Sometimes it seems that I grew up in a golden era — at a time when world peace seemed possible, and Australians of all faiths lived together harmoniously.  Religious wars were something that happened ‘somewhere else’.  There was also no such thing as culture wars.  We had a strong two-party system, one representing business, while the other was perceived as the workers’ champions.  There was even an accord between business and labour.  Fancy that!  The way people voted was less about one’s religious affiliation or to which dioceses one belonged, it was predominantly about class.  That is what it seemed like to me anyway.  However, that has all changed.

To the astonishment of many in the community and within the political class itself, we have watched a takeover of one political party by the ‘religious right’.  Who had ever heard of a ‘religious right’ in this country until just a few years ago?  It feels very un-Australian to me, or at the very least, troubling.

I am agnostic, and as such, I am apparently by default a ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’.  Or so the current orthodoxy goes.  These terms are used pejoratively by the shouty people these days.  In the past, the word liberal if applied to a person, meant that you voted for the Liberal Party.  Apparently, the Liberal Party of Australia is now not actually liberal, but a conservative political party — it being full of members of the religious right.  Conservatism and religious righteousness has become synonymous.  Talk about the (lack of) separation of Church and State!

Is this sounding like a rant?  It is not meant to be, certainly not at this time of year, when so many Christians and non-Christians alike are looking forward to Christmas Day.  I’m not completely ignorant about Christianity.  When I was a child, I read the Children’s Bible cover to cover many times.  I also said my prayers every evening.  They were usually about asking God’s or Jesus’ assistance to keep everyone safe and well.  You can’t argue with that, can you?  I must say Jesus really impressed me back then and still does.  He sounded like he was kind, generous and tolerant.  I don’t think you can argue with that either.

My husband has a lot of difficulty coping with Christmas.  Well, he doesn’t really.  Cope, that is.  I wonder if it relates to the religious right thing?  Or maybe it is because his mum is no longer with us, or because one of our canaries died on Christmas eve, or because of its association with tragic loss of life (eg. the 2004 tsunami, and now we can add the New Zealand volcano eruption deaths), or maybe it is because kindness to him is not just a one-day wonder, etc, etc.  Jesus would probably be quite sympathetic toward my husband if he (Jesus) was alive now, don’t you think?  He would probably say, “Listen, Tracy’s True Love.  It doesn’t matter what you do on Christmas Day.  It is more important that you are kind, generous and tolerant all year round.  So it’s my birthday, no big deal.”  Does it seem possible that he might say something like that?

Anyway, every now and then, I play a few Christmas carols despite His Grumpiness, because, well, singing, and because it does no-one any harm (my singing is not that bad!), and it may just bring a little joy to someone.  Here’s one carol that I really like.  Why don’t you sing it with me?  No harm in that.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

For Ragtag Daily PromptBand.

 

 

 

60 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts On Christmas and Politics, But Mostly Christmas

    1. Thank you, Christine. We have recently had a few days of temps in the mid 30s where I’m located. What a relief. I used to think that mid 30s was hot once!

      Unfortunately, racism seems to be far more common than it isn’t. If one political party is dominated by people of a particular race, there is just too much temptation (aided and abetted by the media) to play the race card to shore up its position. Fear is a great vote winner. I don’t like it, but I understand it. There is always a large group of people who don’t like change or want to return to “the way things were”, especially if their position in the pecking order is perceived to be sliding. In my experience, there are quite a few generally lovely people that fall into this camp. I’ve even seen those same lovely (but racist) people, be perfectly hospitable and kind to migrants. I think they can like individuals but feel deeply uncomfortable about a huge block of immigrants of a particular type. For example, when polled, “Aussies” vastly over-estimate the number of Muslims living here, mainly because they have been fed lies.

      I’ve only been to the UK once in 1991. I’m sure I would be shocked by just how much it has changed. I get the impression from friends that have returned from there, that it is bursting at the seams. Do you think this could be part of the problem?

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      1. It is good to know that reports of the UK bursting are over blown.

        I think our small, but growing, town is bursting too, but it is not really. On one of my walks, I met one of the original residents of our suburb. She is 85. She told me that our suburb was surrounded by paddocks when first she moved in, but clearly we have all adjusted and some of us even quite like, how our suburb has grown and become more vital.

        We also have a conservative government that was recently re-elected, so obviously enough people were happy to return it to office. The Murdoch press is also dominant here. There did seem to be a few shenanigans going on around political advertising. Many of the corflutes of the conservative candidates didn’t identify what party they were standing for.

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  1. I can really relate to this Tracy: both the personal and the wider cultural observations. I was brought up Presbyterian, and share your vision of what Jesus would have been like — and it is so not the ignorance, intolerance and cruelty that passes for Christianity in some church communities.

    No-one in our family seems to cope well with Christmas, so every year is a juggling act trying to get us through. I suspect this year’s highlight will be a nursing home visit to the husk of a lovely man with dementia who shares Jesus’s birthday.

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  2. Tracy my heart goes out to you and your family. We recently had a smoke filled summer driven by wild fires. Fire suppression crews from Australia flew here to help our beleaguered fire fighters and we recently sent fire fighters to help fight the Sydney area fires. We do live in challenging times worldwide thankfully some awareness of this peril is slowly emerging

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    1. Thank you, Sid. I’ve managed to go for a couple of short walks over the last two days. I got a bit wheezy but it was enough to reduce my claustrophobia.

      We are so grateful to have the Canadian fighters help us out. It is such a big job.

      Incidentally, the head of our federal environment department here recently said that the climate wasn’t getting worse because there would be some winners and losers, Maybe she was referring to the Moody’s report that Canada could be a potential beneficiary? I wonder what scientific evidence was relied on for the Moody’s report? It is refreshing that our top environment public servant has such a global perspective, don’t you think?

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      1. Canada benefits from climate change is a meme from a group given to climate change denials. Moody’s might be referring to ice free navigation in the North-West passage for a few months of the year. The Russians and the People’s Republic of China are looking to develop their trade routes in the Arctic area and are building icebreakers to do so. If there are benefits for Canada, she will need to invest heavily in infrastructure: Arctic Ports, icebreakers, roads or railways, pipelines to the Arctic sea that currently do not exist Other than possible navigation benefits the downsides area declining polar bear numbers because they hunt from the pack ice, starving reindeer because their food is covered in ice not snow, drought, wild fires, sever weather, melting permafrost which destabilizes the foundations of buildings constructed On the tundra. Have not read the Moody’s views on how global warning may affect Canada but many complexities exist that might lay outside their calculations. Polar bears at Churchill Manitoba on youtube is instructive. CBC television the “Nature of things” has programming on their Gem app I think it is free.

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  3. I love Christmas. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I think it was 2008 the Christmas after I ejected the Evil X. That year I had also lost my precious Aunt Martha. I couldn’t return to Montana for Christmas, having blown my wad on two trips there in the spring, once when my Aunt Martha was still alive and the second? She died while I was driving there. (No cause and effect) I had spent most of the Christmases of my life with her and still, if I could have one miracle, she would show up at my front door but things don’t work that way.

    I had contended with a “Does God exist?” crisis somewhere in there and had decided I liked life better WITH God than without. Christmas was going to be absolutely solitary except for Christmas Eve dinner in a Chinese restaurant with old friends (and enemies). As for Jesus? For a long time I’ve viewed him as a nice explication of the main event which is the universe itself. I’m a panenetheist through and through.

    That first solitary Christmas I had to cope with other losses, and I was very aware how different that Christmas would be. BUT I lived in my elf house in the mountains of California. My dogs were fine. I was fine. I decided that all I could do was let the whole thing go, and whatever happened, happened. It turned out to be a magical Christmas and I have followed that theory since then. This year has proved to be yet another magic Christmas. Tomorrow I’ll write a post about it, maybe. ❤

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    1. It is nice to think that humans are not the centre of the universe in God’s plan, even if we are meant to have a big role in tending the garden, so to speak. That’s too clever for me by the way. I must have read it in a book. 🙂 🙂

      Two of the boys (one young, one old) have been relieved of all Christmas duties. They are going orchid hunting in the ranges while it is safe to do so. The weather is predicted to deteriorate by the end of the week. I went for a short walk today. Wheezed a bit, but it was worth it. I might eat my son’s piece of pavlova though. 😉

      I’m glad you have already had a good Christmas. Tomorrow will be the cherry on top, whatever happens. 🙂

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      1. I just love that when you spell dog backward you get god. So if there was a god as described by many religions it is not the kind of God I subscribe to . I much prefer the idea that Gods are based on dogs. What a cool thought.

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  4. You are too young to remember the DLP, the right-wing group that broke away from the ALP in the fifties. The party was led by high-profile conservative Catholics BA Santamaria and Archbishop Mannix, and only Catholics of a certain hue voted for the disingenuously named Democratic Labor Party. By giving tbeir preferences to the Liberal-Country Party coalition, the DLP effectively kept Labor out of office until… I am too hot to go on with this history lesson, but some people certainly voted along religious lines during my childhood in the sixties.

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  5. What a beautiful post, Tracy! I agree wholeheartedly, and I can indeed imagine Jesus saying something along those lines to your husband and to all those who don’t have a problem with Christmas as a holiday. I think the U.S. has always been more overtly religious than Australia, but I do think the worst of our religious-ideology-as-a-club mentality has spread far and wide. There’s no meeting of the minds anymore, just, as you say, shouting. It’s my hope that all families can find a little kindness or sweetness to celebrate–even if that’s just a yule log, pudding, or Pavlova! (Yum!) Enjoy your holiday, Tracy, and all best wishes!

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    1. Thank you, Rebecca. There does seem to many more moderate Christians here. Australia would be a much poorer place without their contribution to caring for the elderly and disadvantaged. This is something I really value as do most Australians.

      By the way, the pavlova was yum. Warm Christmas and New Year wishes to you and your family.

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  6. I know so many people who are not religious who are more Christian then many “Christians” out there. I can’t fathom how you can claim to be a follower of Christ and at the same time hate people who are different, at this time of year especially. We just have to enjoy the time we have with family and friend, and listening to wonderful Christmas songs that remind us that there is still hope. Merry Christmas to you!

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  7. Such a thoughtful and thought provoking post, Tracy. I’ve always believed faith is a very personal thing and, being Catholic, I believe it is a legacy left by Christ. ‘Religion’ on the other hand is organised by those who profit from it.

    Your True Love is a sensitive man. I get his philosophy that kindness should not last a day.

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  8. Great post Tracy, as a card-carrying Christian-of the Anglican variety I agree with most of what you say about Jesus. I have a slightly different view on politics, I think ‘religious right’ is an unfortunate term-it’s an import from the US and our politics and religious environment are different from theirs. Of the last 5 PMs, KRudd, Julia Gillard, Malcolm Turnbull, MrAbbott, ScoMo three have been church goers (Krudd for the ALP went to a mainstream Prot church I think) Abbott was devout Roman Catholic and ScoMo is a Pentecostal, they are all very different expressions of Christian faith and of course KRudd was the left’s leader. So takeover by the religious right is overblown claim IMO, more likely the fact that the left are completely and utterly failing to resonate with their voters at the moment.

    Around the world I see the ‘left’ abandoning their heartland to pander to the most privileged groups in society-rich white men, and the contempt with which they treat ‘the working class’ -it’s no wonder people vote against them. So much leftist rage at the election of ScoMo and Boris Johnson-instead of raging at the citizens of your countries who elected these people, maybe take a look at why the left is so out of touch with the citizens of mainstream society that they expect to win elections that they lose comprehensively, perhaps rage at Jeremy Corbyn and Bill Shorten instead. I am really angry with them for abandoning their heartland and providing no effective opposition and the arrogance of the left for continuing on their merry way hating on the very people with the power to bring them to office. Sorry for the rant, but you struck a chord.

    Merry Christmas, happy holidays and New Year to to you Tracy, looking forward to reading more of your blogs in 2020! xx

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    1. Hi Mel, thanks for joining the conversation. It is great to get a different perspective, especially as I’m in the Canberra bubble. 🙂

      I’m aware that there are many people of faith in all of the political parties and of course, they bring those values to parliament with them. (krudd sent his teenager to an Anglican school when he was in Canberra, so maybe he was Anglican, or maybe he didn’t have too many other schooling options?) I sincerely hope that my feeling, and that it is all it is, that the religious right have taken over is overblown, but many of the campaigning tactics appear very, very similar.

      I’m not sure why Bill Shorten was so distasteful to the electorate, although to be fair, the Coalition was returned with only a one seat majority. I’ve got my own views on the UK election result, but it is only my opinion, so I’ll just leave than one there.
      I think one of the problems for Australian Labor is that it doesn’t have a heartland anymore. For example, the majority of tradies who might once have voted for them, are now self-employed contractors and aspirational (enjoy/need their tax breaks?). The Coalition know that, and did a good job scaring them with claims that the housing sector would crash and that they’re utes would be taken away from them. It’s a huge topic, Mel. It’s bound to come up sooner or later though in one of my blogs, so maybe we can have a chat about it then. 🙂

      I hope you had a good day yesterday with your family (including your church family), and had the chance to sing many carols.

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      1. Oh you have hit the nail on the head I had not given that a thought about the tradies, now becoming self employed and some now huge building or plumbing companies so no longer so quite so supportive of the unions and labor. I do recall it was also a worry for many of the grey power who were concerned about deeming rates. Many years ago before Hillsong became Hillsong and the huge monstrosity it is. It is a scary cult like organisation, https://hillsong.com/fact-sheet/ I attended many years ago a Church of Christ (not the mormons) and we would go to the original church where Brian Houston was a youth leader at the time..Seems he has really white washed his history, to move away from his pedophile father. Fair enough. even back then he was all about everyone had to tithe, give ten percent of your gross income. Not net note. He would do talks about it was okay to pray for money and to be rich as then you could do more of gods work. I also can recall one discussion where he said that God did not expect you to drive around in a bomb of a car. They use music to get young people in. sigh.sorry I will step off my soap box. It just gives you an idea of the sorts of things that the person who shall not be named thinks as good!
        On a totally different note, I liked Boney M in my younger days, never heard them sing little Drummer boy. It sounded good, such a shame their lip synching was a smidge out of time lol I liked the boys voice. My Christmas day was perfect. Did exactly what I alone wanted, no gifts, given or received, perfect . Ate lovely chicken salad sandwhich, took dogs for a walk worked in the garden and spent a pleasant evenng at neighbours I hate the rampant consumerism the fact that the increase in domestic violence is huge over this time, and suicides are high. Are but wrapt it up in tinsel and paper and it will disappear! Thanks for a great post Tracy

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      2. Thanks for the comment, Tazzie. I’m a fan of the quiet Christmas too, but I completely understand why some people like Christmas with all the trimmings. I guess you can re-use the wrapping paper. I’ve done that many times when my children were small. The littlies really do love the Christmas stories and the whole stocking experience. I would never deny them that.
        I’m just not organised enough for that sort of celebration and the children have grown up, so we generally pass on all that stress.

        It is not often we hear from someone who has personal experience of the Hillsong experience, although admittedly pre-Hillsong in your case. That church’s philosophy is not one with which I’m particularly comfortable. I’ll just leave it at that.

        Unfortunately, our house is much hotter than last year. A green lawn and an oasis of shade does wonders for evaporative cooling. But the garden has failed this year due to lack of moisture. More on that later.

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      3. I do get into the childrens excitement, (all bar the sitting on Santas knee. and encouraging kids to tell a stranger their secrets. my problem. I have young neighbours and enjoy when they tell me what they are asking him for. As in 6 y/o next door wanted power to fly and magic mushrooms ?? for her dolls so they could become fairys. I found it delightfull to ask her parents how that was going to work out, as that is all she wanted all the way to the day before Christmas.
        So sad to hear of your garden. I really wish we could send the rain we had earlier (never thought summer would get here) to the mainland.
        I look at all these home being renovated on TVshows and see the white driveways, or worse black ones as they hold heat. Pathways and outdoor rooms with no shade trees. Very little cool grass, sigh. I have trees all about, makes my place indefensible in a fire. It is sort of one of the only pockets of eucalyptus and wattles, with long native grasses,(that have prickles for flower head.) but give so many critters places to hide and be in the shade.

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  9. I love this post, Tracy, and I love that song even though I wasn’t able to listen to it from this post. (But I have heard that version many times on the radio and it’s great!) Merry Christmas to you too!!!

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  10. In Canada the Left leaning parties have similar agendas to the Democratic Party in the USA which is endorsed by organized labour. The Canadian left have instituted universal health care for all, including an aspiration universal plan for prescription drugs and they aspires to dental care for all. Canada is in the top ten of all countries with a mixed economy. The Left is fighting climate change. The right wing parties talk about free enterprise, reducing entitlements to the poor, lowering taxes. Ignoring climate change and shrinking the size of government and having no deficit spending. The right wants to eliminate gay marriage and reduce gay rights. In our latest federal election the right wing got about 34% of the vote. Sixty-five percent of Canadians voted for the popular leftist policies in various parties.

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    1. Hooray. Sanity prevails on inclusiveness and healthcare in Canada, and at least the Canadian government is acknowledging climate change. De-carbonising doesn’t have to be an economy killer. At least in my opinion. Congratulations to the Canadian electorate for exercising common sense.

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  11. The Christian Wrong I call them – nothing right or right about them, horrible lot. Your husband I would enjoy a glass or two with as I would strongly agree with the integrity call to be consistent beyond a day. The institution is on the nose – ironically – the very same dilemma Jesus had to face in his day (and which got him killed)

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  12. This carol won’t upload in the US but I know the song – too bad as it’s one of my favorites and I’d love to listen to this version. I think too many people are so unsure of their faith and ideology that the only way they can be certain they’re on the right track is by forcing everyone else to jump on the same bandwagon. Still, I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays in whatever way pleases them. Celebrating another culture is a lovely way to honor our differences without changing ourselves.

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    1. That’s a shame about the clip, Sharon. If it loads in the US, it won’t load in Europe! Annoying.

      Thanks for the comment and merry Christmas.
      Many people work so hard in their respective church communities to care for those in need, and to build a caring and inclusive community, that it is a shame to see that goodwill lost by a few less tolerant church officials and government policies that do not have broad community support.

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  13. I think it seems more than possible that he would say something like this, Tracy. It’s actually what puts me a bit off Christmas sometimes, this readiness to help but only at this time of year and to hell with the rest of it! We should be kind and generous throughout the year – no matter which religion, if any any at all, we follow. As to politics – I despair more and more because of it.
    Thank you for the song – love it!

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    1. Some people make a big thing of Christmas, but you don’t necessarily have to be religious to do that. I was just trying to get across that just because one might feel guilt-ed into getting into the Christmas spirit, it really isn’t necessary. Neither is checking out mentally on Christmas, indicative of a war on Christmas. There does seem to be many in politics and in the popular press that are keen to make those sort of attacks on people if they don’t show sufficient Christmas fervour. That sort of confected anger is so not helpful.

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  14. We went to Dunedin for Christmas because we thought it’d be nice to spend Christmas Day at the gardens. I found a Presbyterian church (that I’ve been to a couple of times) was having a Christmas eve service starting 10.50pm with the choir singing a lot of carols and then a service. I asked my OH to take me along and he was a wee bit reluctant as he was tired but acquiesced. It was amazing and he loved it just as much as I. The choir was fantastic and then during the service we all got to hold lit candles in the darkened church. Meanwhile a highland piper played quietly outside during the service – wow it was awesome! At midnight the piper came to the entrance and played to welcome in Christmas Day. It was super special and after reading your post I just wanted to share this lovely experience. Thanks Tracy!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your Christmas Eve with me, Liz. Singing together is such a wonderful way of connecting, and the candles in that dark space must have had such a beautiful intimacy to it. I would have loved to have heard the piper playing. Sounds magical. It is a celebration after all. ❤

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  15. Carols used to drive me nuts, but singing is so good for you that the message, which is often joyous, can take 2nd place if needed. I sing well but I’m shy. I’m trying to do it more.
    As for politics and religion. I grew up with Bob Santamaria, who caused the great Labor party split in the 50s, rabbiting on the television on Sunday mornings. It’s always lurking in the background.

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    1. Welcome Mick. Thanks for joining in. Singing really is good for the spirits. Pun intended. 🙂 Not sure which part of Australia you are from, but I know you’ve posted some lovely photos of the Victorian high country before. I think Beechworth may have a choir if you are around that area.
      I’m a 60s baby, so I missed BA Santamaria. I do remember his Sunday morning lectures though. In my very first post about the marriage equality vote (it got me into blogging), I compared that debate to what happened to young single women and women from disadvantaged groups who became pregnant. It was very insightful (not my post but what happened then). Yes, lurking and they want to tell us they are lurking to make us feel very afraid. But perhaps I’m being paranoid.

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