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February 2006   
F E A T U R E S

Interview: Court's in Session
As the silks line up to challenge WorkChoices, Jeff Shaw is fighting for his own legacy - the NSW IR system.

Industrial: Whose Choices?
The Howard Government's WorkChoices legislation has been dissected by lawyers and the commentariat; now it's the turn of political economists.

Politics: Peter's Principles
Forget John Howard. The force behind WorkChoices is Peter Costello. The Prime Minister-in-waiting has devoted a lifetime to undermining the security and living standards of Australian families, Jim Marr reports.

Environment: TINA or Greener?
What does the greenhouse effect and legislation to control workers have in common, asks Neale Towart

History: Its Not Just Handshakes and Aprons
Power. They have it, we want it. Friendly societies tried to keep it for working people, writes Neale Towart

International: US Locks out Jose' Bove
The US Government has refused to allow France's most famous farmer Jose Bove into the country to address a conference

Education: No AWA - No Job
The Howard Government has given the Australian community its first view of the future by forcing new staff at Ballarat University to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement if they want a job, writes Jenny Macklin.

Culture: Jesus was a Long-Grass Man
The writings of a Middle Eastern theologian may provide guidance to those grappling with indigenous issues, writes Graham Ring

Review: Charlie the Serf
Nathan Brown takes the sledgehammer (and sickle) to Mr Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

C O L U M N S

The Soapbox
Hitler in Bowral
Political censorship has made its wasy to the sleepy Southern Highlands, wrties Rowan Cahill.

The Locker Room
No Laughing Matter
Phil Doyle tries to take Australian sportspeople seriously, and fails.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
Ian West is mistakenly sent an advance copy of John Winston Howard’s Little Blue Book of Australian History…

E D I T O R I A L

Total Impact
The long hot summer, the calm before the storm, is finally passed; and as March 1 approaches the new world of work is looming and the extent of the attack on organised labour is becoming clear.

N E W S

 Capital Punishment on the Menu

 Della Builds Fortress NSW

 Unfair Sackings Face Challenge

 Slave Contractors Sprung

 Holden's Bad Deal for Adelaide

 ACCI Never Sleeps

 STOP PRESS: Guest Worker Plan Goes to Water

 Taking a Punt on Melbourne Cup

 Backlash on Job Cuts

 Howard Coy on Ad Orgy

 Newcastle Rails Against Contracts

 Union Man Eyes Cuts

 Free Enterprise Kills Hundreds

 Aussie Icon Moves to China

 Activist's What's On!

L E T T E R S
 The Best for the Best
 Belated Merry Whatmas?
 The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
 I Think Therefore I Scam
 A Taxing Answer
 Leslie John Turner
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Culture

Jesus was a Long-Grass Man


The writings of a Middle Eastern theologian may provide guidance to those grappling with indigenous issues, writes Graham Ring

**********

Way back in the dim, distant past, various nuns, brothers and priests spent thirteen odd years engaged in the fruitless task of trying to educate me. Just for the record, they were overwhelmingly good and decent folk.

I suppose I've failed them, because these days I'm strictly a weddings and funerals man. But even someone as indolent as me couldn't avoid acquiring at least a basic knowledge of the philosopher, Jesus.

Your man hailed from Nazareth - the Redfern of its day - and all the evidence suggests that he was something of a long-grasser. He was given to wandering around the streets - shod in sandals, and clad in the early AD equivalent of jeans and t-shirt - engaging people in conversation. That's not to say he was humbugging as such - but man cannot live by words alone.

Not to put too fine a point on it, he was an ideal candidate for a Shared Responsibility Agreement. 'In return for three square meals a day, I hereby undertake to wash my own feet occasionally, get a haircut and a real job, and stop giving the Romans so much grief.'

Indeed, it seems that Jesus may have been something of a blackfella himself. Certainly he wasn't the titian-headed type the Italian painters fancied. Nor for that matter was he the blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan that the German daubers depicted. Chances are that the man had dark skin - though I think we should forgive him that, it not being his fault and all.

The Jews at that time were a relatively obscure minority group, hell-bent on preserving their traditional way of life. The powers that be understood precious little of their culture - and cared for it even less. The Syrians, Romans, Egyptians, and the rest of the multi-cultural meddlers were determined to civilize and modernize this motley crew, who clung obstinately to their ancient ways.

The Jewish civilization had been decimated by occupation and dispossession. They were knocked around as a result of being shoved from one place to another by governments and bureaucracies. The Jews took to living in camps on the fringes of towns, sticking together for support and protection.

Back in those days, the Romans had a real knack for order and purpose, and a particular enthusiasm for knowing who was up to what. They'd conduct a census at the drop of a yarmulke.

Now, it seems that Jesus' folks hadn't quite gone through the formality of a wedding ceremony, when the little fella made his Presence known. Transients, they were caught out in their wanderings by a sudden census and required to scoot back to the home-base to be ticked off by the Roman bean-counters.

It was during this trip that the birth occurred - in what child psychologists will no doubt confirm was a 'stable environment'.

Their child, Jesus, was a story-teller. The ordinary folk of the time weren't readers, but shared their accumulated wisdom and understanding by passing on stories.

Jesus was a bolshie sort of a bloke. He was given to making the kind of pronouncements which would today have stamped him as a practitioner of the black art of social justice.

Warnings about camels, needle-eyes and buckets of dough - and dire utterances that 'the first shall be last' - did nothing for the confidence of the local burghers and finished up getting our man into considerable trouble.

Interestingly enough, I'm told that there are many more practicing Christians per head amongst the good denizens of the House on the Hill than there is in the general population.

This being the case, I'm sure they'd be moved by the lot of a people dispossessed, pushed around, and persecuted for their culture. People doing it so tough that they were forced to live in fringe camps on the edge of town, just to get a bit of support.

Happily, Australia is a wealthy first world country, and we would never stand by and watch any of our countrymen living in such straitened circumstances.

***

First published National Indigenous Times December 2005.

Graham Ring is a Melbourne-based writer who specializes in issues of indigenous justice.


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