Thoughts at the start of a new year, and reflections on the past

January 6, 2012 at 3:35 am (Commentary)

I, like my great friend, the Commander, like my coffee to be of the instant variety – none of this percolated type for us. The Commander always asks for an instant coffee even in the most fashionable restaurants, and he often gets a response like this: “where were you dragged up, in a prison?” I’m really a tea drinker and I like my tea of the straight kind – none of the likes of the scented and organic brands for me. As regards fish, always give me tins rather than fresh. My taste in biscuits, runs to Saos, and I like butter, not margarine.

By this stage you’ve a fair idea of what type of bloke I am. You might well ask, how do you like your women? To a question like this I refuse to give an answer, but I will say that variety is the spice of life.

One of my saddest times during 2011 was when I heard of the demise of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il. I was only sustained in this time of grief when I heard that he was to be succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un, the Great Successor.

I didn’t quite know what to think of the events in Papua New Guinea about Mr Peter O’Neill replacing the Father of the Nation, Sir Michael Somare, as Prime Minister. Could he be called a Great Successor ? I wonder if Kevin Rudd would see Julia Gillard as a Great Successor. Mr Howard now has his Order of Merit, perhaps Sir Michael might also get an Order of Merit. In a strange historical way I see something about PNG, and the Order of Merit. Gilbert Murray, the Australian classical scholar, received an Order of Merit, and he had a brother, Hubert, who was  the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. Does this create some sort of association of the Order with PNG? I can hear you say, “I think not”.

It has been suggested that I write another book, particularly by John, a Premillennialist awaiting the Parousia – his book is also in the pipeline, but alas, his coming book and mine might be akin to the Second Coming.

Cedric, another friend of mine, a legend in his own time – a dynamic educator in PNG, and now an energetic helper in WA of his Aboriginal brothers and sisters. He was always and still is a man of action.

The good news is that yang Pita from Wewak appears to have conquered bowel cancer, and he’s set to embark on greater things.

In my own house I’m surrounded by academics – two Filipinos doing PhDs – Deborah and Shirlita. Augustus, while not living here, is in a theological and philosophical frame of mind – perhaps, for him, the Second Coming has happened! Andrei, his brother, it is possible, has made a bob.

No doubt, during the past year, and in this the future one, the spirit has, and will move all of us – we are all spiritual beings. It never ceases to amaze me as many people seem to lose belief in more orthodox faiths, they seem increasingly to believe in anything. The New Age and its various offshoots become sources of the most outlandish so-called spititual ideas and beliefs. The new Atheism peddled by the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens (no longer by Christopher) has little appeal for me, but many seem to like it.

It was an interesting and refreshing experience to talk with Fr  Kerley the other day about his experiences in living in Bougainville during its crisis years. I somehow think that if I were in trouble in the streets of Calcutta or in war torn Bougainville, I would have much rather  run into Mother Teresa or Fr Kerley than either Dawkins or Hitchens – what you would want is hands- on- help not a talk about the non-existence of God, but then again, who is to know. I once wrote to Phillip Adams, and told him that if I died before him, I’d let him know what there was to the afterlife, if anything. He suggested that I contact him by means of a ouija board. Such are the mysteries of life and death, but for me faith is always linked to hope and rationalised by charity.

I’ll end by saying, Deborah is in her loft working away on her PhD, Augustus is turning to AJ, or is he? Maybe not! I’m seeking my way in different ways, Andrei boy is reflecting on property, Caitilin is finding spirituality in Aboriginal art, Beng is working in the dungeon, but life and death goes on in spite of whatever we do, even if Belo does his seat work. God’s in His heaven – or we hope He is. I have faith that He is because there’s more love than hate in this world – I’m not saying all’s right with the world, but a good bit is. Anyhow, God maybe She, and if so, She is in Her heaven, so there you are!

On that note, I’ll end by wishing all friends and enemies a Happy New Year!

Permalink 6 Comments

Meeting up with Fr Kevin Kerley SM at Villa Maria, Hunters Hill, 4th January 2012

January 5, 2012 at 1:52 am (Commentary, John Bowers, Pacific war, Panguna Mine on Bougainville, PNG)

Fr Kerley & Mr Bowers

What an engaging and informative experience it was for me to meet up with Fr Kevin in the company of my old friend, John Bowers, and to be introduced to Fr Bob Barber, Fr Gerard Arbuckle, and other members of the community at a luncheon beautifully prepared by the kitchen staff.

Before and after lunch it was fascinating to hear something of Fr Kevin’s experiences in Bougainville during its crisis years. He has recently been accepted as a member of the Australian Peacekeeper & Peacemaker Veterans’ Association. At age 83, he continues to work on his memoirs and he’s made available accounts of his life in Bougainville to academic institutions.

Fr Kevin has a deep interest in Australian military history. His brother was a WW II veteran, and Kevin has made a study of the Pacific War.

John Bowers, a Sandhurst man, ex-British Army, and former PNG Patrol Officer, Special Branch Officer, and Judge’s Associate, with Kevin, shares an abiding interest in military history.

The topics discussed ranged from aspects of the Hegelian dialectic, terror and intimidation to survival of non-combatants in war areas. Fr Kevin’s Bougainville situation during the crisis years, in the middle as it were, between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and the PNG Police and Defence Forces, all in the mix, with his dedication to his parishioners and other local villagers, makes one realize the complexity of the circumstances he was in.

Both John’s and Kevin’s insights into the Malayan Emergency, Communist Insurgency War, guerrilla warfare and other aspects of military history, with the comments Kevin made about many famous and infamous wartime personalities, made for intelligent and informative conversation.

To talk with a man like Fr Kevin Kerley, and share his unique experiences, made a enjoyable and worthwhile day for me.

Permalink 1 Comment

« Previous page

%d bloggers like this: