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February 11, 2009

A Lament for a Sunburnt Country

Sunburnt country

I love a sunburnt country, 
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains;
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror--
The wide brown land for me!

--“My Country,” Dorothea Mackellar

Above my mantle hangs a replica of a South Australian pastoral scene. Like cows, kangaroos graze beneath arching white trees. Muted green, the land rests peacefully in its arid beauty, beckoning me home.

I am an Australian, though I don't fully understand what that means. Born 26 years ago in a New South Wales hospital to two American parents, I have dual citizenship in a country I don’t really know, except for seven years of childish impressions. I know a bit of its temperate climate, its brogue-ish tongue, and its endearing people, but I have not lived with it through sorrow.

But when I read the headline “Australia fires toll passes 100,” something within me lurched forward in mournful identity with my second country—with the man who had to plow over burning gum trees as he watched two people incinerate in a car behind him … with another man who stifled his tears as he surveyed the rubble that stood in the place of his farm … with a woman who wailed as she recounted how her house of 25 years crumbled to the ground under its fiery weight.

I have often nourished my memory with the Southern Hemisphere’s sweet heart, its wide-swept plains, aspiring arches, crystalline beaches, and koala-perched eucalyptus trees. I had forgotten that even here evil minds plot their ways, and the land wails for her tarnished beauty.

May she find respite for her scorched lands and justice to preserve her dignity.

(Image © AP)

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Jason Joyner

I spent 9 months in Canberra in 1995 going to a YWAM Bible school. My heart is also saddened for the country and the people. I still have friends there, and I will be praying along with you.


And of course a pastor down there from "Catch the Fire Ministries" blames Victoria's abortion laws for the tragedy. As one who spent seven years growing up in Sydney, I think I know Aussies well enough to know what the reaction will be to that bit of looniness. The dude better hole up for a while... Here's the link to the story:


Diane Singer

Have you seen this amazing video of a firefighter giving water to a koala bear?

I just read another article where residents are blaming the government's "green" policy that wouldn't allow them to cut down trees or mow grass around their property. We've seen similar problems with wildfires in this country.


It is very sad. Australia is the dryest continent, and has a tendency to wide-spread wildfires. These probably wiped out the marsupial megafauna - started by the locals for the purposes of hunting, it is theorized.

In September, Muslims called for setting forest fires as a form of the jihad, and these fires are being attributed to arson. Their severity is being attributed to the green laws which apparently prohibit proper managment of 'the bush'. Such is the situation in northern Minnesota; in the 1990s, a tremendous windstorm blew down a huge swath of forest. Al Gore forbade that the downed trees be harvested. Canada responded by cutting a large firebreak on its side of the border. Later there was a severe fire and a number of homes were lost. The BWCA is not the same. Worldview matters.

God does still judge the nations, and we would do well to remember that. No nation that tolerates things for which God destroyed cities in the past should expect that God would shelve His holy character in their case. I do hope that this will bring Australia to repentance and belief - I hope that for *everyone*. I would recommend _Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History_ and _Death in the City_ by Francis Schaeffer to understand what it is I mean by that.


Ah, Andy, this explains a lot; thanks for the insight. Seven years in Oz accounts for much of your way of relating to others at The Point, goodonyer. :-) Of course, the same seven years make a paradox of Zoe's sweetness and brokenheartedness for people around the world, but God's got no lack of miracles.

As to looniness, well, the portion of the Old Testament known to Jews as "The Prophets" (versus "The Law" and "The Writings") is full of God's warnings to Israel/Judah about national failings equivalent to the present-day abortion tragedy, and is full of just such ties to national problems. Prophecy in this sense is not telling the future, but commenting on current events. Many Point bloggers are gifted by the Holy Spirit in just this way.

I agree with you (!) :-) that this may well be overreaching on the pastor's part, since abortion is only one issue and God could bring this kind of tragedy as a warning for/consequence of many issues. Plus, there are definite requirements for being an authentic prophet, and many in the Christian community believe that such prophecy is not currently occurring - being rendered unnecessary by the completion of the New Testament canon.

That said, saying in effect "We deserved this" is indeed tremendously insensitive, so the dude would indeed be wise to make like a wombat and hole up defensively. Or perhaps he should convert to Islam, whereupon everyone would tolerate just such statements.

Thing is, we *all* deserve that. That is why Jesus died on the Cross for us. Pretty basic Christianity - not Islam.

I grieve everything I read about the fires, and I do try to keep up on them. That is my emotion regarding them. At the same time we need to remember that "God is just, and His justice will not sleep forever" - Thomas Jefferson. We do well to examine our consciences and repent of our sins. I myself probably wouldn't preach the way Andy reports that pastor as preaching. But I would call everyone to repentance, to remember what we have all earned and deserve, and to seek God's mercy and forgiveness - and let God apply to the consciences of individuals.


Re the pastor linking the Australian large scale fires directly to their "decriminalizing abortion" - It might be time for some to maybe deliniate suggested "Manners for Ministering" or the "Amy Vanderbilt Guide to Venting about God's Vengeance".

----On the whole "green" thing i.e. the excessive environmentalism where persons don't want human hands to even do sound and needed "gardening and farming work" on forests, brush, etc.
... Portions of the acres burnt in Arizona (a few years back) can be added to the "green becomes the new burnt charcoal..."

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