We kicked off the Bartimaeus Institute tonight and by way of introduction to the space, one another and the content we did an exercise in replacing Mark’s prologue in our bioregion – it was great to hear some of the native stories of California, Minnesota, Texas, Saskatchewan…

(we acknowledge the people of the Kulin nations as first custodians of the land on which we work and play – and ask you forgive our ignorance and accept this as a light story in entering into the spirit of the exercise and representative of a desire to learn our own context more deeply…)

The Australian midrash went something like this…

Aunty Joy Wandin was up Broken Hill way sharing stories to remember the Dreamtime and people from all over, from as far away as Sydney and Melbourne, were coming to hear, and were baptised by her at the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers.  Aunty Joy wore simple clothes from a second hand shop with a possum-skin cloak overtop and ate good bush tucker like yams and witchety grubs.

She shared at the gathering, “The one who is more deadly than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to clean his dunny.  I have blessed you with water; but he will give you the blessing of the creator spirit – the Rainbow Serpent.

William Barak came from Waggawagga to be baptised in the Murray/Darling River. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens part and the spirit descended like a sulphur-crested cuckatoo on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my mob, and I think you’re deadly.”

And the Creator Spirit immediately drove him walkabout. He was in the outback for forty days and tempted by the Waa the Crow Trickster with the promise of shiny things from the mining of oil, coal and uranium;  Barak was with the wild dingos, platypus, wombats and other animals, and gentle bunyips waited on him.

Now, after Aunty Joy was locked up, Barak went up Penrith way, also sharing stories of the Creator Spirit from the Dreamtime, and saying, “Listen, the time for the healing between people and the land is here.”

And as he walked along the Nepean River, he saw Wilam huffing petrol and Hassad – a doctor in his own country but here just a taxi driver – and said “Come with me – I have something else for you to do.”

– – – – – – – – – – – –

The task of replaced thoelogy is to reclaim symbols of redemption which are indigenous to the bioregion in which the church dwells, to remember the stories of the people of the land, and to sing anew its old songs.
These can then be woven together with the symbols, stories and songs of biblical radicalism.
This will necessarily be a local, contextual and personal exercise
(Who Will Roll Away The Stone, 1994)

you can’t save a place you don’t love

you can’t love a place you don’t know

you can’t know a place you haven’t learned


As applies not only to our neighbourhood, country, world – but also to the bigger historical creation story we find ourselves in .