All religions seem to need their inspired and and inspiring devotees, Those individuals who have through their own example led the faithful and reinforce the beliefs of those in doubt. Why else do they strive so hard for their beliefs? Oh its easy to scoff as so many of our friends from the left are keen to do yet how many of them would cheerfully stand in a line in red square to file past the mortal remains of Lenin? perhaps they have made a point of visiting that grave in London where the bones of Karl Marx lay mouldering. Or even wet their pants at the thought of spending time in the company a “great profit” of their faith like Tim Flannery or Al Gore?
Saint or demon, it all depends upon what you believe and what gives you comfort. As a life long atheist I am endlessly fascinated by the nature of belief, I almost obsessively listen to the religion programs on Radio National, I have many friends for whom faith in the deity is the sun around which their lives orbit. I suppose that is why I see the religiosity of the “climate change” argument and the fundamentalism of its devotees.
Jo Chandler appears to be one of The Age’s more rabid Climate Change writers who has been very quick to claim AGW as the cause of more recent recent natural disasters like the extensive flooding in Pakistan and to plug the views of David Suzuki and help promote his latest Misanthropic tome and his current tour to Australia from his native Canada ,well he is a Warminista Profit after all, strangely if you read through all of the pieces listed under her name on the Age website you will find lots of Socialism and lots “we are all doomed because of the climate that is being wrecked by humanity* ” stuff along with the usual lefty feminist stuff about childbirth mortality rates in the third world. In fact you could be forgiven for thinking that this writer has done alright out of natural disasters managing to get her employer to pay for some pretty neat junkets to Africa and even to Antarctica. Surprisingly given her rather obvious disdain for Christianity she was given the task (or did she ask?) of writing a piece about the canonisation of Mary MacKillop. and what she gives us is a thinly veiled suggestion that its all about the religious tourism dollar.
They browse the narrative of her life, believers, sceptics and scoffers alike emerging intrigued and awed at her journey – from a pauper’s birth on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, to Rome, where she obtained authority for her radical vision of free education and self-government for her sisters, and now finally to sainthood, via Penola. She travelled so far against the tide of patriarchy and power. She was compelled by the noblest of missions, and by all accounts achieved it all with grace, generosity and good humour. Mere mortals cannot help but ask – how did she do it?
At this point, visitors wanting to really grasp her spirit might be disappointed that she is still, at least in a material sense, so elusive. There is little left of the harsh, pioneer reality she lived in. Penola is flush on the fruit of nearby vines. Old buildings endure but the asphalt on the pilgrim’s trail is so new it is barely set. The less pious might console themselves with gastronomic nourishment, and drop into the tapas bar for a plate of Mary McScallops ($20). Or indulge in some venal retail therapy at the store around the corner where Nun-Chucks (”Repent Or Else”) are selling like hotcakes.
The thing is I can’t help but think that despite her conclusion to this piece which tries to claim MacKillop as some kind of socialist saint what she has delivered to her readers is precisely the same sort of piece that she writes in her “travel” pieces. The articles that she puts together in payment for a family holiday to Vietnam with her children or even the junket** she managed to arrange for her unnamed husband:
The Bay of Fires guided walk is run by Anthology, the company that also runs the Cradle Mountain guided trek. The excuse I’ve employed to get here, to pull on hiking boots and scratch that itch, is the beloved’s dreaded milestone birthday – halfway to 100 but emphatically not middle aged.
What better present for a bloke with prematurely dodgy hips, a visceral loathing of sand and a deep suspicion of group itineraries than a long walk on an endless beach in the company of strangers? I’d have to go along, of course. I keep it as a birthday surprise until the plane lifts off for Launceston. He’s plainly speechless with delight.
He recovers somewhat when we arrive at the handsome Quamby Estate, on the first night of a four-night itinerary. The grand 180-year-old homestead is plonked in a postcard bucolic scene of rolling hills.
It is precisely this inherent contradiction between the socialist aspirations of our urban lefties and their love and delight in the expensive “high life” that I find so amusing and which makes the epithet “latte sipper” or “Chardonnay socialist” so apt. It is also why Chandler is such a poor choice to write about an event like the creation of this country’s first Saint. She clearly has no real appreciation of what this event means to people of the Catholic Faith because if she did she would not be cynically treating it like one of her touristy “places to visit” pieces or trying to present the woman’s life and that of her followers as a version of a socialist utopians.To appreciate MacKillop you have to understand that there was a faith agenda for the woman and her followers that owes much more to Jesus Christ than it does to Karl Marx, there is certainly no acknowledgement of that in Chandlers piece but it is the fundamental reason that Mary MacKillop is being made a saint today and you would have to think that a major news paper like the Age should have done better in its choice of author on this topic. Jo Chandler certainly seems to be a tool but she is just not the right one for this job.
*a paraphrase of Chandler’s position on AGW
** strangely for a lefty Chandler seems to be awful keen on a “free lunch” and it is not uncommon to find a quiet little disclaimer at the end of her pieces pointing out just who picked up the tab, for instance when you see “Jo Chandler travelled courtesy of Tourism Tasmania.” it suggests to me that the bits in the article about her arranging something special for her “beloved” is actually a bit of bullshit.. An even more worrying example of her propensity for chowing down into the trough of promotional freebies comes in her piece about a gas project in New Guinea where the disclaimer at the end says:Jo Chandler travelled from Port Moresby to the PNG LNG sites with assistance from Oil Search. Oh dear how can she reconcile her Warminista pretensions and accepting the largess of an oil and gas company?