How Much Longer?

How Much Longer?

Published on June 16, 2018 by Alisa Tanaka-King on The Bird Girls Blog


Alisa is a friend of mine who is passionate about halting the horrific body count of women lost to domestic violence.  Here are some of her thoughts which have been prompted by the recent shock of Eurydice Dixon’s murder.

Three things happened recently that made me lose a little faith in humanity.

A couple of weeks back, I was running an education program in schools called Respectful Relationships. The program is designed to assist schools in incorporating the new addition of Respectful Relationships into their curriculum. This is a direct result of the Royal Commission into family violence that found that one in three women experience violence by the age of 15.

I’ve put a lot of time and effort into designing this program with a group of dedicated, creative, conscientious, people. It has been a challenging, confronting, and exhausting process.

When presenting this program to schools, we generally receive very positive responses from both students and teachers, which is encouraging and rewarding. We’ve had brilliant conversations about gender stereotypes, deeply embedded social conditioning, and breaking down of barriers.

However, just the other week, I had an unpleasant wake up call reminding me how difficult it is to make fundamental change. At the end of running a school program for year 8, private secondary school boys, one of their teachers approaches us defensive and insulted.

Our boys aren’t like that.

Now I specify that this was a private all-boys school, as there seems to be an assumption that if you are of a high enough social class, you are immune to being a violent criminal. We don’t go to any school assuming that the students are rapists or murderers, and I don’t believe that any child grows up aspiring to be such.

The program we run is not directed at boys who already have a history of violence or crime.

The program we run is not only taught to boys – it is taught equally importantly to girls.  For us to make the ground-breaking changes necessary to end gender-based violence, everyone needs to be better informed.

But this teacher wasn’t finished.

Why don’t you talk about violent women at all? There are violent women too.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this. It’s not even the second. Or the third.I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Yes. Of course there are violent, terrible women.

Unfortunately there are hateful and destructive people in every gender, culture, religion, and race.

But this program is designed to help address the family violence crisis we are facing. The crisis where women are statistically at much greater risk of experiencing physical and emotional violence, controlling behaviour, and death.

We try to approach conversations like the one with this teacher in a positive, patient, and informative manner. We explain the statistics, and how important it is for everyone to be responsible and active in making fundamental societal change.

But really, I just wanted to lose all professionalism and shout at her.Oh, did I mention this was a female teacher?

I wanted to ask her if she had ever wondered if her skirt was too short? Her heels too high?

Had she ever parked in a spot that was too dimly lit?

Did she carry her keys between her knuckles late at night, phone clutched tightly in the other hand, wondering if she would be able to dial for help fast enough?

I wanted to know if she’s ever texted friends to let them know she got home safe?

Does she know how to walk quickly, but not so quickly that the stranger behind her thinks she’s rushing? Does she know that she shouldn’t have to be afraid as a default?

Honestly, I wasn’t even angry at this teacher.I was just gutted that one of our educators was unable to see why this is so important. I felt like everything we are working so hard to do fell on deaf ears, and I lost a little faith in humanity.

 A close friend of mine is pregnant, expecting her first child, a little girl.

She mentioned to me that she is conflicted.

She is a very strong, intelligent, independent woman who believes firmly in gender equality.

She doesn’t believe in victim blaming – of course no one deserves to be raped or murdered, and that should never be seen as the direct result of the decisions the victim has made.

But I will still warn my daughter not to walk home in the dark, teach her to be careful, teach her to be afraid. What else can we do? It just seems too difficult to change anything else.

I tried to explain the education program that I am running, but it sounded weak and useless against the reality of one woman murdered every week.

This kind of fundamental societal change takes too long for us not to teach our daughters to be cautious.

If I had a daughter I would teach her the same thing, and that breaks my heart, because it feels like admitting defeat. It feels like I’ve lost faith in humanity. And not just faith in the way our society currently functions, but faith in our ability to change and be better.

 And then, after a long day, I logged onto Facebook.

Now, my Facebook feed generally provides me with pretty like-minded views of the world, as I’m friends with pretty like-minded people. So, for the most part, facebook provides me with a lovely (though probably naive) little bubble of progressive, open-mined opinions.

But when I logged on this time, a male friend (and yes, it is relevant that he is male) had posted a status stating that he agreed with the Victoria Police statement asking people to take responsibility for their own safety. He then went on to question why anyone would disagree with this statement. In fairness, he approached this conversation openly, was sensitive, and welcomed comments and thoughts.

Of course excellent responses flooded in, explaining the frustration, unfairness and helplessness felt around the implications that this statement made. While the brilliant responses from both men and women gave me hope, I was still taken aback that this sort of view had to argued amongst a cohort of people who I thought shared my beliefs without a shadow of a doubt.

There have been countless articles, comments, tweets, and even Facebook profile picture frames responding to the Victoria Police comment, and I think it is excellent these issues are being brought to light and discussed.

However, it feels like we are putting so much effort into convincing people why we need change, that we’ve got no energy left for change at all.

When the shock of Eurydice Dixon’s murder fades away, will we go back to treating precautionary behaviour for women as normal?

Will we continue to be blind to the violence taking place behind closed doors towards wives, girlfriends and daughters?

Will we conveniently forget that women are being raped and murdered on a weekly basis, just because they aren’t being laid out in a public park where we are forced to acknowledge it?

It has taken hundreds, if not thousands of years to establish our current gender climate, and there is a mammoth amount that must be undone. Not just by women, not just by men, but by everyone – from our families and local communities, to our global society.

From celebrating the birth of a boy and praising the continuation of the family name.To telling girls to sit more lady-like.To saying boys will be boys but in the same breath demanding them to man up. From the nature of our  porn and sex industry, to our struggle to support mothers’ and their careers, to teaching our daughters to feel weak and our son’s that they must protect them.

I repeatedly explain to teachers, principals, students and colleagues that the fundamental societal change needed to bring about gender equality will take time.

But the task of creating change seems so monumentally big, that it feels impossible to even begin. Instead of being inspired to fight with energy and passion, I am overwhelmed with helplessness.

Every life lost is one too many.

How can we possibly turn around and say well, this will take time without losing faith?

Who are You & What do You Do NNY?

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members. Coretta Scott King

Who are you and what do you do?

One of the questions that I most often get asked at Not & Not Yet is:

“How do you actually help the community”  Or “How are the profits of the cafe used to help the community”

We are a registered charity with PBI status. We are a social justice enterprise.

What does that mean? We are here to serve the community of Warrandyte in whatever way that we can. Our purpose is to put the profits of the cafe back into the community.

What does this look like? We support asylum seekers with housing and employment. We support local families who are facing significant financial & emotional challenges by restocking their fridge, paying bills or supporting them with counselling & practical support. We support mental health by running a mind health support group fortnightly. We offer our venue free of charge for community group meetings like: Warrandyte Diary, Warrandyte Festival, Bendigo Bank , etc. And most importantly we make ourselves available to our community by being here 7 days a week.

To connect, to care and to do life together. We are much more than a retail space. 

“Our continued vision is to make a difference for good in the lives of the Warrandyte Community in whatever way we can”. 

It is very difficult to find language around how this happens as many of the people that we are helping are fragile and vulnerable and cannot have their stories told.  Some due to domestic violence and some due to privacy issues.

We help the community in a huge variety of ways.   Here are a couple of examples:

We fund the House of Hope which is on the property behind the cafe.  This is where we host asylum seekers and refugees by helping them find a place out of detention and into community.  We offer community, a place of belonging, opportunities for work and a rental history along with financial assistance with bills etc..

This is a picture of our dear dear friend Negethan who came through the House of Hope and our Asylum Seeker program.   Sitting with him is Flynn on of our volunteers who always supports the Asylum Seeker programme by volunteering for our Community Tamil Feasts.    You can read about Nigethans story here:  Click this Link


There are many needs within the community of Warrandyte that we are told about or come into contact with in our daily job of serving coffee.  This could be helping move house, re-stocking a fridge and pantry if a family are struggling to put food on the table.  Paying a bill if someone is behind and about to have electricity cut off.  Finding out about a trauma or accident and popping in with soup and a meal to make sure they are doing okay?

If we are doing life with someone who has depression or who is suicidal, often isolation is a huge factor.  We will encourage them to come to the cafe for lunch of a coffee – just to get them out of the house.  We will of course pay their tab.

Tuesdays fortnightly we run a mind health group called Blur.  This is a peer led support group for people who are struggling with mind health issues or caring for someone with a mental health issues. Everyone is welcome.  It starts at 8pm.

As the Volunteer Coordinator at NNY I have the incredible job of looking after an amazing group of people.  Many are strong and fully functioning members of our community who have a desire to give back to the community by supporting our work by volunteering within the cafe and supporting our various events.


Others are some of our communities most vulnerable.  Some of our volunteers are deaf, autistic, have Aspergers or downs syndrome.  Some are recovering from mental illness and abuse, some just find life very difficult to navigate.  We offer love, acceptance, equality and training.

We believe that everyone belongs and that everyone has a way to contribute.

I believe that some of our most valuable work is done by taking someones hand and walking with them through a difficult time in their life.  Offering them a place to feel safe and to contribute.  Giving them skills and confidence to navigate life.

In the volunteer programme I am partnering with incredible organisations like:

  • Epic Assist – who care for those with disabilities
  • Foundation House – which is a place that cares for the survivors of torture.
  • Interchange – a disability and support services group
  • And various VCAL educators who partner with us in helping educate and skill our youth.

Here are some testimonials from families we walk with: (names withheld in confidence)

“Blur is a gentle place of belonging.  A place to listen and to be heard”.

“She has made amazing progress, and we thank you for all the support you and your staff have given her to date. She is so very positive about her time at ‘Now and Not Yet’ and particularly enjoys being given the responsibility of helping with food preparation”.

“Her place at Not & Not Yet has given her a seat in the world and you wouldn’t need me to tell you how revolutionary it has been in her life”.

“Madeleine loves her work at the cafe – you can tell that by the smile on her face whilst she’s working as well as on her return home. It has definitely improved her quality of life as I feel it gives her not only great pleasure but a great sense of achievement and belonging.  That sense of Inclusion is golden and hard to come by.  She also loves the fact that she is working just like her sisters.  If Madeleine could talk, working at the cafe would be why Monday and Wednesday afternoons are highlights of her week”.    (Madelines family have given permission to use this.  M has acute autism and volunteers twice a week in the afternoon).

This is from Lisa who started off as a volunteer but who is now working for us as our apprentice chef:

“It was a steep learning curve for me and for all the staff in the cafe but they were wonderful and made me feel very welcome.  Everyone was so caring and helpful. At times some communication was difficult but everyone tried so hard to make me feel at ease and now it feels like home.  When I first started, Jack the chef took photos of the menu items and laminated them and posted them around the kitchen so that I could easily see what was needed.

This has been the most wonderful experience for me and I highly recommend the volunteer programme to others. I was never made to feel different or inadequate and have been supported and encouraged every step of the way”.

I hope that this has given you a broader understanding of what we do.  These are just few examples.

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own. Cesar Chavez

Lisa Hunt-Wotton

Be a Bridge Over Brokenness

When you’re weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

The goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference. God is the gratuity of absolutely everything. The space in between everything is not space at all but Spirit.

(Feast of Lady Julian of Norwich)
Be a Bridge Over Brokenness

by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

All of us are broken.  All of us have experienced broken relationships.  We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people.  We cannot exist outside of relationships yet we somehow always seem to stuff them up.

I am sure you can recall many such times.  The gulfs and the gaps between you. The huge painful silences.  The road blocks, the impasse, the deadlocks.  When words have been said and can’t be taken back.  When actions have hurt and wounded.  When betrayals and rejection has created gulfs and chasms.  How do we move on?

Sometimes the gulf is so big it is impossible to cover.  Sometimes the water is flowing so deeply it is impossible to cross.


As followers of ‘The Way’ we are called to be bridge builders.  It is in human nature to step back, take a side and dig in.  We retreat to our corners when we are hurt.  It is part of our fight and flight DNA.  When  Jesus came he bridged the gap.  He became the ultimate bridge builder.  The Way that he taught us to walk is counter intuitive.  It goes against our nature.

We want to defend our position, to explain and to blame.  Jesus teaches us to reach out, to extend our embrace and to be a bridge over the brokenness.  He became the ultimate bridge when he made a way for us to connect with the God of the Universe.

His ways are ways of gentleness and peace.  He came to lead us into the pathway of peace.  He is the Prince of Peace.  He came to bind up the wounded  and to heal the  broken-hearted.  As followers of The Way of peace we are to do the same.

The only answer to brokenness and ruin is reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and love.  The bible talks about these as fruits of the Spirit.  This is the demonstration of the Holy Spirit living within us.  The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control and faith.  When we lead with our embrace, when we step out in peace and love and gentleness then we become bridge builders.

We become the bridges over the brokenness, bridges that make a way for others to follow.  These steps of faith fly in the face of everything we know.  We want revenge but instead we must be patient.  We want to demonstrate how wrong the other party is – we must walk in peace and faith.  We want to rage and rant – we must show self-control.  We want everything to change immediately – we must rest in long-suffering and play for the long game.

Bridges are nothing more than disciples of Jesus.  He knew that we would have trouble in this world.  He also knew a way for us to flourish and prosper in this world and that was  the way of love.

Who is this Jesus:

If I were to summarise the teaching of Jesus it would be two words only:  love and forgiveness.  Two thirds of Jesus teaching is about forgiveness. Forgiving an imperfect tragic world. In Jesus we have a God who does not blame, does not punish, does not threaten, does not dominate. We have a God who breathes forgiveness (Rohr).

All the betrayals, the abandonment, the torture, the unfaithfulness of almost everybody.  Instead he identifies forgiveness and peace with his very breath – constant, quiet, unlearned – but always given.  


Each time we extend love, joy etc.. we make stepping-stones over the chaos.  Each time we chose patience and self-control we pave the way for peace.  As we become bridge builders we create pathways for others to learn and to cross over.


The worst punishment you can do to a person is to cut them off.  Cast them out.  Shun them.  Rejection by someone who loved you is hideously painful.  Stress is bound to occur as a result of rejection since human beings are by nature creatures that wish to belong, which Browning (1996:169) portrays as follows:

‘Humans have social needs to belong to, cooperate with, and sustain the groups to which they belong.’

I know because I have been excommunicated from beloved family and dear friends.  It is a cruel and excruciating torture.  Even worse is the inability to reconcile.

Estrangement from family is among the most painful human experiences.  Social rejection occurs when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group. This can be a formal decision by a group, or a less formal group action which will spread to all members of the group as a form of solidarity. It is a sanction against association, often associated with religious groups and other tightly knit organisations and communities.

Social rejection has been established to cause psychological damage and has been categorized as torture

Stress resulting from Trauma and Disappointment

The stress resulting from a traumatic encounter cannot be overlooked, hence this opinion by Estardt (1983):

“Studies about stress show that expectation is an important factor in how a person will experience stress. Stress is often the disappointment ratio of the difference between the expectation and the reality”.  (Estardt 1983:149)

Often in a relationship breakdown the stress and trauma is around disappointment.  The loss of hopes and dreams.  There was an ‘expectation’ that this would be our life, this is what we do or how we would live.  Or it could be about a parent or person who has disappointed you.  If they really loved me they would do this or say this or behave like this.  These unmet expectations create disappointment, fractures and stress.

Thus a gulf forms.  Who will make the first move.

How you react and respond in these situations will determine the future outcome of the relationship.

There are of course times when reconciliation this side of heaven will never happen because you cannot control the other side.  My shunning is outside of my control.  I can wish for reconciliation, work on my healing and attitude, but I cannot force them to relate.

There are however many less extreme cases where you can be the one to build a bridge.  You can be the one to take the first step and lead out in peace.


The beauty of this is that you are teaching the children and those coming behind you how to walk in the way of peace.  Your stepping-stones eventually become a highway of relationship.  The out reached hand, the embrace, the first steps eventually become a bridge upon which others can walk over and live in peace on both sides of the divide.


Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

The Link between Domestic Violence and Porn

Tuesday Talks with Laura McNelly

I often get asked the question “What causes domestic violence?”  I totally believe that the escalation in violence toward woman is linked to gender inequality and to pornography.  When we understand that by the age of 13  %90 of boys have been introduced to porn, and small children are directed to porn sites from their iPads when they simply type in words like ‘Dora the Explora’. We are in a war that is bigger than we ever realised and its raging in our homes, supermarkets and in our communities.


Patriarchy, male dominated systems, male control, stupid talk about female submission all fuel the already explosive misunderstandings of equality and respect between the genders.

This article by Laura Mc Nelly from ABC Religion and Ethics describes the direct links between pornography, inequality and violence toward women.  This is a  must read for anyone who is genuinely interested in this global crisis.  We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand any longer.  It’s going to take all of us to stop this global epidemic.

** Trigger warnings**


Pornography, Violence and Sexual Entitlement: An Unspeakable Truth

by Laura McNally


A young woman stands in a room with several men around her. She tells the men that she is taking women’s studies at university. They respond by grabbing her throat to silence her. They move onto slapping her and pulling off her clothes.

The scene that follows is too graphic to recount. After the men finish, they ask her: “What do you think of feminism now?”

The woman in this film later stated she was not comfortable with what happened. Apparently, though, this was not sexual assault but a form of sexual expression – pornography.

Indeed, depictions of sexual violence are often promoted as an expression of women’s rights. “You could do a porn where a girl is getting choked and hit and spit on, the guy’s calling her a dirty slut and stuff and that’s okay. That can still be feminist,” says Joanna Angel, self-described feminist porn actress.

Such pornographic violence is symptomatic of a broader, global trend. This trend ranges from the brutal opportunism often seen in the wake of economic and environmental disasters, where vulnerable women are specifically targeted with violence or coerced into sex slavery; through to the proliferation new forms of sexual objectification, such as labiaplasty, men extorting younger girls to send pornographic images, child-on-child sex assault and new technology for global sex trading; through to the ever-widening gender pay gap and the increasing feminization of poverty.

In Australia, most violent crimes have been in decline, but the rates of domestic and sexual violence are soaring. Gendered violence has escalated to the point that now two women are killed each week – twice the historical average. As at the time of writing, 35 women have been killed in Australia this year alone, the majority of them by male partners.

Human hand stretch out from prison bars

While this spike in murders has sparked much hand-wringing about the problem of male violence against women, not only have there have been funding cuts to women’s refuges and support services, there has also been a conspicuous refusal to address the sexist attitudes that lead to such violence in the first place.

There is significant evidence that boys today are more sexist than their grandfathers’ generation, particularly when it comes to sexual expectations. Research conducted by The Line found that one in four young Australian men think it is normal for men to pressure women into sex. This is followed by a sharp increase in underage sexual assault convictions, an issue previously unheard of.

While traditional conceptions of gender were once enshrined in law and social norms, today men and women hold more equal roles than in generations past. What then is driving this renewed and more potent sexism toward women? Paul Linossier, CEO of Our Watch, a group campaigning against domestic violence, says the fundamental problem is attitudes towards women:

“We need to go upstream and understand that behind men’s control of women and the murder of intimate partners sits two key drivers; gender inequality and holding to traditional and rigid gender stereotypes.”

In terms of broad gender equality, Australia fares quite well. Australia boasts a fairly modern and egalitarian approach to women’s political and economic participation. Yet, there is another dimension to gender inequality often goes unaddressed. Innumerable studies implicate the role of Westernised “raunch culture” in driving sexism – that is, pornography and its ubiquity in everyday life.

Access to pornography is perhaps the most marked change across these generations. Exposure now begins as young as 9 with the average age at 11 and the largest group of pornography consumers being boys aged 12 to 17 years. Gone are the days of hiding Playboy under the mattress; today, the most commonly viewed form of pornography includes verbal and physical aggression against women in nearly 90% of the films that are freely available – indeed, almost unavoidable – on the internet.

Australian law enforcement has long seen the link between pornography and sexual violence, though this connection is persistently rejected by those who argue that porn is sexually liberating. Early epistemological studies were once mixed in their findings about porn, but today the evidence is mounting. A 2010 meta-analysis reviewed all studies from the 1980s until today; it found a strong correlation between exposure and aggressive attitudes. VicHealth released the following findings in their review in 2006:

“Exposure to sexually violent material increases male viewers’ acceptance of rape myths, desensitises them to sexual violence, erodes their empathy for victims of violence, and informs more callous attitudes towards female victims … adults also show an increase in behavioural aggression following exposure to pornography, again especially violent pornography.”

Not only does the research implicate the role of pornography, but front-line service providers are witnessing this firsthand. Nathan DeGuara, manager of the Men’s Referral Service, has seen a strong correlation between pornography and domestic violence, with increasing sexual expectations directly linked to porn use. Di McLeod, the Director of the Gold Coast Centre for Sexual Violence, has this to say about intimate partner violence:

“In the past few years we have had a huge increase in intimate partner rape of women from 14 to 80+. The biggest common denominator is consumption of porn by the offender … We have seen a huge increase in deprivation of liberty, physical injuries, torture, drugging, filming and sharing footage without consent. I founded the centre 25 years ago and what is now considered to be the norm in 2015 is frightening.”

Recent UK research shows that nearly half of teenage girls are coerced into unwanted sexual acts. Underage girls are presenting with bowel incontinence and anal tearing as a result of boyfriends who insist on replicating pornographic scenarios they have watched. At the extreme end of the spectrum, entire online forums are dedicated to men celebrating stories of rape and sexual assault. According to sites such as The Philosophy of Rape, it is “absolutely justifiable” that men have sex, even by force, if women don’t provide what they “need.” This is the world that porn has built, and post-millennials are the first to fully experience it.

Young women are also speaking out concerning the way pornographic expectations have become the norm for their generation. 23 year old Rosie had this to say on her experiences:

“Being told that my gag reflex was too strong… Bullied into submitting to facials. I didn’t want to. He said [jokingly] that he’d ejaculate on my face while I was asleep. He wasn’t joking – I woke up with him wanking over me … Bullied into trying anal. It hurt so much I begged him to stop. He stopped, then complained that I was being too sensitive … He continued to ask for it … Constant requests for threesomes … Constant requests to let him film it … Every single straight girl I know has had similar experiences. Every. Single. One. Some have experienced far worse. Some have given in, some have resisted, all have felt guilty and awkward for not … giving him what he wants.”

Despite the seriousness of accounts like Rosie’s, there is still little, if any, criticism of pornification that isn’t immediately disregarded as censorious, prudish or puritan.

The use of hackneyed defences like “diversity” and “free choice” have led to intense denial of the harms of pornography. Such is the extent of pro-porn denialism, that it is now bandied around as a form of women’s rights. Behind this denialism is almost certainly a generational age-gap, but there is importantly also the presence of industry-political ties. Lobby groups who brand themselves as progressive or even feminist are working hard to relax legislation, branding anyone who questions their agenda as “anti sex.”

But the proliferation of the sex industry is occurring in everyday life, with stripping and pornographic modelling being rife in social media, pop culture and advertising, even evolving into so-called sports and fitness. Far from the sex industry being stigmatised, it is increasingly being rated as a career goal by young girls.

This glamorisation obscures the dangerous reality. Despite the oft-repeated claim that “consenting adults choose this,” the reality is that choice is becoming increasingly constrained, particularly for young and vulnerable people.

The denial of the sex industry’s role in perpetuating sexism and its rebranding as “feminist” is a serious impediment to tackling gender inequality. While there is vocal commentary around reducing domestic and sexual violence in Australia, those voices are conspicuously quiet when the violence depicted is in pornography. Too many women’s advocates remain complicit in the sexual entitlement and unadorned violence that this industry is making normative.

While campaigns seek longer jail terms that will keep sex offenders out of society, this won’t change the terrain that is funnelling more and more young men down this dangerous path. The police cannot arrest their way out of the problem, nor can a lesson on sexual health undo a lifetime of socialisation.

Marches and protests against domestic violence rage on, discussions continue to unpack male entitlement, yet the elephant in the room remains unacknowledged. One of the most omnipresent and unavoidable drivers of sexist violence is seemingly invisible. To address sexist violence, advocates must challenge the lie that pornography is progressive.

Laura McNally is a psychologist, consultant, author and doctoral candidate. Her research draws upon critical and feminist theory. She is also a contributor to The Freedom Fallacy: Limits of Liberal Feminism. You can click the link to order.



What is a Christian?

What is a Christian?

All of us have different thoughts that spring to mind.  Some cultures would say that a Christian is a white privileged colonist who forces you to act, walk and talk just like them.  Others would say that Christians are people who go to church every week.  Some would say that Christians are judgemental people who live according to a rule book.

Last week a neighbour of mine asked me: “What does it mean to be a Christian?”

To me, and this is how I answered, being a Christian is a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.  Jesus has to invade our personality.  Salvation comes by surrendering to Christ and allowing him to invade and permeate your being, saturating your life and changing you into a new person.  It is not enough to just believe that he is the son of God.  We must become like him.

 John 1:12 tells us, “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”   A Christian is a person who follows Christ and his teachings.  It is as simple as that.
How do you recognise a Christian? 

Jesus said that his disciples will be known by their love (Jn 13:35).

“If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions – if he continues to be just a snobbish or spiteful or envious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary.”

Unfortunately, institutionalised Christianity has settled for rules, rituals, and tribal belonging, losing sight of the transformative way of faith.

For centuries, Christianity has been presented as a ‘system of beliefs’. “That system of beliefs has supported a wide range of unintended consequences, from colonialism to environmental destruction, inferiority of women to stigmatization of LGBT people, anti-Semitism to Islamophobia, clergy pedophilia to white privilege” (source). 

What if Christians actually saw following Christ as a just and generous way of life?

Unfortunately some Christians have portrayed Christianity as an exclusive club of ‘us and them’.  Instructing: these are the hoops you must jump through,  this is what you must do to belong.  Portraying God as a Santa who showers blessings and privileges upon those who are a part of the in group.

‘”Jesus did not come to create a country club or a tribe of people who could say, “We’re in and you’re out. We’ve got the truth and you don’t.” Jesus came to reveal something that was true everywhere, for everyone, and all the time”‘ (Rohr).

What if Christians stopped defining Christianity as a set of rules and doctrines and actually became known by their love?  

When you read the Gospels you see God as one who “eats with sinners,” welcomes outsiders in, and forgives even while being rejected, tortured, and killed. Jesus taught that God was to be found in self-giving service rather than in power and domination.

“What would it mean for Christians to understand, experience, and embody God as the loving, healing, reconciling Spirit in whom all creatures live, move, and have their being?”(Rohr)

Jesus said that we would be known by our love.  He also taught that a tree is known by its fruit.

How do you recognise a Christ follower?  They taste good.  They are delicious and life-giving.  They nurture and nourish.

If a tree produces apples you know it’s an apple tree.  If a tree produces lemons it is a lemon tree.  What fruit are we growing and feeding to those around us.

‘The Fruit of the Holy Spirit’ is a biblical term that sums up nine characteristics of the person of the Holy Spirit.  A Christ follower is someone who has the Holy Spirit  living inside of them.  The book of Galatians names the fruit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

These are the fruits that we measure our lives by. 

We need to ask, what do we taste like.  What do people encounter when they come in contact with us?


Jesus taught us how to live well with each other.  He was concerned with equality, he believed that ‘everything’ belongs and that everyone is equal. He was also very concerned with producing fruit.

“As Christians we should concentrate on issues such as fighting poverty, caring for the environment, advancing peace, promoting strong families, and supporting a consistent ethic of life, all viewed as critical moral and biblical values” (Tony Campolo).

The biblical picture of Shalom is how a community of Christians should live.  Shalom is where every person has enough, it is a community where everyone belongs and where every person has the right to flourish.

Jesus said that the person who shows mercy to his neighbour is the person that shall inherit eternal life. This person is a co-heir with Christ,  a child of God.

Luke 10:25-37New Living Translation (NLT)

The Most Important Commandment

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”

Parable of the Good Samaritan

Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.


 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Do You Feel Like An Outcast From Church? An In-Betweenie?

Rachael Banks is an extraordinary woman.  I enjoy every minute that I spend with her.  She has a down to earth, hilarious approach to life.  She is generous, loving and a complete nutter.  Which means we get on very well.  Rachael is a volunteer at Now and Not Yet Cafe in Warrandyte where I work as Volunteer Coordinator.  It has been such a joy to get to know Rach, her family and her story.  She has a unique perspective on Christianity.  I know that her story will resonate with you because it’s a story that many of you share.  Enjoy.

Do You Feel Like An Outcast From Church? An In-Betweenie?

by Rachael Banks.

For so long, I felt a little lost. A bit like I was wandering in a no-where land.  Was I a card-carrying Christian or a non-Christian?

My belief in Jesus and his teachings hadn’t wavered. My comfort from prayer certainly never lessened, nor did my peace in the fact that heaven awaits me when my time comes.

But I had stopped going to Church before I hit my twenties.  My  traditional Christian friends stepped away not long after, making me feel like I had done something truly wrong or un-Christian (such a ridiculous phrase I know, but it’s the best way to describe how I felt).  It was like I’d done something unforgivable.

For 16 or more years I felt this way, as an ‘in-betweenie’.

Then I stumbled upon a local café. The Now & Not Yet Café in Warrandyte.  At the time, I was only actively seeking good coffee. What I found, was fabulous coffee, but  also so very much more.

No judgement, no expectations of what a Christian looked, walked or talked like. Just real people, loving people, GOOD people, living life in the most positive, warm, welcoming and grateful way. No one even asked if I was Christian, they just welcomed me to the team when I offered to help out the not-for-profit organisation. They welcomed me completely, without reserve or without conditions. They saw another human wanting to actively help those around her in a constructive way.

To me, community is how I would describe what we are at the café. Essentially, what we do, how we work, how we interact with those around us, feels like what Church was, a very, very, long time ago. Before bells, whistles, super churches and the like, became the norm.

I have nothing against any of the above mentioned churches, I just personally never felt right there. I didn’t feel the all enveloping warmth, the acceptance as I am, and the true power to do more, that I feel  as part of the café.

In my time with Church, I felt that I had to act a certain way, be a certain way, play a part to be accepted. I had to  hold in true feelings and opinions, not step outside the box that was being a ‘good Christian soldier’. That completely got in the way of my living my best life. It made me feel lonely, rather than part of something. I felt like I was looking in on the window of something good.   If only I could morph myself into this elusive mould of a Christian, that I never seemed able to attain.

Back in the day when my parents grew up, around 50 years ago, people went to church. Pretty much everyone did.  It was just how things rolled.  It was what was expected of any upstanding member of the community.

I have no doubt there were plenty of complete non believers that attended.  Along with some people who had lost their connection with God but who could never actually vocalise that.  Plus a hundred other types of attendees in between.  All heading off to the local Sunday morning church meeting;  because it was routine, it was what was done.

But Church was also a constant coming together of the community. It was where you found out all the good ‘goss’ (that bit still hasn’t changed), heard about who was down on their luck, who was sick or unwell, those whose crops were failing, and who was struggling to put food on the table. It was connection, inclusion, and for those without a big network of friends and family, it was a regular social gathering.


It was at these weekly gatherings, that plans were put in place to help others around them get through.  Women set up casserole schedules to send to Mary’s family as she overcame her illness, men organised to lend out a tractor to the Wilson family who couldn’t afford to get theirs repaired, people threw extra money in the collection plate as they knew the church was supporting those in their own neighbourhood in every way possible.  Everyone had the sense that we were  in this life together.

Every time you walk into Now & Not Yet Café, that is what we are doing. We are working to ensure we support those in need, be they Christian, Atheist, Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist. PEOPLE.  People who need help, people who need to belong. We assist: in housing  asylum seekers, give food vouchers to families financially under the weather, we are a meeting place for social groups, help direct some to other professional services including mental health, offer  employment and training to those we can.  Equally as powerful – we sit and chat, share a smile, and connect with people.


To me, this is just what Jesus did.  To me, this is what He asked of us.

To me, this is community.

Rachael Banks


If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps to keep this on line.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Personal Art Therapy Session – Tree of YOUR Life

Where have you come from?

What are your core values?

What do you do with trauma, stress and  negative impact in your life?

What do you do to nurture and self care?

What are your dreams?

How are you providing health, healing and solace to those around you?

These are the questions that you will be answering in this art therapy session.

Don’t panic – I will guide you through the process.  It is very simple and easy for everyone to do and is designed to:

1:  Help you to understand how your origins impact on your future

2:  Deal with the manure in your life

3:  Help you to flourish and realise your dreams and hopes

4:  Assist and bring life to those around you.

Key poetry references for you to meditate on : Psalm 92  and Revelation 22: The Bible

“Those who have good values will flourish like palm trees;

they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

they will flourish in the courts of God.

They will still bear fruit in old age,

they will stay fresh and green”.

“Down the middle of the great street of the city.

On each side of the river stood the tree of life,

bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. 

And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

You guessed it – you will be creating your own “Trees of Life” which will be a reflection of who you are.


You will have a visible tool to help you reflect on:  your root system, soil, self-care, strength, vision and your ability to give to and nourish others.

Tools:  You will need:

  • a large piece of art paper or butchers paper – A2 is great
  • pencils
  • texta’s
  • optional for the arty types:  (any art supplies that you want to use –  paint, pencils, crayons.  Whatever you love to use).

Step One: Preparation

Draw a line across the bottom 1/4 of your paper.

Step Two: Trunk of the tree

On your butcher paper draw an outline of your forearm and hand starting from the line that you just drew.

Leave the end of your finger tips open-ended.

Step Three:  Root System

Draw in the root system of the tree.  Remember that for most trees the roots mirror the canopy of the tree.  You may not have as much room to reflect that accurately but this will assist you to draw a large root system.  Leave many of the roots quite thick,  and also add smaller and finer roots.


Step Four: Branches

From the end of the fingers add in smaller branches.  Possibly three or four from the top of each finger.

Step Five: Leaves

From the branches add leaves – in whatever shape that you want.

Make them large enough to write within each leaf – which you will do later.

You may if you wish cut out leaves from coloured paper.  You could then glue the leaves on to the end of the branches.

Step Six:  Compost Bin

On the right hand side of the tree, on the soil, draw a rectangle.  This will become your compost bin.


Great Work.

Now you are going to write on your page – or draw if you wish.

1:  Starting with the root system.  Ask yourself these questions.

  • Where have I come from:  heritage, country, family unit?
  • What core things did I learn in my childhood?
  • Who has had a foundational impact in my life?
  • What values have you inherited?

Write these things along your root system.  It could be a country, a  name of a person, values you learned from your family of origin.  E.G.:  humour, high work ethic, creativity, punctuality, hospitality, faith.  Make sure that they are positive inclusions.  These things become a frame-work for who you are and where you have come from.  

2:  Move up to the trunk of the tree.  Think of about 4 – 6 CORE VALUES that are the sum of who you are.  What are your none negotiable values?  Who are you – the core strength of you?    If you were to raise children what sort of children would you want them to be.  This will help you to reflect your core values.  Do you want them to be kind? Respectful? Honest? Resilient? Loving? Trustworthy?  Etc…

Write these words along the trunk of your tree.

3:  Move up to the five main branches.  Along these branches I want you to write out your dreams and visions.  What are your hopes or dreams for the future.  Think of the branches of the tree stretching up and out to the future.

If the roots represent where you have come from, the trunk who you are.  Then the branches represent your vision – where you hope to go.

4:  The smaller branches can also continue to reflect your vision and hopes.  They could also be your legacy.  What to you want to leave behind for future generations?

NOTE:  Because your life is a work in process, it is okay to leave blank spaces.  Your story is your life and your life is your story and whilst you are alive it is not complete.  I have sections in my tree – visions and hopes that are still blank.  I will work on this in the months to come as I reflect and meditate.

5:  And the leaves shall be for the healing of the nations.

We are trees of life to all that we meet.  We should be able to offer shelter from a storm and shade on a hot day.  We should be a pleasant and peaceful place to rest.  To lean upon.

Leaves:  Ask yourself.  When someone comes into my orbit of care.  What do I offer them?  If the leaves are for healing – what is the fruit or nourishment that I give out?

It could be things like: love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness.  Maybe listening, solitude, understanding, mercy, grace, hope, compassion.

When people come to us – is this what they experience?

6:  Compost Bin.

All of us have had manure, compost, refuse thrown at us.  It may come in the form of trauma, stress, grief, loss, death or sickness.  It may be negative words that have been spoken over you.  Acts of violence or abandonment.  I want to you put all of these things in your compost bin.

Did you know that compost and mulch are the very things that nurture the tree and help it to grow?  It is the manure that stinks so bad that actually makes the soil sweet.  It is the manure that feeds the root system of the tree and makes the tree healthy and stronger.

“Healthy soil teems with more than a billion microorganisms per teaspoon and the behavior of those organisms facilitates hardy plant life. To fertilize their fields, regenerative farmers use nutrient-rich manure or compost” (source)

Barren soil easily erodes.  The plant does not flourish and it is prone to pests and disease.    Therefore it is vitally important for our health that we deal with the manure and allow the process of transformation. Frequent turning will help speed the composting process. Bacteria and other microorganisms are the real workers in the compost process. By supplying organic materials, water, and oxygen, the already present bacteria will break down the plant material into useful compost.

This means we do need to air our dirty laundry.  We do need to give it air, name it, process it, and allow oxygen and movement to transform it into nutrient rich compost that will feed and nourish the tree.  Your life.  Do this with safe people and in safe places.

7:  Finally the Soil

Along the soil on the other side of the tree I want you to write down all the things you do on a daily and weekly basis to water and feed the soil.

What things to you do to self-care?  

The tree needs watering, it needs the soil turned over.  It needs the weeds pulled up.

Do you take time out to care for yourself?

Do you spend time watering your own soul?

The more you feed, water and nourish your self, the more fruit and leaves you will produce to nurture and feed those around you.


This is a picture of my tree.  Its pretty simple visually but has really helped me to see my life in a more positive way.

Some questions to ask yourself:

Are you green and flourishing?  Are you producing fruit?  Are you spending time to self-care?  Are you being intentional about turning manure into compost?  Are you a place of shade, shelter and healing to those around you?

I hope that this exercise has helped you in some way.

I would really love to get your feedback.

Whilst you do this exercise, make sure you take time to listen to your soul.  To meditate and journal your thoughts.

Go crazy and make it into a piece of art.

xxx  Lisa.


If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Broken People Have a Head Start

Our  society values beauty and perfection.  We are constantly assaulted with television programs, social media posts and print media showing us how to look younger, be more beautiful and more perfect.  How to become successful.  How our homes can be transformed, what a new car should feel like, the best holidays, the best jobs, the best shoes, jewellery, etc. etc. etc…….

What constitutes success?

What defines happiness?

What determines wisdom and knowledge?

What is true beauty?

Why do we never, ever have enough.  We want more, more, more.  A better job, happier children, more money, the next new outfit, a better car, another relationship, another iPhone or computer or a bigger TV screen.  What we don’t understand is that these things are  choking us and preventing us from receiving the real truths.

Jesus said that rich people would find it hard to understand the spiritual journey.  In Australia, we represent 1% of the most wealthy in the world.  So I place myself in this statement.

It is not that any of these things in themselves are wrong.  It is because we use them to distract us from understanding our true natures, our false selves.

Why is it harder for the wealthy to understand spiritual truths?  It is because we reject the vehicles that are sent to teach us.  Pain, darkness and discomfort are the vehicles or portals that are used to transform us.  This society rejects pain, rejects discomfort, rejects the unlovely and the unloveable.

This is why I love the broken and the poor of spirit because are open and accepting.  They cannot resort to an easy fix.  They cannot pretend that they are not broken, battered and bereaved.  They know that they are a mess and they know that they need help.  This is humility.

In this treacherously seductive society everything is immediately satisfying so it is hard to remain spiritual hungry.  In his book Everything Belongs, Richard Rohr says it beautifully:

“We give answers too quickly, take away pain too easily and too quickly stimulate.  We are at a symbolic disadvantage as a wealthy culture.  Jesus said that the rich man or woman will find it hard to understand what he is talking about.  The rich can satisfy their loneliness and longing in false ways, in quick fixes that avoid the necessary learning.  In terms of soul work, we dare not get rid of the pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. ” 

In the parable of the sower and the seed Jesus describes the condition of three types of  soil.  He uses a farming allegory to explain the nature of spirituality  – the seed and of those who will receive truth – the soil.  Matthew 13.


The Seed:

Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies it cannot bring life.  The seed has to be transformed from one form into another.  This is done in the dark womb of the soil.  It is in darkness and in solitude that transformation takes place.  Death, darkness and solitude are used as vehicles of transformation.  Out of death comes life.  Out of darkness comes life.

The Soil:

3-8 “What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”

1:  Some fell on the gravel.

The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds but there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

Trials and difficulties are what produce character.  It is in the hard times that you build muscle and strength.  At the moment my daughter is going through a particularly difficult time.  She is facing some health issues and some issues at work.  I texted her this morning.

message to chloe

Life is not fair, it is not perfect.  We are sold a lie if we believe this.  The best thing we can do is teach our kids that difficulty and pain is inevitable.  It’s not what happens to you it is how you deal with it and the character and attitude that it produces in you.

2:  Some seed fell on the weeds and thorns

The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.

Our culture today despises pain and difficulty, it does everything it can to avoid it.  Even something as natural as old age is seen as a negative.  So these people build false structures on top of the soil.  The soil is piled high with things that will hopefully anaesthetise the pain.   These are the weeds and the thorns.  The seed cannot even reach the soil.

3:  Some fell on good soil

In farming terms good soil is soil that is pliable, has been turned over and over, and has been fertilised.  In other words it has had lots of #*@*<#+, or  manure dug into it.  It stinks, it is messy but it is rich for planting.   The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.  The harvest however is not a natural harvest of wealth and power.  It is a harvest of spirituality, of eternal truths, of good character and spiritual fruit like: goodness, meekness, even temperedness, faith, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness.  These are the things that will last throughout eternity.

Darkness and brokenness are where we learn lessons of humility, trust, gratefulness, resilience and reliance.  Broken people understand the darkness because they experience it and live inside it.  They know that they are broken, this is not a news flash.  They have watched their lives or the lives of their loved ones crumble around them.  They know that they have a dark side. They have lived in trouble and unrest.  But this is why they have a head start.

The soil of their hearts is stripped back, disturbed and turned over. As I reflect on the parable of the sower and the seed we see that this is the good soil.   It has been plowed, fertilised turned over and ready to receive life and answers and truth.

Broken people are ready to receive.  They are open to truth, to help, to support.  They are inclusive and don’t think of themselves as better than anyone else and they know how to hold paradox.  They don’t have easy answers, they don’t even have an answer.  They understand that they are not in control and that control is the greatest illusion of all.

Historic cultures saw grief as a time of incubation, transformation and hibernation.

“Yet this sacred space is the very space we avoid…we avoid God, who works in the darkness – where we are not in control!  Maybe that is the secret, relinquishing control?” (Rohr)

If you are in a dark place right now, know that you are in the very space where transformation can come.  If you feel dead and lifeless.  Allow the spirit of God to begin that metamorphosis in you.   This will pass, this cycle of change and growth will pass into another season.  You can trust me on this.  Embrace the pain and allow it to teach you.  Don’t become hard and bitter or look for things to anaesthetise the pain.  Life will come to your spirit, trust the process and allow it to produce good fruit in you.  This is your harvest. Spring will come.



If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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