Thinkings: C. H. Spurgeon on understanding

Thinkings: C.H. Spurgeon on understanding

"Certainly, the benefit of reading must come to the soul by way of understanding. When the high priest went into the holy place he always lit the golden candlestick before he kindled the incense upon the brazen altar, as if to show that the mind must have illumination before the affections can properly rise towards their divine object. There must be knowledge of God before there can be love to God: there must be a knowledge of divine things, as they are revealed, before there can be an enjoyment of them. We must try to make out, as far as our finite mind can grasp it, what God means by this and what he means by that; otherwise we may kiss the Book and have no love to its content, we may reverence the letter and yet really have no devotion towards the Lord who speaks to us in these words. You will never get comfort to your soul out of what you do not understand, nor find guidance for your life out of what you do not comprehend, nor can any practical bearing upon your character come out of that which is not understood by you."
- C. H. Spurgeon, Counsel for Christian Workers

Arts, Culture & Entertainment - August 30

Photo: The Bible Society
Charles Dickens once wrote, "The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world." 
In my experience, the Bible is one's firmest, most reliable and formidable friend, its layers of truth revealed like an unfolding flower at the start of spring. And once you're in, you're in, for there is nothing more life giving, more stimulating, more gratifying, nor more terrifying than the very word of God, which is love breathed into a book so entrancing and instructive and poetic that turning each and every page feels like navigating some strange and forgotten world, yet all the while you come more to life in the here and now the more you absorb; it is as if the words take over your being.

And so, to the Bible Society's latest project: Live Light in 25 Words. The quest: to encourage Christians to nuzzle into the word on a more regular basis. GWAS has been privileged to contribute a few words to the campaign; one voice amongst many singing the praises of God and the book He ordained. Here is the video that goes with the project, which is quite light and fun...
Live light in 25 words teaser clip from Bible Society Australia on Vimeo.

Hazel Phillips of Idealog magazine tells us the latest 'Design Issue' cover was chalked over and then photographed. Nifty idea! Here is the time lapse video of art director Aimee Carruthers chalking it up like Mr Squiggle....
Idealog chalkboard cover timelapse - Issue 41 from Idealog on Vimeo.

"We realised that people really want the deep dive. They want authority and that ability to immerse yourself in a story and feel when you come out of it that you actually understand it from a multi-dimensional perspective. That's something that we crave more and more now that facts are so easy to get." 
- New Yorker editorial director Henry Finder, talking to the ABC's Richard Glover, 'In defence of the comma'

Dumbo feather magazine presents two events of interest: a conversation with Marion Potts, artistic director of Malthouse Theatre on Tuesday September 11, from 6pm, and a screening of Abigail Disney's Pray the Devil Back to Hell, a film about building peace, war, women's roles and her own personal journey in finding happiness through connectedness. The film will screen on Monday September 24, from 7.30pm, at Dumbo feather headquarters. Spaces are limited so register quickly! 

On September 8 and 15th, ACMI presents Melbourne filmmaker Diane Perelsztejn's documentary on English pianist and classical singer Kathleen Ferrier. Narrated by Charlotte Rampling, Perelsztejn's project draws on a wealth of recently discovered material sources from archives around the world, including home movies and photographs to shed a new light on Ferrier's remarkable life; from telephonist and pianist to highly acclaimed singer. At a memorial service at Southwark Cathedral on 14 November 1953 the Bishop of Croydon, in his eulogy, said of Ferrier's voice: "She seemed to bring into this world a radiance from another world". The presentation is part of ACMI's Australian Perspectives: Contemporary Filmmaking and Special Guest Presentations curated by James Nolen.

Of course, we are also coming into wedding high season, and so we greet the new edition of WHITE magazine with open arms like a couple returning from their honeymoon. And that's the ace thing about WHITE, it keeps giving after the wedding day. The new issue has some brilliant little features and nuggets of post-nuptial insight by some brilliant writers, such as Elizabeth Baker's 'After the Honeymoon' ("Preparing for the obscurity beyond the spotlight is worth doing prior to publicly authenticating your union"), Laura Jackel's 'Domestic Bliss' ("While you may adore the caboodle of satin cushions festooning your bachelorette sofa, are they something your man will equally adore?") and Emily Connett's 'Bag of Tricks' ("whack out those arms in a loving embrace and get hugging"). Aww, you guys!

Girl With a Satchel

Teen Girl With a Satchel - new seasons and wallflowers

Teen Girl With a Satchel: new seasons & wallflowers
By Georgie Carroll

As my final term of school ever winds down, and teachers frantically try to stuff as much information into our brains as possible, I’ve been feeling very nostalgic. 

I cried the other day reading The Perks Of Being A Wallflower when some of the characters graduated high school because I realised how close mine was. My friends will probably get sick of me declaring "GUYS! This is the last (day) of week (number) we'll ever have in high school!" but I'm the kind of person who celebrates fraction birthdays, so they should be used to me by now.

This feeling was only added to by my brother turning 21 and having a massive party full of people from our past. As we reminisced over memories and created new ones, I realised just how lucky I have been in the first 18 years of my life, and how excited I am for my new path, just around the corner.

Here I am, trials completed, university application sent in, frantically revising for the looming HSC. Nightmares about handing in blank exam papers behind me, the three-hour exams and pressure to remember a year's worth of work are looking a lot simpler than I had imagined.

The epiphany came in the middle of a Geography exam. As I sat there, blindly guessing multiple choice answers (I definitely do not take my advice from a Jonas Brothers interview in which Joe answers "B" to everything), I realised that, sitting in a hall, writing some information, doing your best, well, it's really not the end of the world.

Book Shelf: A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson

Book Shelf: A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar
By Brooke Lehmann

Suzanne Joinson's travels have seen her reaching the far corners of the earth- from North Africa, to the Middle East and China, to the romantically historic shores of Europe. 

It is her travels and affinity for thrift shops and untold stories that embodies the English authoress' debut novel, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar (Bloomsbury). Having already received high acclaim for her short story Laila Ahmed, Joinson revives her intrinsic imagination and experience in her new culturally transporting work.

The novel juxtaposes two contrary worlds: one in the form of Kashgar in the 1920s, and the other in modern day London. Evangeline (Eva) English finds herself a part of her sister Lizzie's mission project in the unlikely city of Kashgar, China, under their iron-fisted leader Millicent. Eva's only aim, however, is to remove herself as far as possible from the grey shores of England and to use her experiences to write her ambitious novel.

Meanwhile, in modern day London, Frieda, a somewhat unorthodoxly raised Englishwoman who studied International Relations and Politics, uses her career as a strange form of rebellion against her eccentric parents and to seek some semblance of a 'normal' life. After a chance encounter with Yemeni-born Tayeb, and a mysterious letter from the Deaths, Marriages, Births department, Frieda finds Kashgar and London colliding in a way she never expected.

Aesthete: Segue into spring

Aesthete: Segue into spring
I could almost hear God say, "Ta-da!" as I glimpsed sight of this brilliant bush behind the picket fence, so impressive is its display reaching up to the clear blue sky, observed this morning on a stroll in the Brisbane 'burbs. Spring is just around the corner. I, for one, cannot wait!

"They will be like a well-watered garden; they will have everything they need. Then the young women will dance and be happy, and men, young and old, will rejoice. I will comfort them and turn their mourning into joy, their sorrow into gladness." Jeremiah: 31: 12-13

Girl With a Satchel

The Satchel Review - Saturday 25 August, 2012

It really is hard to remember, in my lifetime anyway, when Australian politics was so divisive; an indicator, perhaps, of a healthy democracy, of some nationwide existential angst, or of my youthful (that's a stretch!) political ignorance*. 

Arguably, the fifty-something shades of grey that characterise the political scene today are a necessary democratic conduit – the point being the 'working out', not necessarily the 'finality' at arrival at sure-fire policy that will make all and sundry people blissfully happy is the aim of the system.

To see the Government and Opposition finally come to an agreement on Asylum Seekers, as they did on the National Disability and Insurance Scheme, is to be applauded, even if these are the first stages of very large and complex policy problems.

There must surely be some middle ground, as far as the goodness of society at large is concerned, where political foes meet and agree to agree to shake hands on things of pressing importance, and not simply to take the disagreeable route and refuse to follow suit. Finally, some sound decisions.

Nevertheless, until very recently, the political landscape has been full of so much huff and puff, slanging and silliness, that the whole parliamentary house has been at risk of falling down into a sorry state of disrepute. One does sense a turn around; a return to some semblance of civility. But this is a case of "long time, no see". Why could this be?

Thinkings: The greatness of techno-disconnectivity

Thinkings: The greatness of techno-disconnectivity

"We know you have little patience for delays or system failures when you’re trying to be productive, but those of us who have walked a few more miles know that sometimes God works in ways we don’t predict. The faltering Internet connection on your laptop at the airport can be a life-altering gift to the grief-stricken woman sitting next to you when suddenly you are inspired to share your life in Christ. That hard drive crash can be two days you spend cleaning up your mother’s garden, reconnecting with the smell and feel of the earth, earning the praise from your mother (that never gets old) and the irreplaceable feeling of getting a job done. Patience remains a virtue, still." 
- Jacqueline Ritacco, 'How to be a better twenty-something', Relevant magazine

On, delicious non-internet bound time, when wandering thoughts and feet enter the realm of the sublime! How I long for the Sabbath day, spent in the presence of Yahweh, the inner sanctum where whence we meet completely disconnected from anything remotely technological, when the words on the page, the fleeting thoughts, the sight of a small bird taking flight and a delicately unfolding flower come to life, delighting each and every sense they touch until you are fully enveloped in the majesty of it all. And, oh, for moments spent in the company of friends, during which time 'getting away' is unhindered by the sounding of a phone or the desperation to 'check' the email, the messages, the too-crowded, I-can't-breathe schedule. Snatches of time just between you and the ones you love most... is there anything more truly delicious?!

On that note, GWAS is working on some big assignments over the next two to three weeks, as well as undergoing some big life changes of the domestic kind. The pace here may be even slower than usual – if that is at all possible (we play the tortoise, not the hare, around here)! Otherwise, I will be sharing glimpses of things I am thinking over, such as this 'Thinking' right here, and articles conjured up by friends with the writerly proclivity. 

See also: 
Nancy Sleeth on 'Do you need a technology fast?' at Qideas
Emma Plant on 'Problematic Internet Use' at GWAS

Girl With a Satchel

Culture: Lessons from Binchy's Circle of Friends and Dunham's Girls

Culture: Lessons from Circle of Friends and Girls
By Jessica Holburn

'I don't know why you let me go to University. It's like taking me to the top of the mountain and showing me the world, and then marching me back down, and saying, "That's what you can't have Benny, you silly great fat article. Here's what you can have: Knockglen for the rest of your life and married to Sean bloody Walsh!" I'd rather be married to a bloody lizard!' 
- Bernadette, "Benny" Hogan.

Circle of Friends (or rather COF as we shall henceforth endeavour to call it here, as we feel it warrants its own acronym), was one of those movies that came out in 1995* that taught you some little wisdoms of life. 

It made the world of academia seem like a fun adventure worth trying. It made we less conventionally beautiful women feel more beautiful and capable of pursuing our dreams, whether we had the cheekbones of Safron Burrows or not. We came out of it with an understanding that beauty is deeper than soft, freckle-less skin and a perfect figure, that we could be beautiful and flawed at the same time, and that cute men like Chris O'Donnell could be entranced by our minds and not our bodies.

The "ugly duckling syndrome" is nothing new – myths are continually perpetuated about what a woman should look like as a teenager, in their 20s, 30s, 40s and so on, which is why a pivotal film such as this is a good one to return to, serving as a reminder that every time we finish flicking through a glossy or walk out of a shopping mall vexed because we looked rubbish in whatever it was we tried on, it is not entirely our fault.

Based on the book written by the recently departed and dearly loved Irish author Maeve Binchy in 1990, COF is a journey of self-discovery about creating a new path for oneself rather than following what is predestined or predetermined by looks and wealth. Adapted by Andrew Davies for the screen, the film is set in 1950s Ireland, a time when conservatism was being rebelled against.

Creativity: The journey with Beci Culley

Creativity: The journey with Beci Culley
"There are many times where I have been trying to race the pace of life...except I feel like I'm the only one putting the hard work in while the time is just gliding along with ease. No matter how hard we try to make time go faster it will continue to glide along according to its own schedule. My life lesson, learned on many different occasions, is to remember this: time moves at its continual pace, tomorrow is a new day and tears may come at night but joy will arrive in the morning… so catch the sunlight and feel it pour its warmth over you." - Beci Culley

Thinkings: Charles Ferguson and Muhammad Yunus on banks

Thinkings: Charles Ferguson on bankers

"Lessons have been learnt, but they're not always good lessons. One of the good lessons is that people in general are now very aware that there is something wrong with the financial system and that the level of ethics in the financial sector has sunk very low. On the other hand, the big lesson learnt by the financial guys was that they could do something incredibly bad and get away with it." 
- Charles Ferguson, film director and producer, Inside Job, The Deal magazine, August 2012

"Two out of three people in the world have no bank who would serve them... They only lend to people who already have money. It's a very funny institution. They laughed at me. And I laughed at them... When you go to a bank, you convince them you are trustworthy. We reversed that. We go to the people, who tell us they don't know anything. They're our people. We build her confidence in us. But we give no suggestions. They have to come from her... poverty is not created by the poor. It's created by the system. Just a loan, not even a donation, can change a life. How stupid and stingy does society have to be to miss this chance."
- Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank, Bangladesh, Women's Agenda 

Short & Sweet - week beginning 20 August, 2012

A car with a view of the sky so blue...
"You take the high road, I'll take the low road..."goes the old Scottish tune penned by poet and folklorist Andrew Long.

Though no one quite knows the exact meaning of the song, one might imagine it depicts that one is taken by vagabonds and rebels, and the other by the gentry and civilised citizenry; one to the eternal life where all goodness and truth reside, the other leading to the ephemeral pleasures of the world and pain and destruction. When spending time on the road, which I have done a lot lately, one is given over to wandering thoughts about such things. My husband is currently executing a covert "get her to the bush" campaign; the still, small whispers of the bush are getting under my skin. It will be interesting to see where that road leads. It takes Stephen and Jan Johnson, draught horse breeders profiled by ABC Open, hours to prepare for a short trip to town. "I like the steadiness of it, the quietness and working with the animals," says Stephen. Oh, for the bush, where the stars and quiet resound.

The Word for the Week: “…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me…. Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Jesus, Matthew 25:35-41.
Quote for the Week: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." Adam Smith, economist word for the week: nomothetic \nom-uh-THET-ik\, adjective:
1. Giving or establishing laws; legislative.
2. Founded upon or derived from law.
3. Psychology. Pertaining to or involving the study or formulation of general or universal laws (opposed to idiographic).
"Father Frank Brennan has penned a reflective piece on Australia's nomothetic treatment of asylum seekers for the ABC's Religion and Ethics page. He starts, 'Behind all the legal technicalities and political argument about boat people, there is room for deeper ethical reflection and a more principled proposal. But first, to clear away some of the debris.' Well worth a read, I say."

Girl With a Satchel

The Satchel Review - Saturday 18 July, 2012

During the week when a "Pacific Solution Mark II" was reached, and Julian Assange granted asylum in Ecuador, two interesting bits of mail were sent to me in the post: one, a request for an extra sum of money to be sent to my sponsor child for Christmas, and the other an email from one Ms. Ibunda Ngono.

According to the email, Ms. Ngono was at school in Ghana when her wealthy father was assassinated by a group of rebel vagabonds in Cote d'lvoire, which lies between Ghana and Liberia, thereby bequeathing his daughter control of US$2.4 million in funds, which she would like me to help her gain access to in order that she might complete her education in our country.

Now, while I might sympathise with the plight of Ms. Ngono, whose story is compelling, I didn't fall off the Christmas tree (and onto Christmas Island, as did 67 asylum seekers ostensibly headed for Singapore this week, picked up by the merchant vessel Parsifal).

My benevolence is more likely to be directed toward the respectable organisation administering services for my sponsor child, as apposed to the conman who constructed the fraudulent email on behalf of Ms. Ngono and intends to steal my bank account details.

It's likely most of you, who have a clue, would share this view. In this context, it is truly unfortunate that the activities of those unfortunate people smugglers participating in the detritus of a profession akin to slave trading muck up the very genuine right to political and economic asylum of many refugees seeking a haven on our rocky shores.

While a degree of accountability must also be assumed by those who deliberately flout international laws in pursuit of a new home country, specific and expedient arrangements must surely be made for the truly desperate while those who defraud them of their money and put their lives in peril are prosecuted for doing so?

At this point, matters get complicated. How does one exert diplomacy and compassion in light of the reality that others exploit arrangements to their advantage?

That is what the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers – former Defence Force chief Angus Houston, the former foreign affairs chief Michael L’Estrange, and the refugee advocate Paris Aristotle (aka 'The Houston Panel') – sought to address, delivering its assessment on August 13. 

Thinkings: David Wilson on emptiness

Thinkings: David Wilson on emptiness
The moving music of Dire Straits and some equally moving still shots depicting the emptiness of life in the midst of relational poverty. I look out on my City and see beauty, the world’s most liveable. But mixed up in all of that is pain and despair and a loss of hope. It moves me to tears and I think of the stories in the Bible about Jesus as He looked out over the crowds and was moved to compassion and as He watched over the city and He wept. What an incredible gift we have to give to the world but too often we are so lost in our own pettiness that we fail to love, to smile, to give.  Shame!

- David Wilson, Sophia Think Tank

Satchelnomics: The unpredictable nature of Australia's economy

Satchelnomics: The unpredictable economy
Black Knight Mushrooms, supplying wholesale fruit and vegetables from Ballina to Brisbane, based in Chinderah, NSW.
"You've got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive, eliminate the negative, and latch on to the affirmative, don't mess with Mister In-Between," go the lyrics to Johnny Mercer's song, sung by the likes of Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Artie Shaw and Aretha Franklin and composed by Harold Allen circa 1944, near the end of the second World War. 

The lesson described is the one learned by Jonah in the Whale and Noah in the Ark "when everything looked so dark". Don't grope around when pandemonium abounds, look for the light and it'll be alright, they were sayin'... just don't mess with Mister In-Between.

In our "two-speed economy", there is much talk of doom and reason to be cautious – to resist the urge to be overtly proud of our relative prosperity and admit that there are far too many variables at play (weather, the European economies, environment, political instability) to guarantee that we will be fiscally safe and sound.

For his part, Dean Wagemaker from family-owned business Black Knight Mushrooms is wearing the uncertainty well. "We've not been too much affected by the Carbon Tax in pricing of fruit and veggies," he says, "unless you start to worry about the cost of cool rooms and what not. Coolant is expensive to replace."

We, the "Lucky Country", are the Great In-Between, stuck on the one hand between a boom in mining and downturn in manufacturing, and on the other between key investment partners China and America, both who want supremacy in their Australian dealings. It's been a long time since we looked to the Mother Country for economic assurance.

"Given our unique value proposition as a strong economy with a top shelf balance sheet, sitting in the fastest growing region in the world, it's no surprise that global investors are lining up to invest here in Australia," said an optimistic Treasurer Wayne Swan (to the tune of a Bruce Springsteen song) during his widely reported and derided (of course!) John Button lecture.

To which international business players were heard to say, in that true Australian way, 'Tell him he's dreaming!'. Buffered by good economic policy of year's past (the devaluation of the dollar, easing of monetary policy) and the commodities boom, the politics are off-putting prudent investment.

London Olympics Telegram - by Man with a Bag (back to business)

Thank heavens it's all over.  

The closing ceremony was one big rock concert, a 'music spectacular' starring the Spice Girls, the last great televisual distraction before Britons go back to work basking in the glory of victory, buttressed by the fervor, and upholding the nation's ailing GDP.

We've got to hand it to them, the British Games were fantastically well executed. After hearing all the negative things about transport and security, and the notoriously gloomy weather, it all went so smoothly. They are saying the London Games were better than Sydney.

After Sydney, we were left with whopping sporting infrastructure at Homebush which was hard to harness into a sustainable cash generator. How will the UK exploit its grand sporting investment in a time of austerity measures and rising bread prices, I wonder?

And now our athletes are home. I did catch on television the 'Welcome home to our sailing team' at Middle Harbour Yacht Club in Sydney.

Our sailing team consisted of 13, on a minimal budget, but with top international coaches. They delivered three gold and one silver, which ain't too bad when you compare with the swim team, which is four times bigger and took home only one gold, though I am loathe to rub it in.

The sailors did a lot with a little and the right people. Let's think about not letting our best coaches be grabbed by the big overseas dollars. We must invest in the future and spend our money wisely.

I've already packed my man bag for Rio 2016. I don't even have to leave the couch!

Man with a Bag

Thinkings: Bob Simpson on staying connected

Thinkings: Bob Simpson on staying connected
"If you see someone often alone in your coffee place, say “Hi!”, and introduce yourself. If you are a sporting coach of young people draw older people into your program to engage with kids on the fringe, and their parents. If you are a business manager, offer some of your experienced people as mentors to young people in your business locality. If you are retired, knock on the doors of younger families to see how they are! The first step may seem hard. The journey will be profoundly rewarding!" 
(via Sophia Think Tank)

Culture: On mining, alcohol and community

Culture: On mining, alcohol and community
Out of the Pit 'Mining for Christ' Conference 2012
I am thinking about the mining boom and coal seam gas and other divisive matters of national discourse as I coast along in my husband's Toyota Land Cruiser on the open roads, listening to James Taylor as we go, passing heapings of coal alongside billboards imploring men and women to join the workforce that is taking the nation to heights of economic greatness amidst the gumleaf greenery of the inland rural terrain.

Jingoistic fears that the nation risks losing its prime farming land to foreign and local interests intent on ripping stuff from the ground and hauling it all overseas to feed and clothe and fuel populations far away permeate far and wide out here. Here where smart businessmen are diversifying their revenue sources as manufacturing goes on the blink and the mining "boom!" eases to more of a resonate sound.

One of my great fears (not "fear", per say, more sadness) for young men, and old and the women, too, in this country is the mining industry – the disconnectedness that comes with being isolated down a hole or in a big truck all day, and in a new community, far away from family and familiarity, lured by the promise of large salaries that may not carry longevity.

But this is not necessarily new: men have always gone where the work is, just as the Gold Rushes sent them to Bathurst, Ballarat, Bendigo and Kalgoorlie circa 1850 to 1890, bringing new arrivals in from overseas. The post-war Snowy River Scheme. The Newcastle steelworks. Those boom times brought with them the establishment of new communities: hotels, butchers, bakers, schools and churches.

The nature of the second mining boom workforce is different.

Health professionals have warned that the fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) mining workforce culture is putting a enormous social strain on marriages and partnerships. Into these "divided lives", where the miner lives separately to his family and community, it's anticipated a host of social problems, for both the mining communities and miners themselves, are festering: relationship breakdown, alcohol and drug issues, and mental health problems exist amid a "macho culture".

Video: Today's Cowboys (simply stunning)

Video: Today's Cowboys (simply stunning)

I first viewed Today's Cowboys two years ago at the Queensland New Filmmaker Awards, and was stunned. From the cinematography taking in the Australian landscape to the captivating story, it is a truly beautiful piece of filmmaking. 

Shot over three days in Esk, Queensland, the initial intention was to address the question, 'What is the image of the modern cowboy?'. It turned into something quite different.

Centering on Mick, a beautiful young man who has encountered depression at the intersection of society's expectations, familial sorrow, the isolation of country life and a sensitive disposition ("I'm different to most people," he says), the award-winning film elicits an emotional response from audiences that cuts to the core of our humanity and Australian mateship.

Aesthete: One lonely tree, Logan Village

Aesthete: One lonely tree, Logan Village
Photography: Sophie Baker
Girl With a Satchel

Short & Sweet - week beginning 13 August, 2012

Our destination over the weekend was Chinchilla, where the cotton-pickers reside, and Dalby, where our loved ones live. Husband had been invited to speak at a Chinchillian church youth event, where we met an amazing and energetic young band, and I delighted in my niece and attended church in Dalby, where the preacher spoke of community in reference to First Corinthians: Paul's gracious appeal to a people with problems to keep Christ at the centre of their thinking and doing.  

How easy it is to be waylaid: to find oneself straying off the path saying, 'I'm doing okay, perhaps I don't need Christ so much today', only to find that you did, indeed, need Christ because you are terribly human and therefore prone to making mistakes and needing his grace. On this, I will endeavour to elaborate soon.

When we returned home, husband and I enjoyed a dinner of pasta on the floor, accompanied by a little glass of red and some nice music. The undivided, simple, quiet life, where the value of what we do on any given day is measured according to the goodness they create for those nearest and dearest to us, is becoming increasingly meaningful to me. From that, it's only natural that the values will permeate father afield... into one's work and community. "Charity starts at home," as my mother says.

The Word for the Week: "If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." - Jesus, John 15:6 (Yikes!)
Quote for the Week: "We don't have any interesting people in Australian politics." Barry Humphries (not entirely true) word for the week: pillory \PIL-uh-ree\, verb:
1. To expose to public derision, ridicule, or abuse.
2. To set in the pillory.
"As the Brisbane Ekka show gets underway, its mix of agriculture displays, equestrian shows and rides drawing in people from across the state who get a day off work, Premier Campbell Newman is being pilloried by the Queensland press for his unmerciful approach to public service job cuts. Hold onto your hats."

Girl With a Satchel

The Satchel Review - Saturday August 11, 2012

What a strange and unusual turn of events before the return of spring parliament, that we should see the Prime Minister, so out of favour with the Australian public, turn around her fortunes almost as quickly as Usain Bolt can run a hundred metres.

Once given the dubious title of leading "the most unpopular Australian government in the past 40 years" by The Guardian, Gillard has seemingly overnight leapt to heights she cannot have imagined circa June 2011 when her personal approval rating hovered around 27 per cent and Kevin Rudd (Foreign Minister at the time) was preferred Labor leader.

Gillard's personal standing amongst Aussie voters rebounded 6 percentage points to 39 per cent in the latest Herald/Nielsen poll. Her disapproval rate has fallen 5 points to 57 per cent. She is now almost even-stevens with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister (45 per cent want him as PM), whose approval rating sits at 41 per cent.

Whether this says more about Gillard's abilities relative to Abbott's, or is a case of choosing the least worst one, remains to be seen.

This unexpected achievement comes amidst the implementation of the Carbon Tax, further electricity price rises, industrial relations disputes (Qantas, Ford, Holden) and the NBN spending fiasco.

On the flip side, positive policy implementation includes the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), $2 billion more over six years to improve the wages of lowly paid, predominantly female, social and community sector workers, and the Gonski education review (which now has its own "I Give a Gonski" Facebook page).

These make Gillard look like Cinderella's fairy-godmother, while the conservative state premiers play the ugly step-sisters up to their arms in electricity costs and job losses, and Tony Abbott plays the evil step-mother ruining all the good things with his constant negativity.

However, Labor will not be resting on its laurels in the lead up to next year's federal election. If an election were to be called now, the Coalition would win. Still the preferred party, the Liberal/Nationals command 45 per cent of the primary vote compared to Labor's 30 per cent and the Greens' 14 per cent.

Should he win, Abbott has his work cut out repealing the Carbon Tax and the mining tax. A poll last month showed 59 per cent of Australian oppose the Carbon Tax and 37 per cent support it. In contrast, 53 per cent support the mining tax, while 38 per cent are opposed.

All in all, Australia remains the land of the "fair go" where the majority believe in taxing big business over small, not being bullied into paying more than they should (either by unions or government), and in ensuring the pockets of the most needy are filled a'plenty.

While the London Olympics has taught we Aussies humility in defeat, knocking us off our now perilous top-sporting-nation perch, Gillard's momentary spike in popularity may be the extra kick up the pants the coalition needs to come up with a strategy that is less about just saying no to the government's every suggestion and more saying yes to its vision for the country.

While the NDIS and renewable energy targets have bipartisan support, the big white elephants lingering over the Gillard Government right now are the prospective slowing of China trade, which is helping to bolster national revenue, pressure on household and business incomes from electricity prices, and asylum seeker policy. This as the Manila floods leave thousands of Filipinos homeless, impacting those who live in slums and shanty towns most. 

Girl With a Satchel

Arts, Culture & Entertainment - Dickens, Binchy, Walkleys, Hoskins

Charles Dickens' Great Expectations at ACMI
Of Paupers and Gentlemen: Charles Dickens on Film, is a collection of films inspired by Dickens' novels to be presented at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne this month. Spanning three days, commencing Monday 20th August, this new collection is part of "Melbourne Celebrates Dickens", an acknowledgement of the 200 years since his birth.

The films the collection includes are A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935), Great Expectations (1974), Alfonso Cuaron's Great Expectations (1998) and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1947). Tickets are $15 (full), $12 (concession) and for ACMI members, only $11.

ABC TV's First Tuesday Book Club is hoping for your vote in a bid to find the 10 Aussie Books to Read Before You Die. Upon casting your vote, you will be in the running to win the collection of the finally announced, great Australian reading list. A shortlist of 50 Australian classics is supplied to choose from, and well-known Australians have put forward their suggestions, but the option for voting for other titles is also available. The announcement of the final list will be aired in a one hour special on ABC 1 at 10pm Tuesday 4th December.

Bulletin Board: The First Home Project (deadline Sunday August 12!)

Bulletin Board: The First Home Project

There is a housing crisis in Perth. Only 2 per cent of rental properties are vacant, say the McKenna crew - Jarrod, Teresa and their son Tyson - behind The First Home Project.

The McKennas have spent the past eight years living and working in Lockridge amongst the marginalised, indigenous, homeless and refugee members of Australian society; Teresa as a social worker and Jarrod as World Vision's National Advisor for Youth, Faith and Activism and an Ambassador for Welcome to Australia and founder of 'Welcome to My Place', a movement practising hospitality for refugees amongst the local community. 

During this time, they've seen changes and identified a pressing need.

"The mining boom has seen a huge increase in the number of renters and this additional competition has left parties outbidding each other to lease the few rental properties on the market," they say. "In this environment, refugees - our newest Australians - struggle to access affordable accommodation, let alone accommodation close to employment opportunities or community services."

Thinkings: On the Robert Hughes' of the world

Thinkings: On the Robert Hughes' of the world

Strolling around Bangkok, Thailand, one can't help but entertain thoughts that all the middle-aged white men you see are there to procure sex from girls or young men. For all you know, these men could be here on business and love their families back home; they could be working for NGOs, they could be Elizabeth Gilberts... 

But these detestable thoughts accost you because you also know that South East Asia is a hub for the sex trafficking trade. You have heard of a case in which a Russian oligarch has escaped scot-free after abusing young boys and girls. 

There is rage in you, so you are quick to judge all the white men based on this information. And while it makes you feel sick, and sicker still to think 'officials' might pardon such acts based on a person's status or finances, you cannot help but also feel desolation to the core of your humanity. 

For what kind of person, in what state of being, would feel the need to fulfill these lurid desires and cause harm to a child who has unwittingly succumbed to the trade through no choice of their own?

In light of this week's story about Beate's work with the girl-victims of sex offenses in Cambodia, news of former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes' (not to be confused with the other Robert Hughes) arrest in Britain after extensive police inquiries brings the issue closer to home. 

Crimes against girls and children are universal and the perpetrators creep into the most unexpected places... from the streets of Thailand to Cambodian villages to sitcom sets. 

Genealogy: Eric Liddell, Olympian

Genealogy: Eric Liddell, Olympian
By Brooke Lehmann
"The secret of my success over the 400m is that I run the first 200m as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200m, with God's help I run faster."
In light of the London 2012 Olympics, inspiring the United Kingdom's apt cinematic re-release of the Oscar winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire, many are turning their memories to Olympic hero Eric Liddell, and his inspirational 1924 Paris gold. 

Remembered as 'the flying Scotsman' and the man 'who wouldn't run on a Sunday', and as a short, not overly 'pretty' runner, Liddell's athletic career came a strict second in the life of this gentleman of faith.

Born in Tientsin (also known as Tianjin), North China, on the 16th January 1902 to London Missionary Society couple, Rev. and Mrs James Dunlop Liddell, he was the second eldest to brother Rob, and later his two younger siblings, sister Jenny and brother Ernest.

London Olympics Telegram - by Man with a Bag (part 3)

Australian swim team: one gold. Cycling team: one gold (well done, Anna!). Track and field team: one gold (well done, Sally, what a race!). 

Sally and Anna were interviewed on the television last night, and they are both articulate, well-spoken ladies who are real ambassadors for their sport. If more of our young people held those girls as role models, we probably wouldn't have so many social problems. But that's just me. They carried themselves very well and their sportsmanship was fantastic. A gold for graciousness. 

But, as predicted, sailing, so far, two gold! And the possibility of more medals. Our 470 guys are in the medal race and our match-racing girls are in the semi-finals. We predict one more sailing gold and one bronze. Thank heavens for our yachties.

By the way, who thought BMX riding was an Olympic sport? News to me.

That's all.

Man with a Bag

Snapshot: Beate and Willem, a Cambodian education

Snapshot: Beate and Willem, a Cambodian education
By Erica Bartle

Beate van de Waal, 32, is the sort of lady who makes Katniss from The Hunger Games almost look like a wimp. When I first meet her, I am intimidated, her piercing blue eyes seemingly penetrating through to my soul. 

Soon enough, I get the idea that she would take a bullet for the girls she is here to protect and educate – she is not one to tolerate dilly-dallying fools. I crouch down in the dirt and pick up rocks from the school ground to earn her respect. She sits me in a corner with a girl of 15, maybe 16, who teaches me basic Khmer, counting to 60. "If you want to be here, you must learn," she says. I do as I am told. 

By the time we part company, we are friends. There is understanding: somewhere at the intersection between Australian, Cambodian and Dutch culture, we meet. Our Christianity gives us a basis, but so too does our feminism, our love for vulnerable young girls forgotten by the world and our hunger for joy amidst the turmoil.

"I thought this line of work would make me a more serious person, a 'carrying the weight' kind of thing," she tells me, reflecting on her work in post-trauma rehabilitation for girls liberated from the sex trafficking trade.

"But instead I feel the need for joy! Laughing! Dancing! Freedom in that way. We are created to live in that freedom. To be, to feel. I think I didn't get that before. But ultimately that is what we want for the girls, right? Not 'only' physical safety, mental recovery, but the freedom to experience joy. Free from whatever ties girls down."

This is her passion, her everything – bridging the gap between what we Westerners see and how we want things to be, within the context of a very unique country. She brings clarity and liberty to my thinking as I page through her impressive final-year university paper, which canvasses the particular and peculiar role of the "housemother" in Cambodian-based rehabilitation services set up by NGOs. What she is doing here, I believe, is heroic. But she doesn't see it so.

"I love that I can do this work here, and I really feel now more drawn to this kind of work. But I think that, really you don’t have to be a pastor or live in a developing country, to have these valuable interactions," she says. "I think it is significant that we see people and that we reach out to people wherever we are. Maybe it could look more impressive in a situation like this, but it is not less meaningful if it is in another situation."

For Beate and her husband, Willem, who is 35, learning to navigate the cultural nuances of their respective fields of work within a Cambodian context has been an education in itself. After Pol Pot's regime (1975-79) was driven from power, the educational system had to be just about built from the bottom up, like so many other aspects of Cambodian life, only under a heavy burden: lost were some of the most talented and industrious people and in their place a pervading legacy: a social, economic and spiritual poverty. 

The advances made in literacy and numeracy were undercut by the Khmer Rouge as schools were closed, three quarters of the teaching population disappeared (some sources say up to 90 per cent of teachers were killed). Today, 50 per cent of the population of Cambodia is aged under 20, and there is much ground to make up. The system is riddled with inequalities, but NGOs in partnership with government are making ground. Slowly. Westerners don't take to slow change well.

"I think the whole education system will take generations for things to change," says Beate. "I love that my husband is in educational development and I am in after-care. Willem is helping people to develop their own thoughts, to make their own decisions, to activate that more… I love that combination because ultimately society has to change. It’s the whole system."

State schools are under-resourced, "chalk and talk" teaching predominates, and teachers are paid poorly, which has had the unfortunate effect of pushing some teachers accept cash in exchange for after-school tuition (which is not compulsory, but puts those who do not take it at a disadvantage). Fluffing up grades is an ethical boundary many are prepared to cross. Such practises are entrenched.

Faith: When all hope seems lost (it's not - it could just be snot)

Faith: When all hope seems lost (it's not)

Over the weekend I was feeling particularly under the weather, my head stuffed with so much gunk it seeped and oozed and dried up all around my reddened nose, like metaphor to the clutter in my mind (too much to do and not enough time... woe-is-me seepage onto the world!).  

So I took myself off to sit in the sun and absorb some Vitamin D while picking the skin from a mandarin plucked straight from a tree. 

As I looked up and took in the spectacular view from my deckchair, no one about the place to disturb my bliss, the clear blue sky and impressively tall trees gave me perspective as well as renewed energy. I was alright. 'It is lovely to just be,' I thought, rather indulgently, winking at God. Enveloped by the sun's rays and caressed by the gentle rustling of the trees, I could have stayed there all afternoon.

I did not, and instead took myself to a community screening of a film, strolling the way there looking up at paragliders flying about like giant kites in the air. They must feel so free, thought I. And I was flying solo in my own way; doing as I felt I wanted to do on this particular day for my wellbeing.

A tinge of guilt over sharing my germs with all the little old ladies at the movie matinee aside (I sat very far away, and refrained from coughing, sucking at a packet of Eucalyptus lollies), I had a wonderful time.

But the following evening I was awakened from my contented state of self. I was told about a young girl who had tried to take her life prior to commencing her HSC trials. To think that that teenage girl might miss out on the blue skies and swaying of trees because she is all too consumed by the pressure to perform in these academic tests? My heart sank with despair. And then I got a little bit angry.

After all, it is not what we do or how well we do it that is who we are. It is about our hearts. She could be a twinkling little star without so much as a pass.

Short & Sweet - week beginning 6 August, 2012

As the bleary-eyed families of Olympians whose hopes have been dashed in the qualifying rounds of the Olympics console their loved ones, dreams of golden victories laid aside, Sophie this week presents a story about two young missionaries going off to do good work in Nepal. 

When he was confronted with two options: to pursue his athletic career or accompany his sister on a mission to China, the Scottish sportsman Eric Liddell ultimately chose the mission field. After winning Olympic gold in the 400m, he hung up his running shoes, became an ordained minister, married and had three children (more on his story to come).

In January, my husband threw away nearly all his sporting trophies. He kept just three. A step of faith that says, 'I will not be defined by these things, though they brought me great pleasure at the time' can be the most liberating thing. But it is often hard to let go if we feel that we have not yet accomplished the task of rising to our best. The finish line has not been crossed.

The Satchel Review - Saturday 4 August, 2012

We will soon be landing on Mars, but we still can't get things here on earth quite right, which makes one think, is man's curiosity about big things far away leading us astray? We cannot simply appreciate, we must investigate! Conquer! Buy! Put a ring on it!

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is heading the commercial race into space, making his native London's Olympic endeavours look like child's play (landed gentry, eat your heart out, we're going to space!), while Clive Palmer and James Packer have created their own solutions for Australia: super-casinos in Sydney and grandiose (read: gauche) hotel developments on the Sunshine Coast!

You can keep your dirty dollars and your high-rollers, Mr's Packer and Palmer, thank you very much. But this does raise a moral question: does it matter where the money's coming from if it's getting the job done?

Alas, all this new Packer/Palmer money could very well offset the fallout from the mining boom should there be one in time to come. After all, we have an NDIS to fund, Gonski reforms to make, infrastructure to build, Carbon Tax to pay, Third World aid to generate, not to mention jobs to create for all the poor folk laid off by Ford, BHP, chicken factories, the Queensland Government and the like.

Arts, Culture & Entertainment - August 3

The Queensland Ballet in Gala dress rehearsal mode. Photography: Ken Sparrow
Brisbane is where it's at right now. This weekend the Queensland Ballet celebrates its International Gala, the 15th year of the event, with a display of "virtuosic dance in its many forms" and a host of guest dancers, including Daniel Gaudiello, Paul White and Chantelle Kerr, who have trained and danced with Queensland Ballet. 

Also in Brisbane is Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado, hosted by the Queensland Art Gallery, which Prado chief Miguel Zugaza described as "one of the most creative and dynamic art museums in the world". The exhibition – which  investigates the evolving identity of Spain from 1550-1900 – is the first from the Museo Nacional del Prado to be shown in the Southern Hemisphere and features more than 100 masterpieces, including Christ carrying the Cross by Cristo con la Cruz a cuestas, circa 1565. The exhibition concentrates on war, religion and nobility.
And for the diary: the 50th Brisbane Writer's Festival (5-9 September; tagline 'Celebrating the heart of the story'). A potential highlight? Germaine Greer, the former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway, federal politician Bob Katter, magistrate Jacqui Payne, writer Benjamin Law and criminal defense investigator Rachel Sommerville in a lively and passionate debate adjudicated by Roland Sussex titled 'Reading the Bible is good for you...'. Keep up with the news via Facebook.

Laura Moore's winning portrait. Image, with thanks,
Sydney artist Laura Moore, 25, has won the iD Digital Portraiture Award for a self-portrait in which she poses as her school-girl self. Her misty eyes, freckles and plait make a compelling depiction of the traditional school photo. In order to capture a series of still photos conveying the raw emotions of her high school years, she sat in front of the camera for hours recalling her more miserable experiences. "I wanted to do something that was real, that felt real - like I was being honest," Moore said. "I wasn't compromising - that's why I decided to go all the way with it," she said. The judges noted the portrait, one of 60 entries and five finalists, was easy to identify with. Hosted by the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, the awards are open to young artists aged 18 to 30 with an interest in digital realisations of portraiture. Self-portraiture and family portraits have proved popular.

As the 18th Biennale of Sydney – "Australia's largest and most exciting contemporary arts event" – continues, Juliana Endberg has been appointed artistic director of Biennale 2014 with chief executive Marah Braye crediting her "curatorial wit and incisive perspective on presenting exhibitions in unique buildings". The director of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne, Endberg will maintain her ACCA position while also tackling the biennale role, through which she hopes to imbue "some drama, some realism, some emotion – a rich bouillabaisse of an event, with some meaty bits and some lighter bits" (The Australian). Held every two years, the Biennale is a three-month exhibition, complemented by a program of artist talks, performances, forums, film screenings, family events, guided tours and other special events. It is free to the public.

Artist and illustrator Nicole Tattersall is holding an exhibition called "The Urban Diary of a City Miss" from Friday August 17 to Sunday August 19 at Art Boy Gallery, Prahran, Victoria. "I've been busy working towards my first solo exhibition in almost two years," says Tattersall. Loosely inspired by the book The Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden, the work – which features stencils cut and sprayed from her own photographs of animals, illustrations, paintings and photography – represents 12 months of her life. "The year long challenge was to translate and convey my personal thoughts, experiences, surroundings and wildlife observations into a visual diary,” she says. Accompanying each piece in the show is a brief 'diary entry' explaining its significance. You can watch a video Nicole put together in anticipation of the exhibition here.

"Hit the Ground", the catchy, sunny new single by Melbourne lass Emmy Bryce that featured on Channel Ten's Offspring, follows "Every Star is a Setting Sun to Someone" onto the pop playlists of girls and guys who like their music with a spoon full of sugar. In May, Emmy won the "Pie Face Pie Jam" competition, which will see her record with legendary engineer/producer Kalju Tonuma (Temper Trap, the Living End, 28 Days, Evermore), which is a long way from recording compositions on her parent's dual tape deck as a 13-year-old. Emmy has gigs in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide during August and September, where she'll be joined by Lucy B and supported by Andrew Lim. Check out for details or like her Facebook page

Print is dead? Not so, Fred. The team behind Mollie Makes magazine has delivered a new title of the printed variety called The Simple Things, a new monthly title celebrating the things that matter most. "It's about knowing the greatest rewards come from the simple things, that there's no satisfaction like that at the end of a long muddy walk, no pink so pretty as freshly-cut rhubarb and no perfume to compare with your own home-grown flowers," say the editors. "It's about making warm, inviting homes - big or small - sharing food with friends, growing your own vegetables. It's about shopping for a coffee table only to find you're happy with a tea chest. It's keeping your Dad's old typewriter just because it's beautiful. It's an empty beach on a Sunday morning. It's backpedalling." Sign us up! The first issue is out September 6.
Photography: Australian Traveller
Australian Traveller magazine has produced a state-by-state guide to the best rural regions to eat, drink and forage in it annual gourmet issue. Hit the road and discover fresh provincial produce by way of roadside farm gates, local providores and a flourishing restaurant scene. Given the abundance of wineries and cellar doors en route, cosy sleepover options are also provided. There’s no time better than winter to polish off your basket-full of (edible) souvenirs.

Girl With a Satchel

London Olympics Telegram - by Man with a Bag (part 2)

To misquote one of our ex-Prime Ministers, namely Edward Gough Whitlam, "Ladies and gentleman, well may we say 'God save the Queen', but nothing will save the Australian Olympic Team."

How does it feel – seven days of competition in, one gold medal? At the time of writing we are placed 16th on the medal count, behind Kazakhstan in 10th.

Swimmer Emily Seebohm blamed social media for blowing nonsense into her trumpet. Paralympian Michael Milton said the athletes had been molly-coddled by experts and minders. 

But methinks the rot started after the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Funding cuts and a dramatic reduction in expenditure on elite athletes. Why have all our top-notch coaches gone overseas to China, Europe and the United States? 

Big dollars were offered them. Can we blame them?

Where our swim team was usually feared by others, half of them should have never gone to the Games because their times were not A-standard. Nevermind that Ian Thorpe's attempt at a comeback cost Swimming Australia a handy sum for his training expenses. 

That was money well spent, like the pink bats (perhaps they could have been used as floaties?).

Genealogy: G.K. Chesterton, journalist

Genealogy: G.K. Chesterton, 1874 – 1936
“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” - G. K. Chesterton

By Brooke Lehmann

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of a man who relished life in all its fullness, the English journalist, novelist, critic and Christian G.K. Chesterton’s influence lingers on till the present day. His Catholic, romantic and “distributionist” concepts of a pastoral, egalitarian England (aka “Merrie Englandism”) liberated from machines infused even the London Olympic games.

As Daily Telegraph blogger Tim Stanley wrote of the opening scene's depiction of a pastoral England, "Was this written by GK Chesterton? It's fantastic."

A generous thinker and gentleman, Chesterton cherished his work, his friends, his wife, his religion, which was underwritten by an unquenchable curiosity, substantial creativity, excellent sense of humour and chivalrous sensibility. He took equal delight in the peculiarities of the rhinoceros as the faces of men on the street. He saw each person as having, "the incredible unexpectedness of a fairy-tale".

His writings are cherished by literary scholars, fantasy boffins, intellectuals and Christians alike, his achievements vast and widespread. It was said when he visited America in 1922, his lectures were reported by the national and international press. He was once granted the company of the Pope.

In the homily given by Ronald Knox at Chesterton’s funeral at Westminster Cathedral in 1936, Knox said, "All of this generation has grown up under Chesterton's influence so completely that we do not even know when we are thinking Chesterton." The Chesterton Society has proposed his beatification.

Standing at six feet and four inches tall, with a rather impressive girth, Chesterton's gargantuan appearance is one that seems as aptly suited to his sizeable literary contribution as to one of the many fairytales he was entranced by. A public figure rather than an academic, his prolific writing career percolated into poetry, novels, short stories, journalism, essays, and biographies.

There is hardly a genre that was not pervaded by this most ardent of expositors. He was known to be an encouragement and inspiration to many well-known writers who shared a similar proclivity towards the written word in its many splendid forms, such as C. S. Lewis, who credits Chesterton’s commentary The Everlasting Man with "baptising" his intellect, and J.R.R. Tolkien who quotes Chesterton favourably in his cherished essay, “On Fairy Stories”.

His circle of literary friends included the playwright George Bernard Shaw, with whom he shared a lively "Chestershawian" discourse. The two disagreed on essential points of truth. "It is necessary to disagree with him as much as I do, in order to admire him as much as I do; and I am proud of him as a foe even more than as a friend," Chesterton once said of his “too grave” and “too serious” friend Shaw. Of Chesterton, Shaw said, "He was a man of colossal genius".

Chesterton: “To look at you, anyone would think there was a famine in England.” 
Shaw: “To look at you, anyone would think you caused it.”

Dorothy L. Sayers, who read his Orthodoxy as a schoolgirl when her faith was mired in adolescent doubt, said of Chesterton in 1952, “To the young people of my generation, G.K.C. was a kind of Christian liberator." Evelyn Waugh described his The Everlasting Man as a “triumphant assertion that a book can be both great and popular." Chesterton was said to have influenced the original conception of Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

The Occasional Shopper: High Variety (in Green Stilettos)

Timely, it was, to receive an invitation to attend an event in aid of Variety the Children's Charity in the very same week that Carolyn Donovan's book, Greenies in Stilettos: How to save the world without really trying ( 5 easy steps) should find its way to the shelves (with a stop at Mary Ryan's Milton store). And then to meet and make new friends with whom you can exchange discourse about things such as the National Disability Scheme? Well, what a treat.

The event, you see, was a swap party (a "Swap&Shop" to be exact) hosted by the family behind Alpha Car Hire at the Princess Theatre, Brisbane. Emceed by Image Boutique stylist Sara-Hatten Masterton, who wore an impressive sequinned jacket in jewelled tones, the sounds of brother/sister duo Rebecca and Ric Kneen, along with vocalist Alex Vickery, serenaded the stylish young crowd into a frenzy of fashion-for-a-cause.   

Citing The Council of Textiles and Fashion Industries of Australia, which reports that women under 30 buy, on average, 102 items of clothing a year (perhaps some contributing more to the sum total than others), the event's coordinator Ivana Nikolic encouraged invitees to think about increasing the life cycle of their clothes.

"Without a doubt the increase in clothing options means that more clothes ultimately end up in landfill and are probably only worn a handful of times," she said. "Swap&Shop means that we can breathe some new life into these items, which would otherwise be forgotten."

It's a sentiment captured delightfully by Donovan in her newest book, which aims to awaken the sleepy shopper from a consumptive stupor and enter a state more commensurate with environmentally friendly values.