Saturday, May 23, 2009

Frank Brennan

Who is Frank Brennan?

I have no idea.

The name sounds a little familiar.

I shall go talk to Lord Wiki.

Well, I have found myself in a situation I have not yet faced in this blog's history.

I went to Lord Wiki, and it turns out there are two Australian Frank Brennans.

One is a politician; a member of the labor party. The other is a priest and a lawyer.

I'm guessing I meant to write about the lawyer. I think the new few people on the list are involved with legal cases. I think I was on some kind of legal roll.

All right. Whatever. I might be wrong here.

But I'm going with the lawyer.

Oh crap!

I just realized there's not two Australian Frank Brennans. There's three! The one I missed is a writer. He and his wife wrote romance novels under the pseudonym Emma Darcy.

I'm still going to go with the lawyer.

Lord Wiki doesn't have that much information about him. He doesn't have much information about any of the FB's.

There's no birthday here. Maybe we'll find it later.

Frank Brennan is a Jesuit Priest.

He's a lawyer.

He's a professor at Australian Catholic University. The school has campuses in various locations. I'm not sure which campus Brennan works at. It might be Sydney because Lord Wiki says he was the founder of a social justice center in Sydney. This was called Uniya.

Brennan stopped being director in 2000 though; so he could have moved since then.

Uniya was around from 1989 to 2007. I wonder why it closed down.

The issues they centered on were a) indigenous reconciliation b) refugees and asylum seekers c) Australia's role in the Pacific and South East.

Those sound like good issues to stand behind.

The center was named after another Uniya; a mission in the Northern Territory back in the 1880's. This mission differed from other missions of the time because they wanted to preserve the language and culture of the local people. That's very refreshing.

In the 1970's, Brennan worked in Redfern with Ted Kennedy and Mum Shirl.

He's included in The National Trust of Australia's Living Treasure list. I bet that's where I got his name in the first place. I think maybe I just lifted people from that list.

From 2001-2002, Brennan worked in East Timor.

In December 2008, he became the chairperson to the Australian Government's National Human Rights Consultation Committee.

That's about it for Lord Wiki. He does have a bunch of links on Brennan though. I might follow those.

Here's the Uniya Website. They have a picture of Brennan. His smile reminds me of one of the men that Tim works with.

Brennan has written books. It seems most of them are about reconciliation. I love that word. I love it's meaning. I also love it's sound. Another word I love is redemption.

In the late 1990's he spent time at Georgetown University. When I think of that place, I think of The Exorcist. The movie takes place there. Tim worked there for awhile and would go jogging near the famous stairs. I can't remember if he said he actually climbed up the steps. I'm going to assume he did. Tim is very ambitious when it comes to fitness. A few weeks ago he participated in a hundred mile bike race.

I'm going to explore the Uniya Website in general.

It's located in King's Cross.

The word Uniya is an Aboriginal word meaning meeting place.

The website says, We believe that faith and justice go hand in hand. Our faith means to stand up for the dignity of each person. And so, Uniya is committed to act for changes to government polices and practices that affect the most marginalised people in our community.

I like hearing that. I sometimes forget that people actually do GOOD things in the name of religion.

The website has a bunch of speeches done by Brennan. I should probably read a few.

This one is about child abuse in refugee detention centers.

It's sad. Brennan talks about seeing a child with bruises on his leg from a baton hit.

The government denied any children being injured. They said only adults were injured and the injuries were all minor.

Who do we believe?

Here's a speech detailing Brennan's opinion of Australia's refugee policy.

He says Australia receives 75,000-80,000 migrants a year. Most of them are in the special skills or family reunion category. About 40,000 Australians LEAVE each year.

Brennan says there are three ways for humanitarian migrants to come to Australia. I don't really fully understand the first two. I think it's basically that they go through a legal formal process. In the third, they arrive on boat.

Brennan said there weren't many of these refugees before the Vietnam War. After the war, many boats came. The people were welcomed to Australia for the most part. There was no mandatory detention. That changed in...well, I'm confused about the date. I think it might be in the late 1980's or early 1990's.

The problem was it seemed there were people coming into Australia who weren't genuine refugees. They weren't fleeing an acute dangerous situation. Some of them were there to seek economic prosperity; or they wanted to avoid the whole long-winded immigration process.

I can see the need perhaps for short-term detention. Maybe a few weeks. Those in charge can use that time to process the refugee's information; make sure they're really a refugee. Meanwhile the refugee can perhaps do some kind of orientation.

But these detentions sometimes last for years. That's crazy.

In the early 1990's a Cambodian man spent four years in detention. Why?

Currently a lot of refugees come from Iraq and Afghanistan. They are sent to detention centers in Woomera, Port Hedland, and Curtin. I know Port Hedland is in Western Australia. I'm not sure about the other two. I shall look at Google Maps.

All right. Woomera is in South Australia. It's about six hours north of Adelaide.

Curtin is...well, there's one in the ACT. Is that where the detention center is?

Anyway, there are all these people who are in a kind of purgatory. They can't go back to their countries. Australia doesn't seem to want them. I'm sure the United States doesn't want them. No one wants them. They're stuck in detention centers. It reminds me a lot of what the Jews went through after World War II.

Here's what some Palestinians have said: We do not want to be kept in isolated detention here at Woomera indefinitely. We cannot go to any court. We are no longer being detained to assist with the processing of any claims nor to assist with our removal or deportation in the foreseeable future. We understand that we cannot be released from detention unless you issue us with some form of visa. We think it would be very unfair to be kept in prolonged detention as punishment for having come to Australia or as a deterrent to other Palestinians thinking of coming here. Afterall we have not been convicted or even charged with any criminal offence. We can see no reason for our continued detention. Please release us into the Australian community until it is possible for us to go home or to a third country.

It's really sad. I've seen Australians and Americans criticize Israel for mistreating the Palestinians. Yet when the Palestinians try to escape, how does America and Australia treat them? It's like Jews again. America and Australia criticize Germany and the Nazis. But when it came to accepting Jewish refugees a lot of them turned their backs.

I think the thing that makes me feel a little better is that it seems the people who most criticize Israel are usually also the same people who criticize the whole detention center thing.

Someone in the government (I'm confused about who) said this about detention: Nobody is forced to remain in detention. Detainees can choose to leave detention by leaving Australia. They can go wherever they wish to any country where they have, or can obtain, the right to enter, and we will do our best to facilitate that.

There's something so sad about that. It gives the idea that these people have a bunch of countries waiting out there with open arms. But is that true? I doubt it.

Interesting. Here Brennan talks about same-sex marriage. I'm very curious to see his viewpoint. I'd think his Catholicism would make him against it. But then I think his passionate defense of human rights would make him support it. Which will it be? Let me go see.....

Well, at the very least he does agree in legal partnerships between homosexuals.

I'm not sure he agrees with marriage. He says, I am firmly of the view that the Catholic Church is fully entitled to insist that sacramental marriage is available only to a man and woman who have a commitment to the bearing and nurturing of each other’s children, and if they do not have an openness to the bearing of children, then in terms of Catholic theology, it cannot be a marriage and it often will be invalidated. Now, that is clearly to be distinguished from a situation of civil law, where what you’re looking at is the basic means that are to be available within the society for people to live ordered lives together.

It seems there's a strong emphasis on having children. So if a heterosexual couple got together and didn't want children, should they not be included in marriage as well?

You know, I'm fine with whatever rules the Catholics want to enforce in terms of Catholic marriage. If they want only men marrying women; and these people marrying only if they plan to have children...fine. If they want all Catholics marrying a donkey or leaf insect, that's fine too. I think religious groups have the right to make restrictions. I just don't think religious groups should push their rules and beliefs on everyone. It's not fair.

Ah! I think Brennan and I might actually be on the same page here. He says, Now there, I don’t think the uniquely Catholic position has any entitlement to win out unless you’re in a society where the majority of persons in that society are themselves Catholic, in which case you would then have to scrutinise whether the uniquely Catholic perspective did in any way interfere with the fundamental rights and liberties of others who were not Catholic, even though they were only a minority in that society.

I swear. I read that after I wrote what I just wrote.

It's like some Jewish people follow a rule that they never mix meat with dairy products. I don't see anything wrong with that. I would see it as very wrong if they tried to make ALL of us follow the rule. What if there was a law in Australia or America that said no restaurant could serve dairy with meat? I think that would be very unfair. But on the other hand, I think it's perfectly okay for a Jewish restaurant to refuse to serve milk and meat together.

All of this is making me think of something. Brennan talks about how he thinks homosexuals should have the right to partnerships; that the Catholic Church shouldn't impose discrimination. Yet he feels that Catholic schools should have the right to hire teachers based on their religious viewpoints. He says, I think society is the better if the Catholic Church is able to say in the school context “we would prefer to choose teachers who can provide a model to our students of the model of sacramental marriage within the Catholic tradition.

I agree with that. Yet I'm very critical of the Boy Scouts in America because they do not let homosexuals join. Lord Wiki told me it's not just homosexuals they exclude, but atheists and agnostics as well. They are NOT my type of people...these Boy Scouts. I don't like what they stand for. I wouldn't want to do anything to support their organization. I wouldn't want Jack being a Boy Scout. But I should support their right to have this organization. If they want to be closed-minded, that's their business. I have my right to dislike them, and hope they stay a nice distance away from me.

I guess it just makes me sad because I know there are positive aspects of Boy Scouts. I think it's sad that they choose to be this way.

Okay. This makes me feel better. Lord Wiki says The Girl Scouts are less prejudice. They allow homosexuals, but it's a don't ask/don't tell kind of policy. They say they don't accept the promotion of any lifestyle of sexual orientation. I think that's fair, but then I have to wonder what constitutes promotion. I mean I can imagine them not allowing a woman to come in and talk about how she loves being a lesbian. But what if two fathers pick up their daughter? What if something simple like that is seen as promoting a lifestyle. Where do you draw the line between promoting a lifestyle and denying/hiding a lifestyle?

Girl Scouts also welcomes people who don't believe in God. In 1993, they voted to allow children to substitute the word God with something else when doing the Girl Scout Promise. That's awesome.

Why can't the Boy Scouts be more like the Girl Scouts?

You know, it's easy to say well homosexuals can ignore the Catholic Church. They don't have to be Catholic. They can choose another religion....one that accepts them. Children don't have to be Boy Scouts. There are other organizations out there they could join.

The problem is it's not always that easy. What if you grew up Catholic? What if you like being Catholic, but you happen to be gay? I can imagine that it's not so easy to break away. I think your feelings would be hurt. It's hard to want to be part of a group that rejects a huge part of you.

What if an atheist child has friends that are all joining the Boy Scouts? How does that child feel to be left out?

I don't know.

I really don't.

I think private groups have the right to make rules and limit their membership. But at the same time, I really wish they wouldn't. I wish they'd be open-minded. I wish they'd open their hearts. I wish they'd realize that being excluded and rejected hurts people's feelings.

Maybe there should just be revenge. Maybe Gay and Atheist people should join together and make a really awesome club for kids. It will the most fun club in the whole world. And then they'll tell people they're not allowed to join if they believe in God or are heterosexual. I think they SHOULD let me in though because I came up with the idea in the first place.

Well, I'm tired of reading speeches.

I'm tired of writing in general actually. I think I'm going to end this soon.

I want to look at Google news though; see if there's anything current on Brennan.

Here's a recent article.

Brennan is speaking out against Aboriginal jobs being cut in rural areas. Apparently a program called community development employment projects (CDEP) has been abolished. Why was this program cut? I don't know. Is it a budget thing? Was the program not working out?

Anyway. Jack's computer isn't working. He wants to use mine. And usually I say no or just give me a few more minutes (which then turns into like thirty minutes). But now I'm welcoming the excuse to conclude this.

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