Australia Day “Dumb Things” Prayer of Confession, Epiphany 4A

Marcus Curnow, Sunday 29th January 2017

Putting liturgy together for me is a profoundly spiritual creative process of deeply searching the bible, my own life and soul as well as my as well as my social media newsfeed.

Searching Myself…. I may have sworn at an umpire on a cricket field yesterday… we were both to blame…‘Sorry I am just an argumentative bastard’ he said to me… and I was ashamed because he found it in himself to say sorry before me an ordained minister of religion… its an example of personal sin and hypocrisy…

Searching the Bible :  for this weeks lectionary Micah 6:8 was a cutting edge prophetic polemic back in its day against the primal cultural meme that the God require human sacrifice.  “What does God require, Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with our God”… its a favourite text with the lefty Christian set.

It reminded me of this image that I had seen this week  of a church that had the posters of a version of this text on the wall but the summer heat had caused the first one to fall upon the floor.  Love Kindness and Walking Humbly seem like pretty easy ideas but so often the ‘Doing justice’ can be hard.  What it is and who determines such, can be such a contested and confronting issue.  It’s often the one to hit the floor…

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Searching my Newsfeed:   This theme of justice led me to Donald Trump’s inauguration and first week in office.  Such is the white noise his name will not be mentioned again this confession. (Perhaps confessions later on).  The other issue of justice closer to home in my newsfeed was Australia Day and the whole #changethedate debate.

Back in November Aussie rock legend Paul Kelly joined hip hop group A.B. Original for triple j’s “Like A Version”, giving the world a fresh take on his ’80s hit Dumb Things and marking the release of A.B. Originals very relevant album, “Reclaim Australia.”

At once ‘Dumb things’ is a song about personal sins, failings and addictions… something Kelly as a rock star is well qualified to sing about.  However in his music Kelly has also been an important cultural voice for social sins.

Between the familiar chorus of one of Australia’s most iconic songs, Aboriginal rappers Briggs and Trials raised some seriously contentious public justice issue ‘sins ‘facing our country right now including complacency towards racism, death in custody, Australia’s refugee policy and blackface.

“Reclaim Australia” is the name of the album.  Which sounds a lot like conservative Christian Evangelical language, or colonialism, or some far right nationalist groups.  Prior to covering Dumb Things the group, along with Dan Sultan performed their single January 26 which directly addresses the problem with celebrating Australia Day on this date.

So what’s your confession, on the week of Australia Day. Maybe its more private or maybe more public but perhaps this mix of images and ideas encourages us to find the connections between both.

We will say the prayer and have a time of silent reflection in which we will hear read the words of the rap and sing the refrain of the song ‘Dumb Things’ together…

Almighty God, We confess that we have sinned against you in thought and word and deed and in what we have left undone.  

We’ve lived in a dream, we’ve lost our shirt, we’ve pawned our rings, we’ve done all the dumb things.

Have mercy on us  (silence with voiceover and sung chorus refrain)

Dumb Things

Welcome strangers to the show

I’m the one who should be lying low

Saw the knives out, turned my back

Heard the train coming, stayed right on that track

[Hook: Paul Kelly]

In the middle, in the middle

In the middle of a dream

I lost my shirt, I pawned my rings

I’ve done all the dumb things

[Verse 2: Trails]

Yeah, them dumb things
This goin’ out to all my brothers down there in Don Dale
Dealin’ with that disaster that them guards are there and not jail
Thinking we gettin’ our welfare, huh? Thinking we gettin’ our healthcare, huh?
Think about if it was your son, now think about sending some help there, yeah

What’s dumber than that mate? What’s dumber than dressing up blackface?

What’s dumber than doing it knowing it hurts and don’t even work to make that change

Let’s go

[Hook: Paul Kelly]

In the middle, in the middle

In the middle of a dream

I lost my shirt, I pawned my rings

I’ve done all the dumb things

[Verse 3: Briggs]

We got

We got islands for the ones who seekin’ asylum

We got silence for the ones who died in confinement

If you’re complacent to the words of a racist

Don’t you dare complain when that’s what leading your nation

Send in the clowns, they’re blackfacing

They’re locking up couples, they’re locking up brothers, but they ain’t leavin’ the station

The date’s changin’

[Hook: Paul Kelly]

In the middle, in the middle

In the middle of a dream

I lost my shirt, I pawned my rings

I’ve done all the dumb things

[Verse 4: Trails]

Yeah, them dumb things

Lumped in, looking for peace, but won’t find it

They holdin’ us back from closing the gap by keeping them close minded

See, no surprises there, hearing both of them sirens blare

Them coppers where I’m from are kind of fair, if you kinda fair

[Verse 5: Briggs]

What’s a royal commission to the ones who live on a mission

To the ones who’s killed by the system by the ones that’s meant to assist ’em

At the hands of policemen, who’s gonna police them?

They killin’ us Koori’s, they got it on footage, they need to release them

[Hook: Paul Kelly]

In the middle, in the middle

In the middle of a dream

I lost my shirt, I pawned my rings

I’ve done all the dumb things

 

 

[Hook: Paul Kelly]

In the middle, in the middle

In the middle of a dream

I lost my shirt, I pawned my rings

I’ve done all the dumb things

[Outro: Paul Kelly]

Yeah, I melted wax to fix my wings

Threw my hat into the ring

I thought that I just had to sing

I’ve done all the dumb things

(we say together) Lord have mercy, 

Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy

 

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