Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
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Universal rules of love, compassion and peace
Re “Losing our religion” (The Age, 28/6). I would suggest the census includes the option to describe one’s “religious status” as agnostic Christian, for example. Organised religion may have ownership of various dogmas but it does not have ownership on spiritual energy. In religion, there are a set of rules that you have to follow.
This is where agnostic spirituality – making your own sets of rules that follow the guidelines of universal truth – stands in contrast with religious spirituality. The universal truth of love, kindness, compassion and peace. Agnostic spirituality is a perspective that removes the burden of searching for something that is beyond us.
Bruce Watson, Clifton Springs
What do Australians understand by the word ‘god’?
Matthew Knott and Angus Thomson write that “Australia has become strikingly more godless over the past decade”.
Firstly, who completed the census question – Australia or Australians? Moreover, what did they understand the religion question to mean? Could it have been “no religious affiliation”, given all the examples of possible religions in the question?
If so, then isn’t it too simplistic to say that “no religion” means no belief in a god? And by the way, what do Australians understand the word “god” to mean? Could it mean the person in whom we place our faith, hope and trust?
Richard Collyer, Korumburra
The different ways to believe in God’s presence
I do not think we are becoming more godless but we are certainly becoming less involved in religion and church as a way to believe in God’s presence in our lives.
However, we must not lose sight of the wonderful charitable organisations that have been set up by the church, which have come from a belief in God’s love to protect the poor and defenceless.
Fortunately, God’s presence and understanding is not restricted to religious beliefs these days and we are blessed with other cultures. We are also blessed with a deeper understanding of God through philosophy and spirituality, and therefore not restricted to rites and rules and organisations as the way to God’s love.
Julie Ottobre, Forest Hill
Identifying as religious, but do you actually practise?
The census question on religion is too black and white. There are many reasons to identify as Catholic (or something else) without really believing in it with conviction: keeping one’s parents and grandparents happy or getting your kids into Catholic schools.
The census needs to go beyond simply asking what religion one is. It needs to ask whether we actually practise. Do we go to church? Or am I lapsed? Then we will get a truer picture of the place of religion in our society.
John Tait, Airport West
The new challenge for our country’s religions
The results of the census show that in the near future, the number of people responding “no religion” will exceed the number of Christians in Australia.
There is a message here for those of us in religion, especially Christians, that we can no longer expect any special privileging of our institutions, whether schools or social institutions. Whatever services or projects we seek government support for, we need to prove their value on humanitarian grounds alongside secular agencies. Otherwise, the church will never attain a sustained, authentic place in our society.
Reverend Dr Paul Tonson (retired, Uniting Church), Templestowe Lower
The non-religious who prefer ‘passed’ to ’died’
If the census is correct, and there are fewer religious people in Australia, why am I constantly hearing that someone has “passed”? Surely this is short for “passed on to heaven (or to hell or maybe to the next life)“. When my life is in the past – ie, when I am dead and gone – if you cringe at using these four-letter words, I would rather be deceased, thanks.
Rilke Muir, Kensington
End the tax breaks
An excellent article by Heidi Nicholl – “Census shows religious tax breaks are out of date” (Comment, 29/6) – with a great way to better balance the budget on behalf of the majority of taxpayers. Nothing radical is required – just some rationalisation.
Gail Greatorex, Ormond
A huge step forward
This week, new ministers were sworn in to the Victorian government to replace the five who resigned on the weekend (The Age, 28/6). Two of the new ministers are openly gay – the first gay frontbenchers in this state.
It means that people, including MPs, who are LGBTIQ+ no longer need to hide the fact. Their visibility means that all members of the LGBTIQ+ community can see ourselves represented in the highest levels of state government.
Rather than ask, “when will we stop talking about the fact that a new minister is gay”, perhaps ask why it has taken so long for that to occur, and think about the pressures that still make it unsafe for many LGBTIQ+ people to live their lives as their authentic selves.
Bronte Price, The Equality Network, Pascoe Vale
Condemn the barbarism
How does the Russian ambassador to Australia feel about the deliberate targeting of civilians in a shopping centre in Ukraine? How does he justify it? Surely, if he has an ounce of humanity, he would condemn such a barbaric act, or is he also fearful of Vladimir Putin’s thuggery?
Edward Lithgow, Maryborough
A nightmare for travellers
Re Emily Day’s article about Southern Cross Station (Comment, 29/6). Recently I farewelled an elderly visitor who was returning to Sydney on the overnight train. On a cold, wet evening, he told me he had to wait for the late train in a dark area with limited seating and few facilities.
Overseas visitors, especially, must wonder if they have arrived in a third world country. It is not just “a cross to bear” for regional travellers, but a very depressing experience for tourists and interstate visitors.
What a shocking welcome Melbourne offers to its visitors. Surely, if we can build new art galleries and hotels, we can make our entry into Melbourne by train an enjoyable, welcoming and enlightening experience.
Paddy Wagstaff, Glen Iris
Where’s my platform?
I hope the people who control train departures at Southern Cross Station read Emily Day’s column. The elderly, the disabled and parents with children are expected to walk metres along a platform to B or C, when there is no train at A.
Then there is the announcement of a departure change: “The train is now departing from platform 16C, not platform 2A”. Is rocket science required to organise platforms, arrivals and departures? Why can’t a regional train arrive and depart from a designated platform?
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo
Revamp our main stations
Amen, Emily Day. Southern Cross Station has all the ambience of a coal mine. And what’s with the name? Cringeworthy. Add it to Flinders Street Station for a complete revamp.
Kirk Weeden, Frankston
Downside of “progress”
I read the article about how Paul Little has “transformed” Portarlington (The Age, 28/6) with a degree of anger. The opening paragraph describing our town as “cellar dwellers” was an insult.
Portarlington has always been a delightful town which has offered a delightful, low-key existence for young and old alike. We have welcomed the ferry to provide commuter and tourism options, as have we embraced the updating of our pub. However, progress never comes without some pain.
Your article referred to the boon in real estate which is fantastic for investors with deep pockets. The flip side of that scenario is that many aged pensioners who have called Portarlington home for their entire lives are now finding themselves driven out because council rates are reacting to the inflated real estate market.
Juliet Gavens, Portarlington
Let the pets board too
Further to Seamas Spark’s well-made point about facilitating the well being of Portarlington residents (Letters, 27/6): when will Paul Little allow dogs and other pets to accompany their Portarlington owners on his ferries like most other Australian, and all European, ferries do?
Henk van Leeuwen, Elwood
Our horticulture in danger
When will The Age more extensively cover the Varroa mite incursion in NSW? It has the potential to devastate horticulture here, shading the well reported lettuce crisis into insignificance .
Michael Spillane, Torquay
The best of health service
On Tuesday I received a “confirmation of recovery” email from Victoria’s Heath Department, after reporting my positive COVID-19 test a week ago.
During that time I received a daily text to report my symptoms, five reassuring phone calls from a nurse or a doctor associated with Alfred Health, and an offer to deliver antiviral medications and an oxygen meter if I needed one. This is an extraordinary service for anyone who reports a positive RAT test online or by phone.
Data collection is essential for the sake of the community. I cannot understand why sick people do not access the personal support which encourages any questions or comments, checks on their health and safety in the home, and is completely free. It is like a home medical visit every day.
Colleen Coghlan, East Prahran
We need a federal ICAC
The federal government needs to tread very carefully. The two-party system is on the nose for the exact same reason why an ICAC at federal level is so appealing to voters. We are fed up with politics and political agendas taking the front seat, and we are not stupid.
Everyone can see that there is no difference between starving your opponent of funds to make them less effective and spending up big to make yourself more appealing. They have the same political end: weaken your opponent, make yourself stronger. Bring on the federal integrity commission, please.
Marina Dobbyn, Glen Waverley
Not so independent?
The federal independents are considering blocking any future legislation in protest at cuts to their staff. Methinks it sounds like the emergence of a new party. So much for independence.
Brian Gunn, Point Lonsdale
Analysing the legislation
I wonder if those who are defending the cuts to independent MPs’ staff have ever waded through the documentation associated with the average piece of legislation.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn
Power of major parties
When Pauline Hanson entered politics, the major parties acted together to try and destroy her. Now the Labor government is making it hard for the independent MPs. It seems as though democracy belongs to the two major parties, not to the people.
Ken Courtis, Golden Square
Rules of engagement?
On the subject of China, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says “the world needed to engage with the Asian superpower”. This is an admirable sentiment but China does not do engagement. Harangue and aggression are its tools to get its own way. Often.
Helena Kilingerova, Vermont
No exceptions, Governor?
I read with interest the article about increases in compensation, with some over $US 100million, for CEOs in the United States (Business, 28/6). That would not happen here as the Reserve Bank says wages must not rise more than 3.5per cent or inflation will become out of control. It is correct that this salary cap should be applicable to all members of society and not just the lowest paid, isn’t it, Philip Lowe?
Barry Lizmore, Ocean Grove
Equal ‘penalties’ for both
If the AFL were serious about reducing the number of dangerous tackles, it would suspend the perpetrator of a tackle for the same length of time the victim has to be rested because he has concussion.
Bronwyn Hunt, Kerang
Time to put players first
We hear a great deal about the AFL’s concern for the safety of players and the integrity of the game, but it must be all talk. If the AFL were concerned about player safety, it would not have allowed the Richmond-Geelong game to continue around a semi-conscious, prostrate Dion Prestia.
Is there another sport in the world that puts players at risk in this way? And the AFL must not be concerned about the integrity of the game either as the umpires allowed play to continue with one team having an extra player. Australian rules is a great game which is becoming impossible to watch.
Henry Kalus, Southbank
The next stage for Majak
I wish Majak Daw (Sport, 28/6) good luck and best wishes for his and his family’s future. I hope that the footy and broader community see retiring footballers as something else, something more than gladiators or stories on the back page. What a beautiful thing to focus on your “most important and favourite job”, raising your son, Majak. Look to the future, it’s going to be great.
Suzanne Williams, Beaumaris
Water and population
Re the comment that “Australia has more than doubled in population in the past half-century” (The Age, 29/6).
The prospect of its population doubling again in the same time period of 50years is a ridiculous notion. It would not be due to the failure to maintain infrastructure or housing, neither of which we are coping with anyway at present.
No, it is one thing – water. Water here is finite. No amount of the clever building of water desalination plants will overcome the desperate shortages we will experience as the years roll on.
Michael McNeill, Bendigo
AND ANOTHER THING
Any B platform at Southern Cross is a marathon walk but 8S is a mystery tour, worse than trying to find platform 9¾ to Hogwarts.
Megan Stoyles, Aireys Inlet
When will our government stop pretending COVID-19 is beaten and impose more rules to keep it in check?
Doris LeRoy, Altona
The new variant: complacency. Daily stats need to be published to get on top of it.
Bill Trestrail, St Kilda
The Divided States of America. Gilead versus Democrats.
Bis Andrzejewski, Strathmore
It takes two to get a woman pregnant but it seems only one has to take responsibility for the consequences.
Claire Cooper, Maldon
America, the land of the crumpled shirt as all the coat hangers are in use.
Marcel Colman, Albert Park
If men could get pregnant, Americans would be able to get abortions at takeaways’ drive-throughs.
Fabio Scalia, St Kilda
Does anyone else see similarities between the US Supreme Court and Taliban with respect to attitudes to women’s rights?
Ian Wilson, Brighton
John Howell (29/6), many people gain great comfort from religion.
Michael Hedger, Ballarat
Re many young people ticking ″no religion″. Maybe it’s a sign of growing up.
Mick Webster, Chiltern
Well may we say God save the Queen… because Australians seem to be losing interest in both.
Mark Cherny, Caulfield North
Monique Ryan might have to book a seat on one of Albo’s flights to somewhere important to get his attention.
Murray Horne, Cressy
Penny Wong personifies the good in us all and I am so grateful for her hard work.
Molly Hanrahan, Maldon
G7 members, it’s not wise to poke a snake with a stick.
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill
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