The Australian population has now reached 23 million people. It has gone from 20 million to 23 million in a few years. After World War 1 it was 5 million and grew to 10 million by 1959. It is predicted to reach 40 million by mid-century. Is this desirable and sustainable? Can the land of Australia cope with such an increase? Do we have the capacity to adequately feed and provide for that large a population? Do we have the water? Can our infrastructure cope well with such an increase? Dick Smith does not think so. Neither do I. (more…)
Just prior to Easter I had the opportunity to go to Ceduna and the surrounding area of the west coast of South Australia. I was invited to preach, lead some seminars and meet with people over several days. It was a very positive experience. I flew to Adelaide on Jetstar on a cheap flight and then to Ceduna on Regional Express airline. Though the second part of the trip was much shorter it cost twice as much. That is a reality for people living in regional areas. Regional flights are more expensive as there are limited numbers and little competition. You can drive but that takes quite a few hours. The local minister clocks up many kilometres driving from Ceduna to Streaky Bay, Penong and other places as part of her responsibilities. She is also a police chaplain. So she is very in touch with all that happens in the area. She also keeps in touch with the wider church by being on synod committees and has occasional trips to Adelaide. Keeping the bigger picture in mind is important so the local people do not restrict their vision of what the church is called to be about, namely God’s mission that is universal in scope and has to do with reconciliation and renewal. (more…)
On Bob Dylan’s latest album Tempest, there is a song that is a tribute to John Lennon called “Roll on John.” It has a gentle, lilting rhythm that fits the solemness of the appreciative and often clever lyrics. It begins with the cry, “Doctor, doctor, tell me the time of day” and goes on to recount, “He turned around and he slowly walked away. They shot him in the back and down he went.” It mentions the Beatles’ early years in Liverpool and Hamburg and playing to various crowds of people. Dylan draws on some of Lennon’s own memorable lines, such as “I heard the news today, O boy” and “Come together right now over me.” (more…)
Australians were pleased with the news that Wonter (Wally) De Backer aka Gotye won three Grammy awards including Record of the Year with “Somebody that I used to know.” He and Kimbra also won the Best Pop Duo and he won the Best Alternative Music Album with “Making Mirrors.” Born in Belgium, he migrated with his parents when he was just two years old. So we rightly claim him as an Australian, though the Belgians also want to own him. Like many he has a dual identity, in his case Belgian Australian.
“Somebody that I used to know” was a huge hit topping the music charts in 18 countries including the USA and the UK. It is a break up song that tells of love, disaffection and then being cut off so that the former lover is just “somebody that I used to know.” It is a song that has captured people’s attention both by the lyrics and the music. (more…)
What are some of the salient features of Australians in the 21st century that might inform how we do church?
Let me suggest the following. Australians are individualistic and consumer oriented yet proud of national heroes whether they are on the sporting field or in relation to cultural, academic and business life. We are now a very multicultural society, no longer dominated by those of British descent – though that heritage still sets the tone of mainstream cultural life. Australians are secular but while allegiance to what were once mainstream churches has declined, most people are conscious of a higher power which is spiritual. Australia being a multicultural society means being multi-faith also. While some Australians excel most are happy to make their way; they work, earn money and enjoy spending it, and like relaxing with family and friends. A hedonistic approach to life is common with the desire that life be pleasurable. Most just want their children to be happy. They are postmodern with a relativistic outlook that is sceptical of absolutes except in extreme cases such as child abuse. The close association between church and society is no longer, though in Australia it never was that close with religious figures and the churches regarded with some suspicion from the beginning of Australia’s history of white settlement. Now the churches find themselves more marginalised. Australians are an independent lot not appreciating being told what to think or do. They see themselves as their own person and mostly have a practical rather than theoretical approach to life. (more…)
The New Year, 2013, has begun. For Christians it is the Christmas season, having already had Advent which is the start of the Christian year.
It is in fact somewhat arbitrary to designate 1 January as the New Year. It is not the summer or winter solstice, or the start of a new season. The longest or shortest day of daylight has already passed. For us in Australia it is a third of the way through summer whereas for those in the northern hemisphere it is mid-winter. Nevertheless, for most people who use the Gregorian calendar it is a significant marker, celebrated especially in the major cities of the world with crowds of people, midnight countdowns and large firework displays. Particularly memorable was the turn of the millennium in 2000 when the word ‘Eternity’ was displayed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge at the conclusion of the firework display. (more…)
Australian Story on ABC television recently was on Bryce Courtenay the popular author of The Power of One and twenty other novels. Born in South Africa, he came to Australia as a young man and became one of Australia’s best known writers. Prior being a novelist he was a successful advertising writer. He died shortly before the program was shown. It was interesting to hear not only him speak but also his two sons and second wife who he married several years earlier. We also heard about his haemophiliac son who died of AIDS related complications after a blood transfusion. He wrote a book about this son and openly said he was his favourite. I found it a revealing program and it raised the question for me: “What do we want to be remembered for?” (more…)