Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jesus On a Bicycle

IT WAS good to hear yesterday from the former Mrs Bunyip, who stays in regular touch and for whom divorce has been quite the tonic. Before things turned nasty and lawyers inserted themselves in the chasm jointly excavated by the Professor's poor behaviour and  Mrs Bunyip's inner nun, topics of conversation were entirely predictable, especially first thing in the morning. Full ashtrays and empty bottles dotted about the domestic plain never failed to prompt a lecture about healthy living and the need to renounce life's small pleasures, while any mention of golf, fishing or other recreational activities was a catalyst for the immediate listing of more worthy things in need of doing -- things involving screwdrivers, lawnmowers and preparations for the imminent arrival of her sisters and extended family.  These days, now that the rancour has passed, it is a genuine pleasure to chat away with the ex, whose fury has so diminished she no longer even touches on what went on that night at the mooring with former best friend  Joan. Divorce, you see, really does bring couples closer.

It's a thought prompted by, of all people, the Professor's newsagent, whose boy has once again delivered the Age rather than the Australian. As buying that wretched newspaper only encourages the people who produce it, the responsible course is to read it online where it costs nothing, which is still more than the Age is worth. Indeed, having glanced through this morning's edition, there is a strong case to be made for pasting a gold coin to the front page as a compensation for ploughing through page after page of the entirely predictable. Even at her reformist worst, Mrs Bunyip's hectoring was never half so easy to anticipate.

Take just the opinion page, for example. Martin Flanagan, a non-believer, reads the gospels and concludes that Jesus was just what Martin Flanagan wants him to be -- opposed to the rich, in particular. The only surprise is that Flanagan does not place the alleged Messiah on a sustainable bicycle and have him distributing how-to-vote cards for Bob Brown.

Then there is foreign policy guru Daniel Flitton and his thoughts on social media, which he sees as being very important and not-so-important in shaping revolutions and fostering change. There is insight for you! If Fitton were to check out what is said online about his employer and the preachy crap it publishes, he might better understand why Fairfax stock is bumping along just a few pennies removed from its all-time low.

Spirituality also gets the better of  Hugh Mackay, who reckons Christmas needs to be rescued from believers -- especially conservative believers, whom he dismisses as fundamentalists --  and made available to Age readers, who should make of it what they will.

Shaun Carney took that advice to heart, because he goes off on a meandering Yule rumination which begins with Simon and Garfunkel, touches inevitably on boat people and staggers exhausted -- his readers will be, anyway -- into the erosion of the public's faith in politics. That is Age-speak for "Gillard is on the nose and, as I cannot bring myself to blame her government's lies, policies and incompetence, I'll just blame those eager to turf her out at the first opportunity." He can get away with it, too, as it is only supporters of Gillard and the Greens who still read the Age -- and if someone who could set him straight stumbles by chance upon his column and writes a letter to the editor, well it would not be published. Like the ex-Mrs Bunyip's intolerance of  dissent, in the Age it is very hard to register a corrective word.

Elsewhere in the Age, public transport is extolled and Chadstone shopping centre's plan to expand dismissed. Well none of the stores in that complex advertise in the Age these days, so why not pleasure readers who believe waiting for a crowded bus or overdue tram is morally uplifting? Those same people also believe the Age is a good newspaper, which further explains the share price.

And last, but by no means least, John Menadue rabbits on about boat people and how Gillard is right to wish them packed off to Malayasia because Nauru just won't work. This from Gough Whtitlam's chief of staff -- what an absolute surprise!

The former Mrs Bunyip will be checking in later today with a Christmas present and, if recent conduct is any guide, not the slightest edge to her tongue. It will be good to see her and to discuss to the sort of topics a toxic marriage placed firmly out of bounds. There is a lesson there for the Age, a Christmas message if you will. If the rupture with its former readers was to be made absolute, if the newspaper could only die, well it just might be possible to see a new owner resurrect it as a better, saner, and far more congenial presence on Melbourne's landscape.

So, if you still read the Age, divorce it. It can only improve as a result, even if it is never published again.

UPDATE: At its current market cap, an investment of $350 million would secure 20% of Fairfax stock and, by virtue of that, control of the board and company. CEO Hywood has paid down debt quite a bit over the past 12 months, which makes such a deal a good deal more attractive. Fix the company, see the stock rise, make out very nicely -- that should be the business plan. In the next 12 months -- and you can take this from a Bunyip -- Fairfax will either go broke or it will be taken over via the receivers or, equally likely, because the stock is going to sink to such a level that someone will recognise an opportunity. Cannot happen soon enough.


  1. "the Professor's newsagent, whose boy has once again delivered the Age rather than the Australian."

    He's a communist. The poor kid doesn't know any better.

  2. It was a heartwarming sight to see the graph in its manic downhill slide from 2000 to now.
    That's really cheered me up.

    And I really hope things come good for you and the exmissus.
    "The Australian version of Marriage is not a state of Wedded Bliss, it is more a state of heavily armed neutrality, and sometimes there are border incidents."

  3. At the SMH they're doing their best to address the shrinking revenue problem with their standard Public Holiday scam.The Friday edition is priced at $2.50 instead of its usual $1.50 and then the Saturday edition ,which comprises mostly Friday's edition regurgitated,is priced at $2.70.

  4. PhillipGeorge(c)nearly 2012December 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    Professor, when sermons used to be a once-a-week thing and most people were getting a dose of them Government and Newspapers concentrated on stuff like building roads, bridges, ports, power-stations, dams, libraries, schools and hospitals. The prices of commodities were issues, churches ran marriage. Prisons worked on discipline, punishment and correction.

    When the Sunday sermon disappeared beneath the collective horizon of most, preaching didn't stop - not at all - it exploded into everywhere. Pagans, savages, the insane and even the anonymous fool, used any lectern, column, stage, and camera as the new pulpit. The competition of competing gospels has been the hallmark of post modern society. It is a Greek Hydra whose many faces confuse all recognition of a target. The challenge is to find a single heart animating the beast - and stab deep.

    Let him who has ears.....

    ah well, someone "got it"

  5. I sometimes appreciate the words of Hugh MacKay, however what are we to make of his main critique of fundamentalism? He has a short paragraph on the origins of the movement that is so error-ridden that it is hard to take anything else he says as serious. A cursory reading of "The Fundamentals" even on Wikipedia would have rendered anything McKay then writes about as ill-researched and wrong headed. He appears to be completely ignorant about the topic.

    I try and read his stuff with a sympathetic attitude and he disappoints me with his lack of research and wild conclusions about a subject he seems to know nothing about. Has he ever met a "fundamentalist"? Or does he get his info from such luminaries as Marion Maddox and the like.

    Oh by the way Merry Christmas, Professor!

    Real Deal

  6. And a very merry Christmas to you, Anonymous. Agreed, Mackay can sometimes be worth reading, but not today. Still, would the Age have published his column if he had anything positive to say about Christmas and believers?

  7. To be honest never have delved as deep into the Age as some people on this blog. Normally the first or second paragraph is enough to have me passing it on to the bin. After clickin on those links, won't be in a hurry to take up a subscription either. Truly abysmal writing.

  8. " Fairfax will either go broke or it will be taken over via the receivers or, equally likely, because the stock is going to sink to such a level that someone will recognise an opportunity. Cannot happen soon enough." Seconded, Professor.

    When the atmosphere changes at the Age, I may well begin to read it again. My time is valuable and the Age has been wasting it for a number of years.

    Safe, happy and prosperous 2012 to the Professor and readers.


  9. All I can add is... you are a lucky, lucky Bunyip for being able to get the Australian delivered on the right date(most of the time). As I sit in the departure lounge at Darwin Airport, awaiting my freedom bird to civilization (god, its been 18 months!) I look at the screen and see the big bird carrying the good news to the heathens is just arriving.

    God bless, Professor, and all the best.

  10. I am indebted to Hugh Mackay for the phrase "my research indicates", which adds some sweet pink fluffy weight to just about any throwaway opinion he comes up with, regardless of the volume or methodology of any research done. Readers can try it for themselves.

  11. Being in Sydney it seems I'm fortunate not to have a relationship with the Age.

    A few years ago I prevailed upon the owner of my local coffee shop to dispense with his free reading SMHeralds and replace them with 3 or 4 copies of The Australian - he already had the Telegraph for those with a limited attention span and a love of sport.

    I now read The Australian every weekday morning for free, which effectively reduces his overpriced coffee from $ 3.50 to $ 1.80. I try to read the Herald (only because it's free) on the world wide web; however, it is just bloody aweful.

    Happy Christmas Professor Bunyip.

  12. A really beautiful piece of a cappella singing Candlelight - also known as The Hanukka Song - by the Maccabeats. It's an amended version Taio Cruz's "Dynamite".

    I'm sure all readers will be familiar with Taio Cruz and his modern melodic efforts.

  13. "Spirituality also gets the better of Hugh Mackay, who reckons Christmas needs to be rescued from believers -- especially conservative believers, whom he dismisses as fundamentalists -- and made available to Age readers, who should make of it what they will."

    Professor, you have succinctly captured in one sentence the fatuousness of "swaggering" Hugh Mckay's overblown attack piece. Of course where there is faith, there is doubt. What an insight,eh!?

    As with Easter so with Christmas. The ABC, The Age and the rest of the Left media wheel out the same old putdowns and attacks and "scholarly critiques" of the Christian faith as their contributions to the spirit of the holy season.

    What is particularly galling is Mckay's requisite passing nod in the direction of Jewish and Islamic "fundamentalisms" (while totally ignoring the rampant atheistic variation) before he returns to his true topic: dismissing Christians who take their faith - and the reason for the season - seriously and earnestly.

    Mckay opines:

    "When people like Richard Dawkins criticise religion for its fanaticism or its blind embrace of scriptures riven with inconvenient contradictions, this is not a criticism of religious faith, per se, but of fundamentalism."

    Obviously Mckay has read his Dawkins about as closley as he has read his New Testament...

  14. I stooped reading the age when i realised that i had already read it.

  15. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.December 24, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Ah Professor, I too have a relationship of wry appreciation with my ex. There is always that little frission of accusation still hovering though: beware.

    Thank you for so diligently providing insight into The Age, which I never read here in Sydney, even online. The SMH is bad enough.

    Have a very Merry Christmas, with lots of things that are bad for you.

  16. Seasons greetings to you Prof, and thank you for the blog.

  17. Ah Hugh Mackay.

    Pot calling Kettle:

    "That's why fundamentalists feel so sure of themselves. That's why they can't understand how other people could fail to see things the way they do (though everyone's beliefs look weird to the person who doesn't share them). It's why they eschew the mystical: they don't want to rest with the mysteries; they want to wrestle them into submission."

    Generally it's a good idea when reading Hugh to substitute "we" for "I". This particular sermon doesn't present a good example. Usually it's like "[I] am afraid of asylum seekers...".

    But in this one:

    "Certainty denies the very essence of faith. It is the impenetrability of life's mysteries that encourages [my] leaps of faith, not into the unknown, but into the unknowable. That's why doubt is the engine, the oxygen, the essence of faith. [I] believe (in anything) precisely because [I] doubt. This is the great paradox of faith: [I] yearn to know but cannot know, so [I] construct a set of beliefs - or accept a ready-made set from an established institution - to satisfy [my] need to make sense of what's going on."

    Basically Hugh explains the thinking of the great unwashed. And I doubt he does any original research. He sold his business years ago.

  18. McKay misses the point that humility isn't about grovelling weakness or crushing timidity, but about fully humbling oneself under the mighty Hand of God - the very God of the Bible - including agreeing with and submitting to every word he speaks and every action he requires as Lord and King, which, in essence, makes the so-called 'fundamental' believer right in his or her convictions and confession of faith, and far more engaged in true humility than McKay contrives for his version of a contrite believer.

    Faith is never anything to do with doubt. It is completely removed from it. We all doubt at ties, but faith rises when we see things spiritually in a certain way, through a divine revelation, either through the written or spoken word of God, including that of the Bible, and completely overwhelms doubt, even for the briefest time or during a supernatural encounter, which leaves an indelible imprint of his nature and character on our heart.

    Doubt is the enemy of the believer. Unbelievers, or doubters, according to the Book of Revelation, fail to enter paradise. They are anathema to God. They miss him in the creation. They miss him when he is apparent to them in encounters which point towards a divine intervention, however small or large. They miss him when a believer is sent to give witness to his goodness. They miss him in the face of hardships overcome.

    Faith is a heart-felt conviction of the reality of God's existence, and of his willingness to reward those who diligently seek him. Where is the doubt in that? When we actively pursue the knowledge of who God is we will be recompensed. He will com through because he is indeed interested in us personally.

    Fundamentalism is about agreeing with the basis tents of accepted Christian faith. Sadly the word has been corrupted and perverted by those who cannot believe in God, and confused with militant religionism. It's a great pity, since there is no other word which so adequately describes those who fully adhere to the Biblical principles handed to us through the Old and New Testaments.

    I looked for some way of indicating these thoughts to Mr McKay, but the Age doesn't have a means, so I'm grateful to you for allowing the opportunity to express these few words.

    Have a wonderful Christmas season and refreshingly eventful new year.

  19. Having now read some parts of Hugh's article, I'd advise him to steer clear of religious faith as a subject. He has obviously not done enough "research" and is ill-qualified to opine. Mrs Blogstrop, a lady of unshaeable faith, said she's had him pegged as a twit from way back. Her summary: A very confused man!