mgpcpastor's blog

Leave a comment

Pulpit Chair, Penola

This chair is in the pulpit of the Presbyterian church at Penola.

No one sits in it anymore, but it’s still there.

A chair is not what the church is about, but it is a reminder of the centrality of the word in that place. It represents a wonderful legacy.

Leave a comment

“Knocker-Uppers” The Human Alarm Clocks Of Industrial-Era Britain (via Flashbak)

I wake up without an alarm each morning, but there are mornings where I’m 20 or even 30 minutes past the time I usually rise.
Of course I’ve got any number of devices that I can set as alarms.
Before those devices we used an alarm clock (or two).
Some of you might even remember the wake-up call, where you could book someone to ring you up.
This article on Flashbak recalls the time when folk had the job of going around and knocking on doors (or windows) for a fee.
Knocker-Uppers have passed into history, but the struggle to get out of bed continues.
From the article:

Known as the “knocker-upper” these predawn risers would pass by working-class buildings, rapping on the windows of those who need to get up.
Rural laborers, used to keeping time with the seasons, relocated to manufacturing towns and cities at significant rates. They not only had to adjust to dangerous, fast-paced industrial work, but to new schedules. Night shifts in factories disturbed circadian rhythms; dock work in London depended on the movement of the tides. There were alarm clocks at the time, but they were expensive and unreliable.
Some workers might only find out they’d been called in for a shift from the knocker-upper that morning. Such was the case for many clients awakened by Doris Weigand, Britain’s first railway knocker-upper (below in 1941). Conditions could be cutthroat. “In London’s East End,” Paul Middleton writes “where life for the employed was forever balanced on a knife edge, being late for work could mean instant dismissal and a speedy spiral for those workers and their family into poverty, homelessness and destitution.”
Knocker-uppers used canes, long batons, and even pea shooters…

read the rest at Flashbak.

Leave a comment

The Fountain Of Public Prosperity by Stuart Piggin and Robert Lindner

The Fountain Of Public Prosperity by Stuart Piggin and Robert Lindner is a scholarly history of evangelical Christians in Australian history in the period from 1740 to 1914. (A second proposed volume will cover the period from 1914 to 2014).
Not only do the authors seek to demonstrate the ways in which evangelicals have shaped, and been shaped by, Australian society; they also seek to examine why historians have not recognised the distinctives at work in that interaction.
The aim of the authors:

“This book is primarily the story of how the evangelical movement has helped to shape Australian history. It is secondarily the story of how the evangelical movement has been shaped by its Australian context. The first story is much harder to document than the second, and more effort will be expended in finding it. Both stories are largely untold, but lots of stories are untold. Why are these deserving of particular attention, and, if they are so valuable, why have they not already become part of the historiographical mainstream? An analysis follows of the possible reasons for the chronic neglect of these stories. Definitions of evangelicalism are then reviewed and the main findings and themes of the present study are summarised.”

The Fountain Of Public Prosperity, Stuart Piggin and Robert D. Lindner. Monash University Publishing, 2018, pg 12.

Leave a comment

The House by Helen Pitt

Trapped in Sydney Airport I saw The House, Helen Pitt’s history of the construction of the Sydney Opera House.
It seemed an irresistible subject having seen the structure most of the days I’d been in Sydney.
It’s a very engaging read weaving a narrative of the numerous larger than life characters responsible for the creation of the iconic structure.

Here’s an observation about architect Jørn Utzon working in Europe to visualise a building in Australia that is attractive no matter what angle it is viewed from:

At Kronborg Castle he paced out distances, his long legs stretching to count the meters as he tried to picture Bennelong Point. While walking around the castle’s ancient walls he realised that the Sydney Opera House would be like Kronborg: viewed from all sides. He had often sailed around the Kronborg peninsula, observing the castle from all angles, so knew the Sydney Opera House could not have an ugly side. It needed to be beautiful from all angles. Around, above and below. From a ferry on the harbour or from a car on the Harbour Bridge.

The House, Helen Pitt, Allen & Unwin, 2018, pg 106.

Even with the controversy surrounding its design and construction, it does achieve that brief.
No matter where the Opera House is viewed from, and no matter how many times you’ve seen it before, it is a pleasure to look at.

Leave a comment


I’m reading Meredith Lake’s fascinating ‘cultural history’ The Bible In Australia.
I can’t recall ever encountering the word ‘colporteur’ before, but Lake in referring to the activity of agents of a variety of societies that were dedicated to the distribution of Bibles and religious literature uses the label Colporteur.

A variety of online dictionaries define a Colporteur as:

  • a person who travels to sell or publicize Bibles, religious tracts, etc.
  • a peddler of books.

This reminds me of Big Dan Teague, the morally compromised Bible salesman from O Brother, Where Art Thou.

Leave a comment

The Bible In Australia

Saw this mentioned on a blog I read and thought it looked very interesting.

It certainly seems like a unique treatment.

So, it’s on the acquisitions shelf and reading will soon commence.

Leave a comment

Holiday Reading – Protestants The Radicals Who Made The Modern World by Alec Ryrie

Holiday reading is resuming after a hiatus.
Protestants – The Radicals Who Made The Modern World by Alec Ryrie is a sweeping 500 page historical survey that seeks to demonstrate that understanding the modern world is impossible without understanding the Protestant movement.
It also came highly recommended.