Don’t just be grateful. Express it!

A Biblical story found in Luke 17:11-19 tells of ten men with leprosy, whom Jesus encountered on his way to Jerusalem from the District of Galilee where he had spent most of his life and ministry.

Jesus was entering an unnamed village on the border with Samaria, when the ten called out from a distance, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us” (NIV v 13). Aware no doubt of His concern for the sick, and reputation as a healer, they were probably motivated more by self-pity than a desire to learn of his novel teachings.

Jesus did nothing, but told them to “Go, show yourselves to the priests” (NIV v 14). It would have been the priests who diagnosed their disease, and required their isolation under Levitical law, to prevent spread to others. Likewise, it was necessary for their improvement to be verified by the priests before they could be considered well enough to return to society. Luke states that as they obeyed His directive, they were ‘cleansed’.

All were healed but only one of them, then thought to go back to Jesus, declare his profound gratitude and praise God. Significantly, he was a Samaritan, an outsider, and one to be looked down upon!

The Samaritans were a mixed-race people, descendants from Israelites in the district between Judea in the south, and Galilee in the north, who had inter-bred with Assyrian invaders after the era of Solomon. Ten of the tribes of Israel had broken away and elected their own leaders who ruled them from the city of Samaria. The Samaritans were seen as having departed from the God of the Israelites and His worship at the magnificent temple Solomon built in Jerusalem. They no longer belonged to the true faith.

But Jesus, by asking where were the other nine who had been healed, was promoting a different kind of religious orthodoxy. No doubt the other nine were also appreciative of being rid of their malady, but they took this miraculous blessing for granted, and in doing so overlooked God’s ability to, in addition, impart a whole new way of life. Jesus commended the sole leper who returned to express heart-felt gratitude, by saying: “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” – NIV v. 19

In this regard, it is relevant what Mark 3:31-35 records Jesus as saying when interrupted while teaching. He had been told that members of his own family were outside, looking for Him.

Jesus took this opportunity to make an important point, by declaring His priority. Of greater importance to Him than seeing His family then, was His wish to continue what He was telling His listeners while He had their undivided attention. Turning to them, He said in v. 34 and 35 (NIV), “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does God’s will is My brother and sister and mother”.

Jesus is in essence saying: those to whom I am most closely attached, are not those of any particular church or creed, but those who are willing to listen to God and heed His teachings.

Popstar, my nom de plume, has an affinity for this story after performing numerous reconstructive operations on patients with leprosy over a period of five years, firstly in India, subsequently in Papua-New Guinea, and for a few months in the West African nation of Sierra Leone.

He would like to point out that descriptions of the leprosy of Biblical times found in Leviticus 13 and 14 suggest that it was a generic name for a group of infectious diseases affecting the skin, and not identical with what the medical profession prefers to call Hansen’s Disease today. There could have been outbreaks of several contagious medical conditions threatening the health and well-being of the thousands of itinerant Israelites in their trek to the promised land.

They had no effective means of treatment. They could only control its spread by isolating sufferers from others until the priests deemed that the risk had passed. Hansen’s Disease as we know it today, whilst not highly contagious, is a chronic infection spread from person to person. It is caused by an organism similar to that which causes Tuberculosis.

Hansen’s Disease patients, unlike many of the patients with biblical leprosy, do not recover in a limited time frame. Unfortunately, the isolation imposed on patients with biblical leprosy created a lasting stigma for patients with Hansen’s Disease today. They have been segregated in leprosy colonies for treatment indefinitely, away from family and friends, and their normal environment.

Today, after several decades of effective multi-drug therapy, their lot is much improved. It is no longer the threat it was, but new pestilences causing disastrous epidemics and pandemics, have arisen.

Are we as appreciative as we should be for the miracles of life, and the remedies available to us through advances in medical science?

An Easter reminder!

This weekend millions are remembering Jesus Christ’s humiliating and cruel crucifixion death at 33; and most Christians believe, His resurrection just three days later.

In the previous three years he had  taught and demonstrated a way of life based not on self-interest and retaliation  for wrongs, but on love and respect for, and forgiveness of others, even our opponents.

It has been said, His philosophy as illustrated by His patient endurance of adversity in the face of death, has not been “tried and found wanting”, but “found difficult and not tried”.

Human nature is determinedly egocentric. We tend to be also driven by tribal instincts based on our race, class and religion rather than by our consciences.  The slogan is an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Unfortunately, a chain of pay-backs may ensue, resulting in an avalanche of human suffering.

Our systems of law and order are ideally based on appropriate and proportional punishment for wrong-doing, but justice is only served when fault is impartially assessed, and fairly administered. Sadly this is not always the case. Verdicts may reflect the biased perceptions of ruling majorities, and their vested interests. Worse still is judgment by kangaroo court. or personal revenge summarily executed.

The global slaughter of the two 20th century wars has now given place in the unfolding 21st century by isolated acts of random terrorism. It is a war waged by those who are willing to sacrifice their own lives for revenge against those they think, or have been brain-washed to think, are their oppressors and untouchable by conventional means.

I would hope that the Easter message of love and mercy might be remembered by us all in these times of tension and hatred.







The Anzac Meme

James Kay Horsfield

He was the grand-father I never knew. He died fighting in the Battle of the Somme in France, aged 40, on my mother’s 9th birthday, 12th October 1917.

Like the 1915 invasion of the Gallip0li peninsula in Turkey by the Anzacs, it was militarily unsuccessful, and resulted in the tragic loss of 1.5 million Allied force lives.

James KayThis photograph of my grandfather, shows that as a young man I had a strong physical resemblance to him. Despite not ever having known him, I identify with him and grieve his passing and the hardship it brought to his young widow as she struggled to support three young children on her own.

He married my maternal grandmother I understand as a result of a shipboard romance when they both migrated at the turn of the century to Auckland, New Zealand. He subsequently found work as a book-keeper/accountant for a mining company in the very north of the South Island, some distance from Nelson, but proved to be a poor provider for his young family due to a drinking habit.

Sadly it also led him into minor larceny on a couple of occasions. The first time he was cautioned but after a second offence, he received a short custodial sentence.

At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted with the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment. Before leaving London for action in France his war record documents that he disobeyed military protocol, going awol to visit his family at Evesham in South England not having seen them for many years. It was the last time he saw them.

The Anzac Meme

No two Australians/ New Zealanders will observe Anzac Day for the same reason. Time dims the memory of those war events more than a century ago. For some of us the memory of someone who did fight will make the day a significant one.

For us all however, it is an occasion to honour the many who put their lives at risk in the Armed Services.

My grand-father may not have been a perfect New Zealand citizen, or a particularly good husband and father, but I have no doubt that he loved both his family and his country, and was prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice in dying for them. He deserves my utmost respect and honour for this. I just hope that I would do what he did in such circumstances.

In my opinion this is the Anzac meme which I trust we will never forget. To fight against the odds in even in the most impossible circumstances, putting our own lives at risk.

Self-investing in Australian Property

Now that Pop-Star is in the seriously old age group, and has his home on the market to fund a move to a retirement village, he has had cause to think more deeply about Australia’s property market.

He has recently found blogging on topics of financial and community interest to be an all-absorbing interest but one that risks him becoming more of a bore than he was.

He feels for many Australians who have lost large and some massive amounts of money they had set aside for their retirement. To their consternation they usually have no redress, and receive little or no help from regulatory authorities.

Some lose money when the stock-market crashes, but larger losses often result from investing in adviser recommended, highly geared property development failures. He has long wondered why more Australians don’t invest directly in property themselves, and avoid the high charges of developers and the associated risks. No doubt it is because they lack  knowledge of the property market, and may not receive good advice about how to go about it.

Pop-Star vividly remembers a simple commonsense piece of advice from one of his surgical mentors. It is advice of which many are ignorant or chose not to heed.  “When you have a problem, get the best advice and management you possibly can. If still in doubt, get a second opinion. Back your own judgment only when it is well-based”.

Family reunions, and renewed contacts with friends, is one of the joys of Christmas. It is also amazing what you can learn from your children, and grandchildren too – when they are around. From his daughter-in-law Pop-Star has learned that there are financial organizations specializing in providing the best advice for those able and willing to invest for themselves in the property market. She works for one such company based in Melbourne. It is known as Empower Wealth,  and was founded by Ben Kingsley.  The link below is to an article he has written on  Excellent advice. Do read it.

Buying property can be one of the best ways to invest your money and build wealth. Yet new investors often feel overwhelmed at the thought of taking the plunge into property.


Pop-Star has no personal involvement with Empower Wealth, and has no ability in property investment.

When will welfare bureaucracy learn to listen to the Grandmas??

This is a news report that has deeply shocked South Australians. She was a gorgeous four year old, living in absolute squalor, neglected by her drug addicted mother, often locked in her room to scream her heart out, and forced to repeatedly ride a motor-cycle she could not control until she crashed, for the amusement of others.

The most outrageous aspect of her death three years ago from head injuries is that it was entirely preventable, if only the government agency responsible for her welfare, Families SA, had taken notice of requests for intervention on more than 20 occasions by her concerned grandmother.

Unfortunately such incidents of family wishes being ignored are all too common. Not just by family welfare departments, but often also by those responsible for the difficult management of mental illness.

This story is presented in these pages in the hope that the officious, we know best, culture of bureaucracy will become more consultative.

The meanings of Easter!

Apologies for venturing into the controversial realm of religious thought and belief. Alternative viewpoints are welcome!

 The Bible based Christian perspective

Gift in death

Easter is the most significant event in the Christian calendar, commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ at the time of the Jewish Passover. For two thousand years these two events have inspired the devotion and artistic creativity of believers.

John 3:16 (King James Version)

For God So loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The Old Rugged Cross

George Bennard, 1913

  1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
    The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
    And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
    For a world of lost sinners was slain.

    • Refrain:
      So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
      Till my trophies at last I lay down;
      I will cling to the old rugged cross,
      And exchange it someday for a crown.
  2. Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
    Has a wondrous attraction for me;
    For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
    To bear it to dark Calvary.
  3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
    A wondrous beauty I see,
    For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
    To pardon and sanctify me.
  4. To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
    Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
    Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
    Where His glory forever I’ll share.Tragedy at Easter

The Secular Perspective


Bunnies and eggs

Bunnies and eggs






The Dawkins Slant


Why Indeed?

Why Indeed?

Clinton Richard Dawkins /ˈdɔːkɨnz/, FRS, FRSL (born 26 March 1941) is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist,[2] and writer. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford,[3] and was the University of Oxford‘s Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008.[4]

He has written several popular science books, and makes regular television and radio appearances, predominantly discussing these topics. In his 2006 book The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion—”a fixed false belief”.[7]:5 As of January 2010, the English-language version had sold more than two million copies and had been translated into 31 languages.[8] Dawkins founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science to promote the teaching of evolution and to counteract those who advocate classroom programs against evolution.


The Christian view of the meaning of Easter, a source of inspiration for Christians, is unreasonable to atheist Richard Dawkins. Why would God allow His Son to suffer the pain and indignity of a death on the cross when man’s sins might just have been forgiven? He does not appreciate that God might have sent His Son into the world to show mankind a better way to live, and how to live in harmony with others.

Dawkins belittles Christians for accepting Biblical  stories that he considers just myths. Miracles he dismisses  as trickery and slight of hand. Where is the evidence for Christian belief? Religious experience is a dimension of the human mind  and influenced by our biases and prejudices. It is subjective, but this does not mean that it is unimportant to our well-being, and irrelevant in providing important insights into the nature and meaning of life.

Science on the other hand, is objective, based on the scientific method of observation, and measurement, from which theories can be postulated. But they do need to be verified, and other theories excluded before being accepted as fact. It is a tool of discovery. But is the Cosmos not too vast to yield all its secrets?

Easter symbolizes that life on earth is a continuing cycle of birth, growth, maturity, decline and death.


  • There is a cycle of life and death which preserves the species but not the individual. Illness, decay and death are essential for the long-term sustainability of life on Earth. This suggests that the concept of God manipulating history from moment to moment and responsible for all that transpires on Earth is false.   The Sun shines on everyone. There is no favoritism. Dawkins generalizes that the Christian God is a vengeful tyrant, but this is not the belief of Christians. Mankind is free to set for themselves their own ethical standards, but the happiness and welfare of us all is conditional upon the love and respect we have for each other. Beyond this it is not our prerogative, but God’s, to right life’s wrongs. Faith accepts that He will.


  • There is an exquisite relationship between form and function in the Universe, providing niche environments for a great diversity of forms of life.  Is the Biblical assertion that God created the earth less credible than the scientific belief that the cosmos with all all its complexities resulted by chance starting with a big bang billions of years ago? Whatever happened at the beginning of time, in space, is simply unknowable.


  • Dawkins’ would have it that since God created the world, He is responsible for the ills as much as for the good on Earth.  But when things go wrong, it is not God’s fault, nor is it evidence that there is no God, or Intelligence within the Universe that should be looking after the righteous. Rather it is our own fault.  Most of us have a natural radar to differentiate between right and wrong. We can care for our environments,  look after ourselves and others. The advances of medical science have shown how we can overcome  many of the hazards of our existence.  On the other hand we can wage war, steal what is not ours, and kill those who might oppose us.

Our mind is our crowning attribute. If knowledge is solely the fruit of Science, can we place no value on our what we each experience through our minds? With it we know love and empathy, beauty and joy. We have the capacity to learn, to  communicate and to teach.  We can observe, share knowledge, reason, and shape our own destinies.

I would not wish to denigrate Richard Dawkins but I do not share his views denigrating religious faith, despite lacking objective evidence to prove him wrong.

Richard Dawkins




















Living longer, but can we work much longer?


Starts At Sixty! | Do you agree with Julie Bishop on this?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

7:02 AM



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January 04, 2015 Written By Starts at Sixty Writers in Current Affairs

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Yesterday, Julie Bishop made a big announcement and it is incredibly relevant to anyone reading this right now. She said, “60 is the new 40″ and called for employers to better see and understand the value that over 60s can bring to the Australian workforce.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, our Foreign Affairs Minister said, “I believe 60 is the new 40, I’d like to say 30 but that would be ridiculous.” Julie frequently works 20 hour days at the age of 58 – like many other “older” Australians so she understands what a busy working life is like.

“I think it would be good for there to be an acknowledgement that experience and the wisdom that comes from experience actually should count for more than it does.” Julie said.

Minister for Ageing was her first Ministerial appointment in 2003 so this is an issue Ms Bishop has worked closely with in the past. “I had a lot to do with this issue and the fact is employers and others in the community think people have a use-by date just because they reach a particular age,” she said.

“I think it should come down to an individual’s capability and capacity to continue to perform at a high level.”

Ms Bishop also shared that the thoughts that age limits imposed on commissioners at the industrial relations body Fair Work Australia could be counter-productive because “some of our best legal minds are just hitting their peak at age 65″.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, research by the Deloitte Access Economics commissioned by the Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan in 2012 found a five percentage point lift in the participation rate of workers 55 years and over would result in an extra $48 billion in extra GDP.

Other research has found 35 per cent of Australians aged 55 to 64 years and 43 per cent of Australians aged 65 and over have felt discriminated against when trying to get into the workforce. Seniors Australia CEO Michael O’Neill welcomed Ms Bishop’s “well-informed” comments on older Australians.

After working as a community day in and day out, we know what it is like for you and want to help you fight for better employment opportunities and workplace equality. So we want to know, whether you love her or aren’t a fan of her, do you agree with Julie Bishop’s statement?

This article was written by Starts at Sixty Writers

Adelaide Hills Residents are proud of the achievements of The Honourable Julie Bishop, MP. Born in Lobethal, SA, and educated in Law at the University of Adelaide, she has been the Member for Curtin in Western Australia since 1998, is the competent Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Deputy Prime Minister under Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Her statement that 60 has become the new 40 is a political one. It is true that life expectancy is increasing through the public adopting healthier life-styles, and having access to medical advances in treatment. This is increasing the financial burden on the national budget, and Australia’s vested interest in prolonging the working life of longer-living oldies. Her message to employers is to not overlook the abilities and value of those over 60. It will be welcomed by the many who wish to stay in the work-force.

But what measures will the government be ready to adopt to make sure that suitable work is available, and will it be at the cost of the employment of those who are younger?

We may be living longer but will we be able to work longer? The ageing process has not been halted. Thus there is the same drop off in sporting prowess. Our 40-year-old cricketers are still retired from their sport at 40,  not 60. (apart perhaps for WA’s Brad Hogg). How competitive will the elderly be in the contest for work? Who will police working conditions to decide whether the work-place is safe for them, and make sure that they are not exploited as a source of cheap labour.

This blog “Life After Work” is dedicated to increasing the joy of living after we finish working for pay. On-going paid employment is ideal, but the day always comes when for one reason or another, remuneration is no longer possible.




Staving off Alzheimer’s disease.

It may be too much to expect that major degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases can be prevented just by mental exercises. However there can be no excuse for ignoring  the problem, and not doing all we can to research the benefits of brain exercises.
Please read this article carefully, and think about what you can do to stay alert and “with it” as you age.

Brain exercise vital: Use it or lose it, visiting expert Dr Michael Merzenich warns Australians

Updated Fri 28 Feb 2014, 2:34pm AEDT

A neuroscientist is warning people need regular brain exercise to help ward off health risks such as senility as they age.

Australians generally are living longer, healthier lives than ever before but visiting American neuroscientist Michael Merzenich warns work is needed to maintain functioning into old age.

Dr Merzenich, emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of California, says the burden of rising demands on the health system could become economically and socially unsupportable.

“By the time you reach your 85th birthday about half of us will need continuous care, [so] have to think about maintaining our abilities and capacities,” he said.

I think it is possible to keep most people in good stead from brain health to the point where their brain span can equal their life span

Dr Michael Merzenich

On a visit to South Australia, Dr Merzenich warned medical advances of the past century had dramatically increased the average life span but had largely ignored brain function.

His research has found people who frequently exercise both physically and mentally can maintain healthy functions deep into retirement.

“We are in the middle of a grand experiment,” he said of the ageing population.

“I think it is possible to keep most people in good stead from brain health to the point where their brain span can equal their life span.”

Dr Merzenich has pointed to his Australian friend Rex Lipman, now in his 90s and still working.

To keep physically fit, Mr Lipman plays tennis but twice per day he also takes time to exercise his brain, doing online puzzles and problem-solving.

“It exercises the neurons of the brain, making them move,” Dr Merzenich said.

“Loss of cognitive response is caused by neurons that are no longer healthy and growing and instead of being plastic and soft like when we were young, they get hard and stiff and we don’t hear as well, see as well or taste as well.”

Dr Merzenich says Mr Lipman is “an Australian treasure” and has applauded his friend’s zeal for preaching the value of regular brain exercise.

In recent days in Adelaide, the pair have been taking their message to high school students, staff and students of the University of Adelaide and a gathering the science hub, RiAus, the Royal Institution of Australia.

Please remember Carly Ryan!

Carly Ryan

Carly Ryan

Senate votes down pedophile legislation

  • 1 YEAR AGO AUGUST 22, 2012 6:54PM
Carly Ryan

Murder victim Carly Ryan was a victim of the type of crime the legislation aimed to prevent. Picture: Supplied Source:Supplied

SOUTH Australian senators have been criticised for voting down a law that would have made it a crime for adults to lie about their age to minors online

Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon sought to create a criminal offence for the practice in the Criminal Code Act 1995 and create a register of those who breached the law, in a legislative change he dubbed the “Carly Amendment”.

Senator Xenophon said while the amendment was supported by himself, the Greens and the DLP, the major parties voted against it on party lines.

“For me and many fellow South Australians, nothing brings home the seriousness of cyber crime more than Carly Ryan’s story,” Senator Xenophon said.

“In 2006, when Carly was just 14 years old, she started chatting online with someone she thought was a 20-year-old called Brandon Kane.

“What Carly did not and could not have realised is that behind the online conversation with Brandon was not a 20-year-old musician at all. Brandon Kane did not exist. Instead she had unknowingly developed a relationship with Garry Francis Newman, a 47-year-old man who lived with his mother.”

Senator Xenophon moved the amendment to a Bill brought by the Greens to improve the policing of cyber crime.

He said some major party senators would be regretful when they realised they had torpedoed a law that, had it been in place, could have stopped the murder of Carly Ryan.

“I said to one of the South Australian senators who voted against it, ‘do you realise what you just voted against?’ and he just shrugged his shoulders,” Senator Xenophon said.

Eminent UniSA child protection advocate Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs yesterday joined the criticism, saying predation was the only reason for adults to lie to children about their age.

“There needs to be a better deterrent,” she said.

“I can think of no other reason other than predatory ones for an adult lying to a child on the internet.”