My heart was more than a little heavy as I corresponded with someone recently about the torment and damage of poker machines on their life. I think there is a reason that The Whitlams sang 'Blow Up The Pokies' - they are everywhere and are a magnet for false hopes of quick gains and easy rewards. For others they are a dangerous lure away from empty homes and nagging boredom. The truth is that regular poker machine playing strips many people of life. I know that poker machines are an attraction for many people having spent a few years playing in a band that gigged at many NSW pubs and clubs. I used to stand on stage at the Mulwala Ski Club and the Barooga Sports Club on the Murray River, wondering how many lives were brought to near-ruin as NSW border towns built huge clubs from meagre beginnings, on the back of the Victorian gambling dollar in the 1980’s. Most of the revenue for these proud buildings and facilities was raised was through poker machines. There are of course no quick fixes, but one has to question a society that builds and supports industries and activities around entertainment and distraction, that regularly result in financial misery for many. The Christian message stands counter-cultural to the way our society functions, not because it moralises the issue and works out who is right and wrong in the picture, but because it offers life - it offers hope, meaning, identity and purpose through following in the way of Jesus. It tells a story of meaning in life through participation and contribution, rather than death in life through passive submission to systems that ultimately dull and dehumanise us. If gambling of any form is a problem for you, please make contact with your local Gamblers Anonymous community or call one of the many organisations with counsellors to assist. If you are seeking meaning in life, can I suggest you find a way to contribute to others around you - volunteer, help a neighbour, find ways to contribute positively to the lives of people in need of a friend or an advocate, join a local community group or church who are trying to make a difference for good.
I heard someone use a word today that I hadn’t heard for quite some time. The word ‘kooky’ rolled off this person’s tongue as an assessment of a third person we had spotted while conversing. I walked away thinking that we are all probably a bit kooky in our own way, it’s just that some of us are better at subduing it than others!
Thanks again for being a friend of the Chapel,
Minister (In Supply)