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Hallo again to all.

Pope John Paul I, who died soon after becoming Pope, once said 'If someone had told me I would be Pope one day, I would have studied harder.' We suspect that if God had told young Albino Luciani that he would be Pope someday, Mr Luciani would not have believed Him. History and literature indicate that it is never easy to detect that God is giving you a message.

It is often said that 'God works in mysterious ways', and we don't always recognise those ways, at the time, as being God's work. The reports this week of the death of Australia's folk hero Slim Dusty have given us a chance to note that often God works through the goodness of individual people. His biography says:

Born David Gordon Kirkpatrick on June 13, 1927 in his beloved Nulla Nulla outside of Kempsey, NSW, Slim took his 'show name' in 1938 ahead of his first recording in 1943. He achieved national and international success in 1957 with his worldwide hit single A Pub With No Beer which became the first official Gold record achieved in Australia.

His website says 'Slim was laid to rest following a State Funeral at St Andrews Cathedral, Sydney on Friday, September 26, 2003.' The Sydney Morning Herald, reporting that State Funeral, noted that

Sydney's St Andrew's Cathedral became a hand-clapping hillbilly heaven and a minister many call a wowser led the singing of A Pub With No Beer. There could be no greater metaphor for the influence of Slim Dusty than the fact that the congregation of St Andrew's - from the Prime Minister to the pall bearers - could sing as one, without a script.

To understand why Slim Dusty was so beloved of Australians, you need to talk to a lot of people or read a lot of stories about him, or perhaps travel to Australia (which we have never done). The BBC, writing for a global audience, summarised well. We think we understand it now. Fellow musician Peter Garrett read a message from Mandawuy Yunupingu, a member of indigenous rock band Yothu Yindi:

You were the first pioneer of reconciliation between black and white Australia. The message in your songs brings harmony and balance between people and the land.

Philip Jensen, Dean of Sydney's Cathedral, said Slim had things in common with Jesus Christ. 'Both were rural storytellers travelling from town to town to little villages amongst the ordinary people, telling their stories, encountering life as it is. And while Jesus might not have had a good pub yarn about beer, the ordinary bloke's drink, he could do a mean party trick turning water into wine.'

In retrospect, we are certain that God worked through Slim Dusty. He was no saviour or messiah or prophet. He was just a bloke, but he had a good ear for what the Holy Spirit was trying to tell him. He was a good listener. We think that, in the coming weeks, the most important property for every Anglican, indeed every Christian, is to be a good listener.

See you next week.

Brian Reidís signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 28 September 2003

A thin blue line
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