Inner Circle


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

While our city painfully mourns the loss of Curtis Cheng and wonders how a 15-year-old boy could take the life of a stranger, we find bewilderment and fear levels have lifted in our cultural atmosphere. Also bewildering is the number of people who suddenly appear as experts in terrorism and chat away on radio or TV as if we all accept some common understanding of the phenomenon. Surely this is not so. “Terrorism” has to be one of the clumsiest words in the English language. “Terror” describes a feeling. It gives no information about the cause of the feeling. It’s little wonder that every combatant in every struggle, calls the other side, “terrorists”. The clumsy nature of this language means that everyone is using the word correctly.

We pay a price for using clumsy language, not least is that we fail to recognise the grounds on which some resort to violence. We’re left thinking that there is a peculiar set of people who enjoy inflicting suffering on others for no reason. Thus we have no ground on which to criticise the actions of our own government nor recognise overreach on our part.

The turmoil of adolescence is a healthy process whereby the young look for a reference point, outside of their immediate families and outside of themselves, that might approximate “truth” or a point to push against and to test their strength and thinking. They naturally ask big questions and they test identities in a process of finding how they might best fit into this society. It worries me that we might be spending massive resources supervising prayer meetings or spying to find radical attitudes. We’d do better if we were determined to listen. Young people need to be heard. The big question is whether we are prepared to listen or whether we’re too busy being right.

I would like to think that the notion of being Australian could bind together people of vastly different backgrounds, giving us space and security to listen and appreciate all the shades of light and dark that make our culture. I’d like to think adolescent kids could have room to be Muslim one month and Buddhist the next. I’d like to think they could be Presbyterian one month and Catholic the next; Hells Angel one month and involved in bible study the next. Young people need to try identities just like we try coats until we find one that fits comfortably. This normal process ought to be encouraged rather than repressed. I had hair once that I could nearly sit on. My father thought this was a disgrace to masculinity. My youngest brother grew up when pop stars were angry skin heads. I heard my father begging my brother to grow his hair. It was sharp and difficult conflict but our family love allowed for such conflict without anyone being kicked out of home. This country is seriously in need of such love and such conflict. Did I mention we need to construct a loving country? As a young bloke my long hair was a sign that I knew everything and I used my freedom to assert my superiority over my peers and especially my parents. Thank God for the patience of the people that allowed me to be a tinpot genius. Thank God for those who listened to me and saw better in me.

Let’s resile from clumsy language. Let’s create a “Listen to a Muslim” month. Let’s listen in such a way that we actually feel the pain of our fellow Australians, seeing the best in one another and truly discovering how a country could be “lucky”.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


22 October: Finding yourself in a magical team

15 October: A silly question

8 October: Surprised by the joy

1 October: Being dead right

24 September: A day by the Wayside

17 September: It's a gold rush

10 September: The psychology of onions

3 September: Life comes from without

27 August: Surprised by the beautiful

20 August: Light shining through the cracks

13 August: A matter of balance

6 August: Recognising a gift

30 July: Your weakly note

23 July: 'A thing' from the Wayside

16 July: The future is calling

9 July: In love with some Dame

2 July: Better days ahead

25 June: Something funny, something beautiful

18 June: Seeing what's there

11 June: Amazing mates

4 June: There's a time and a place

28 May: The weight and the joy of being a neighbour

21 May: You're invited

14 May: Laughing, lying and loving

7 May: The awesome in the ordinary

30 April: Wayside light

23 April: Priceless gifts, freely given

16 April: Good news from the Wayside is great news

9 April: Awesome

2 April: Easter by the Wayside

26 March: Thankful for little things

19 March: A few minutes in the cross

12 March: Seeing what isn't there

5 March : A tour like no other

26 February: Tough love

19 February: Puffing or building

12 February: The two shall become two

5 February: Chest pains

29 January: Shear joy

22 January 2015: Fully alive

15 January 2015: Blessed interruptions

8 January 2015: A glimpse of glory


18 December 2014: Christmas hat in hand

11 December 2014: A little season of goodwill

4 December 2014: There was nothing silent about that night

27 November 2014: It's not about feeling better

20 November 2014: Gathering Moss

13 November 2014: Love the land, love the people

6 November 2014: The power of presence

30 October 2014: Paralysed by presence

23 October 2014: The joy of sight

16 October 2014: The best medicine

9 October 2014: Who would have guessed?

2 October 2014: There's no such thing as a terrorist

21 August: Saving souls

14 August: Squeaking out

7 August: A time for turning

31 July: You're okay

24 July: Happy tears

17 July: Let's aim higher

10 July: Gristle and good

3 July: The joy of not knowing

26 June: If not now, when? If not me, who?

12 June: Longing for riches

5 June: When you least expect it

22 May: Finding home

15 May: Flying

8 May: Tests, triumps and tissues

1 May: Skuse the French

24 April: Lifting the curtain

17 April: Collective love

10 April: Cardiac arrest

3 April: Awe struck

27 March: You're invited to something special

20 March: Rather a prohet than a loss

13 March: It's all happening at the wayside

6 March: Love makes all the difference

27 February: What goes around

20 February: The joy of being empty handed

13 February: Loving the growth spurts

6 February: Mighty glad to be back by the wayside

23 January: Some criminals have class

16 January: Wonderful surprises

9 January: Ready, set


19 December: Thanks for an awesome year

12 December: Mission and wishin'

5 December: The ups and downs and all is well

28 November: Kissed by the community

21 November: Our cup runneth over

14 November: A revelation from wayside

7 November: When excrement happens

31 October: I am therefore I think

24 October: We are surrounded by heroes

17 October: When you least suspect

26 September: A wayside wobbly

19 September: Knowing a gift

12 September: Advancing at the retreat

5 September: A little dose of good

29 August: Fighting with a feather

22 August: The boom is just beginning

15 August: True riches

8 August: Small is beautiful

1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views

25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside

18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage

27 June: Holy ground

20 June: You cannot take what can only be given



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