Monday, 20 June 2011


The incident at Bill Hooper's funeral serice may have disappeared from the media apart from a brief two minutes on Channel 7 television that evening, had not the Editor of "The Cairns Post" been attending the service at the crematorium.

The Reverend Matthew Harmon's spontaneous and heart-felt rendition of The 23rd Psalm at a secular funeral service might never have gained the attention it did, if the two solicitor sons of the late Bill Hooper were not, shall we say, "hungry".

Pissed off that their late father had left a sizeable chunk of his Estate to a half-sister they had never known, they spoke angrily with the Editor of "The Cairns Post" following the service, and both declared with fervour that their mother Joan would press charges against the Reverend, for "causing a disturbance at the service". Moreover, they said, their Mother had been forced to endure extra anguish and stress whilst grieving for the loss of her husband because of the Reverend's actions and that they would also look for financial compensation.

The Editor readily agreed stating he believed it was a "scandal" and that the Reverend was a "menace to society".

The following day, the front page banner headlines of "The Cairns Post" read:-


The Reverend Matthew Harmon, sitting at the dining room table with his wife Donna, read the story with increasing astonishment.

The Editor wrote:-

"People paying their last respects to the late Councillor Bill Hooper of the Cairns Regional Council were shocked and disgusted yesterday when the Reverend Matthew Harmon, a Minister of the Community Baptist Church at Bentley Park, rudely disrupted the funeral service, being conducted by Celebrant J. O'Neill.

Councillor Bill Hooper was an agnostic who did not believe in God or religion and it was his expressed wish before he passed away that his funeral service be secular.

The Reverend Matthew Harmon broke in very loudly by reciting what might have been a Psalm, thus disrupting and hi-jacking the secular service. Guests at the service were both bewildered and disgusted at this wilful display of contempt for the deceased and his family.

The sons of the late Bill Hooper said that the Reverend's actions had caused "significant distress and anguish" to their mother Joan, already deep in shock and grief over the sudden death of her beloved husband of thirty-five years.

"We will be taking legal action against the Reverend for his corruption of a secular service, thus causing a public commotion," said one of the sons."

The Editor thought the story was just too good an opportunity with which to milk the public emotion as much as he could. It also gave him the chance to ruthlessly destroy the election chances of the Reverend in the coming Council by-election. As he wrote the Editorial, the Editor thought, "We won't see the commie cunt ever again after this."


"The actions by the Reverend Matthew Harmon of the Community Baptist Church of Bentley Park, yesterday at the funeral servgice of the late Bill Hooper, were a disgrace and shameful for a man of the cloth, to say the least.

He not only disrupted the service, but completely took it over, much to the anguish of the deceased's family, the Celebrant who was officiating at the service, but also the guests who had come to pay their last respects to a truly Great Man. A man who has been deeply revered and loved in the community as one of our most popular Councillors in the most successful Council ever to be elected to Cairns. The late Bill Hooper was a key team player in the Council led by our esteemed Mayor, His Worship, Colonel Ken Cush.

It would seem the Reverend, in seeking to disrupt the funeral service, sought to gain publicity for himself. He is after all, a Candidate, representing the Socialist Workers Party, for the late Bill Hooper's division. The by-election is to be in four weeks time.

This sort of self-seeking publicity and outright hooliganism is just not acceptable and the Minister should be ashamed of his attention seeking tantrums at solemn gatherings. Electors in Division 2 should bear this in mind when they cast their votes. "


The Reverend Matthew Harmon sat numb with shock. "Good grief!" he stuttered at last,
"It's just bloody preposterous!" Beside him, Donn'a face was white and strained looking.
"What will we do Matt," she asked trying to keep her panic down, "if they decide to sue us?
I mean, can they?"

Matt Harmon shook his head trying to reassure his wife, while forcing his own fears down.
Could he be arrested and sued for reciting The 23rd Psalm at a funeral service? For the first time in his life, Matt Harmon realised he would need some legal advice.


If "The Cairns Post" had been unkind to the Reverend, then the local radio station, 4CA and its resident "shock jock" were brutal. The recital of The 23rd Psalm at Bill Hooper's funeral service dominated the call-back program that day.

"It's downright disgusting and criminal," roared the shock-jock over the air-waves. "The Reverend should be jailed for causing so much grief and anguish to all those suffering people at the service. I mean, has the Reverend any thoughts for people other than himself? I have never, never, never ever heard of such a blatant, thoughtless display of attention-seeking narcissism in my life. I mean, here he is, he is standing as a Candidate in Division Two, for the Socialist Workers Party. The Socialist Workers Party, I ask you. What type of party is this? It isn't rocket science to understand that this is just another name for "Communist Party".
You wonder too, if he is really a Reverend at all or whether he received his credentials at some Mickey Mouse college of theology. You wonder if the man has some mental problems, you really do!"

The callers to the program were fast off the mark. They had all been suitablty fired up and their voices were thick with hate:-

The first was a woman, Marva, who had a heavy European accent.

"I was in Europe when the Communists took over," she said, "and they were all Church people. I tell you the Church is full of Communists. It's how they take over the country."

The second caller was "Reg of Redlynch".

"Mate," he said, "I'd like to see that commie prick try to force his religion down my throat at my funeral service, I tell you....."

The third was "Wayne of Bayview Heights"

"You can't get away from the bastards," he said, "they come to your front door trying to ram it all down your throat, now the pricks are turning up at your bloody funeral, for Chrissakes. Arrest all the bastards."

The fourth caller was "Maria of Bayview Heights".

"I was at the funeral service," said Maria Bombonieri, wife of Enzo. "I wasn't disgusted or shocked .........."

The shock-jock cut her off quickly. "We seem to have lost Maria," he told his audience, but now we have "Clive of Edmonton on the line."

"It's proof that the Church has been infuiltrated by commies," said Clive. "I always said that they would try and take over the world. I mean ever the bloody Pope came from a commie country."

The Reverend Matthew Harmon listened to the radio program with growing alarm. What had he done? How could he fight this? He bowed his head and prayed.

Sitting inside the Mayor's office, Cush and Horsey laughed at the radio callers. "Christ, it's so fucken funny," laughed Cush.
"Serves the bloody prick of a sky pilot right," laughed Horsey. "I don't think we will have much of an opposition from him in the by-election."

"Jesus, no," laughed back Cush. "Our bloke will shit it in this time, just shit it in."

Across the city, inside one of Cairns' leading tourist hotels, there were other people listening with great interest to the radio program. People who had a copy of "The Cairns Post" before them and who had been sending emails to certain television producers in Melbourne and Sydney, A television crew, on location in Cairns, to cover a story on The Great Barrier Reef, were listening to the shock jock's program with rapt attention.

"It's been approved," said the SBS journalist, reading his email on his laptop, "the producer wants to cover the story on the Reverend Mark Harmon. This is explosive stuff, in fact better than the story on The Great Barrier Reef. Let's go everybody!"

The SBS journalist suppressed a loud guffaw as he finished reading his email from the producer.
"You can always count on bloody Queensland!" the producer had written.

The Reverend Mark Harmon was about to become a national news item.

To be continued.......................


  1. You got the shock jocks on the radio stations down right. They would be stoking up the listeners and addling their brains with their ranting. I like the way you mentioned how the shock jock lost a caller. That's how they do it mate. They won't let anyone onair who disagrees with them. Anyway where the hell have you been for the past week? I got to have my fix of this Cush character every morning now.

  2. Geez, you were quick off the mark there mate.
    I had only just posted the blog early this morning!!

  3. Sorry Anon, I didn't answer your question above. I have been up "bush" with my brother for a week. We did a bit of fishing at Karumba on the way back. Great fishing too!

  4. Terry, you may have catapaulted the good Reverend onto the world stage with this one. Prayers for the dead are found in every nation, in every culture and in every political system. An event such as seeing a Minister of Religion charged with breaking the law for quoting The 23rd Psalm at a funeral service would most certainly make the world news.
    I'm just not sure that The 23rd Psalm could be regarded as a "prayer for the dead" however. I know it is read widely at Christian funeral services here in Australia, and as such it is accepted as a "funeral service" prayer, but I am unsure about overseas. Perhaps the Reverend should have quoted the Burial Service from The Book of Common Prayer, viz: "Man, that is born of woman hath but a short time to live.....". ???
    I like the way you have portrayed the Murdoch media machine on this, as well. Both the Cairns Post Editor and the radio "shock jock" are only interested in destroying a political candidate, and in doing so, have ignored the explosive potential of religion. I look forward to seeing what happens next?

  5. Thanks Liz. Keep reading on, you will discover what happens with the next Chapter, "The Sky Pilot from Bentley Park".

  6. So now the good Reverend will become PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE according to the local media machine. They've got to have someone to hate, haven't they?

  7. Jeez Terry your taking us all on a ride alright. From killing flying foxes to same sex parent support groups to Ministers of religon being arrested, but I guess this is what life is about today here in CaIRNS.

  8. Buggar all this religis shit hey, bring back the foxy Sky Lovelady. your not going to write her off or something are you.

  9. Anon above, the lovely Skye Lovelady will most certainly reappear in the series! Keep on reading.

  10. Hey Terry, you sure you aren't writing about Mackay City Council Mayor Colonel Meng and his bunch of bloody cronies?

  11. ROFL Anonymous above. I've never heard of "Mackay City Council Mayor Colonel Meng" before in my life!

  12. You have created some sort of legal precedent here I think Terry, probably a "legal quandary". I congratulate you on this as it is the hallmark of a good writer to expose such quandaries, paradoxes and contradictions in our society.
    Celebrant conducted funeral services are increasing in popularity in the West, and I have attended a few myself. There are many people who just don't believe, either in a God or a spiritual human being. Funeral services are increasingly becoming focussed on "a celebration" rather than loss and grieving. I was very unsettled after the ones I attended, as they seemed to me to have no dignity or sanctity to them.
    I wonder what will happen to our society as Christianity as a community pillar continues to crumble away and more and more people opt for Celebrant funeral services? I can't help but scan the future and see further erosion of the sanctity of life. From listening to people in the UK, it seems that Celebrant services are so popular that the mourners wait in long queues outside the Crematoriums, and steadily move up the line to the small "chapel" and are given around fifteen to twenty minutes to do their thing, then are shunted off for the next lot of mourners. One woman described it to me, as "assembly line funerals." How sad!

  13. Thanks for your comments and compliment S. Northy.

  14. How about you watch your Editing there as well chum. You started off this episode with the Reverend MATTHEW Harmon and ended up with the Reverened MARK. A few spelling mistakes as well.

  15. Woooh, thanks Anonymous. Shall do!! (That's not the first time I've been told to watch the editing.)

  16. Mate, I doubt that any charge could be laid against the Reverend.