I was thrilled to be invited to meet up with hundreds of amazing female leaders at the Women in Leadership Summit at the SCG and to offer a few words and hopedfully helpful insights of my own - albeit feeling a little awed by the brilliant ￼range and depth of CEOs, Ministers, and other female movers and shakers, including of course Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb. This was such a vital gathering and, I hope, encouraging to all.#womenleadersinstitute
One of the features of Fr Peter Maher’s funeral this week was (as in death so in life!) the powerful struggle within it between two forms of Catholicism - one in which I passionately share spiritually (with others of other labels); and the other still addicted to power rather than justice, law rather than grace, patriarchy rather than the dynamic mutuality (with appropriate recognition of charisms) of the priesthood of all believers...
We're delighted to be hosting the Rainbow Christians Together Faith@WorldPride event on ShroveTuesday (aka the original Mardi Gras) at Pitt Street Uniting Church - with food, great music, wonderful speakers, worship and fabulous friends
(and yes, we hope to live-stream the event too for those who can't join us onsite)
Red Dragonflies - naturally - are my choice of earrings for Fr Peter Maher's funeral today (particularly, so close to the Trans Day of Remembrance, as I remember the solidarity and hope Peter offered myself and other dragonfly people).
Red dragonflies especially can be rare to view, and very special (like brilliant loving priests) when the opportunity comes along. Yet, interestingly, they often appear to people surrounding life episodes of loss and death. For the dragonfly is a symbol of go-between people, winged priests of transformation. Death is after all the polarity of Life, and dragonflies help hold together the paradoxes of death in life and life, and eternal love, in death.
In Japan the dragonfly is considered to be very sacred and symbols of transition. Red dragonflies appear most often there at the end of summer with the message that autumn is coming. A beautiful Haiku poem reads,” That the autumn season has begun is decided by the appearance of the red dragonfly.” The Japanese embrace the dragonfly as a symbol of courage, strength and happiness while some Native Americans speak of the dragonfly as bringing a time of rejuvenation after a long period of trials and hardship. Indeed they have traditionally perceived dragonflies as the “souls of the dead” - so a dragonfly visitation around a loved one’s death could well signify the loved one’s soul taking form in the spirit of dragonfly. It offers the assurance their soul is free.
Fly wonderfully Peter in perfect light - just as you helped we others find their wings and reflect that light
It was good to attend the first day of the APSA Workshop on Religion and Politics After Marriage Equality at Macquarie University this week - although I was unable due to illnes to be at the second day - with many thanks to Dr Eleneie Poulos and Kate Gleeson for putting together such a brilliant program, and to all the other speakers for sharing their insights. Much to think about on this topic with a new federal government.
My own paper - 'On climbing out from under the bus: queer faith futures in a cisgender world' can be read here
With great sadness today but with immense thanks for the friendship, strength and encouragement Peter gave to so many of us - and to a fellow priest who taught me what it was to live, as a priest, so humbly, honestly and hopefully, in the one holy catholic and apostolic community which transcends us all and calls us into the love, justice and joy of heaven. Deo Gratias.
I don’t often think of Oxford - though I spent a total of eight happy years (out of my first thirty), on and off, in and around it - but, when I do, it is often triggered by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Maybe it is because I find in Hopkins a fellow soul - both in the way faith was for him both life-giving and a confinement, and also in his longing and creative expressions of another, and transcendent, world, drawing on wisdom from the past and the ‘book of nature’ of present and in-breaking creativity. Oxford at its best can be like that - not for nothing did Matthew Arnold famously name it ‘that sweet city with its dreaming spires’ that needs not summer ‘for beauty’s heightening’...
Wonderful to have Rachel Collis back with us today at Pitt Street Uniting Church, singing songs from her new album Mayfly and sharing spiritual insights together from our faith journeys.
It was an immense delight, and honour, to meet and share tea, conversation, stories and inspiration with the wonderful Peter de Waal - such a gorgeous person and one of our great LGBTIQ+ elders.
Peter and his equally terrific partner Bon enabled so much over the years, not least the vital public breakthrough with the ABC Chequerboard program in 1972 - including the famous first ‘gay kiss’ on Australian TV. Bon’s subsequent sacking as a church secretary was also but one part of the religious and other repression that then issued, but his and Peter’s willingness to stand up and speak out in those dark days has helped bear such fruit and should continue to empower us today. Watching the original Chequerboard program with Peter was deeply moving, particularly in hearing Bon speak so powerfully (as a then would-be Anglican priest, cruelly treated by his Church - not only in Sydney - which still has to grow up into humanity) reflecting life-giving faith as well as life and identity, and in hearing much more from Peter of accompanying stories, complexity and background. Without heroes like Peter and Bon, some of us would not be here today and certainly where and how we now are. Huge thanks therefore continue to be right and proper (as they say in some liturgies) and I certainly hope we may all meet again.
With many thanks again to '78er and fellow Pitt Streeter Meredith Knight for her friendship, inspiration and liaison in bringing us together.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.