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Vicar's Musings for Pentecost

19 May, 2013

One of my favourite secular theologians is Leunig. Today is Pentecost Sunday and most traditional Christian iconography depicts the Holy Spirit as a dove. A central character in many of Leunig's cartoons is his duck. I think there is a link. The duck is very much a spirit being, perhaps like the Aboriginal spirit beings, maybe even Holy Spirit. This is what Leunig had to say about his duck to Andrew Denton (Enough Rope, 8th May 2006):

DENTON: Now once more for the beginners, what was the duck about?
LEUNIG: Well, I don't know. I thought everybody would understand what a duck is about, and it's just there is the duck. And suddenly the whole nation seems perplexed about what does a duck mean? I think a nation is in trouble that cannot accept a duck.
DENTON: As a defiantly non-sporting person, it must have been a wonderful act of subversion to get your duck into the Commonwealth Games?
LEUNIG: Well, I didn't sort of get it in. They simply asked me, you know, "Can we have the duck?" I thought well, I didn't invent the duck, I just like to draw the duck, you see, and it seems to represent something. It brings out what's in you, you know, your inner duck is awakened obviously for you, me, everyone. But there are some who have no inner duck, it appears, and they get very threatened by such an innocent creature.

I like the simplicity of Leunig's duck. It is gentle and wise; life-giving; crosses cultural boundaries; a loyal companion; empowering and challenging; a symbol of spirituality as well as social justice.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

Illustration for Pentecost Musings

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