and lighter.

More head miles than my legs can cope with

My New Year’s resolution to post to Utterance every day in 2010 has hit its biggest challenge recently thanks to a condition a good friend describes as ‘head miles’.

I first heard him use the phrase when I asked him why it was he stayed awake all night, most nights, walking the streets.

‘Oh, I just walk around and do lots of head miles,’ he replied calmly. He put it down to a combination of schizophrenia and the drugs used to treat his condition. I can claim neither as contributing factors for my mental mileage.

Unfortunately I also cannot claim the same positive side-effect of doing lots of walking. The phenomenon has dried up quite a bit since the City to Surf although I have turned to cricket in an attempt to stay fit. That, and about a kilometre quick-march as part of my journey to work each day.

Having watched a great deal of the big game of cricket on a small box in recent years, I was clearly lured into a false sense of my own ability. In a team made up of much younger men, including my sons, it has been somewhat embarrassing to discover my body simply won’t cooperate.

During the first game, not only did I manage to go out to bat with my pads on the wrong legs, wearing left-handed batting gloves and with my helmet in an oddly sight-reducing position, but I pulled my ham string fielding in the slips.Read More »

Swans win emphatic, election less so

While the nation pondered its electoral fate last night, 40,000 Sydneysiders were in no doubt who won the Swans verses Bulldogs clash at the SCG.

When the ABC’s Adam Spencer gave a half time election update it was like instant polling as the crowd cheered and booed various results.

And for the record, that’s not me singing in the audio post…

Some Friday fun at my expense: City2Surf photos

Ok, so it’s the end of the week, we are four weeks into an election campaign and two and a half months through a cold winter. On that basis you could probably use a laugh, so I’ll go out on a limb and share my City to Surf photos.

Firstly there are the photos taken by the official photographers, Marathon Photos, who through the wonders of modern technology, allow runners to view a range of photos taken during the race. Keep in mind that nearly 70,000 people finished the City to Surf so to do this is no mean feat.

When a certain member of my family first saw these, they were in such agony of hilarity that they rang me 50 times to tell me to look. Very funny. All I can I say is that they reveal the agony my legs were truly experiencing by this stage. To view the video of me finishing and a small collection of photos, click here. You’ll see some small thumbnails which you can click on for a larger view, if your game.

Secondly, I took a range of photos on my phone before and during the event and, once again, there are some mildly amusing results. I admit, I’m not good at the whole self-portrait thing… Enjoy, and go for a walk or a jog this weekend!

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City to Surf audio posts here tomorrow

After walking and jogging a couple of hundred kilometres in the past few months, Jeremy and I are ready for the City to Surf tomorrow.

We’ll hop on the 440 bus just before 8am in time to join our exclusive back of the pack starting group in the city. Due to the large crowds expected to watch our special orange group, we won’t get away from the start line until about 9am.

But our times will be carefully synchronised thanks to the start of the art shoe lace chips we’ll be wearing so our spectacular times will not be interfered with.

For you, the listening public, we will phone in breaking news blog audio posts direct from the race. So watch this space tomorrow morning (not during church though…) for a starting summary, a mid-race review, and a eulogy at the end. Did I say eulogy? I meant wrap-up.

If you are watching on television (and checking out this blog at the same time of course) you will probably spot us, notable for our orange bibs, my Jesus Saves goalkeeping t-shirt (thanks Bek) and Jeremy’s huge stature. If you see an ambulance, that also may have something to do with us…

I know various other people completing the event and have decided to let them all beat me in the spirit of self-sacrifice. On the day, the City to Surf will be the winner…

My secret preparation tip was a carbohydrate-laden Pad See Ew, purchased on the way home from the Swans v  Hawks game, from official City to Surf Thai restaurant, Thai La Long. (I just made up the official bit.)

My other secret weapon was to work night shift last night and have just three hours sleep this morning as I plan to sleep through the last half of the race tomorrow so as not to notice the pain in my curly toe.

I know you don’t believe me about the curly toe but it’s the stuff of legend in my family and I have learned from my mother that she gets it too and so did my grandmother. We come from a line of curly toed people…

I have just realised my sleep deprivation may be becoming obvious in this posting so will say farewell and go upstairs to see if I can make out what Jo is singing in the shower. PH

 Click here  to sponsor me and raise money for Bibles in scripture classes

Remember the City2Surf, we’re still on track…

The pain started in the lower back, moved painstakingly through to the hip, on the knee and then meandered around the left calf for a while.  And this just from walking… Hopefully it has disappeared out my foot, a bit like being struck by lightening…

Despite all this (violins please) and the curly toe syndrome (ask my family) our City to Surf preparation is moving forward well – we are up to 8.5km fast walks, hills and the occasional jog.

By the time the event arrives on August 8 we’ll be blisteringly fast… or just blisters…

Check out some video of a recent ‘training session’ which, for the first time, featured the Green Lantern. And head to the City2Surf page of this blog and click on the links to sponsor us for a good cause or two.

PS Utterance now has its own YouTube channel, Uttuberance.

Two ways to support City to Surf fund-raising

As the rain keeps falling I’m trying to work out how I’m going to keep my training schedule up tonight… with an umbrella no doubt!

Anyway, the good news is that I’m registered for the City to Surf and have set-up not one, but two fundraising pages!

Firstly I’ve signed up with the Bible Society to help put much-needed Bibles into Scripture classes in public schools across the state. If you’d like to support this cause, visit the Towards The Goal fund-raising page .

Then City to Surf automatically give you the chance to support a charity so I chose World Vision, a great Christian aid organisation, and you can support this cause by visiting my Everyday Hero fund-raising page.

And if you’d like to get involved, why not sign up for the City to Surf  and raise funds yourself. You could join our team – the Curly Toes and be added to our team fund-raising page, the Curly Toes Runners. We are starting as far back as you can – Orange I believe.

Many thanks in advance if you can help with sponsorship! PH

Dynamic duo takes on City to Surf

Ten weeks out from the City to Surf fun run I have started my disciplined training schedule to ensure I finish the event alive…

Today, accompanied by son Jeremy, who also plans to take on the City to Surf, we walked the inner west’s very popular Bay Walk , or according to some signage, the Bay Run (but not in our case…).

This was our second training effort and was preceded on Monday by a complex scurrying around the back streets of Glebe, Camperdown, Annandale and Leichhardt to come up with a 6km track.

To prove that we are actually doing the training and not watching Lord of the Rings (in which the cast do all the walking and running) I deployed the Sports Tracker application on my E71. Imagine my delight when I discovered the GPS traces a lovely little map which can be saved as a picture file.

This may well be the most accurate map of the Bay Walk yet recorded and I would like you to note the straight line at the top right of the diagram which depicts us walking, with purpose, across the Iron Cove Bridge.

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Leichhardt goes 24/7 for World Cup

A boring looking letter arrived from Leichhardt Council yesterday, slightly damp from the persistent rain over Sydney.

Addressed to the householder, I was tempted to toss it (read recycle…) but decided to have a glance.

Turns out it was a development application covering virtually every cafe, hotel and restaurant on Norton St asking for permission to stay open 24/7 during the World Cup between June 11 and July 11! Talk about add some fire to winter!

The Forum, Norton Plaza and Palace Cinema are all included in the application – along with all the most authentic of Italian cafes.

Forget the soccer, I can’t wait to head down the street at 3am for gelato, cappuccino, amatriciana and some good old-fashioned Italian revelry!

Stay tuned for a blogestrated, middle-of-the-night, Italian food rendezvous (whoops, French origin word slipped in….) PH