Past Services

Some of these talks are given in full on our blog and are available for use by others. Please acknowledge the author and our Fellowship.


13 January, Rev. Geoffrey Usher: “Ring in the New”.
The tradition of New Year’s resolutions is an acknowledgement that, despite all that is known and set and past in our lives, we can change.  It’s a way to tip our hats to possibilities, to the idea that we can still produce a different future. It is possible to be mistaken, and we should be prepared to modify our beliefs in the light of new knowledge or experience. We need to be willing to “ring in the new”.

20 January, Morandir Armson: “Religions of Ancient Ireland”.
The story of religion in Ireland is a fascinating view of religious development, and serves to illustrate the ways in which Christianity took root in Europe. This presentation will look at the shift in religion in Ireland, from the ancient Pagan Druidical religions, to the development of the Celtic Catholic Church.

27 January, Colin Whatmough:   “Reviewing Iraq: deceptions and lies which led to tragedy”

3 February, Ginna Hastings: ” Unitarian Spirituality, body, mind and soul.”
This talk is taken mainly from one given by Jim Nelson, minister of Neighborhood UU Church in Pasadena, CA, with permission. Jim raises the point that in Western society body, soul and mind are often kept quite separate in theological and spiritual thought. In this talk, Jim seeks to put a new, Unitarian bent on all this.

10 February,  Jan Tendys:  “Work and Love.”
It has been suggested that work and love are the two areas of life most likely to provide the possibility of happiness. Let’s consider that.

17 February, Morandir Armson: “Imagined Deities.”
Faith would seem to be an important element in religious belief and practice. But can one have faith in something that one knows to be false? This talk will focus on the phenomenon of imaginary religions;
those religions which revere fictional, imaginary or post-modern deities. From Jedi-ism and Discordianism, to the Church of the SubGenius, the Church of Ponies, and the Cthulhu Cult, this presentation will shine a light on those who believe in believing.

24 February, Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones: “Why There is No Such Thing as the Universe.”
Using empiricism and Buddhist teachings, Ian will show why there is no such thing as the “universe”.

3 March, Rev. Geoffrey R. Usher: “Meaning Beyond Ourselves”.
How often have we heard someone say: “I am not religious, but I am spiritual”? How many of us would be comfortable saying it about ourselves? Many people who do say it mean that they have a sense that there is something beyond themselves; a sense that there is a spiritual dimension to life; a sense that there is a deeper meaning to life than the purely materialistic level.

10 March, Rev. Geoffrey R. Usher: “Little Things, Big Things”.
Little things we often think of as having a high value in themselves – a diamond ring, a gold coin, a rare postage stamp – only carry the value that human communities have placed on them.

17 March, Morandir Armson: “The Pagan Trail: A Look at a Contemporary Pilgrimage”.
In recent years, something of a “Pagan Trail” has developed in the United Kingdom, equating to the “Hippy Trail” in South-East Asia, India and North Africa. This tourist trail has enriched various hostel owners and tour guides, filled shops with New Age paraphernalia and led to a veritable cottage industry of guides with wide Pagan knowledge. However, can this “Pagan Trail” really be seen as a form of pilgrimage? This presentation will examine contemporary Pagan tourism in Wiltshire and Somerset and seek the answer to the question; does the Pagan Trail represent a genuine attempt at creating a Pagan pilgrimage route?”

24 March, Colin Whatmough: “Political Letter Writing”.
Letter writing – a means of expressing one’s ideas, research and opinions and dealing with political frustration/cynicism.

31 March, Rev. Eric Stevenson: “Doing our own Easter”.
Their belief in the spirit world, their propensity for altered states of consciousness, and the transforming effect personal contact with him continued to have on their lives drove them to make sense of his execution. It took about two years before their theories were formulated, and two generations before they began to be written down. Without those three things what can we make of it 2000 years later?

7 April, Laurence Gormley: “Observations from my recent trip to Myanmar (Burma).”
Myanmar has been in the news a lot recently because of the dramatic political changes taking place.  Some observations and thoughts from my recent trip there. More subjective than a definitive study of the country and limited by the places and time of the visit.  Hopefully still interesting.

14 April, Dr. Max Lawson: “Rudyard Kipling and World Religions”
Often described as a mindless imperialist and racist, Rudyard Kipling was in fact an astute observer of Indian life and religion in India and Tibet. Discussion of Kipling’s novel Kim (1901) will be used as a springboard to discuss differing attitudes to world religions.

21 April, Morandir Armson: “Imagined Deities”
Faith would seem to be an important element in religious belief and practice. But can one have faith in something that one knows to be false? This talk will focus on the phenomenon of imaginary religions; those religions which revere fictional, imaginary or post-modern deities. From Jedi-ism and Discordianism, to the Church of the SubGenius, the Church of Ponies, and the Cthulhu Cult, this presentation will shine a light on those who believe in believing”.

28 April, Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones: “Walking in the Eternal Now”
‘What is the Path? What is Truth?’ asked the disciple. ‘Walk on!’ said the Zen master. Ian will talk about how we can be set free, unconditionally and absolutely.

5 May ,  Martin Horlacher:  “Atheists, Theists, Foxholes and Fundamentalisms.”
The place of faith, religion and secularism in today’s world is a difficult topic, and a very hot one.  Are all spiritual and religious people essentially deluded?  Or are there really, as some would say, no atheists in foxholes?  And is agnosticism a tenable position?  This talk will ask all of these questions, and, to the greatest extent possible, answer them.

12 May,  Helen Whatmough:  Mother’s Day

19 May,  Morandir Armson:  “Teaching Ethics Classes”
‘The NSW Public Instruction Act of 1880 states that children are to receive one lesson per week of ‘Special Religious Education’. But what happens to children who are not religious? Or indeed, to children who practice a religion which is not catered to by SRE teachers? The answer is the Primary Ethics program. This presentation will feature a personal view of the Primary Ethics program, by a volunteer ethics teacher, who teaches in the largest, and one of the most ethnically diverse primary school in NSW’.

26 May, Eric Stevenson, Colin Whatmough:  “Understanding — no matter what, from where or from whom.”
An interview.

2 June , Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones:  “Shinto for Non-Japanese “
Shinto is the authentic, native religion of Japan with its roots stretching back to 500 BCE. Today, there is a lot of interest in the West in this spiritual path which has no dogma, no concept of sin, no sacred books as such, and no mandatory precepts. Shinto in its respect and reverence for ‘Great Nature’, and its acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of all things, has great relevance to the Japanese as well as non-Japanese—and Shinto and Unitarianism have more than a bit in common.

28th July, Rev. Geoff Usher:  “An Intangible Thread”
Most people are familiar with the concept of “Six Degrees of Separation”: the hypothesis that any two people, in any two distant, completely separate countries and cultures, can be connected by a chain of human contact of no more than six.

4 August ,  EricStevenson & Colin Whatmough:  “Colin, this is your Life!”
The second interview in our new series of getting to know and celebrate the lives of our members.”

11 August,  Morandir Armson:  “The Cult of the Saints?”
Popular culture has had a tendency to idolise certain people and elevate them among other mortals. These saints and sages are then used as a source of wisdom, a model for correct behaviour, or merely as a source of quotes for inspirational coffee mugs and desk-calendars. But is this healthy? Does it help us to idolise fellow human beings, to elevate them in our minds above the common herd? This talk will take a hard look at some of these ‘saints’ and examine this phenomenon more closely.

18 August ,  Muslim guest:  “Everything you wanted to know and ask about Islam.”
Today’s speaker will be a visitor from the Turkish Mosque in Auburn, who will talk about the beliefs of Islam as he sees it, and answer any questions you may have. The service will be given over to more of a talk and Q & A time than a service.  If you have anyone who wants to know more, please bring them along!

25 August,  Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones: “The Psychologist and the Magician.”
Ian will discuss a not-so-well-known little story titled “The Psychologist and the Magician”. The story shows how we are so easily ‘hypnotised’ by things that have no power in themselves except the power we give them through our attention, and teaches that every problem is an initiation which, when understood as such, has a spiritual solution.

1 September ,  Martin Horlacher:  “Memory and Dream.
It has now been fifty years since Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Half a century on, much has changed both in America and around the rest of the world – and yet, in many ways, we’ve still got a long way to go. What will the next fifty years bring, and are we prepared for them?

8 September,    Morandir Armson:  “George Orwell: The Thinking Person’s Scalliwag.”
George Orwell, the nom de plume of Eric Blair, is often described as the 20th century’s best chronicler of English culture. He wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction and polemical journalism. He fought in the Spanish Civil War, and was also a member of the ‘Scallywags’, the ultra-secret, anti-Nazi force, set up by the Special Operations Executive. All through his career, he was attacked for his beliefs, by all sectors of politics; he was unpatriotic, he was too patriotic, he was a Communist, he was an anti-Communist, he was insufficiently pacifistic, he was a supporter of Right-wing warmongers. Yet, all through his career, Orwell sought to steer his own ethical course. This talk will examine Orwell’s ethical framework, and seek to explain some of his more controversial views.

15 September, Colin Whatmough: “War and Civilians”.
My talk will be  related to the UU Principle –  ‘the inherent worth and dignity of every person’ with reference to  America’s war against Iraqi civilians. Are we going to have a repeat performance in Syria?

22 September,  Rev. Geoff Usher:  “Worship: Transitive or Intransitive?”
People are more likely to engage in worship when they do it in the company of others who also are engaged in worship.  If we use “worship” as a transitive verb, the object of worship is likely to become the essential element: what is worshiped becomes more important  than the people who are doing the worshiping.

29 September,  Ginna Hastings:  “The 8 Habits of Love”
In this talk Ginna will be discussing a book “The 8 Habits of Love” and align the ideas with both good mental health and our seven principles.

6October, Service today is cancelled owing to expected parking chaos.

13October,  Morandir Armson: “Pagan Ecumenicism: The Search For Common Ground?”
When we talk about Paganism and the interfaith movement, there are many different layers to consider. Modern Paganism is a movement, an umbrella term for a number of distinct faith traditions. Pagans have to expend almost as much energy on building relationships with each other as they do with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists. For modern Paganism as a movement to effectively relate to the rest of the world’s religions, it must be conscious of how it is progressing.

20October, Rev. Eric Stevenson: “Report on Common Dreams Conference”
Eric reports on his attendance at the Common Dreams conference as the Spirit of Life Representative. Some gathered clues on birthing religious fellowships.

27 October, Rev. Dr. Ian Ellis-Jones: “Fairy Tales and their Inner Meanings”
Most fairy tales are not about ‘fairies’ at all, but are mythological in nature. Their ‘inner’ meaning is cloaked in allegory, parable and symbolism. Ian will discuss some well-known fairy tales, including Aladdin, Cinderella, and Snow White, drawing out some of the ‘lessons’ we can learn from them and apply in our daily lives.


3November, Colin Whatmough: “The European Origins of Unitarianism”

10November,  Morandir Armson: Healing the Soul.
At the present time, “soul-healing therapy” is very popular. It is difficult to determine whate these therapists are selling, as very few of them provide a reasonable definition of what they mean by “soul”. However it is clear that many of us feel deep wounds in the core of our being. We feel somehow ‘fractured’ in our experience of our selves. So working on healing ourselves at a fundamental, deep level, so we can experience ourselves as a whole being seems to have merit. This talk will examine the idea of “soul-healing therapy’ and provide some answers as to its utility.

17 November, Rev. Geoff Usher: “The Best Daily Dozen.”
There’s not enough hugging going on in this world. Physical contact is important, to communicate feelings of warmth, friendship, support, acceptance.

24 November, Laurence Gormley: “The Gift of Ordinariness.”
A paen to the small things in everyday life. It’s important sometimes to forget the “big things”, the important things, and revere the day to day events.

1 December, Martin Horlacher: “Fiction and Faith: Three Perspectives on Jesus.”
One of the most powerful mediums in the world is the art of fiction, and, over the years, fictional works about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ have been many and varied. This talk will examine three such fictional depictions from popular culture – namely, those versions as put forward in print and on screen by Mel Gibson, Jose Saramago and Nikos Kazantzakis / Martin Scorsese – and their interpretations of and impact upon one of the best-known stories in history.

8 December, Morandir Armson: “Coming up to Christmas”.
Christmas has become a major plank, both of the Christian religion, and of Western cultural life. But where did the traditions of Christmas come from? This presentation will focus on Christmas traditions, drawn from the Pagan Norse and Romans, from Mediaeval and Renaissance mysticism, and from Georgian and Victorian cultural traditions.

15 December, Members’ contributions (readings, poems, musical items, etc)
Party food following !

Christmas and New Year Break


12 January ,   Ginna Hastings will introduce a group discussion of what we are about, hopes, plans etc.

19 January, Martin Horlacher:  “The History of the Devil”

26 January,  Laurence Gormley:  “Time Flies.”

2  February,  Jan Tendys:  “How I became a Patriot.”
For my generation of lefties “patriotism” was a suspect word. Over my lifetime, I have become a rather fierce patriot—but still able to see the difference between Australia’s cultural ideals and our actual performance.

9  February,  Morandir Armson:  “A Mere Bagatelle”
On the 12th of February 1692, a massacre took place took place in Glen Coe, in the Highlands of Scotland. This incident, referred to in Gaelic as the ‘Mort Ghlinne’, was efficiently planned, and carried out with cold and mechanical skill. What allows human beings to carry out such fearful acts? How is planned mass-murder even possible? What does this say about the human moral framework? This talk will examine this subject and seek to find answers to this most horrible question.

16 February,  Rev. Geoff Usher:  “Memorial Service for Arthur de Munitiz
Arthur was a Unitarian in the tradition of valuing Reason, Freedom and Tolerance in religion and in life. Like Thomas Paine, his religion was in doing good.

2 March,  Dr Max Lawson:  “Elizabeth Gaskell and Unitarianism.
Prolific Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell (today best known for her novels Cranford (1853) and North and South (1855) was the wife of a prominent Unitarian minister who encouraged the writing of his wife’s “social protest” novels.  This legacy and the continuing implications for Unitarian Universalism are explored.

9 March, Jan Tendys: “Learning To Be Ourselves”
Not always easy; not always accomplished in adolescence.

16 March, Helen Whatmough: “Thoughts about Class in Australia”
Social distinctions? The C word? Class warfare? Egalitarian tradition in Australia – ˜fair go” – classless Australia: a myth? Changes over time. Thoughts to discuss.

23 March, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Do It Now”
Did you make any New Year Resolutions? Do you remember what they were? Have you kept these resolutions? Have you done all you decided – or thought – you would do? At the beginning of every year, it can seem as though there is endless time stretching out in front. For all  the important things – and perhaps the less important things – it can seem as though there are plenty of days to fit everything in. And what happens?

30 March, Morandir Armson:  “The Religion of the Incas.”
“In the Tawantinsuyu, the vast and heterogeneous Inca Empire, a number of polytheistic religions were practiced by its different peoples. Most of these were connected only by the veneration of Pachamama, the Earth goddess, and Viracocha, the great creator god . This presentation will examine the subtleties of the Inca religion, and seek to paint a portrait of this vanished faith. ”

6 April,  Martin Horlacher:  “Ethical Culture: A Philosophy for Humanity.”
Ethical Culture is an ethical, educational and religious movement begun by Felix Adler in 1877.  But, what are its core tenets? And just how might it compare with Unitarianism?

13 April,  Dr Max Lawson:  “The Spiritual Quest of Emily Bronte.”
Although Emily Bronte’s father, Patrick, was a member of the Evangelical wing of the Church of England to which her sisters Charlotte and Anne subscribed, Emily broke the mould. Not a Sunday-School teacher or a regular churchgoer like her sisters, Emily Bronte struck out on her own spiritual path as revealed in her poetry, and her novel Wuthering Heights. (1847)

20 April, Rev. Geoff Usher:  ” Easter Sunday: A Unitarian Perspective”
The idea of a literal re-awakening from the dead makes many liberal religious people ignore or reject the idea of resurrection entirely. Perhaps we are asking the wrong question if we ask it in those terms: Was the resurrection real?  For us, as Unitarians, Easter can mean confronting the deep wounds and the hurts and scars we have suffered, and then allowing ourselves to be transformed anew.

27 April, Alice Oppen:  “Family Planning for Disadvantaged Women Overseas.”
Women’s Plans Foundation is focussed on providing family planning as a component of overseas aid programs. Family planning can accomplish much for women in areas of poverty and disadvantage.

4 May,  Ginna Hastings:   “Capt. James Cook and George Washington –  Leaders of Their Times, Inspiration for Our Times.”
Both these leaders of British birth who didn’t know one another but who achieved great things in the late 18th C demonstrated amazing skills and wisdom in their leadership in their times, and teach us something about how to be forward thinkers in these times.

11 May, Morandir Armson:  “The Religion and Culture of the Vikings”
It is often stated that the ancient Norse religion was morbid, hopeless or cruel; a faith which promised happiness only to those who died in battle and left the rest of its people to face doom at Ragnarök, the final doom of gods and men. Yet, in reality, this view is far from complete. This presentation will focus on the more complex areas of Norse religion and culture, allowing a more nuanced picture of ancient Norse life and belief to be discerned.

18 May,  Colin Whatmough:  ˜James Lovelock’s Gaian Theory”
The Gaia hypothesis is “the first comprehensive, scientific expression of the ancient belief that the planet Earth itself, is in fact a living creature where its climate and surface environment are controlled by the plants, animals and the micro organisms that inhabit it” ­ a revolutionary concept.

25 May, Rev. Geoff Usher:  “The Man Who Moved the World”
Nicolaus Copernicus challenged the wisdom of antiquity: he challenged the common sense of humankind, by proclaiming that the earth was not the centre of the universe, but that the earth is an ordinary planet that revolves around the sun.  His attack shattered the grip of ancient dogma which had stifled scientific thought; his thinking was a turning point in human intellectual history.

1 June, Martin Holacher: ” Sebastian Castellio: Apostle of Conscience”
Sebastian Castellio was one of the greatest thinkers of his age – a proponent of freedom of thought…and conscience. What can we learn from him today?

8 June, Morandir Armson:  “Magickal Philosophy
Various philosophers have sought to nail down the exact definition of ‘magick’ and to elaborate its various functions. Writers such as Eliphas Levi, Helena Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley, and Austin Osman Spare have all contributed to this field. So what is ‘magick’ and why, in this scientific age, do people still practice magick? This presentation will examine magickal philosophy and seek to explain this complex social phenomenon.

15 June, Matthew Dane:  To be announced

22 June, Rev. Geoff Usher:  “Little Women, Large Legacy
In all ages, and in all places, those who have dared to be different, those who have dared to go against the expectations of society, have felt alone. And yet, these are often the people who have moved society forward. The story of Louisa May Alcott’s life can mean much for us today.

29 June, Dr Max Lawson: ” Herman Melville’s Quarrel with God
Herman Melville (a wayward Unitarian) was obsessed with religious and metaphysical problems: How could a benevolent God be reconciled with the forces of evil in the world? Why do the demands of Law often clash with the claims of justice? These “quarrels with God” are respectively the driving power behind Melville’s novels, Moby Dick and Billy Budd.

6  July,  Ginna Hastings:  “The Four Agreements, A Toltec Wisdom Book, by Don Miguel Ruiz
This self help book had some unusual ideas regarding how we frame our reality and our psyche. It claims to come from the Toltecs, in Mexico. The benefits of this book will be discussed from a personal perspective, but reasoned criticism will also be given.

13 July,  Morandir Armson:  “The Mayans and the 2012 ‘Mayan Apocalypse’
In 2012 the whole world, it seemed, lost its collective mind over the Mayan Calendar and the coming apocalypse. As it turned out the world didn’t end, but why did this mania erupt? What is the Mayan Calendar anyway, and who created it? This talk will re-examine the 2012 phenomenon, and look at the Mayan civilisation, the Mayan Calendar, and the roots of millennial beliefs.

20 July,  Jan Tendys:  “Patience
We live in anxious times. This talk will be an extended meditation on the value of patience.

27 July, Laurence Gormley: “India and Bhutan”.

3 August,  Martin   Horlacher:  “Singularitanism: a true philosophy or the rapture of the nerds?
The technological singularity is upon us – or is it?  And is the movement to bring one about a true hope… or just another crazy cult?

10 August,  Morandir  Armson:  “Darkness and Light: Zoroastrianism in World Religions
The Zoroastrian religion flourished in the ancient Mid-East and was the religion of the great Persian Empire. There is evidence to show that this faith influenced many other religious traditions, which emerged from the Middle-East. This presentation will examine these influences and seek to to answer the question; what is the religious legacy of ancient Zoroastrianism

17 August,  Carolyn   Donnelly:  “Beatrix Potter, Author and Illustrator
Some lesser known facts of her achievements maybe influenced by an Unitarian upbringing.

24 August,  Rev   Geoff   Usher:  “It Only Adds
We can marvel over the scientific and technological changes which have taken place within our lifetime. And we can be prompted into speculating on what the world will be likein another 50-60 years from now.  We can wonder whether artificial intelligence will ever become a reality, or whether the space-docking stations will ever evolve into settled space colonies.

31 August,  Neil Inall:  “Food, Food, Glorious Food”.
Most of us will remember these words from Lionel Bart’s wonderful musical “Oliver” sung by hungry boys in a poor house in London. None of us can escape the need to keep our bellies reasonably full. But many people in Australia do not have that luxury every day and for thousands of others around the world hunger is a constant state. With the global population forecast to grow by another 2 billion people by 2050 how well prepared are we to feed all those extra people? Neil will discuss the likely barriers to increased food production and what we ought to be doing about this situation.

7 September,  Rev. Geoff Usher:  Father’s Day
Father’s Day has value as an opportunity for focusing thoughts on fathers and their place in family life and in society. However, it seems rather a sad comment on family life – and on society in general – that such a day should be considered necessary. Wouldn’t it be nice if people felt able, and willing, to express appreciation and affection for fathers, for mothers and for each other every day of the year and not just one day out of 365.

14 September,  Morandir Armson:   “The Plight of the Yazidi”
The Yazidi practice a syncretic religion that combines Shi’i and Sufi Islam, with various indigenous folk traditions, beliefs and practices. These traditions include elements shared with the Christian and Mandaean communities of the Near East, as well as more ancient religions such as Zoroastrianism. The Yazidi have been persecuted on religious grounds, by the Ottoman Empire, by Saddam Hussein, and most recently by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This presentation will seek to describe the Yazidi, and look at their history of persecution and massacre, seeking an answer to the question; why are the Yazidi sometimes hated by their neighbours?

21 September,  Helen Whatmough:  “Water, in Earth’s History and Human History”
‘Earth is water’s creation’; the place of water in human history; how water is perceived in today’s world.

28 September,  Morandir Armson:  “Animal Spirituality”

5 October, Colin Whatmough:  “The Politics of Wealth”
Readings from Al Gore’s book The Assault on Reason relating to the Unitarian Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; leading to comments and discussion.

12 October, Morandir Armson:  “Who were the Gnostics and did they leave a legacy?”
Gnostics, agnostics – there’s one or two stories there.

19 October, Rev. Geoff Usher:  “The individual Search within Community”
Many people are looking seriously for a religious home that is right for them. One reason is that, in the middle of the most technologically advanced civilisation ever known, many people feel terribly lonely. This service will look at three principles which John H. Nichols described as “fundamental to the search for any religious understanding”.

26 October, Steve Maxwell:  “The History of the Rationalist Associationin NSW.”
I believe that the origin of our association lies in the mid 19th century, a time of great social upheaval in Australia: the Gold Rush, the push for democracy and so called “Golden Age of Free Thought”. History winds a curious path as you will find, and the Unitarians played a role along that path.

2 November, Martin Horlacher:  “Neoplatonism, Then and Now”
Neoplatonism was one of the leading Greek philosophies of the ancient world.  But, just how much did it affect the course of history?  And, does it still resonate today?

9 November,  Morandir Armson:  “The Esoteric World of Walter Burley Griffin”.
Walter Burley Griffin, was an important American architect and landscape designer, who invented several important architectural innovations, including the L-shaped house and the carport. Burley Griffin won the Federal Capital Design Competition in 1912 and was thereby given the task of producing the first town design for Canberra. Griffin was strongly associated with an esoteric movement, Rudolf  Steiner’s Anthroposophy Society, which influenced his architectural and town plan concepts and designs throughout his later life, which included the time he spent in designing the new city of Canberra.

16 November,  Colin Whatmough:  “Outgrowth: The rapid growth of human civilisation “
– in the number of people, the power of technology and the size of the global economy, is colliding with approaching limits to the supply of key natural resources on which billions of lives depend eg topsoil and fresh water.

23 November, Helen Whatmough:  “Worry, Fear, Terror”
– Understanding and coping with Terror, or thoughts of terror, in the past and in our world.

30 November,  Martin Horlacher:  ” Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”
In one of the greatest graphic novels ever written, Hayao Miyazaki explored not only environmental concerns, but also the notion of free will and the very meaning of life.  What can we, in our own technologically advanced yet morally troubled modern age, learn from this brilliant piece of literature?

7th December, Laurence Gormley: ” Recollections of Christmases Past”
After the talk there will a Party.

14th December,  Rev. Geoff Usher:  “A Festive Service”
There will also be a baby naming ceremony during the service.


1st February, Ginna Hastings:  “Growing Old

8th February,  Morandir  Armson:  “The Esoteric World of Walter Burley Griffin”.
Walter Burley Griffin, was an important American architect and landscape designer, who invented several important architectural innovations, including the L-shaped house and the carport. Burley Griffin won the Federal Capital Design Competition in 1912 and was thereby given the task of producing the first town design for Canberra. Griffin was strongly associated with an esoteric movement, Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy Society, which influenced his architectural and town plan concepts and designs throughout his later life, which included the time he spent in designing the new city of Canberra.

15th February, Helen Whatmough:  “Astrology

22nd February, Martin  Horlacher:  “You’re Gonna Carry That Weight

1 March, Robert Woog:  “Conversational ethics may be more useful than global ethics.”
Ethical and moral dilemas are arguments about good and evil but at other times they are clashes between preferred philosophical positions. I will argue that ethics must come about by each individual determining their moral history and through collaborating, co-determine the history of human kind. Based on evidence from history and on current social trends, I am hopeful but not confident that this will turn out well.

8 March, Susan Patterson: “Living as an Introvert in an Extroverted World”
Our lives are shaped as profoundly by personality as by gender or race.  The single most important aspect of personality is where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum.  One’s place on this continuum influences our choice of friends and marriage mates, how we make conversation, resolve differences, and show love.  It affects the careers we choose and whether or not we succeed at them – and, very possibly, the way we choose to worship and express our spirituality.

15 March, Martin Horlacher: “Omega Point: The Life and Teachings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.”
A French philosopher and Jesuit priest who was also trained as a paleontologist  and geologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin took part in several important discoveries regarding human evolution, and developed a very complex cosmology.  This talk will examine his theories and life, as well as why he was originally censored by the Catholic Church during his lifetime.

22 March, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Perspective on Failure.”
There is a lot to be learned from failure.  It can open doors to new options by forcing us to consider new opportunities.  It helps us to discover what works.  We learn from mistakes and setbacks, perhaps more than we learn from success.  Learning early in life that we can survive setbacks and defeat makes us tougher and more resilient for the rest of our lives.

29 March, Neil Inall: “A  Cauldron of Cuisine”.
Covering the questions about GM food  cropping, production and marketing; also interpreting food labelling.

5th April, Morandir  Armson:  “The Greatest Story Ever Told?”
The story of the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central narrative of Christianity. But to what extent is this narrative based on a historic reality? This talk will focus on the Biblical narrative of Easter, the historical situation of 1st Century Palestine, and the many Pagan traditions which echo the story of Easter.

12th April, Martin  Horlacher: “Sins of the Fathers.”
The Christian doctrine of original sin has had a lasting and profound impact upon humanity, and not always for the better. But does this need to continue to be the case?

19th  April, Susan Patterson  and Robert Woog: “A Coherent Conversation on War.
Framed by the Celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of the ANZAC Landing on Gallipoli, Susan Patterson and Robert Woog will lead the congregation in a Coherent Conversation about war.  Is war avoidable?  Is it unavoidable?  Is it part of our human nature?  Our DNA?  We will establish the foundation of the conversation by examining four necessities of human life: Resources, Identity, Power, and Hope.  Then we will include our audience in this self-referential, permissive conversation, discovering and exploring and seeking an emergent understanding of our theme.  Given whatever end point we arrive at, we will conclude with possible warnings and personal commitments toward our topic.

26th April, John Cusack:  “The Soldier Settler Scheme”.

3th May, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Worship, World and Wonder.”

We Unitarians have been taught to emphasise the reasonable, the provable, the rational, the functional. Albert Einstein wrote: “He who can no longer stand rapt in wonder and awe is as good as dead. His eyes are closed.” And William Blake wrote: ”If the doors of perception are opened, then everything will appear as it is, infinite.” In life, in nature, in worship: there are insights to be had, but they cannot always be had by trying to go and get them. Sometimes they come from quiet waiting. Meister Eckhart is said to have observed that nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness.

10th May, Mothers’ Day. Morandir Armson: “The Pagan Trinity – Thoughts on the Triple-Goddess”.
The Triple-Goddess is one of the most enduring deity figures in modern Paganism; an  amalgamated, three-faced goddess, comprising Maiden, Mother, and Crone. To many Pagans, this figure is the essential Goddess, whose existence is unquestioned. But where did this goddess-figure come from, and what is its cultic function? This talk will focus on the figure of the Triple Goddess and seek to answer the question; whose Mother are we talking
about here?”

17th May, Colin Whatmough: “ Rich Land, Wasteland : how Coal is killing Australia”.

24th May, Helen Whatmough: “Astrology”.

31th May, Dr Max Lawson: ”Walden Pond and Thoreau “.
Looking at Thoreau’s writings about living for two years in isolation beside Walden Pond, the reflections made and its influence on Transcendentalism, something very big in our Unitarian tradition.

7th June, Jan Tendys: “Frans de Waal: ‘The Bonobo and the Atheist’ ”
The Bonobo is our closest ape cousin. What advice might it give to an atheist?

14th June, Morandir Armson: “Modern Shintoism”
Shinto, also called kami-no-michi, is an indigenous religion of Japan. It is focused on ritual practices, which must be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. These ancient rituals are of an almost Shamanic character, and centre on the Emperor of Japan, who is automatically the High Priest of Shinto.
This presentation will seek to answer the question; how does an ancient, Shamanic religion survive in the nation of Japan, which is a particularly fast-paced, almost futurist culture?

21st June, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Spiritual Economy”
Just as music is much more than the efficient arrangement of sounds, so living well, being present to the moment, is much more than the efficient arrangement of time. As is living faithfully, living spiritually, living as if life mattered far more than wasting our powers through getting and spending.

28th June, Martin Horlacher: “Golden Ages: Gilding the Lily or Living our Lives?”
It’s fairly common to hear someone complaining that things just aren’t how they used to be, back in the “good old days”. Chances are, we’ve all done it at some point. But, were there ever any “good old days” to begin with? Or, is learning from the past and making a better future what really counts?

5 July,  Laurence Gormley: “Endgame”.
Life has various phases.  The final one is of course old age.  Are we prepared for it? Will it be rewarding?  What new life experiences and opportunities does it offer? And then how do we execute our exit strategy?  Some thoughts, hopefully not all serious.

12 July, Morandir Armson: “ The Religions of the Indian Sub-Continent.”
The Indian sub-continent is the birthplace of three of the major world religions; Buddhism, Hinduism or San tan Dharma, and Sikhism. In addition to these three, the Jain religion, an ancient faith that is probably the ancestor of Buddhism, also exists in India. These four faiths are all connected; but how, and in what manner? As Indian spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic medicine enter the mainstream of Western culture, it behoves us to ask these questions; what are the religions of India? How do they relate to each other, and to spiritual practices such as yoga? This presentation will seek to look at these questions and possibly present some answers.

19 July,  Rev. Geoff Usher: “Francis David and the Edict of Torda.”
Francis David (David Ferencz) is often called “the first Unitarian”.  He became the leader and first bishop of what became the Unitarian Church of Transylvania.  His inspiring advocacy led to the Edict of Torda by Prince John Sigismund in 1568, which confirmed earlier decrees affirming the freedom of the various religious groups in the country.

26 July, Marie Hensley, Guest Speaker: “ Building Community”.
Marie  is a Community Practitioner with Landcare.  She does socially innovative projects and affordable programs to assist communities become more sustainable.  Her topic will relate to how they can become self reliant.

2 August, Helen Whatmough: “Social Enterprise – a new business model?
A business model to build up the earning potential (of Australians) who are least fortunate, which also complements the private sector.

9 August, Colin Whatmough: “What I Believe.
Colin will examine Peter Andrews ideas to replenish the Australian landscape through his research at Tarwyn  Park. This relates to the present time with regard to large coal mines to be permitted on the fertile Liverpool Plains.

16 August,  Rev Geoff Usher: “Jan Hus and the Flaming Chalice: Our Symbol and Its Story –  Part 1
The symbol of the Chalice and Flame—commonly known as the flaming chalice—has become recognised internationally as the symbol for Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist congregations. This and a second service trace its history and development.

23 August, Morandir Armson : “The Religions of the Indian Sub-Continent.
The Indian sub-continent is the birthplace of three of the major world religions; Buddhism, Hinduism or San tan Dharma, and Sikhism. In addition to these three, the Jain religion, an ancient faith that is probably the ancestor of Buddhism, also exists in India. These four faiths are all connected; but how, and in what manner? (This is the talk that was cancelled in July.)

30 August,  Rev Geoff Usher: “The Flaming Chalice in the Twentieth Century: Our Symbol and Its Story – Part 2

6 September,  Ginna Hastings: ” Religion and Violence”
The violence today in the Middle East often causes many to conclude that religion itself is often a cause of wars and violence.  After reading Karen Armstrong’s  Fields of Blood – Religion and the History of Violence, I’ve developed another viewpoint on this matter.  This talk will briefly explain Armstrong’s complex theories to which I’ll add some comments of my own and from a Unitarian perspective. Discussion to follow, so the actual worship part of the meeting will be smaller than usual. The book is not required reading for the talk, but it is certainly recommended reading to all!

13 September,  Jan Tendys: “The First Humanist Manifesto Part 1”
Many Unitarians count themselves as humanists.  What can we learn from a look at the founding document of modern humanism?

20 September,  Jan Tendys: “The First Humanist Manifesto Part 2”
This will complete our examination of this historically important document.

27 September,  Rev Geoff Usher: “Celebrating Spring”
This service will be an anthology of readings and reflections on the theme of the return of Spring after the cold, dark days of winter.

4 October,          There will be no service this Sunday.

11 October,  Rev. Geoff Usher:  “The Unitarian Dance”
The Unitarian dance is the tension between individuality and community, between tolerance and conviction, between thinking and feeling, between the head and the heart. The success of the dance depends upon preserving the whole of the encircling sphere.

18 October, Rev. Eric Stevenson: “Who made the Golden Rule?”
Where did our sense of right and wrong come from? How reliable are the sources which combine to create my moral code? Reference: Lloyd Geering’s recent book “Re-imagining God”, chapter 11, on Ethics.

25 October, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Nothing to be Gained”
We live in a world where ridiculous errors abound.  We try to contribute as few as we can to the total, but we make some too, and others just happen in ways past explaining. What can we say but we’re sorry?  What can we do but move on?

1 November, Rev. Geoff Usher: “The Church and Social Justice: ANZUUA Conference Report”
This service will be an opportunity for a report on the Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Unitarian Universalist Association which took place at the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church over the weekend 16-18 October. The Conference Theme was “The Church and Social Justice”.

8 November, Martin Horlacher: “Reason”
The capacity to consciously make sense of this thing we call real life is perhaps the single most important thing that makes us all human.  But reason constantly finds itself under attack from those who argue that only religion can offer us a better way forward.  Which is right…and who, ultimately, will win?

15 November, Ginna Hastings: “The festival of ‘American Thanksgiving’, Insights  and  background”
Thanksgiving is an American Holiday which most Americans acknowledge as their favourite.  Ginna will discuss the history of this holiday, why it is important and what can we as Unitarians and Australians learn from it.

22 November, Steve Maxwell: “Living a Rational Life.”
This will be the second talk given to our Fellowship by Steve, who is the Secretary of the Rationalist Society.

29 November, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Love and Death—the Immortal Struggle”
We are aware not only of our own death, but of the possible end of human life on this planet. In the face of the inevitability of death, we look for ways to love, to say “Yes” to life. The desire to find ways to love is part of our human nature, even in the face of death and disaster.

6 December, Martin Horlacher: “Reason”
The capacity to consciously make sense of this thing we call real life is perhaps the single most important thing that makes us all human.  But reason constantly finds itself under attack from those who argue that only religion can offer us a better way forward.  Which is right…and who, ultimately, will win? (This talk was cancelled in November).

13 December, PARTY! We hope each of you will present a reading, poem, musical item or whatever you wish by way of contributing to the festivity of the season.


24 January,Rev. Geoff Usher: “Cleaning Up”

Most of us are clearing up the debris and getting back to normal after the rush and busy-ness of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Cleaning up is one of life’s basic realities. We can explore it on three levels: personal, institutional and spiritual cleaning up. Zen simplicity is that state of being in which we have been able to clear away the karma of the past and the life cluster of the present, to savour the moment in the name of an unencumbered future.

31st January, Laurence Gormley: “The Age of Terrorism”.
A brief exploration of the roots of contemporary terrorism including its relationship with religion, followed by a general discussion amongst the congregation.

7 February,  Martin Horlacher: “The Power and the Passion”
We all want to break free, we all want to *live*. But it’s never that easy…but even so, don’t give up!

14 February, Helen Whatmough: “Saint Valentine”
Valentine’s Day – facts and fables from Roman times to modern times; Western world to Asia and the middle East.

21 February,
Jan Tendys: “Catherine Helen Spence – A Unitarian High Achiever”.
Unitarians are known for their practical responses to the need for social justice as much as for their progressive theology.  Both these aspects of our faith played a role in the life of this outstanding Australian.

28 February, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Ten Characteristics of Religious Maturity” Part 1.
Mature religion grows with out increasing knowledge of the world.  It is willing to accept today’s truth, even though this means giving up the cherished comfortable truths of yesterday.  Mature religion is vitally interested in the world around it, and in improving that world. This mini-series of two services will consider what a truly mature religious position might be like.

6 March, Martin Horlacher: “Right and Wrong”
The issue of just what is right, and what is wrong, is easily one of the perennial questions of moral philosophy, and one that has plagued ethicists and thinkers for perhaps as long as humanity has existed.  However, whilst this talk will indeed ask this very question, it will also seek to engender discussion, rather than impose any one view as the definitive answer.

13 March, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Ten Characteristics of Religious Maturity,”  Part 2
Mature religion grows with out increasing knowledge of the world.  It is willing to accept today’s truth, even though this means giving up the cherished comfortable truths of yesterday.  Mature religion is vitally interested in the world around it, and in improving that world. This mini-series of two services will consider what a truly mature religious position might be like.

20 March, Colin Whatmough: “Seeking a New Easter”
Where a Resurrection of thought will better serve the needs of the Western World in the 21st Century

27 March,         Easter                 No meeting

3 April, Martin Horlacher: “The Good Life”
Australian author and philosopher Hugh Mackay has spent his entire working life asking others about their values, motivations, ambitions, hopes and fears. In his new book, “The Good Life”, he examines what he feels makes a life worth living – and this talk will examine the conclusions he draws.

10 April, Carolyn Donnelly: “What’s the use of Dr Seuss?”
Turning the pages and focusing on the concepts, principles and purposes of his children’s books, and his association with Unitarian Universalists, during Theodur (Ted) Suess Geisel’s lifetime.

17 April, Lyn Macpherson (guest speaker): “Truth”
Lyn will discuss her recent book.

24 April, Anzac weekend. No service.

8 May, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Mothers Day”
Charles Simmons said: “If you would reform the world from its errors and vices, begin by enlisting the mothers.” But there are some mothers who should not be enlisted. Let us not put mothers on a pedestal. Let us not idealise them to the point they become unreal, fondly sentimentalised paintings, rather than flesh and blood.

15 May, Colin Whatmough: “Vietnam – the Sorrow of War”

22 May, Jan Tendys: “How did Unitarian Universalism arrive at its Principles and Purposes?”
How did the American Unitarians (Christians but unconventional) transition to today’s even more unconventional Unitarian Universalists where Christianity is one option among many?

29 May, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Leisure and Bustle: A Contrast”
In his poem “What is life ….?” W. H. Davies wrote:
“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance,
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”

Even in our modern, busy, industrialised society, it is important to take time “to stand and stare”.

5 June, Martin Horlacher: “Spinoza: Was He the Prince of Philosophers?”
Baruch Spinoza is widely considered one of the greatest rationalist philosophers not only of 17th-century Europe, but perhaps of all time, laying the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, as well as modern conceptions of the self and the universe. His moral character and philosophical accomplishments throughout his 44 years of life have led one 20th-century philosopher to name him “the ‘prince’ of philosophers”, and this talk will examine why.

12 June, No service (Market day. Kirribilli).

19 June, Jan Tendys: “And so she returned to her old friend.”
Sometimes we need to rediscover what we knew early in our lives.

26 June, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Flowers and Rainbows.”

The rainbow is an excellent example of unity in diversity. All those lovely colours come together to make the rainbow. We need all seven colours there, or the rainbow just wouldn’t be right. It can remind us that we are often blind to hidden beauty around us all the time.

3 July, Martin Horlacher: “Spinoza: Was He the Prince of Philosophers?”
Baruch Spinoza is widely considered one of the greatest rationalist philosophers not only of 17th-century Europe, but perhaps of all time, laying the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, as well as modern conceptions of the self and the universe. His moral character and philosophical accomplishments throughout his 44 years of life have led one 20th-century philosopher to name him “the ‘prince’ of philosophers”, and this talk will examine why.

10 July, No service (Market day. Kirribilli).

17 July, Colin Whatmough: “Iraq: Corruption, Crime, Oil.”

24 July, Sandy Biar: “Change Makers and Unitarian Values: the Qualities of Effective Leaders”
Many of the inherent traits of Unitarians are the same traits that underpin effective community organisers and leaders – curiosity, irreverence, imagination, a free and open mind and a sense of humour. We’ll explore how these values are at the heart of reform and movement building, and how they can help us chart a course towards a stronger movement in Australia for Unitarian values.

31 July, Rev. Geoff Usher:  “Ram Mohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj.”
The Brahmo Samaj was formed in Calcutta early in the 19th century, during a drive to reform Hinduism and Indian society. It continues to this day as a small but influential movement, based in India but with branches in other places around the world. Ram Mohan Roy, who was generally regarded as the Founder of Modern India, was particularly important in the reform movement which led to the formation of the Brahmo Samaj.

7 August, Martin Horlacher: “Nous: Intellectuals and Modern Society”
In a society ruled by dumbed-down attitudes to culture and five-second sound bites, the role of the intellectual – be it in a public or private capacity – has never been under greater threat.  This talk will examine what can possibly be done to combat this problem.

14 August,    No service owing to markets at Kirribilli.

21 August,    Ginna Hastings: “How do we deal with evil in our world?”
Tragedies abound, world peace seems a lost cause, selfish aggression is rampant.  What do we do?

28 August, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Fungi, Rabbits and Sheep”
Beatrix Potter is best known as an author and illustrator, the creator of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-duck, Tom Kitten and Mrs Tittlemouse.  She was also a farmer, sheep-breeder and respected show judge.  And she was a generous supporter of the National Trust, to which she bequeathed most of her estate.

4 September, Martin Horlacher: “Was Monotheism a Mistake?
Are many gods better than one or vice versa?

11 September, No service today owing to markets.

18 September, Helen Whatmough: “Privacy Issues in Today’s World”
A review of privacy issues in our world today; government, social media, even shopping centres—an all pervasive issue.

25 September, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Good news in the Present Tense.”
I feel uncomfortable when I am confronted by people whose earnest wish is to convert me: to persuade me that their particular religious sect—their view of Biblical Truth—their interpretation of the Will of God—is the only true and right one.
I am more interested—and more likely to be convinced—if someone wants to tell me about a local organisation that is trying to do something: to alleviate suffering, or to improve the lot of people in the local community.

2 October, No Service

9 October, No Service

16 October,Ginna Hastings: “Has our society lost its moral compass?”
With all the press reports about corruption in many places in our society, it feels like we have lost our moral compass as a society. Have we really?

23 October, Colin Whatmough: “Privatisation – the Extent and the Myth”
Australia once prided itself as an egalitarian nation which it is not now. The significant difference between then and now is our current commitment to privatisation.

30 October, Rev. Geoff Usher: “A Perpetual Parsonical Problem”.
One of the biggest problems in announcing sermon titles in advance is that people may think they know what you’re going to say, so they think they need not come to hear it.

6 November, Martin Horlacher: “Ephemeral Dymaxion: The Life and Philosophical Times of Buckminster Fuller.”
An architect, systems theorist, author, designer, environmental activist and inventor, Buckminster Fuller was also a Unitarian – and one whose powerful philosophical influence is still very relevant today.

13 November,  No service owing to Kirribilli markets.

20 November, Martin Horlacher: “Postmodernism.”
Postmodernism describes both an era and a broad movement that developed in the mid to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism which marked a departure from modernism. But, just how far-reaching is its influence, and is it a good thing, or not?

27 November, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Paper Bags and Calabashes.”
All of us need the discrimination to know whether we are seeing nothing because there is truly nothing to be seen, or whether we are seeing nothing because we are unaware, insensitive, unperceptive, or lacking in spiritual insight. We need to work for the integration of the material and the ideal, our doubts and our beliefs.


22 January, Rev. Geoff Usher : “Nostalgia”.
We may hold and cherish our memories. We may even view the past through rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia. But we cannot return to the past. We cannot re-create the past.
There is a danger in trying to wish that everything could be “just like it was in the good old days” – which of course weren’t always really so good.

29 January, Colin Whatmough:  “Globalisation and Morality”
Should the bottom line in economics change from ‘Profit,  People, Planet’ to ‘People, Planet, Profit’ or even ‘Planet, People, Profit’.

5 February, Sandy Biar: “Harnessing nationalism for good: the upside of global nationalistic sentiment.”

19 February, Helen Whatmough: “Post Truth / Post Fact”
Is vocabulary usage / meaning being distorted and/or changed leading to confusion of meaning? Are we all complicit in confusing reality and truth in a post-truth era?

26 February, Rev. Daniel Jantos: “Patterns of liberation and constraint.”
Theology has historically been for the purpose of liberation. Various ones like the Buddha and Jesus offered people a framework of understanding that provided relief from oppression or suffering or isolation. “What we hope for is always better than what we know.” The function of theology has changed. The current purpose of Theology today seems to be mostly frameworks of constraint. What is right and what is wrong? Who belongs and who does not? So what would constitute a contemporary theology of liberation?

5 March, Carolyn Donnelly & Barbara O’Brien: “Remembering Leonard Cohen.”
Recalling his music and his life. Communal input invited.

12 March, No service.

19 March, Martin Horlacher: “What Would Confucius Do?”
“One of the most important philosophers of the ancient world, the sayings and ideas of Confucius have had a powerful influence on the Eastern world, as well as the Western one. But how does his philosophy apply to life today?”

26 March, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Two Travel Stories”
Two different stories connected only by the theme of travelling, and the people one can meet on the way. What sort of impression do we leave with the people who happen to meet us as we travel life’s journey?

2 April,  Rev. Geoff Usher: “What Other Church?
Unitarians are among the few who do not claim that they alone possess the truth about God / nature / the universe / life.
What unites Unitarians is the value they set on the freedom to explore religious issues, the freedom to follow the dictates of reason and conscience, the freedom from the real or perceived constraints of creeds and dogmatic formulas.  At the same time, they generally have strongly held common values and principles.

9 April,            No  meeting.

16 April,            No meeting.

23 April,  Jan Tendys:  “The Sensible Centre—Is that Us?”
In ancient Greek philosophy, the “golden mean” is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.
Can we apply this to some modern conundrums?

30 April, Martin Horlacher: “Control-Alt–right”
The so-called “alternative right’ have risen to prominence lately, especially in the United States. But is this new form of ultra conservative nationalism to be taken seriously?  Indeed, is it even “new”? And just what kind of influence is it having on political thought both American and international?

7 May, Max Lawson: “Charles Dickens: Liberal Christianity and Unitarianism.”

14 May, No service.

21 May, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Alone Together.”
We talk about ourselves, as Unitarians, being an assortment of worshippers, with different backgrounds, different religious backgrounds, different personal theologies. A statement like “All are welcome here” implies this sort of variety. Given such variety, what binds us together as members of our congregation, and within the Unitarian movement?

28 May, Martin Horlacher: “Holy Days and Holidays.”
With the recent March for Science in the United States and elsewhere, it’s worth asking why we as a nation have to have holidays thrust upon us that are religious in nature. Why aren’t we celebrating Moon-Landing Day by giving each other chocolate moons, or venerating Jonas Salk’s birthday as Polio Vaccine Day?

4 June, Ruby Willis: “Colouring Outside the Lines.”
A look at why we tend to stick to the path of least resistance in our behaviours both large and small, with an emphasis on the work of Michel Foucault.

11 June, No service.

18 June, Colin Whatmough: “How the West is Losing.”
And how will the West, especially the US, respond?

25 June, Dr. Max Lawson: “The Spiritual Quest of D.H.Lawrence.”
Christianity had a great influence upon D.H.Lawrence but he did not consider himself a Christian. Max will explain this complexity.

2 July, Colin Whatmough: “Why Australia is going backwards in Education.”

9 July, No meeting.

16 July, Rev. Daniel Jantos: “Taking Inventory”
Zen master and teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn, likes to speak and write about “coming home to yourself.” If the analogy holds true, then it’s worth asking about the state of our home place. Does “coming home” provide us with a source of comfort and renewal?  Or, is the home-place cluttered with the stuff that heightens our anxiety’s and fosters habit patterns of obsessiveness? This reflection will hope to provide us a chance to take an inventory of our minds’ and souls’ “home places.”

23 July, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Diversity Without Division.”
American UU minister Mike Young has postulated a hierarchy of responses to diversity, starting with tolerance as a minimum, followed by affirmation, and culminating in a position that cherishes theological diversity as a positive good.  He claims that only where diversity is valued, cherished, and celebrated can the kind of community that keeps us alive and growing be created.

30 July, Dr Max Lawson: “The Spiritual Journey of Christopher Isherwood: from Cabaret to Vedanta.”
Although best known for his Berlin novels and as a gay icon, Christopher Isherwood was also on a spiritual path which included Quaker and Vedanta (Hindu) traditions.

6th August, Martin Horlacher: “Plato and the Philosopher Kings of Ancient Greece”
An examination of the philosopher Plato’s ancient political philosophy, and how it has reverberated through the ages.

13th August, No meeting.

20th August, Rev. Geoff Usher: “The Perfume of the Trampled Flower”
Forgiveness has been described as “the perfume that the trampled flower casts upon the
heel that crushes it.”

27th August, Martin Horlacher: “Existentialism”
As a philosophy and metaphysical theory, existentialism has included individuals as different from each other as Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche, and movements as diverse as atheism and Christianity. This talk will examine what its core ideas are, and how they can apply to today’s world.

3rd September, Rev. Geoff Usher: ” Looking at Life”.

10th September, No meeting.

17th September,   Rev. Rex Hunt:  “Celebrating Earth and Wonder in Early Spring”
There is no good reason to believe that taking nature to heart leaves a person with any fewer spiritual benefits  than taking to heart the teachings of supernaturalist traditions.

24th September, Dr Max Lawson: “Walt Whitman as a spiritual teacher”
Emerson arguably met Whitman 12 times and sent Bronson Alcott and Henry Thoreau to New York to visit Whitman.  They, like Emerson, were greatly impressed with Whitman, not only as a poet but as a prophet. This is the talk that was scheduled for the 3rd September.

1 October, Geoff Usher: “Making Oneself Miserable.”
In the normal sprinkling of a human community, there will be other people doing better than we are in almost any category. By selectively comparing ourselves with them, we can quickly and easily make ourselves feel really inferior. It is not difficult to make yourself miserable.

8 October, No meeting. Markets

15 October, Helen Whatmough,: “Why Reason and Evidence Don’t Change
Our Minds.”
Confirmation bias is the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them.

22nd October. No Meeting. ANZUAA Conference in Adelaide.

29 October, Martin Horlacher: “The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century
and the Birth of the Modern Mind.”
The Age of Enlightenment brought about a paradigm shift in the sphere of human thought. This talk will examine philosopher AC Grayling’s recent book about this seminal period of history, and its ramifications for today.

5 November, Colin Whatmough: “An Historical Look at Islam.”

12 November, No meeting.

19 November, Morandir Armson: “George Gurdjeiff, guru or fraud?”
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866/1872/1877? – 1949) was a spiritual teacher and mystic, of Armenian descent, who pioneered a method of spiritual development, which he referred to as “the Fourth Way”. Both during his life and after, Gurdjieff has been alternately praised as a great mystical teacher, and scorned as a charlatan. His followers, the Gurdjieffians, have had a wide influence on the New Age movement, but have also been labelled “the strangest religion in history”. This address will seek to examine the truth about Gurdjieff; was he a guru, mystic, and spiritual guide, or was he a base and cynical fraud?

26 November, Rev. Geoff Usher, “175 Years, Channing and Philipps.”
This service will mark the 175 anniversary of two distinguished Unitarian Ministers: William Ellery Channing (USA) and Nathaniel Philipps (UK).

3 December, Martin Horlacher: “A Christmas Gift”

10 December, No meeting


21st January,  Rev Geoff Usher: “Martin Luther Reformer”
On the 31st October, 1517 Martin Luther posted his famous 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg and sent a copy to the Archbishop with a strongly worded letter of protest about the sale of indulgences. This service commemorating Luther’s life, will mark the 500th anniversary of the sowing of the seed of the Reformation and the Lutheran Church.

28th January,  Colin Whatmough: “Viewing Christianity from a Historical Perspective” 

4 February, Martin HorlacherEnlightenment: Dehellenisation Versus Reason and Rationality”
If the modern Western world owes how far it has come to any one particular historical and cultural tradition, it is that of the Hellenistic civilisation of Ancient Greece. Arguably, it is this tradition that served as the basis for everything that is good in our world today, more than two millennia later. And yet, today, this worldview is under attack – both in the West and in the East – and our world, along with all human civilisation’s achievements, is in danger.

 11 February, No meeting 

18 February, Rev. Rex Hunt: “Desert, Spinifex, and Lent for Unitarians”
Remembering we too are desert flowers. 

25 February, Carolyn Donnelly:  “The significance,  explanation, and philosophical background of Charles Schultz’s loved Peanuts comic strips

4 March, Martin Horlacher: “Tradition: Faith, Power, and the Ties That Bind”
Tradition still has an undeniable hold over much of Western society. But is it for the better…or is a good deal of radical re-thinking required?

11 March, No meeting

18 March, Rev. Geoff Usher: “ The God of the Gaps?”
Modern cosmology—the study of the world around us — has forced many people to consider religious questions in relation to science itself. It seems that the more we discover, the more religious questions we face—particularly questions about the emergence of spirituality in modern cosmologies.

25 March, Rev. John Clifford: “450 years since Torda: memory of a dead horse or reminder for today?”
We’re proud of our history but is it worth more than warm feelings? What can a closer look at Torda show us about tolerance?

1 April, No meeting.

8 April, No meeting.

15 April, Rev. Daniel Jantos: “Rebirths, Renewals and Rennaissance – but what to keep and what to discard?”
We find ourselves in a period of intense technological innovation and change. Some like to think that technology is values neutral. And yet technology is profoundly shaping the way we relate to one another and dictating constructs of personhood and community that must cause us to ask some questions about benefit and harm. Rather than technophobia, this talk invites a chance to review our presumptions about progress and innovation.

22 April, Morandir Armson: “Christus Resurrexit: The Strange Case of Easter.”
Easter is the most holy and important festival of the Christian calendar. Yet the festival
itself is a very strange mixture of biblical references, Mediaeval Catholic traditions, and near-Eastern Paganism. This presentation will focus on the origins of Easter, one of the stranger festivals in the Christian liturgical calendar.

29 April, Colin Whatmough: “Interpretation & Orthodox Corruption of Scripture – from an Historical Perspective”
The New Testament developed as a set of books that Proto-orththodox Christians could use to provide them with Apostolic Authorities for their views against those of other Christian groups designated as Heretics.

6 May, Rev. Geoff Usher: “In What Do We Trust?
When people ask the question: “Do you believe in God?” they usually mean: “Do you believe in MY God?” And usually, if we are to be truthful, the only reply we as Unitarians can give must be: “Probably not.”

13 May, No meeting

20 May, Martin Horlacher: “Chaos & Gaia: The Maccabean Revolt, Hellenistic
Philosophy, and Ideology Against Reason.”
Small stones can cast large ripples. Depending on how you look at it, the Maccabean Revolt of 167 BC was either the triumph of an oppressed people against their oppressors, or a missed opportunity for humanity as a whole to embrace enlightenment. Had Hellenistic philosophy won the day, as opposed to Abrahamic religion, how differently might the last 2,100 years of human history leading up to today have turned out?

27 May, Morandir Armson: “Colourful, Exuberant, and Happy: An Examination of
Religious Festivals.”
The world is full of festivals. You can throw tomatoes, run with bulls, or roll cheeses. Far more interesting, however, are festivals rooted in religious beliefs and cultural observances. They give you a glimpse into the rich human imagination and have a serious side: commemorating the dead, imploring the help of saints or gods, giving hope for a better future. This presentation will examine a number of religious festivals, seeking to find some of their core features.

3 June, Martin Horlacher: “Identities: The Other and Us”
We all want and need to be part of a “group” – it’s one of the most fundamental aspects of human nature, our need to have an identity. And yet, all too often, it’s so incredibly easy to go along with pack mentality – “groupthink” – instead of using critical thought and our own individual reasoning. What is needed, arguably, is more of a balance of both, particularly in today’s volatile world.

10 June, No meeting.

17 June, Rev. Geoff Usher: “Keeping Our Chalice Alight”
The Flaming chalice—or the chalice and Flame—has become the internationally recognised and adopted symbol of our Unitarian—or Unitarian Universalist—faith. The lighting of our chalice normally constitutes an important part of the opening minutes of our worship services, although it remains free of any single, set ritual or formula.

24 June, Helen Whatmough: “Trust in Our Everyday Life”

1 July, Rev Rex Hunt, “No one Says Much Good of Winter: Seasons and Self.”
Seasons and self.

8 July, Kirribilli markets. No meeting

15 July, Ginna Hastings & Max Lawson, “Robert Louis Stevenson: Presbyterian Pirate”
Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, traveller of the south seas, couldn’t escape his Scottish Presbyterian background. This talk will tell of this fascinating man and discuss his book Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.

22 July,Morandir Armson, Colourful, Exuberant, and Happy: An Examination of  Religious Festivals
The world is full of festivals. You can throw tomatoes, run with bulls, or roll cheeses. Far more interesting, however, are festivals rooted in religious beliefs and cultural observances. They give you a glimpse into the rich human imagination and have a serious side: commemorating the dead, imploring the help of saints or gods, giving hope for a better future. This presentation will examine a number of religious festivals, seeking to find some of their core features.

29 July, Rev. Geoff Usher, “A radical and Optimistic Heresy.”
Many observers of contemporary society have noted that we are in a period of cultural warfare. Christian fundamentalists and other conservatives are waging a fierce battle against what they perceive to be the evils of liberalism. This is not the first time such a struggle has occurred. At a similar time of deep aocietal conflict over two centuries ago, Universalism arose in America as a radical and optimistic Christian heresy in response to the grim doctrines of eighteenth century Calvinistic Puritanism.

5 August, Martin Horlacher, “The Greek Way.”
In her 1930 masterpiece “The Greek Way”, American author Edith Hamilton demonstrates how the spirit of the Golden Age of Greece, in the fifth century BC, spurred the men and women of that time and place on to achievements that were unparalleled in the ancient world. Be it through the works of Homer, Sophocles and Euripides, the philosophy of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, or the treatises of Xenophon on civilised living, it is the ancient Greeks who arguably came closest to building what might be called the pinnacle of Western civilisation. As Hamilton herself puts it, “The Greeks were the first intellectualists. In a world where the irrational had played the chief role, they came forward as the protagonists of the mind.” There is much we can learn from them today.

12 August, No Service

19 August, Rev. Geoff Usher, “Change.”
Change is the unchangeable law of the universe. It is the only thing that is constant. Indeed, to be constant in nature would be inconstancy. And to blind oneself to change is not to halt it.

26 August, Morandir Armson, “Masonry – Facts and Fallacies.”
The Masonic brotherhood has existed since at least the 16th Century. Ever since the 18th Century, a number of troubling rumours, wild accusations, and bizarre conspiracy theories have swirled around Freemasonry and Freemasons. This presentation will seek to dispel these rumours, explain the truth about Freemasonry, and seek to portray the Masonic brotherhood as it really is – sometimes bizarre, sometimes mundane, but always of interest.

Services Archive