Anglican minister calls for an army of god to go to war against the Shaolin Monks

The New South Wales planning minister, Frank Sartor, has given the go ahead for a proposal to build a Shaolin Temple complex on a former dairy farm near Nowra on the NSW South Coast.

Under the plan a 1,248 hectare property will be developed into a massive Shaolin complex containing three pagoda temples, places for 500 Kung Fu students, 1,500 seat indoor auditorium, 1,000 seat outdoor amphitheatre, 20 hectare herbal garden, acupuncture and herbal medicine centre, a 500 room four star hotel, 27 hole golf course and a village of up to 500 homes. It’s Kung Fu Disneyland, right here in New South Wales.

Shoalhaven Mayor Greg Watson said the development would create thousands of jobs and generate $171 million a year for the area. Mr Watson also said, after talking to the incumbent Abbot of Shaolin in China, Shi Yongxin, that the Abbot was keen to build here “because he liked the Mayor”. Big yourself up, Mr Watson.

Shaolin Abbot Shi Yongxin

Anyone that knows anything about Shaolin these days knows that the venerable and rich tradition of the ancient Buddhist system has become big business in China, sadly to the detriment of the essence of all the things that Shaolin should stand for. It’s really no wonder that the Shaolin Corporate Brand is doing all it can to spread.

In some ways it’s not entirely bad. As a Kung Fu instructor myself, I’m always pleased to see the development of any Kung Fu art through the world. But I can’t help being sceptical of the whole Nowra plan. A system like Shaolin that teaches Ch’an Buddhism and personal development through martial arts and Qi Gong being developed with a four star hotel and 27 hole golf course? Hardly the environment for aesthetes. You can’t help but marvel at the business acumen of monks that negotiated a deal to buy 1,248 hectares of some of the most beautiful land in Australia for $5 million.

But the best twist of all, and the source of my blatantly sensationalist headline, comes with the words of Anglican minister Trevor Aspin. The Sun Herald reports that Aspin claimed the Shaolin monks would “bring evil into the Shoalhaven”. He apparently sent a memo to local ministers saying that God had directed him to call the “Army of God and go to war” to stop the Shaolin Temple development. Them’s fightin’ words! His claim caused outrage and was not supported by other church leaders. They’re probably too scared to go to war against the world’s most famous fighting Monks. They would get their Anglican butts kicked, but wouldn’t that have been the ratings winner of the year if Shaolin Abbot Shi Yongxin had negotiated for the fight to be televised.

New pages on

I’ve been upgrading the website recently. Obviously, the main page of the site is this blog, but I regularly and shamelessly promote my other writing endeavours here. If you look at the top of the page, under the banner, there are three image buttons. The first one will take you to the new look RealmShift page where you can learn all about the novel. The second button, Dark Shorts, will take you to a new page where I’ve posted a few of my short stories in pdf format. I plan to post more stories now and then, and I’ll be sure to let you know when I do. The third button leads to the website for my other passion.

Have a look and feel free to leave any feedback in the comments here or email me at the address you can find in the sidebar. I’m always keen to hear from readers.

Few words with a large impact

The Pascall Prize for criticism was awarded this week to a man that has penned very few words until recently. Brisbane band the Go-Betweens was formed by Robert Forster many years ago and has since become recognised as one of Brisbane’s finest bands. Just last year Robert was approached by new magazine The Monthly to be their music critic. His writing credentials up until then had been one column on hair care that he wrote in the late 1980’s. Hardly the resume of a powerful force in critical writing.

Robert Forster
(Picture from

However, it turned out that Forster is a great critic and can turn a great phrase. He writes in pencil on unlined paper before committing the piece to his computer because “pencil doesn’t have permanence. When I write in ink it all looks a bit too important already.”

So take heart, any would-be writers out there. You can start from nowhere and achieve great things.

Forster had hardly written previously, but is now recognised as a leading writer. Someone who wrote very infrequently, yet had incredible impact was Henry VIII’s wife Catherine of Aragon. She wrote a three page letter in her own hand to her nephew Charles V. The letter can certainly be said to have had a part in changing English history. The letter was a plea to Charles for help in upholding her failing marriage to Henry. She wanted Charles to use his influence over the Pope to get some help and he did just that. Henry’s anger at this interference, his subsequent ignoring of the Pope’s edict and his marriage to Anne Boleyn led to the break with the Catholic Church. It’s a very important letter, moreso because it is written in Catherine’s own hand.

Why is it relevant now? The letter will appear at Sotheby’s in New York for auction and is expected to sell for between US$100,000 and US$150,000. Valuable words indeed.

Women are meat weapons used by Satan

People often accuse me of victimising the church and picking on religion. As I’ve said before, it’s really not my fault. Generally speaking, religions make themselves a target for those of us fighting against the improper use of language. Politicians do it as an artform, marketers do it to separate a fool from his dollar, but sometimes it’s the religions of the world that really make an impact with their words.

And it’s not just the Catholic church or Christians in general that I single out. Generally speaking, pretty much any organised religion is as bad as the next. This week’s Moron Of The Moment is Australia’s leading Muslim mufti, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali.


Sheik Hilali gave a speech during Ramadan in which he said, “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

“The uncovered meat is the problem.”

Was he talking about the problem of feral cats among Sydney’s Muslim community? No. He was referring to women that are scantily clad and not wearing a hajib, the traditional Muslim headscarf, and the men that can not help themselves from raping those women.

He also suggested that, “If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.”

Of course, if some scumbag rapist had the ability to control sexual urges that were as primal as a starving animal’s need to eat, then the room, the house and the hijab would all be unnecessary. But al-Hilali seems to think that the onus is on women as men have no ability to control themselves. And this is supposedly Australia’s leading Muslim cleric talking.

al-Hilali also said that women were “weapons” used by “Satan” to control men.

“It is said in the state of zina (adultery), the responsibility falls 90 per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement (igraa).”

Of course, I’m sure that the very large majority of Muslims are as appalled as everyone else by his comments. The trouble is, when someone is considered to be the spokesman for any group, be it a president talking about his country, a cleric talking for his religion or an individual talking on behalf of his friends, those words are considered the view of the group as a whole. Words are very powerful things.

The most amusing part of the whole thing is the Sheik’s attempt at an apology following the widespread outrage at his comments. He said, “I unreservedly apologise to any woman who is offended by my comments. I had only intended to protect women’s honour.”

Pretty strange way of going about it.

More church words and other strange signage

You’ll all know by now how entertained I am by the signs that churches put up to attract new members or to try to spread their chosen message. A reader of The Word, Andrew Clark, has sent in a good one from St Michael’s Anglican Church in Surry Hills, a local suburb of Sydney City. This sign wins this week’s prize for greatly advancing the scope of asinine rhetoric:

The sign reads:

What could our environmental foot-print look like if we lived like Jesus?

Well, firstly, there would be no use of petrochemicals to make plastics that could subsequently be used to make dumb signs. Perhaps if members of the church really did live like Jesus allegedly lived there would have been a lot less death and bloodshed in their name over the centuries.

This sign prompted me to check out the Central Baptist Church in the city of Sydney again, which has provided some corkers in the past. And yes, they’ve done it again. This time they’ve even encroached on copyright.

24hr wireless connection

For those readers that are not from ‘round these parts, the ‘T’ in Christ is a rip-off of the logo for Telstra, the main telecommunications company here in Australia.

The Telstra logo (copyright Telstra!)

This particular sign is entertaining on many levels. Firstly, the church comparing itself to Telstra is like a nanny using Hermann Goebels as a referee in a job interview. I don’t think there’s a single member of the public living in this country that doesn’t have some gripe or another with the company. Secondly, they’re suggesting that there’s some kind of connection available twenty four hours a day. Surely there should be some kind of response if that’s the case? After all, if I had a wireless connection set up I’d expect to receive emails or gain direct and clear answers to my enquiries. Oh, wait a minute; I think we’ve stumbled on the reason for the comparison to Telstra. All promises with nothing delivered.

Now before I get a bunch of zealots emailing and leaving comments about how I’m going to hell because I keep bagging out religion, let me offer some other examples of word abuse in signage. Honestly, I don’t deliberately pick on religion, but it’s just so easy.

Here’s something else. A gourmet burger joint in Bondi Junction has a menu listing all the variations they have to offer and it all seems quite reasonable at first glance. However, I spotted a line at the bottom of the menu, on the back page, that had me laughing out loud.

That last line at the bottom in curly red font reads:

“Please do not throw me I’ll feed good food”

It would appear that Burgerlicious can’t afford copy editors. Or perhaps they meant it to read that way?

And finally, a sign in an Irish pub in the city had me chuckling. This poster appeared at one end of the bar:

“Beer of the month: Bulmers Cider”

Fantastic. Apparently no beer available at this pub is good enough to make beer of the month, so a cider gets the honour. This had me wondering – is this a promotion for cider or an insult to beer?