michael leunig

They took him on a stretcher
to the Home for the Appalled
where he lay down in a corner
and he bawled and bawled and bawled.

‘There’s nothing wrong with me,’ he wailed,
when asked about his bawling,
‘It’s the world that need attention;
It’s so utterly appalling.’

‘It’s so utterly appalling,’
he sobbed and cried and bawled,
and the chorus rose to join him
at the Home for the Appalled.

Michael Leunig, Home / Appalled

i braved the 6.30 am icy start to go hear Michael Leunig this morning. Leunig is a Victorian poet, philosopher and cartoonist – though that description doesn’t do him justice at all. He was ‘in conversation’ with the Melbourne Anglican Archbishop at Fed Square in the city. The topic for the conversation was prophetic voices.

Leunig was in fine form, I think the best i’ve heard him. Every sentence felt like a benediction; rich and good and beautiful.

the thought that has resonated over and over through today is Leunig’s comment that the opposite of hope isn’t despair… we have nothing to fear from despair… the opposite of hope is blandness. the prophetic response isn’t always to speak of hope, it’s to not let blandness stand unchallenged, it’s to ‘shine a spotlight on the forgotten and unnamed’.

and the other thought that i find makes me ache… like leunig i’m stunned at the amount of anger people have at the moment. i’m hyper-aware of this at the moment, for a few reasons, but it seems like the world, and especially the church, is full of sharp edges.

[ i love that the Anglicans are offering these opportunities in the city… but there were some incongruous moments afterwards in the question time when the temptation to push a church agenda was obviously just a little too strong for the Archbishop. i felt a bit sad about that. when people ask questions that involve saying [and i paraphrase] ‘where are the places other than the church to find the sacred?’, to respond by saying ‘the church’ only makes it seem that you haven’t listened to the question, and to the search behind the question… ]


  1. Sue


    Yes the level of anger is uncomfortable, but I am actually glad for it. There has been so much fake smiley happy refusal in the Church to talk of life as it really is. I am glad that so many in the Body have become angry about things. I think it is a God thing, perhaps, to begin smoothing out some of those sharp edges.

    One of the reasons I love Mr Leunig so is his brave refusal to look at life in anything other than reality and his willingness to face his despair head on. I find that inspiring. He is such a beeyodiful man, isn’t he 🙂

    Kudos to you for getting up at 6.30 🙂

  2. Cheryl

    i there are different kinds of anger – passionate anger and immobilising anger. i think i’m encountering the second. it’s the blaming kind of anger, where everything is someone else’s fault, and if only ‘they’ would get it right, the world / church / my life would be fixed. it’s different to the passionate anger that says ‘i can’t rest until i do something about this’.

    does that make sense?

    if only it had just meant getting up at 6.30… i was out the door at 6.30… but it was absolutely worth it!

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