Outspoken – The Voice of Justice

Outspoken – The Voice of Justice

Outspoken by Fr Tod Bower Ponderings Magazine Australia

by Fr. Rod Bower

 

There are twelve minutes and four seconds of my life of which I have no actual memory.

That is the length of time I stood on the stage at the International Convention Center in Sydney delivering my TEDx talk.

There seems to be a gap in the space/time continuum between the second the stage manager said ‘go’ to the moment my appointed minder asked ‘can I get you anything?’ It’s not that I am ‘unaccustomed to public speaking.’

I do it all the time. There was more than six months notice, weeks of preparation and days of rehearsals; it’s just that the bar is set so high.

There seems to be a focus and intensity to a TED talk that doesn’t exist in any other forum.

As I left the stage my response to my minders question was simple; ‘water,’ I was just so dry in the mouth that it’s a wonder that I could speak at all.

Perhaps that’s why TED talks are so popular; we are parched, thirsty for well-considered thoughts, honed arguments tested and reviewed reflections were deliberations have been distilled to their essence.

 Presentations where we know people have given deep thought to their subject and have not only already been challenged on their content, but are willing to open themselves up to further criticism.

So there was TEDx and then came a book release.

As Kirsten put it “how could you ever imagine placing a message on your church sign could lead to these things?”

Fr Rod Bower Ponder Kindness on Church Board

Kirsten asked me what inspired me to write the book. The question the strikes fear in the heart of most authors is this actual question. In my case, the superficial but truthful answer is “Penguin Random House asked me too.

However, as I took up the challenge from the publisher a deeper and more complex reason emerged.

Outspoken became an answer to a parishioners question “Why are you different to all the other priests we have had in the parish before?”

Outspoken is the story of how I came to see that social order without justice is nothing more than tyranny and how and why I felt compelled to do something about it.

I hope that by telling my personal story, others may be inspired to reflect on their own stories and learn how order and justice might be better partners in the dance that leads to a more just society for all.

Because of my story, I see everything from the perspective of an outsider. This  has given me a particular empathy for those who are marginalized by a society that values order over justice. I hope Outspoken contains something contagious for the reader and the world becomes infected with compassion.

From Penguin: “Dear Christians. Some PPL are gay. Get over it. Love God.’ On 24 July 2013, Anglican priest Rod Bower put up these words on the roadside sign of his Gosford parish church. Sparking a social media revolution. The post was shared thousands of times – suddenly the one-time butcher was on the public stage.

Today Fr Rod has close to 65,000 followers on social media. He uses this platform to raise questions about Australia’s corporate soul, to assert that we are all brothers and sisters – asylum seekers, Muslims, those identifying as LGBTI, Indigenous Australians …And for such messages, the death threats pour in. How did a shy adopted kid from the country become this steadfast conscience of our nation, preaching both peace and disruption? Part life story, part love story, part manifesto, Outspoken describes evolution as surprising as are Fr Rod’s views about Christianity.

Utterly frank, both philosophical and funny, this is a singular book by a singular person. It illuminates the life and work of the man behind those signs.” To get  your copy go to: Penguin Books

No Eyes are Better Than Two

For a time after brain surgery I was blind. Blind, about 4% vision in one eye and zero in the...
Ponderings Turns A Page

Ponderings Turns A Page

It is difficult to be caught up in a tangle of survival. Its very essence can stir you around like a bottle in the ocean.

I imagine myself hanging on to that bottle for dear life. It is dear. Life. So dear.

It isn’t until I look up out of the lurching rolling waves that I see a hand reach out for mine. I see a boat, and I reach out, grabbing, swinging a leg over the side and up into the timber nest I slide, gasping for air and feeling relief.

I get really scared every now and again. My biggest concern is that I don’t do enough. I worry about wasting time. Wasting dear life. I don’t like mundane activities very much, but mundane also has a place in life and without it, the profound could lose its meaning. There’s the whol inoperable brain situation and there’s life really. Life. What a word.

You see, there are a whole lot of “I’s in that paragraph, and it seems to me when the focus is all on the “I,” it can become intense and all consuming. The heart and soul can feel fuller, lighter and more profound in other ways.

Perhaps one of the aspects worth lots of introspection is spiritual health and attention. I think this starts with the bigger questions or the deeper ones that don’t echo with the emptiness of a needy and fearful “I” but instead make the ground shift and mountains move with the resounding “I AM, followed by “We Are.”

When I speak the word, spirituality-I do not speak about religion. I have nothing against religion personally. I am talking about the Human Spirit and its interaction with the mystery and marvel, the magnificent dance with the greater good. The relationship between resilience, the human condition, faith, wellness of heart, wellness of mind and a satellite view of “US”. Such is the riddle of anthropology and faith. But I will warn you: I am a Christian, and I am not afraid to say it. My best friends are atheists, Jewish folk, Buddhist and my secret favorites; Hindus. There are even some Catholics in the mix, more than a few Muslims and a collective of Agnostics. But we are all humans, and we all ponder. There are many of us here in the mix. Good humans that believe in something more.

Dr. Scott Peck of The Road Less Travelled says “We need not be afraid. But we still are. Faith does not come easily. I still run scared. There is this that I can say, however. As a result of my minuscule faith, I run a little less scared than I used to. Thank God.”

Wisdom is forged from the mindful contemplation of “the US” and all that is around us. When the deeper stirrings are attended to and when the quickening of the brain has calmed to a docile lion instead of a mischievous monkey we are all the better for it.

When we shake off the manipulations of those in power that seek to bind us.

When we realise that our body is indeed a temple and should be nourished naturally with the good food and substance the earth has for us when we care for it. When we can look out at the world around us from within and smile because it is good regardless of the all hurt, we have won.

You can improve that which disgruntles you. You can coax it into the light and infuse it with love and illumination, or you can continue to critique it’s existence and quibble at its failures and fissures, or you can deny it’s existence entirely marching on into the mundane, safe trap of habit. There is a choice to be made.

In my travels this year, I interviewed some of the most astounding Ponderers. Humans who made the choices for a greater good, a small act of kindness, a passion for overcoming that which ails us in. From children to grown ups and the grown ups that refuse to conform. They have welcomed my questions and have allowed my pen and keyboard to bounce at a rhythm faster than lightning, melded with that special “something” that gives you goosebumps and reminds you that there is something bigger than us. They might have cornflake dandruff, wear their clothes on inside out or perhaps they ability to burp the alphabet whilst they wrangle with saving the planet, who knows?

My journey has allowed me to grow a digital media business so big I have had to scale it back and evolve it to something different, a sharing of knowledge to those seeking to step into that space of awesome without having to worry about mistrust or integrity of those providing a service hindered by messy technology. In this journey, I have learned how to present information, how to produce content, podcasts, and platforms in new and enjoyable ways.

So I find myself turning a page to a new chapter. It came to me one night, and the entire picture was written down in the space of 20 minutes. I would love to say my epiphanies fall gently on my shoulder like a downy white angel feather.

They do not. They hit me in the forehead like a semi trailer packed with dynamite. So the “I” is going to become “Us”, Ponderings of Kirsten is going to lose the name Kirsten in its title and become Ponderings. A free online place where you will witness stories of the human spirit, laced with gutsy, real life, with the sprinkle of dark humor and laughter, with maybe a few tears. But a whole lot of Ponderings, in the form of interviews, Ponderings Radio and guest writers. There will be featured artists, musicians, painters, poets, and activists.

While the hundreds of emails that hit the Ponderings inbox with gratitude and thanks for sharing warts and all accounts of a possibly dying but mostly living girl, my world has filled to the brim with those with even more than this. So much more to fill your cup with and drink. It is my legacy now to pull you into the boat with the new guests of Ponderings and me while we ride out this boat ride together. We will play music, tell tales, inspire you and unlace the knots with you, but most of all we will smile, and we will laugh. By God, we will laugh. We will have heartsmiles by the dozen and disrupt this good earth into oblivion!

My motto that came to me in a moment when I pondered my intention-

Be of the eye that seeks to improve with love and be the lantern that brings light to the dark corner.

Watch this space beautiful humans. x Kirsten

 

%d bloggers like this: