June’s Monthly has an excellent article on The Shire, but you have to subscribe or buy to read it.
Cronulla Beach, Australia Day 2010. © James Brickwood/Fairfax Syndication
The Shire versus Australia: How a new show is creating drama
It nails the stereotyping of The Shire very well, and the conclusion about the “Other” Shire that includes, for example, the biggest regional art centre of its kind in Australia, a symphony orchestra, the rather high proportion of PhDs and scientists who call The Shire home, and so on and so on, is well made. And a point not made, but which I know to be true being Shire born and bred, is that The Shire was also something of a hotbed of Marxists and other socialists through the 50s and 60s. Not part of the stereotype.
Weird doings in The Shire in the early 1950s
I have no idea what this is, but that could be my Grandfather Christison and I watching – though it probably is not.
See also THE SHIRE! THE SHIRE!
And the more…
Also in The Monthly is something you can read right now: A New Opium: The Anzac cult by Don Watson.
Of all believers who might have debated Richard Dawkins on the ABC earlier this year, Cardinal George Pell was surely among the more unlikely. There is no doubting the depth of the Archbishop’s faith or sincerity, of course; there can be no doubt about Rupert Murdoch’s faith in freedom of the press, either. That the Cardinal’s public demeanour does not immediately bring to mind the author of the Beatitudes has nothing to do with the case: the poet Les Murray, to pluck another man of faith out of the air, is certainly no less pugnacious and opinionated, but he would have been a much more rousing and formidable opponent for Dawkins, even if our scientist had not been jet-lagged. The likes of the American novelist Marilynne Robinson would have been good, too, albeit from a Protestant angle. Like Murray, Robinson is a believer who makes non-believers discreetly check their internal compasses; neither of them, what’s more, would have needed Pell’s urgers in the audience imitating a Roman mob. Of course, it doesn’t help that Cardinal Pell represents a church which currently has many charges against it, but since most churches have past charges against them, this hardly disqualified him.
What did make his presence unfortunate, not to say, by the end, excruciating, was his inability to mount a persuasive argument for the possibility of God without overlaying it with doctrinal baloney about the nature of such a God and His continuing powers, along with heaven, hell and a “place of purification”, presumably in between. This was what Marx likened to opium? It was not the Cardinal’s persona or his church, but the barrenness of his argument and the patches of downright silliness: I don’t know what believers made of his case, but those of us burdened with an absence of faith felt a bit short-changed…
Pretty much what I felt about that particular ill-conceived episode of QandA.