Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson said that the letter is a "spoof" and meant to highlight 'the nonsense', and therefore, it needs to be taken in such a manner, but nonetheless it brings home a greater truth that requires our attention.
The spoof letter started this way:
"I wanted to send some sort of holiday greeting to my friends and colleagues, but it is difficult in today's world to know exactly what to say without offending someone. So I met with my lawyer yesterday, and on this advice I wish to say the following:"
A brief comment by Mark Tronson on this first part of the 'spoof letter' is that it's been said "that to pay a compliment to a woman in the work place there may well be a need to have one's lawyer with you". He recalls that in 1992 when Melbourne was in the hunt for hosting the 1996 Olympic Games (which was ultimately won by Atlanta) he met with Melbourne's Heads of Churches representatives to explore the possibilities of a broad Church Olympic outreach.
He remembers that one of the Denomination's representative was a female member of Clergy whose sole aim it appeared was to ensure that every sentence uttered was exclusive of all non-feminist non-sexiest language. Seeing men and women, boys and girls won to Jesus for Salvation was not on this member of Clergy's agenda. This attitude frightened Mark Tronson and noted in his journal - "the fear of public attack and ridicule this woman bought to that meeting". He felt it forced 'Salvation' as a secondary issue.
It was a culture shock, as he, a major national ministry leader, found himself in an unquantifiable battlefield "within this group" as this agenda over arched everything else.
Mark Tronson felt that from his perspective, it's effect was to curtail evangelism as it might well deter and put-off well-meaning and otherwise effective evangelists. It wasn't the Christianity he recognised and at that time he wasn't sure as to how to handle such issues.
The letter continued:
"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the summer solstice holiday practised with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practise religious or secular traditions at all."
Mark Tronson comments that this convoluted sentence champions the non-committal nonsense that is required in this very dangerous situation where there are those who would wish to see any expression of Christian evangelism in the public arena sent to Coventry (as it were). He says that it is not until you see it in this light do you begin to understand the nature of fear, when saying anything at all meaningful.
The letter again continues:
"I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2012, but not without due respect for the calendar of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that Australia is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee."
Mark Tronson notes that this is a what we have got ourselves into by having to make such platitudes to protect ourselves from egregious and combative opponents to common sense and the function of good-will.
In conclusion the letter states:
"By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/him or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. The wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."
Led on a dangerous path
Mark Tronson acknowledges that the "spoof" is just that, it's ridiculous and silly, but it nonetheless illustrates a greater truth, that Australians by common consent and with the support of the legislators and the judiciary need to put "such-as-this" behind them.
On Australia Day an on-line major newspaper survey placed "freedom and our life style" above all else.
The nation enjoys its well-being but the threat of being constrained at every quarter is ever present.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html