Tag Archives: God

2016, The year that was.

 

This year has been one where I have focused mainly on my studies, with work and relationships thrown in. It has been a year of accomplishments.

In January, one of my paintings was chosen for 2 special exhibitions representing the best of works for students of art at ACU. While this was not a sale opportunity, the recognition of my work made me feel wonderful.

20151023_164155-1

 

So too I felt wonderful when one of my photos won the National Photo Competition with the theme of The Year of Mercy.mercy

My University results have been consistently high. I achieved 2 High distinctions this year in Communications. I received distinctions in Sculpture and Literature, and credits for all other subjects.

 

The Strathfield choir had a change of Music Directors this year, with the introduction of the wonderful Claire Mc Fadden. We sang at many concerts and masses, including a special one for the Sisters of Mercy in North Sydney. We sang a suspice for Catherine McKellar which had never been sung before. It was written by Mr Graham Press, who also wrote several other pieces that we sang this year. It was a pleasure working with Graham as a guest of Claire. Peter Kneeshaw also worked with us as accompanist.I was also involved in the Australian Catholic University National Choir, singing as a bass. We had a masterclass in July, then met briefly before going to Rome to sing.20161202_185501

 

The trip to Rome was incredible. We sang 3 concerts and rehearsed together well. We bonded closely under the baton of Fay. It was incredible how so many singers from three or four different local choirs were able to sing together so well. We had some very special people listening to one concert including Cardinal George Pell and the Ambassadors to both Italy and the Holy See (Vatican City).

Mid-year I had to change cars. The Tarago which had served me well for the last few years finally died, and I bought a Mazda MPV. I like this vehicle but it loves petrol too much, and I fear I will need to change again purely for economy reasons very soon._20

 

I have had a few health issues this year but overall, I think I had a better year health-wise. I did manage to split my head open in Rome, but that did not stop me from enjoying myself, and I now have a ‘Harry Potter’ style scar in the middle of my forehead.

 

I continue my work as a Mystery Shopper for three different companies, and have just been employed by two more. Hopefully that will bring me enough income for me to continue my studies and living in Earlwood. I have done it tough this year, at times wondering where my next meal was coming from. Thankfully, I have friends who were quick to lend me an extra dollar until payday, and others who shared a meal with me.

Besides still having contact with Mission Australia, this year saw me do a volunteer placement with The Big Issue magazine. I loved working in the office and meeting some of the vendors and other volunteers. I was invited to share a Christmas Lunch with them and had a great time.20161215_152717

 

I am also still volunteering at Polly’s, doing the photography at the drag shows and dances, however I missed a few due to choir commitments and illness.

Sam and I are still enjoying each other’s company, but with both of us working multiple jobs, our time together is precious. Sam was granted Citizenship this year and is just waiting for a date so he can attend a ceremony to get his certificate and passport. We intend to take a week off later in 2017 to go to Thailand to visit some friends there.20161122_134614

Christmas was a quiet event. I sang carols at the university chapel on Christmas eve, and shared lunch with a wonderful mentor Br. Jude and his community.

I have neglected meet up groups recently as I spend more time concentrating on my studies. I do hope to become more involved next year as I find it a good distraction from the busyness of Uni and the stresses of everyday life.

2017 will see me continue with my studies, and I will finish my BA in November. I am starting a Diploma of Languages next week and will study Italian. This will help with any future tours to Rome with the choir and with the pronunciation of Latin and Italian words in some of the songs we sing.

I am also looking to do a course on editing and proofreading at TAFE to help me look for work in the literary world. I have applied to audition with the Christian Arts company Artes Christe and hope to perform with them when I can as well.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Purity : Patrick White and Brett Whiteley.

In the Interview on the Life and Faith of Patrick White, David Marr makes the point that Patrick had left conservative religion and went on his own search. His exploration took him on a journey through some Christian Mysticism, Carl Jung,

White lived a life of Simplicity. He portrayed simple people as very wise and spiritual people in a number of his books, including the one we studied. Riders in the Chariot portrays Miss Hare as one with great faith, but simple of mind.

The 1979 Billy Graham Crusade was a turning point for Patrick White. He decided that he couldn’t be a Christian any longer, as he didn’t wish to be associated with a religion which was more like a performance…”religion as opera”.

But it is Marr’s comments about the Patrick white book, The Twyborn Affair which perked my interest in purity and Patrick White. Patrick White writes in that book that “What life is about is the pursuit of Purity”. It was important for Patrick. A purity which incorporated moral purity, purity of life, of work and of spirit.

Patrick wanted to be a good man and defined good as being pure.

Brett Whiteley painted Alchemy as an Autobiographical painting in which if one reads it from right to left, finishes with gold, the pure product of the alchemist, and White, the colour of purity.

Brett Whiteley was inspired by Patrick White to the extent that he included a depiction of him in the work Alchemy.Brett Whiteley also left conventional Christianity and  went on a spiritual journey that took him through the world of drugs, and eastern religions. He also looked at Blake at one stage, depicting Blake’s “Grain of Sand” on the same panel as his exploration depictions.

By depicting purity at the end of his life, I believe Brett Whiteley was seeking purity. I also believed he shared the views of White when White expressed contempt at one who was talented but not working on that talent as contemptible. But he saw in the writer Yukio Mishima one who sought to perfect his art, and one who sacrificed all for it as a pure soul; having achieved purity. Mishima had completed his journey and so decided to end it. I believe Whiteley  was in awe of Mishima, and painted his portrait as a dedication to the writer.

We all search for something. Searching for purity seems good to me. I feel I have not let Patrick White down. My aim in life is to share beauty with those who cannot see it for themselves. I strive to do that. My motto is Creativity is a gift, given sparingly, to be used wisely. I think Patrick White would approve.

Dave

1 Comment

Filed under Visionary Imagination

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Describe a moment in your life, where, like Janet or Jock, time has stopped for you and the world takes on a completely new, vivid aspect. (For readers of my blog that aren’t students in my class, Janet or Jock are from a book called Remembering Babylon by David Malouf).

The year was 1990. It was late May. I had just come back from a a short term mission trip to the Phillipines. I was serving in the poorest city on the poorest island in one of the worlds poorest nations. The people I was serving called themselves the Warai Warai people. Translated it means the Nothing Nothing people. They considered themselves worthless. They survived day after day on the rice and bananas they grew, then hens and eggs that wandered around, and the small fish that they could catch. There was one telephone in the city. You needed to book 3 days in advance if you wanted to use it, and then wait in line for 6 hours.

While there we are able to save the life of a baby with a $2 tube of ointment. I made friends with so many. We bought a fishing boat for the church, to better provide for its members. We bought a rickshaw type bicycle for a family so they could operate a taxi style service for any foreigners who might come to the village.

I came back and again started my night shift job, working with the  underage prostitutes and drug addicts of Kings Cross, attempting to find them accommodation, provide counselling, a coffee, a referral to a doctor or other service that they may need. It was raining, a quiet night on the streets.

I was sitting at my desk and started praying. “God, why am I here at this job, when I could be over in the Philippines doing so much good? Anyone can do my job here.” That’s when God decided to teach me a lesson.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. One of the regular boys was there.

“Dave, Come quick, Celia just tried to commit suicide!”

I grabbed some bandages, locked the door to the refuge with 15 sleeping people inside, and ran to help Jason with Celia. Underneath the Coke sign, on a bench seat, sat Celia with both wrists slashed and losing lots of blood. I was able to quickly wrap both her wrists and encourage her to return to the refuge with me so I could call an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, Celia panicked and started to pump her fists to encourage the blood to flow once again. She was determined to die, but we were able to calm her again, and she agreed to go with the ambulance and then later to rehab where she got the long term help she needed.

Later another boy came to the door suffering hallucinations from a drug he had taken. I was able to calm him down until the effects of the drug wore off and I put him to bed in one of our detox beds.

Still later a heroin addict was found in the back alley, having overdosed on a bad batch, I was able to revive him and call an ambulance and so save his life.

At that stage I realised what was happening. God was speaking to me. I prayed again. “Ok God, you know what you are doing. You have me in the right place, at the right time”.

I grew that night in my trust in God, and my realisation that He knows far better than I ever will about whats going on.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Visionary Imagination

Visionary Imagination: Summative Post

In this course, we have looked at the writings of William Blake, Patrick White, and David Malouf. We also looked at the art of Brett Whiteley.

I have discovered a theme which runs through the whole course.

God can mean different things to different people, but it is essential to life to find your spiritual journey and to follow it wherever it may lead.

Do not be discouraged by others on your journey. They may say “You Shalt Not”, but you shall, just not in their church, or on their journey.

When it comes to things spiritual, some find comfort having a set of rules and dogmas to follow, where others like to be free in their worship of God as they know him/her or it.

Do not be scared of people who are different. Blake and Whiteley may have been scarey to those who knew them. Blake with his fervency and passion for religious freedom, and Whiteley with his passion for all kinds of mind altering substances. Whiteley’s mind scares me somewhat. How many things can one think about at once? Whiteley wanted to express all that was inside him in a sort of urgency, that caused things to often looked disconnected and muddled.

White showed in his novel, Riders in the Chariot, that there are people in our own community, in suburbia, whom we consider different; all on their own spiritual journey. it doesn’t mean one is wrong, and we shouldn’t treat them with anything other than the dignity that should be afforded to every human being. This novel exposes the maliciousness of seemingly everyday people when the are exposed to people or ways that they themselves are uncomfortable with. White himself had an epiphany, which eventually saw him leave the church., but it wasnt until he saw Billy Graham in 1979 that he gave up on Christianity. In his final days, it was said he had a new testament by his bedside. He was asked if he was reading it.He said no, but went on to say, “Well, I will soon know”.

Malouf focuses his novel on a man who is different, but the same as those in the society into which he stumbles. We all must seek to try to understand others, before we start to criticise, ostracise and demean. These different people can add to our lives. Gemmy added value and meaning to the people of the community he stumbled into.

Patrick White was a well known homosexual in our community, who lived with his male partner as husband and wife and nobody blinked an eyelid, except the church. David Malouf is also openly gay. He writes about spiritual issues but himself is not religious despite having a staunch Christian as a father and a mother who gave up her Jewish heritage to be with the man she loved.

Whiteley was raised in a Christian home and school, but turned against the traditions to follow his own spiritual path, along a journey that led him into a world of drugs and alcohol. His paintings were sometimes very sexually explicit.

Blake was a man who fervently followed the Christian teachings but who was not one to be restricted by the church concerning matters sexual or anything else.

These men freed themselves from the restrictions that the world would place on them. It gave them freedom to express the visions they had.

Ones visions and imagination are our own to enjoy, but if we wish to express them, they can be restricted by people or the community in which we wish to be a part.

The people that we studied were pioneers, bravely expressing what was on their hearts. I pray that I too might have that courage.

I have been encouraged on my own spiritual journey. I feel that I am closer to God now than I have been for years. I feel closest to God when I sing about Him, about our relationship with him and how good it is to be comforted by Him who walks with us along life’s journey.

This course has challenged me. It challenged my values and my belief structures. In doing so, it made me release some, to throw off the shackles, and embrace and strengthen others. I have enjoyed studying this course.

Dave

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under VI Summative post, Visionary Imagination

Mother Teresa

Blunt HB pencil on paper. Not for Sale, sorry I did it for a dear friend.

2 Comments

Filed under art

Theories of Patrick White:Riders in the Chariot

I think i have just had an epiphany. I would love for other students in my class to read this and see whether you think I might have something here.

Patrick White himself said that all his novels are an exploration of man’s relationship with God.

In RITC, we see that God again uses the simple to confound the wise. Miss Hare is said to be simple but seems to have a vision, when sick, in which she envisages a chariot, and the four riders are revealed thoughout the novel.

My revelatory thought (if there is such a thing) is that Xanadu is perfection. Where God dwells,  and people like Alf Dubbo, Mordecai Himmelfarb and Mrs Godbold, who are all seekers of the truth, come to Xanadu at one stage or another and have an encounter with Miss Hare, the messenger of God.

With suburbia encroaching, it means that God, or Xanadu and Miss Hare, are being pushed out, made to look odd, out of place in ‘normal’ lives.

In real life; Are people in suburbia pushing God out and treating people who are fervent after him as outsiders who do not belong? Do people crucify believers with their tongues, piercing their sides with harsh words.

There are four elements of a spiritual life at play thoughout the novel.

  1. The innocence and purity of Miss Hare, who knows things that she doesn’t let on.
  2. The deep spirituality of Alf Dubbo, who seeks to understand and reconcile his heritage with his faith.
  3. Learning and books of Himmelfarb, who is wise and learned but seeks to assimilate with those of no faith.
  4.  The grace, mercy and forgiveness of God as expressed in Mrs Godbold, who continues with her work and stays with her husband even though he abuses her., Does not God stay with us, even though at times we abuse and neglect him. Why? Because he loves us, the same reason that Mrs Godbold stays with her husband.

OK, so there it is folks, my interpretation of Riders in the Chariot.

Comments and Peer reviews please.

Dave

5 Comments

Filed under literature, Visionary Imagination

Blake, Contraries, and the modern day.

A while ago I wrote a story about a farmer finding God. I reread it today and thought how it ties in with what we have learnt this semester about William Blake and Contraries. About black and white, good and bad. This story shows that but also shows a man seeking God on his own terms, finding God where he is, not in a church. I think the nearest church to this bloke would have been a few hundred kilometres away. Read it for yourself and see if you can see the connection. Please feel free to comment ( or peer review if you are in my lit class)

Dave

Prayer from the heart of the land

©Dave McGettigan 2 August 2011. Edited version may 2013.

 

Well God, I really don’t know how to start. I have heard of praying before but I have never done it, so I don’t know the right words to say. I will just say what’s on my mind.

I never believed in you before. You were never mentioned in my childhood home, except when dad lost on the horses, then he was heard to yell out your name.

I just got on with life here on the station. There was work to be done, so we rounded up some of the hands and did it. We rode the boundary fences, and sometimes didn’t come home for weeks if there were repairs to do.

Every once in a while, we mustered a few hundred head, and sent them off on trucks. A few weeks later, our bank account swelled so we could pay our tabs and workers, and save a bit for a not so rainy day.

The stationhands had their own ideas where we came from and how everything came into being. There was a story for everything; including how we got the space between the clouds and the Earth when Yondi pushed up the sky.

Some of the tales I found quite credible; but I always thought there was more to it.

When the droughts came, I heard other farmers over the UHF cursing you. Men would sob over the airwaves telling us how they didn’t have enough feed and the bank wouldn’t extend their credit any further. I listened while they unashamedly wept because they had to shoot cattle so emaciated that their legs wouldn’t hold them up any longer. The women would do wonders with what little food they had in the pantries; and cry when they didn’t know where the next meal was coming from.

More than once I had to tell the aboriginal workers that they were free to wander the property to search for food and water and to take care of themselves and their families as they could no longer rely on me. I would tell them they could shoot a bull or cow if they couldn’t find any other tucker. We couldn’t afford to feed the cattle anyhow. Often during these times, I would open the door to an unexpected knock, to find a slaughtered kangaroo or emu, given as a gift from a grateful farmhand.

We couldn’t go to the city. We wouldn’t survive there. We don’t know the ways of the people in the cities, and growing beef cattle is all I know.

I was thankful that the kids were in boarding school. The school offered the boys a full boarding scholarship so I didn’t have to worry that they would starve. They would also have hope and wouldn’t see the despair in my eyes. At best, with the learning, they could get work and live in the city; if the station failed and they couldn’t take over.

Then the rains came. The station flooded, but we were prepared and had dug extra dams in anticipation of promised rains. All the creeks and rivers overflowed and dams that had been empty for quite a while now broke the banks.

The stationhands returned and claimed credit for the rains stating they had been to see Uncle Bert and he calls water from the sky. There was dancing in mud puddles by all and sundry. The men all stripped to their shorts, grabbed some soap and had a welcome shower. The women dressed in summer frocks also welcomed the drop in temperature as the water began to cool everything by a couple of degrees.

The grasses grew, and trees sprouted new shoots. The birds were quick to return. Their songs once again woke me each morning and I was grateful that I had no further need for that wretched alarm clock.

I rode out to see the extent of the damage the drought, then the floods had caused. When I was a couple of miles from the homestead, I saw no living cattle. White bones were the only evidence that cattle once roamed these plains.

I realised I would have to take the chopper out to do a major muster. Then we would know exactly what financial position we were in.

We had to buy more stock from the south and with the rains, the banks would extend us credit and our accounts would swell with the rivers.

Last night I looked up at the stars. There is no possible way that they were all set in place by the ancestors of our stockhands.

I think about all the beauty in the world around me. The red earth, the green grass and the blue sky and I know there has to be someone responsible. My wife says a bloke on the telly talked about you and how even when we stuff up, you still look after us. I think that’s great. Fair Dinkum.

Well, I just wanted to say thanks God, for everything. You know, I think without the hard times, we wouldn’t know how good we got it. I reckon that when I am out on the land, fixing fences or whatever and I get a bit lonely, I can talk to you because you are always there.

So… well, see ya. Talk soon.

 

Oh yeah…Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under literature, Visionary Imagination

How Studying William Blake has affected me

I used to be religious. Well, not religious as such, but fervent in my belief of and evangelism of God. Then I got honest with myself and others and disclosed my homosexuality. I felt disengaged with the church as it were. I was excluded from some churches because of my sexuality. The churches that did accept my sexuality, I felt compromised on some vital areas of doctrine.

William Blake was also disillusioned with the church or organised religion, but he had a deep understanding of and relationship with God. This is evidenced by his writings and engravings. When I studied the plates that Blake made for The Book of Job, I got a greater understanding of Job, than I ever had before.

Image result for religious

Studying William Blake, and studying in a Catholic University as well as being part of the University Choir, has developed within me the passion to again live a life that is more in line with the gospels and with the tenets of Christ.

Being part of the University has encouraged me to be socially responsible and aware of human rights abuses both in our country and in the world in general. It has pushed me to be active in my faith and not just talk about it but do something about it. I have increased my volunteering where I could, helping those less fortunate than I.

I use my God-given talent of singing for the glory of God. I use my other talents of art, writing, and photography to promote and advance social justice issues, and to fight against human right injustices.

Image result for religious

Studying Blake has helped me to separate the Church from the Word; to follow the Word of God where I find a discrepancy between the two. It made me feel that I am not the only one that is disappointed with organised religion, but seek to follow Christ separate; but also with others in the University choir.

In short, I am more of a Christian now, than before when I was a “Churchy, or God-botherer” as some of my friends described me. I hold true to the teachings of God through Christ but admit I do fail. I don’t beat myself up when I do fail.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths”.

 

11 Comments

Filed under Visionary Imagination

Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is one book by William Blake that has even the most wise of scholars confused and befuddled. I myself can shed little light. What I share here has probably been discussed by scholars on numerous occasions without seeing a true solution to the paradox. What is Good? What is Bad?  Is it true what churches tell us; that Heaven is good and Hell is bad?

What is Good? I believe that the word good can be very subjective. It depends on a persons perspective. This perspective is swayed or biased to how one is raised, in what cultural context, traditions within the home or taste in food. While my partner may enjoy extremely spicy food, I do not. So what is good for him is not so good for me. In Europe, nudity is accepted much more readily whereas in our culture which has its heritage in the prim and proper British way, says that nudity is not so good. Most certainly nudity in middle eastern cultures and certain religions is not accepted at all.

What is Bad? I think most of us would agree that a rotten apple is bad in most cultures, religions and countries, but to a gardener, a rotten apple is full of opportunity. You are able to harvest the seeds to grow another apple tree or you are able to use the apple in your compost bin, to assist in putting nutrients in the soil. Some say that the best Apple sauce is made with apples that are bruised or over ripe. The black sheep is colloquial language of a person that doesn’t match up to the standards of his peers or family. But a black sheep is often just different. A black sheep means you don’t have to dye the wool if you want a black jumper (pullover).

Good people go to heaven, bad people to hell?

Jesus asked a man why he called him good when only God is good. We often called morally upright, heroic, or people with a warm open heart good people. Well again that is subjective. If we compare a person whom we consider good to say, Mother Teresa, they would probably fall short. If we compare a person to Hitler, we would look favourably upon that same person.

Do we have the right to judge whether one is better than another? Is a person defined by his actions, or does he deserve the dignity that comes from being a fellow member of the human race? My thoughts are that a persons actions do not define who he is as a person. A person is able to act in a very poor way in a moment of madness, or in a very grand way in a single moment of heroism. One should not be judged on actions, but be given the dignity deserved by all members of the human race.

So, if we do not have the right to judge who is good and who is bad, how do we know who goes to heaven, and who goes to hell?

It comes down to faith. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus was God manifest as man, who sacrificed himself taking upon himself the punishment of men who accept his gift of righteousness. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. Only God is good. so only those who believe that Jesus sacrificed himself for them, took upon himself their badness so they are made good, can go into heaven.

My explanation of Heaven and Hell is simple. Heaven is where God is. Hell is where God isn’t. God is love. So wherever love is, God is.

I know that when I die, Heaven will be home

4 Comments

Filed under Visionary Imagination

Such a Pity: The Human Abstract

Pity, Mercy and Peace are the 3 Virtues represented in this poem by William Blake.

The poem says that without US making someone poor, there would be no need for pity. WE are the ones who made someone poor, now we look down upon them. They had no strength to fight against us. I am using the We in this stanza, as civilised, organised capitalistic society. While we pity those who are homeless, or poor, some of us see and say, like Malcolm Turnbull, “There but for the grace of God be I”.

We can distribute mercy, in the form of benefits from the government, if the poor jump through the hoops. We, the people, donate to charities, or some of us do, to assist those less fortunate. But how about this… Next time you see a homeless person, don’t judge, just buy him a meal.

I am upset by those who like to do “social experiments” by giving homeless people

something, and putting it on YouTube to show what good people they are for doing this. When you donate, do it anonymously: without thought of what you might get out of it.

When you donate, you should give freely, not out of compulsion. You should not place conditions on your giving, but give to a person to do with it whatever they see fit. Once a dollar leaves your hand, it is no longer yours to govern. You have no right to protest, if your donated dollar is not used the way you think it should be.

 

 

Peace, when is the last time we had worldwide peace? I think that at no time has the whole world been in total peace with one another. Selfish greed is the cause of most wars. We who have want more. Those who have not, get what little they do have taken away. All we are saying, is give peace a chance.

 

Peace in the poem is said to be bought about by mutual fear. That sounds like the peace of The Cold War to me. Both sides knew that each had nuclear bombs but neither were going to use them, for fear that the other would as well. It would be nice if peace came about by mutual respect and care for one another, not fear.

The poem also talks about Selfish Love. This is the type of love that says “What’s in it for me?” It is not a love that is truly self-sacrificing, but one that has ulterior motives. It gets rooted deep but when the right time come, it spreads depression and despair. This type of love also produces emotional blackmail. “If you don’t do this, then I won’t love you”, or “If you do that, I will love you more. It also has its roots in fear. we are afraid what will happen if that love is removed.

The Bible says that perfect love drives out all fear. True love is a sacrificial love. It says, “I will do anything for you”. This type of love is not exclusive to man and woman couples, but can be same sex, it can be a love between a parent and child, even a child and a pet.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor:13. 4-8.

The love mentioned in the Blake poem is not true love, but a selfish one. I think Blake is imploring us to take a look at the love we give and the motives behind our giving. True love comes from God. Let’s love with the love that comes from God above.

Dave

 

2 Comments

Filed under literature, Visionary Imagination