A wake up call addressed to the Catholic Church

October 20, 2013 at 3:09 am (Catholic Church, Commentary, James Wall, philosophy, theology)

Sexual Morality 1

Sexual Morality 2

Sexual Morality 3

Sexual Morality 4

Sexual Morality 5

James Wall

Click on the above links and read a wake up call to the Catholic Church to update their code of sexual morality.

Source: What do we know, What can we Believe?

               Challenging Traditional Beliefs and Practices      James Wall

First published 2001  by Ginninderra Press

Printout of the above links pp 43-50:

Sexual Morality

ln the opinion of very many members of the Church, the area in

which it most needs to update its teaching is sexual morality. Church

authorities have intruded into this area to a most unwarranted extent.

They have reached conclusions which seem both ludicrous

and at variance with the welfare of church members. Their concentration

on sexual morality has resulted in a disproportionate significance being given to

this one area of conduct. The inability to adapt to the reality experienced by

most people living active sex lives today has brought into question the whole

teaching authority of the Church across the breadth of Christian beliefs and practices.

It is therefore worth considering this matter in some detail.

As far as my research for this book has been able to determine,

the Catholic Church’s traditional teaching on sex derives from a

standpoint of philosophy, rather than from revelation or from a

strictly theological perspective, and is coloured by an asceticism

that acknowledges no inherent benefit in pleasure. According to

this asceticism, all pleasure is there for a purpose, to ensure the

bringing about of an end that would otherwise not occur. The only

justification for pleasure in this view is the fulfilment of the purpose

it is supposed to effect. Thus, people have pleasure in eating

in order to ensure that their bodies are nourished. It could be questioned

whether they would starve themselves if eating were not a

pleasure. Despite that, it is difficult to see how pleasure could not

be inherent in the act of eating, especially for the undernourished

and for growing children. Of course the pleasure does not incline

everyone to eat only food of appropriate nourishment and sufficient

but not excessive quantity.

Pleasure, according to the Church’s apparent view as presented

by ecclesiastic authorities, merely ensures that a divine purpose is

fulfilled. The Church presumably sees no value in pleasure as something

beneficial in itself that can help human beings live better and

more satisfying lives or even as an aid in maintaining sanity in the

face of the stresses most people experience.

In the Church’s traditional teaching, the principal purpose of

sex, the sexual joining of a man and a woman, is the propagation of

the human race. Furlhermore, the Church regarded that end alone

as necessitating the joining of the sexes. Despite more recent acknowledgment

that sexual intercourse also has affective and bonding

significance for couples, the Church still seems to imply that


any essential benefit to the two partners apart from conception could

be achieved by other means. Following this line of reasoning, the

Church has concluded that each and every act ofsexual intercourse

must be open to the primary purpose of conception, despite the fact

that conception will not be a real possibility during a large proportion

of most couples’ active sex lives. It also begs the question as to

why sexual appetite should remain long after fertility has ceased.

Apart from partial or total abstinence, the church hierarchy does

not approve any use of human ingenuity in sexual relations calculated

to space out and/or limit the number of children conceived.

The Church now acknowledges two functions in sexual relations,

the unitive function and the procreation function, as already

mentioned. It is arbitrary, however, to maintain that men and women

may never separate these functions. Nature itself ensures that the

procreative function is not operative during most of the menstrual

cycle and not at all after menopause, and the rhythm method ol’

fertility control, which the Church approves, deliberately sets out

to exploit the separation.

Church authorities have become locked into a quite mechanical

assessment of sexual intercourse, which at times seems to be at

odds even with the key purpose, the possibility of which they claim

is mandatory on all occasions. One may wonder whether that is

because the men (it is only men) who formulated the teaching arc

also charged to be celibate. Although, superficially, it may be thought

that celibacy could produce objectivity, as celibate clergy have no

vested interest in this matter, it would seem more likely to pose a

barrier to understanding. Aperson who takes a vow in good faith to

remain celibate cannot engage in sexual activity without breaching

the vow and incurring guilt in doing so. He or she cannot even

mentally entertain such activity without at least entering what the

Church calls an occasion of sin. Sex under these circumstances

becomes something to be fought against. That is quite at odds with


the joyful experience of men and women living a loving, sexually

active life together. They will experience anticipation of their physical

union, prolonged enjoyment through restraint in meeting each

other’s mood and timing, and feel joy in each other for some time

after intimacy. Unforlunately, not all couples maintain the experience

of such intimacy.

It is difficult to see how those voluntarily committed to celibacy

could achieve the same understanding as a couple living together

of the meaning of sexual activity in human life. Of course, it cannot

be denied that celibacy can bring other advantages or that there

may be benefits in the Church having some celibate clergy.

An example of how the Church has allowed itself to become

locked into a mechanical and seemly contradictory position on sex

can be seen from the implications of the ‘Ethical and Religious

Dictates for Catholic Health Care Services’ issued by the National

Conference of Bishops (USA) in November 1994.It states,

Homologous fertilization (that is, any technique used to achieve

conception by use of gametes of the two spouses joined in marriage)

is prohibited when it separates procreation from the marital act in its

unitive significance (e.g. any technique used to achieve extra-corporeal


Thus, in cases in which there is difficulty in getting spem to

penetrate beyond the cervix, it is said that the directive would permit

the use of a condom, provided it had a hole to enable some

ejaculate to escape during intercourse and possibly lead to fertilisation.

The whole reason for the condom in such cases is to trap the

ejaculate so that it may subsequently be injected to achieve conception.

A hole, therefore, would hardly facilitate accomplishment

of the primary purpose as enunciated by the Church. Furthermore,

it would seem incongruous for a group of bishops to sit down and

formulate a detailed dictate to this effect.


A newspaper reported another odd application of this teaching

that includes a ban on contraception. Although evidence has not

been found to verify the story, nor has a refutation of it been discovered,

even though the story has had wide circulation. European

missionary nuns, in danger of being raped during conflict in an

African country, are said to have requested permission to take the

contraceptive pill to guard against becoming pregnant. The local

bishop is said to have denied their request on the grounds that it

was against the Church’s teaching to artificially interfere with conception.

One can only wonder at the bishop’s reasoning and at why

the nuns felt any need to seek his permission.

The Church’s position on contraception may have made sense

at an earlier time. Then, for instance, infant and child mortality was

high; the requirements of formal education for children were negligible

or non existent; the labour of children was most useful or

even necessary for family support; and there seemed to be no limit

to the number of people the earth could accommodate. It makes

little or no sense now. Population growth threatens the capacity of

the earth to support the number of people who will shortly inhabit

the planet. Childhood labour is generally and appropriately outlawed,

at least in developed countries. Adequate education for living

in the contemporary world can take until a child turns eighteen

years or much older. The expectation of life at birth is considerably

over seventy years. Furthermore, couples in the child-bearing ages

tend to ignore the hierarchy’s teaching in the interests of their marital

stability, their obligations to existing children and their capacity

to fulfil demands on them as individuals, parents, workers and citizens.

For some couples, the teaching causes stress, unhappiness

and/or financial hardship. For some it can occasion marital breakdown.

The reality for young couples in many countries today entails

twenty years or much more of responsibility for the education and


support of each of their children. They also face the prospect of

unemployment in middle age and beyond and of extended periods

out of work for their offspring after the latter reach adulthood. The

current teaching allows couples little hope for a responsible approach

to environmental concems in the light of world population

growth. Perhaps it relies on ‘God will provide’. Ordinary people

do not have that luxurY.

Considering the positive effects of an active sex life in a loving

relationship, there would seem to be little valid purpose in placing

unnecessary restrictions on it or in denying it to fertile couples who

have a compelling reason for not producing children or not producing

more children. A satisfying sex life together can be a lifelong

blessing for a couple but some men and women are not dissuaded

from fiustrating even this side of their lives without any need for

misdirection from church authorities. Nevertheless, it is quite clear

that substantial numbers ignore the church’s prohibition against

so-called artificial birth control, apparently with clear consciences

and despite the notions of sin and guilt that have been projected

onto this aspect of human behaviour.

Provided that couples have a sincere respect, or preferably a

deep love, for each other, the mechanics of their mutual sexual activity

should be irrelevant to a church. Perhaps the church fears

that any weakening of the nexus between sexual relations and the

propagation of children would remove the moral censure from sex

outside marriage. That is not necessarily so, although there would

seem to be a good case for the degree of censure to depend on the


The Catholic Church had a chance to develop its teaching consistently

with contemporary reality during and in the aftermath of

the Second Vatican Council. The chance was lost when Pope Paul

the Sixth withdrew the matter from the assembly of the council

and then rejected the recommendation of the commission he had


established to examine it. The encyclical, Humanae Vitae, reaffirming

the prohibition of artificial birth control, was published in 1968.

The encyclical gave more weight to not contradicting the outdated

line of the Pope’s predecessors than to compassion for those

affected or to the changed circumstances of married couples during

their child-bearing years in the twentieth century. The chance was

lost to develop a policy which reflected the growth in knowledge,

consequent changes in perception and altered conditions in the

world. The encyclical unleashed widespread disenchantment with

the Church’s teaching authority, known as the magisterium, from

which the Church has not recovered. Later authoritarian reassertion

of the ecclesiastic prohibition on birth control has done nothing

to improve the situation.

Another aspect of sexual morality is also ripe for revision. It is

now widely recognised that sexual orientation is genetically determined.

Consequently, the Church’s attitude to homosexuality needs

reappraisal. A complication may exist because some married men

also exhibit homosexual tendencies and some married women are

attracted to lesbian relationships.It may be just as relevant, of course,

that some married people are attracted to and also experience heterosexual

relations outside their marriages but that is not a condemnation

of heterosexual activity as such.

Extramarital sexual activities constitute a breach of trust where

the couple has a commitment to exclusivity in their sex life and

should be censured on that account, although there may well be

mitigating circumstances. There is a similar commitment in the unions

formed by many contemporary young people but without the

formality of marriage. It could be argued that there should be a

mechanism for the recognition of such unions. In a Christian marriage,

after all, the partners themselves are the celebrants of the

sacramental union freely entered into through their mutual commitment

to each other. The civil law in Australian and some other


countries, for instance, has come to recognise mutual property rights

in ‘de facto’ relationships in the interests of justice between the


Some couples, however, marry without any commitment to exclusive

sexual rights and there are casual relationships that also

lack that commitment. In those cases it could not be claimed that

extramarital sex or sex with other partners was a breach of trust,

but the moral force of the marriage could be questioned, and sex

without commitment could hardly be considered virtuous. Some

unions between same-sex couples do seem to entail commitment

akin to that in a fully committed marriage.

When the practice of taking people into slavery was more common,

the Church agreed to permit spouses to remarry who had been

denied contact with their husbands or wives after the latter were

taken into slavery. Consideration now seems overdue with respect

to other conditions that effectively terminate a marriage and may

warrant acceptance by the Church of the right to remarry for a husband

or wife.


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Some SVD members I knew in PNG

March 12, 2013 at 9:50 am (Catholic Church, Commentary, East Sepik District, expatriates, Fr Fons Ruijter, Fr Mike Clerkin, Karkar Island, Maprik, Papua New Guinea, Sepik River, Society of the Divine Word, theology, Wewak)

Dave Wall & Fr Mike Clerkin, Dagua, 1965

Dave Wall & Fr Mike Clerkin, Dagua, 1965

What an extraordinary body of men were the Divine Wird Missionaries (SVD) in Papua New Guinea – Americans, Germans, Dutch and others.

Fr Mike Clerkin was one of them. He came to Wewak before the War and was interned by the Japanese during the war years – staying on after the war. Whereever he was posted  he was liked and respected.

He told me that when he arrived in Wewak around about 1938 he gained a reputation as being a great drinker who was exceptional in his ability to hold his liquor – quite unjustified according to him. This came about, he said, because early in his time in Wewak he was asked to a party, and he was sitting on the verandah of the house where the party was, and drinks were freely flowing, in fact the host would not allow anyone’s glass to be any way empty, filling each up with neat Scotch. Well, the only way Mike could cope with this was to keep emptying his glass over the side of the verandah. The next day the news went around Wewak that this young American priest sat drinking Scotch all night, and left the party as sober as he arrived.

When in Maprik Mike had quite an extensive library on mainly intellectual subjects. A field officer with the Malaria Control Unit visited the presbytery, and on seeing Mike’s books remarked: ” Father, I love books, at home I’ve got  the complete works of Zane Grey!”

Fr Much, a German SVD, was stationed on Karkar Island in the early 1960s, and the stories about him there abound. His great saying was: “SVD – smoke ve don’t, so ve drink” In  fact many of them did both, as Fr Much did himself! The story behind this little tale is that strictly speaking they were not supposed to smoke according to the rules of their order. This prohibition was not repealed until the middle sixties – which on looking back seemed rather strange for at this time the general community started to become increasingly anti-smoking. From memory Fr Much’s favourate smoke was giant cigars that he rolled himself from native tobacco leaves – brus.

On leave in Germany a medical opinion said he needed an operation. Fr Much wrote to John Middleton along these lines: I’m being attended to by two surgeons – one a woman and the other a man – the man thinks I should not be operated on – the woman tends to differ.  I know the woman will get her way and I will die. Unfortunately die he did after the operation.

I first met Fr John O’Toole in Dreikikir in 1962 where he was the parish priest, missionary- in- residence, I’m trying to think of the right title or designation, both would be appropriate! John was a Bostonian of Irish descent who took his religious calling seriously, and he loved a drink, and the convivial company of the station expats. If one happened to be Catholic he insisted you attended Mass every Sunday – you either came every Sunday or stayed away altogether.

At this time there was a well-known medical assistant stationed at Dreikikir. Frank Gilbert.  Frank & I both shared the distininction of going off the side of the airstrip on Karkar Island while on a motor bike.  Frank did it in a much more dramatic way and literally flew off the side of the strip and into the ocean, while I just tumbled over the side onto the rocks. Anyhow that’s another story.

Fr John got Frank to go to Mass while he was in Dreikikir, this was after a long absence away, but while in Dreikikir he didn’t get around to going to the sacraments. In early 1963 Frank went finish – returned to Australia for good to get married to a Catholic woman. While there prior to his marriage he decided to go to Confession. After he confessed and indicated how long he’d been away from the practice of his faith, the priest in confession asked what brought him back. He said: “While I was in New Guinea I met a priest who was a man.” This was John O’Toole! Frank wrote to John and told him this – O’Toole was so pleased!

On celibacy John once said to me, with a hint of regret in his voice, that this was something that he signed up to years ago!

The last time I saw Fr John was in Sydney on his way to the States – going finish, after nearly forty years in PNG! Not too long after he arrived in the States he died.

I first met Fr Karl Junemann at his Kombi Mission Station in the Dreikikir area – a very spiritual and humble man from Hanover, as such, he spoke high German unlike many of his colleagues who mainly hailed from Southern Germany. During the War he was conscripted into the German Medical Corps, and sent initally to the Eastern Front. In the Ukraine when the inhabitants found out that he was a Catholic priest he was so well treated by them. After the East he was sent to the West, and was part of the triumphant German entry into Paris – not that he ever approved of the Nazi War, but he couldn’t help keeping a little pride out of the way he expressed the success of German arms in the West, when he was telling me about the victory march in Paris. Karl stayed in the Sepik until he died, and he was buried in Wewak in the Mission Cemetery after almost fifty years of dedicated service in PNG. A gentle and hospitable man. I remember the Patrol Officer, Jock McIntyre, at Dreikikir, a man of Presbyterian background, who set out on patrol with a certain amount of relish to read the riot act to Fr Junemann – who was to him initially, a Kraut Roman priest, and coming back after visiting him, completely charmed, and full of praise for Fr Junemann.

Fr Fons Ruijter came to PNG in the early 1960s, and to Angoram in 1964. His theological and ecclesiastical stance was in many ways more proggressive than the Second Vatican Council – he was in favour of wearing secular clothing  while celbrating the Mass, and he tended to downplay the importance of Confession. The practical application of the Gospels to everyday life was his rule- of- thumb in judging how we lived the Christian life.

In 1972 I went to Manila to marry my future wife, Deborah. When making the arrangements with the church authorities there I was required to get a clearance from my parish priest  that was was eligible to be married in the Catholic Church.  In other words there was no known impediment to me getting married. To facilitate this I sent a radiogram to Fons; well, I got a telegram/radiogram back written in Latin. To my unscholarly eyes everything appeared to be in order, however I do remember seeing something like impotentia coeundi in the text which aroused the suspicion of my friend, Peter Johnson, but we really thought nothing of it.

At school I did have three years of Latin, but it was always in the same grade – I didn’t get beyond the first declension – I clearly remember, mensa, mensa, mensam, mensae, mensae, mensa, but this is about all!

Fons’ radiogram was duly presented to the Filipino priest who was going to marry us, and I thought nothing more of it for the next few days, until Deborah and I called in to see the priest. He indicated that he wanted to talk to me privately. He asked me if I was a good friend of Fr Ruijter’s and I said, yes. He then explained to me briefly what was in the radiogram, and he said that Fr Ruijter was probably having a little joke with me.

The missive from Fons said in so many Latin words that there was a diriment canonical impediment to my marriage due to  impotence.

To say the least I wasn’t too happy, and I didn’t have the grace to see the joke, but really I was upset for appearing to be such a rough untutored lad! Fortunately it was not taken seriously by the priest in Manila, and the marriage went ahead without a hitch.

When I returned to Angoram I was a bit off hand with Fons for a while, but he was upset that I had not seen through the whole thing, because he genuinely believed that my original request was a bit of a joke, on my part, just to create amusement among the expats in Angoram, who all would have been aware of the contents on the radiogram, and so in a way he was only playing along with the joke, thinking I would have enough Latin to understand his reply to me.

Fons stayed in PNG until the late 1980s or early 1990s. For his last years there, he ran a community farming project in Gavien just outside Angoram.

The last I heard of him, he was working with the unemployed in Holland.

The above mentioned people are just a few Divine Word Missionaries, there are many others such as: Fr Robert Jilek, the captain of the Marova, Bishop Leo Arkfeld, the flying bishop, Fr Shadeg, a gifted school teacher, Fr Mike Hughes, Fr Ivo Ruiter, Fr Mitterbauer, Br Gonzaga, Br Patroclus Appeldorn, and last but certainly not least, Ralf Stüttgen, who arrived in the late 1960s as an SVD. He later left the order and to this day, he’s a resident of Wewak. Ralf is a highly intelligent man.

Blessed Arnold Janssen, founder of the Society of the Divine Word, has cause to be proud of the members of his Society.


See: http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2013/03/society-of-the-divine-word-what-a-band-of-men.html#comments

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The reflections and thoughts of Ralf Stüttgen

November 3, 2011 at 10:06 am (Aid, Civil War in PNG, Commentary, Education, Mining, Panguna Mine on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, philosophy, theology)

I’ve just returned from a fortnight stay in Wewak. While there it was a pleasure to meet up with my old friend, Ralf Stüttgen. Ralf’s views on philosophy, theology, science, politics and the state of PNG are always informative. A subject of great concern to him is the quality of education in PNG. Education is the key to a country’s enlightenment and without it true development is impossible.

Readers of this blog would be aware of other articles that Ralf has written and I refer to a small biographical sketch of him:

Ralf Stüttgen was born in Berlin in 1939. He was educated at a Jesuit High School and in a Divine Word Seminary. In 1967 he was ordained a priest. In 1968 he came to the East Sepik District of Papua New Guinea and worked as a missionary until the early seventies; subsequently leaving the priesthood and working in agriculture in PNG. He now lives in Wewak and owns a guest house and deals in Sepik art. For many years his abiding interest has been about education and development in the Third World. It is his firm belief that without the delivery of quality education en masse countries will forever be stuck in a quagmire of underdevelopment and poverty. Good education and training are not only economic imperatives but are also the rights of all people. With these thoughts in mind, Ralf wants to awaken policy makers and politicians to positive action to facilitate the delivery of quality education to their people.

In conversation we covered the subject of the importance of adequate sleep that all people need to function properly. According to Ralf overworked medical doctors in Germany have the highest rate of suicide in the country. Teachers are more inclined to suffer a condition of mental ‘burn out’ than those of other professions. The political correct commentators mistakenly talk about indigenous people living a natural life. This is highly questionable in the modern world where many native people have poor diets and live in polluted areas. On theological questions and the place of an Almighty, Ralf put forward the following views: God is existence. God is logic. God is reason. God is good with all the virtues. He posed the question: if one had a video camera at the time of Christ’s Resurrection would one have been able to film it? A clerical colleague of his from Germany said, no.

These snippets are food for thought and are engaging topics.

Ralf gave me three written pieces which I’ll reproduce here. The first was written on the 28/12/ 1997.  Surprisingly his statistics don’t need much updating and certainly his conclusions are still valid.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA  by Ralf Stüttgen, Wewak, 28th December, 1997

Education is a human right, and successive governments of PNG have been violating that right.

After twenty-seven years of independence:

– 48% of the people are illiterate

– 30% of children never enter a school

– Drop-out rate grade one to grade six is 75%

– Drop-out rate grade one to grade twelve is 99%

– Every year the government produces 50,000 drop-outs, for whom there is no high school, no training, no jobs.

– By now PNG has one million school drop-outs, over one quarter of the population.

– The East Sepik Province alone is short of twenty high schools. For the country as a whole the figure is four hundred.

– The government’s neglect of education is criminal. It is to be blamed for the ever increasing crime rate. It produces criminals.

– Not more police, but more teachers we need.

– The workforce in PNG is not being developed. We have a workforce of grass cutters. As a result nobody wants to invest here.

What could be done?

As a first step to increase and improve education, the government should start financing private schools. The existing private schools provide better-quality education.

PNG’s budget for education is between three and four percent of the total national budget. By comparison, some countries invest up to 25% in education annually.

If PNG wanted to educate all its school-age children, the education budget would have to be five billion. As this is not possible, foreign aid has to be sought. We should approach better developed countries to provide schools, complete with teachers and buildings, and get long-term committments from them. The World Bank could do something.

Unless we do a lot more for education, and soon, Papua New Guinea’s future consists of two alternatives: be exploited slaves of other nations, or – just die out.

EQUALITY IN EDUCATION  by   Ralf Stüttgen, Wewak  (Written over ten years ago for somebody in the Dept of Education)

Most Papua New Guineans have their children in Community Schools, Provincial High Schools and National High Schools, most, but not all. Many nationals, well paid public servants, politicians, businessmen, company employees – all those who have money, send their children to the International Schools. And all expatriates who can afford it, do the same. Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, English, Filipinos, Chinese – nobody of these would even think of putting his child into a community school.

Why do these people do this?  What are their motives?

The Community Schools are there for the children of this country, to prepare them for life in the community. – Do they? – Is that really so? Or, are these schools a way to nowhere? Just to prepare these kids for a life of frustration and joblessness. (Even if they had a bit of Agriculture and Nutrition in school.)

What do those parents think who spent ten thousand kina in school fees per child per year? They make this big sacrifice because they want to give their children the best education available. And why do all the other parents in Papua New Guinea not send their children to International Schools? Do they think the Community Schools are better? No. They just cannot afford it. The International Schools are only for the rich. And anyway, there are not enough International Schools to go around for everybody.

What would happen if all PNG parents had the choice, a real choice, to send their children to International Schools? Or to a Community School, whichever they prefer? Let us say the Government or somebody else would pay all the school fees?

Now Papua New Guineans do not have a free choice, because they do not have enough money. They are forced to put their children in Community Schools, for economic reasons. But these Community Schools are for blacks only. Like ghetto schools in some cities in America, where nobody else wants to send their children, only the blacks who cannot afford a better school.

This is like it was in South Africa, where they had Apartheid, the good schools for whites, the cheap schools for blacks.

In South Africa the Apartheid policy was forced upon the black people. Out here in PNG the black people are free. Out of their own free choice they have accepted Apartheid in education, though forced upon them by their government.

This is discrimination! Racial discrimination. We are discriminating against the black people of this country. Parents are not given the chance to choose for their children the education they would like.

The people of Papua New Guinea want equality with the people of other countries and races! And real equality between nationalities is only possible if there is equality in education.

People must be able to get schooling, equal to that of the people in other countries. Otherwise they will never achieve the same income and standard of living.

With a second-rate education Papua New Guineans will forever remain the exploited slaves of other nations!

If the answer to this is only money; I think the money can be found.

Should the Panguna Mine on Bougainville be reopened?  by Ralf Stüttgen, Wewak, 2011

The mine should be reopened only under one condition, namely, that all Bougainville children go to International Schools. From grade 1 to grade 12, compulsory. And the mining company organises and finances this.

Only if this is done will the people of Bougainville have hope of enjoying a better standard of living, comparable to that in other countries.

If this is not done, forget about reopening the mine. The people will not benefit from the mine; they will remain the exploited fools of outside interests.

One alternative remains: killing all landowners. It has been tried before.

Leaving education, in Bougainville, or about anywhere else in PNG, to the Department of Education, is not possible. They have proved already they cannot do it – 36 years after Independence half the population are illiterate. The money for education has been around, but due to corruption and mismanagement, it does not reach the people.

Therefore, at least in Bougainville, the mining company should be put in charge of providing education. They have access to man power and they are able to control the funds.

For this reason, it is in the interests of the mining company, that Bougainville gets complete independence. Otherwise, the proceeds from the mine will go to Port Moresby first, and from there very little will come back, not enough to provide international education.

If mining on Bougainville is to avoid causing another civil war, we better learn from the mistakes of the past, and let fairness, justice, and equality prevail.

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A few words at JB’s 70th birthday party

December 7, 2010 at 6:41 am (Papua New Guinea, Parousia, Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk, theology) (, , , , , , , , )

70th Birthday Party of John Bowers held at Irene Graham’s house in Gordon on 7/5/10                        

John a true Victorian, in a sense a 19th Century man, he deals mainly with the respectable institutions in society: the Army, the Law and the Church

John Bowers, an Englishman abroad; I’m not in any sense comparing him with Guy Burges. 

It must be well over forty years since I first met John on the banks of the Sepik River at Angoram. From the start I could see that he was a man on a mission and a quest. There was no mistaking him for anything else but an Englishman. Another English friend of mine was once asked, was he English? To which he replied, ‘are there any other people?’ John, I’m sure, would not be so abrupt. But yes, he was in a sense a latter day Empire representative, if indeed the colonial outpost was Australian rather than English but we were all British in those days! 

It did not take me long to realize that John was a Sandhurst man and ex-British Army with intense spiritual interests with a dedication to the Authorized Version and the Book of Common Prayer. In Angoram he was a Patrol Officer and political educator. On my blog I describe JB as, An Englishman of many talents, John Bowers

John Bowers, British Army, Sandhurst Man, Patrol Officer, Teilhardian, He subsequently put aside The Phenomenon of Man by Teilhard de Chardin for McCann’s God or gorilla, Special Branch Officer, Judge’s Associate,  New-Age Fighter, Anglican Prayer Book Man, Premillennialist and Herbalife Consumer, A Most Extraordinary Man!

The fictional character, Ernest Spender, in Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk, shows a remarkable resemblance to JB.

His world-wide quest has taken him to many places, meeting many people: He shared a whisky with Field Marshal Alexander’s chaplain, a committee with Arianna Stassinpoulos, author of The Female Woman, alerted Brother George, a biblically inspired Cannon Hill Baptist to the dangers of the New-Age after his experiences at Findhorn and his reading of David Spangler, Revelation:The Birth of a New Age. He instructed Cheryl, an aspirant of the Cannon Hill congregation on New Light on the New Age. His intense instruction on one occasion caused Brother George’s wife to ask him what Cheryl and he were doing in the caravan. In no uncertain terms he told her that they were working on the New-Age for her husband.  Perhaps his instruction was not intense enough as it was said that Cheryl converted to Islam later He was washed in the waters of the Jordon with full Baptist rites while in no way turning his back on his Anglican tradition. He has discussed The Secular City with Harvey Cox in the Holy Land and been left by Brother George with an appreciation of the Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37: 4) He has revealed to Dr Patricia Brennan his position on the ordination of women at an Anglican Synod in Sydney and excused it with reference to the Sandhurst motto: Serve to lead.

But he had to admit to Dr Brennan at lunch that he didn’t support the ordination of women.

In the hills of Adelaide a holy father in a monastery took exception to John’s reference to finding the Special Branch in a cupboard, and took him by the throat. There was nothing Neanderthal about the holy father or John!

  John a red-blooded male has chosen, like the Lord the single state while being always drawn to women he always respects them In spite of, at times, the gloom and doom of his theology, he has always preserved an essential Joie de vivre. Even if we are in the Tribulation There is faith hope and charity and the rapture of the Lord.  

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6: 12) 

If I may say, on a more serious note, I would like to thank John on mine and my wife, Deborah’s behalf for all that John has done for us and our two sons, Andrei and David Augustus. When we returned from PNG John was a pillar of strength and support for us. 

 Ladies and Gentlemen I give you John Bowers, Alias Sir Ernest Spender!

Whether it’s breaking up a riot in PNG or saving a plane of returning military families in Karachi or refusing to cross the Tiber and remaining true to his Reformation ideals we can say with St Paul you’ve Fought The Good Fight,( nearly) Finished The Race, Kept The Faith (2 Timothy 4:7)

Like St Paul you have been all things to all men and may I add women (1 Corinthians 9:10)

Happy Birthday, 70 years and still going strong!

Not old age not new age but just John Bowers, A man for all seasons.

Perhaps I might be forgiven for saying that there is something of the Rapture about this convivial gathering here tonight! And for this we owe a lot of thanks to Irene.

 Thank you and God bless you, John.

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Do Atheists Exist? by Ralf Stüttgen

September 26, 2009 at 12:33 am (philosophy, theology) (, , , , , , )

Three sages: Dave, Ralf, Pete, in a reflective disposition

Three sages: Dave, Ralf, Pete, in a reflective disposition

Ralf Stüttgen
Ralf Stüttgen

People who call themselves atheists say, “God does not exist.” But, do atheists exist? – a matter of definition. If you define God as existence, the reality in which we live, as truth, love, justice, helpfulness, honesty, logic, as a set of general concepts, then there are probably no atheists. Not many people doubt the reality around themselves. However, if you imagine God as a picture-book god, with a white beard and long robes, parked above the clouds, you are right in rejecting such an image. It is the same as not believing in Santa Claus.

Yet, there is a meaning of atheist, that is very real. This is, in traditional terminology, the sinner , the person who objects to the truth, who opposes love, who does not want to obey his or her conscience, who would like to insist on a lie. And this type of atheist is everyone of us.

See:  https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/ralf-stuttgen/#respond

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Ralf Stuttgen’s Views and Perceptions

July 12, 2009 at 3:47 am (Catholic Church, malaria control, Papua New Guinea, philosophy, theology) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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On my recent visit to Papua New Guinea I had some far-reaching discussions with my friend, Ralf Stuttgen. Ralf has many interesting and discerning points of view which are worth airing in the hope that they can be commented on and further discussed by others.

 Our conversations ranged over theological, philosophical, educational and environmental questions and were tackled uniquely and insightfully by Ralf.

 Here are his views:

 Who and what is God? Any definition of God cannot be divorced from our material existence and humanity’s system of values. Fundamentally God is love and with this concept in mind no one with values is essentially an atheistic according to Ralf. By a stretch of the imagination most, I guess, could accept a principal power and reality in the universe named God or something else. Theological definitions must continually be refined and explained in modern terms. Objective truth is not just a question of what is right and what is wrong.

Symbol and myth reveal and divulge theological and ethical truths. Virginity is a symbol of divine wisdom and life is like the rising dawn. There is no doubt in Ralf’s mind that the essence of the Christian message is fundamentally sound, but the interpretation of the message needs to be refined and updated.

 Ralf looks at sin and an appropriate definition; Sin is any act where the damage is greater than the advantages. I suppose in a sense the end justifies the means. All acts have good and bad potentials. Untruths and lies are always involved with sin and the suppression of information. An ill-informed conscience cannot be an arbitrator of good and evil.

 Science fiction can be a useful tool for awakening future generations to development possibilities for in this genre humankind looks at the desirable and the possible.

 On the broad question of the economy, education and development Ralf continually stresses the primary importance of quality education. Any country without an educated population is doomed to a state of undevelopment. Even a state without abundant natural resources but with an educated population has the capacity for significant economic development, look at the South Korean economic miracle and compare this with Papua New Guinea, a country with vast natural resources and a seemingly inability to lift the standard of living for its population. Over the past thirty years or so South Korea has put in place a vibrant education and training programme throughout the country, whereas in PNG the state of education at all levels: primary, secondary, tertiary and technical training is at best poor and only available to a small percent of the population. The result being that South Korea exports the products of a technically advanced economy with vast returns to its educated and well governed population, whereas PNG is increasingly becoming a land that is largely being exploited for its resources by others. The country is plagued with inappropriate and destructive resource exploitation with little return to its people in general. One need only look at the logging and mining industries and the environmental hazards they are creating. Corrupt officials and politicians and overseas companies get their rewards but the uneducated masses get comparatively nothing. One example of poor governance and supervision in PNG is that 60% of the gold extracted from the country is exported illegally. This means that the state gets nothing for this valuable resource.

 Ralf is emphatic in his assertion that education is the solution to all the world’s problems.

Doing it right – Success   Doing it wrong – No Success

Education will improve public health. The most common cause of death is stupidity.

Education will protect the environment, stupidity leads to the killing of wildlife and even over-population. Governments must improve their education systems before they improve their health services. In British India the health services were better than the education services; result over-population.

 Education, Research and the Future

 Our biological, genetic and evolutionary future is tied up with education and new ideas.Let us look at some problems with new insights: Is Western Agriculture appropriate in undeveloped countries? Not always as it requires deforestation; more research is needed into methods of growing food. Humankind should be able to live off trees. The whole world could be covered with trees. Trees are a great source of starch and more research is needed to fully utilize them as food. Sensible conservation will protect the jungles of the world. In the past in PNG when the kunai grasslands were protected from burning it was noticed that the jungle trees come back. It is true to say our scientists need a broader education. 

General reflections

 Who does the Development Bank develop? Answer: The Development Bank. Only take out a loan when land and labour are there with future prospects to guarantee success. Look at the bind the West New Britain oil palm small holders are in trying to repay the Development Bank.

Indigenous people at least should be guaranteed health, fresh air and natural conditions.The reality is that indigenous people must adapt or vanish.The laws of evolution are there. In North America some indigenous people were known as little heads because of their small brain size. Presumably the evolutionary process had past them by. We must face the fact that some genes become outdated Will we in the future condone and allow some form of genetic engineering?

What was the principal cause of the fall of the Roman Empire? The Roman State did not have a Department of Education as an institution preserving and passing on knowledge to future generations.

Global warming has been going on for years, markedly since AD 400. Development and education are historically intertwined with changes of climate.

We must all learn to manage our health. Sleep is the most important anti-malarial. In the future humankind must learn to eat different foods.

The attempt to commercialize the production of sago in the Sepik will be a disaster. The keeping of cattle and wet rice growing are inappropriate as agricultural ventures in PNG as tasks associated with these endeavours are foreign to the people.

Managing rubbish is a problem for PNG towns and cities.

What is a Jew? Ralf looks at this broadly: There are ethnic Jews and theological Jews. Ethic Jews are those with a racial connection to Israel and theological Jews are all people of good will. This is in accord with God’s promise to Abraham:

Your descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in heaven. Your descendants will be as numerous as the sand on the seashore.

The ideas of a better world are not exclusively Jewish but also come from other ancient people such as the Persians and Egyptians. The big question was and is just how to achieve a better world? The answer will come from the chosen people who are all people of good will.

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