Ashley Thompson asks newly inducted Moderator Rev David Baker some light and personal questions.
Ashley: What is your passion?
David: My passion? Well I really love trifle. You know, because you’re eating fruit which is healthy. So yeah one of my passions is trifle. Probably another one is curries. I love making curries.
A: Spicy ones?
D: Yeah, yeah, yeah and you see I used to just buy the bottle ones you know, pour it in, then my wife told me that they were full of fat and salt so I had to make my own. So I’ve got into making curries. And I have to say in a big way, my other passion is the church: a community of believers that are living a different way and exploring what that means in a community for a country. I just love that, how does it all work, and how can it be the influence it’s called to be? And current affairs, I’m probably a bit of a newspaper junkie.
But current affairs generally and what’s happening in the world. You know I’ve just been reading Robert Fisk on recent history of the Middle East and I’ve read a bit on, you know, that sort of last 120 years of history in the Middle East. That’s an area that fascinates me.
A: Favourite holiday?
D: Ah, mate. Well, we just had a week at Lord Howe Island and I’ve got to say to you that’s a pretty magic place. It’s about 350 miles east of Port Macquarie. So it’s out there, it’s a quiet island no internet, no mobiles, get around in bikes, watch birds, go swimming, go fishing. It’s a magic place.
A: Who would you most like to meet?
D: Well, the apostle Paul would be interesting. He would be fascinating. I don’t know if I’d like him
A: I know, me too—
A: Because he’s a bit harsh sometimes.
D: Yeah, he is! But deeply passionate. Just the passion at the heart of the guy.
A: Secret talent?
D: Secret talent … ah, it’s not a very secret talent: I recite poetry.
A: Oh, really?
D: Yeah, I love memorising poems. Australian poems, particularly colonial and pineal era.
A: Who’s your favourite poet?
D: I’d have to say CJ Dennis. I really enjoy Dennis and some of the works of Henry Lawson, really very evocative. Of course the fact that his mother was a part of the Uniting Church tradition, one of the founding denominations, really helps but just that way he looks at society and juxtaposes questions of fairness and questions around inclusion. He’s a very loving, clear-eyed compassionate look at Australian society, Henry Lawson, and funny sometimes.
A: How do you relax?
D: Walking the dog. Yeah, Reggie and I go for a walk.
A: What kind of dog do you have?
D: He’s a staffy-kelpie cross, so he’s pretty lively. We have a place he and I go to in our suburb that’s bush. So walking the dog—and I like gardening. At the moment we’re kind of landscaping a bit and I’m half way through building an earth oven out the in front yard. I don’t know if it’ll ever get finished but I’m half way through.
I’m hoping for a bit of time in November to be able to finish the earth oven and yeah, of course my youngest boy drags me to kick a ball, play squatter, play Monopoly.
A: How old is he?
D: He’s 12.
A: So he keeps you active?
A: What’s your most memorable childhood memory?
D: Well the one that comes to mind is getting a new pair of gym shoes.
A: Oh really?
D: Yeah I see them around now they’re the higher ones around where the ankle is. Dark blue and white. I got them for a birthday present and I remember running across the parsonage we lived in across to the youth group for kids group or something and I was in me new boots, I was stoked, I was happy.
A: What’s your dream holiday destination and who would you take?
D: My dream? I’d love to walk around Europe. Take Joan [my wife] with me and one of the dreams would be that she would walk the same pace.
D: I tend to walk too fast. So it would have to include that we walk at the same pace. I’d love to go to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and see Gaudi’s theological expression in architecture. That’s what I’d really love to do.
A: A quote that resonates with you?
D: A quote that’s stayed with me for the last 25 years in ministry is from Abraham Heschel the Jewish philosopher/theologian he said that, “Our aim in life must be to know what we see, not see what we know.” And that kind of keep challenging me, what is in front of us rather than what we just project. To know what we see, not see what we know.
A: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
D: Haha! Five years. I don’t know … I’d have to say my first answer would be congregational ministry. I’ve been out of it a while and observed it and I think I’d like to have another crack at it, see if I can do a better job.
A: In remote Australia?
D: I don’t care where. Wherever we can gather and can learn and grow.