Anglican Tim not quite ready to pop the question

Tim Mathieson was married to a woman who was a Liberal Party candidate, lost his licence for 16 months after driving with a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit and once owned a Gold Coast hair salon that is now owned by Tony Abbott (no, not that Tony Abbott!). Now he is better known as Australia’s First Bloke – the partner of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

He is also a self-confessed, God-believing Anglican who claims he has not even discussed his faith with Australia’s most famous atheist.

Mathieson, recently announced as a patron of the Men’s Shed movement, appears tonight in a much-publicised interview on 60 minutes where he explains he will propose to Julia one day, but not any day soon.

“One wedding I think is enough this year,” Mathieson said, referring to the couple’s attendance at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And in previous interviews, Mathieson said when they do marry it would not be in the church, due to Ms Gillard’s beliefs.

Apart from his best known occupation – hairdresser – the one through which he met Julia Gillard, Mathieson has also been an importer of Levi Jeans,  supplier of marble interiors,  a sales representative for a hair products company and is current job is as a property agent with Ubertas Group, selling apartments in a St Kilda Road 50-storey complex.

Mathieson has two adult children from his marriage to Dianne Stark and another daughter fathered in his teens, Staci Childs, who is well-known hair stylist known for her tattoos, parties and celebrity clients such as Lady Gaga.

There are other, what might be regarded, dark moments in his history – broken relationships, failed businesses, car-crashes. In the long run he is typical of many people seeking to make their way through the maze of life who found himself in love with a woman who became Australia’s leader.

And he has endeavoured to make the most of his newly-found prominence and apart from his Men’s Shed patronship, he is also a Men’s Health Ambassador and works hard to promote men’s health issues around Australia. Ironically, the idea of taking up volunteer work was first suggested to him Therese Rein, wife of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd…

The Australian Men’s Shed Association is a movement granting a special place for men who lack social outlets, to tinker and share stories over a barbecue.

Let’s pray that as Tim chats with men in sheds, interviewers in the media and his partner in the privacy of their home, that his faith moves to the foreground to inform his words, his choices and his into the future.

Gretel, Gillard and ‘god’ in an age of convenient Christianity

Gretel Killeen is now a columnist for The Sun-Herald and, I believe, we did the same communications degree too long ago to remember. Known to most as the host of Big Brother for many years, she is actually an acclaimed author in various genres and did time as a stand up comic.

She counts her most important achievement as being a single mother to her two children and apparently believes in a small ‘g’ god, whatever that means.

Gretel made a fairly intelligent contribution in Sunday’s column to the commentary on Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s declaration of non-faith:

‘And despite the fact I do believe in a god, I’d like to give praise… to Prime Minister Julia Gillard for declaring her atheism last week. In a hypocritical world, it’s not uncommon for allegedly God-fearing politicians to treat the Ten Commandments as though they were a smorgasbord rather than a set meal, choosing their own custom-made combinations to both impress others and serve themselves. It’s therefore thrilling in this age of convenient Christianity to hear someone tell the truth on an issue that could actually lose them votes.’

If she was seen wearing sackcloth and ash and saying some of those things, especially ‘Ten Commandments as… smorgasbord’ and ‘impress others and serve themselves’ we might easily mistake her for Joan the Baptist.

It is possible (and not mutually exclusive) to respect the honesty of a Prime Minister and the measure of faith of a newspaper columnist while still earnestly praying that they would both encounter the living Jesus. PH

Gillard: trust, consensus and sleeves rolled up

In announcing today a breakthrough agreement over the controversial mining tax, Prime Minister Julia Gillard emphasised consensus over confrontation and ideals such as trust and hard work. She also made a point of sharing the glory with her colleagues Wayne Swan and Martin Ferguson.

While she may have moved away from an early faith in God, it would seem she has gained some positive values from her Welsh Baptist upbringing. It remains to be seen how some other influences on her life will come to the fore.

For details of the mining tax outcome and to hear Julia Gillard answer the question, ‘Do you believe in God?’ check out my other blog  Australian Christian Voter.

Huey still loves Hughesy

Dave Hughes suggested on the 7pm Project tonight that most church attenders are hypocrites. The irony was he wasn’t angry with Christians, he was actually angry with Steve Price.

Another guest on the show ridiculed Christians for having an ‘imaginary friend’.

A third suggested that the Catholics she offended last week should forgive her, because that’s what Jesus would do.

Hughesy, no doubt there are plenty of hypocrites at church – there called sinners – and the church (and the 7pm Project) are full of them.

As for the ‘imaginary friend’, He has a great imagination – he even imagined (and spoke) us all into being.

And yes Jesus does forgive, and also encourages us to speak the truth in love.

And if you don’t know what this is all about, it’s Jesus on prime time – God is definitely back on the agenda in 21st century Australian.

Australians have long irreverently, but with some appreciation, referred to God as Huey. Send it down Huey! Our love and faith that is… PH

Julia learned Bible verses but formed different views

Faith in politics is much more on the agenda in Australia than it was a decade ago and so it is no wonder there has been intense interest as to the religious convictions, if any, of new Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Today she was directly questioned about religious faith and the future of the Christian vote in Australia during an interview on ABC Radio.

The Australian newspaper reports that Ms Gillard appeared to be ‘surprised’ when asked whether she believed in God and how she would court the Christian vote.

‘I’m not a religious person,’ Ms Gillard told the ABC, although she was quick to point out she had won a prize for learning Bible verses as a child in the Baptist Church. ‘I’ve, you know, found a different path.’

Read more of what she had to say at Australian Christian Voter.

How will Julia Gillard appeal to Christian voters?

Julie Gillard’s rise today to Prime Minister came just a few days too late for the thousands of Christians who watched Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott perform in the Make it Count webcast on Monday night.
Now it is back to the drawing board for Christian voters with a new Labor leader and Christian leaders, churches and commentators will be anxious to see where Gillard stands on various issues of importance to the Christian community.
Learn more about our first female and first foreign-born Prime Minister at Australian Christian Voter.