Category: Religions


In today’s SMH there is a story on Mary Mackillop, and a curious story about a blessing of mobile phones.

What’s most interesting is that both stories have a positive ‘feel’ to them.

There is nothing about scandal or infighting.

In fact, the story about Mary Mackillop has no sense of scepticism whatsoever. It reads like the thing you’d expect to find in a Catholic newspaper.

Here’s the main teaser quote, as featured on the front page of smh.com.au this morning:

When Kathleen Evans arrives at the pearly gates, she will have a simple question for St Peter: ”Why me?”

Maybe the secular media is waking up to the fact that far more Australians consider themselves Christians than had previously conceded by the mainstream press.

Keep praying for opportunities to use these articles as a springboard to conversations with your friends about Jesus.

And, if you’re a budding journo, why not submit an opinion piece to the dailies, and see if they might publish it?

I do not envy the Prime Minister one bit. As a public, committed Christian he was required to preach a ‘sermon’ at a ‘service’ that invited along everyone but God.

Read my controversial comments in my blog at sydneyanglicans.net.

Radar 'Keeping the Faith' Cover

In today’s Radar (a section of the Sydney Morning Herald) they ran a feature on religion amongst young people. Lia Timson, the journalist, interviewed a number of young people, as well as consulting some other opinions, including mine.

She suggests that “Rumours of the death of religion among young people have been grossly exaggerated.”

Read the full article here. 

 

Here’s an excerpt:

“There is a resurgence of spirituality among youth,” says Jodie McNeill, a theology lecturer at Youthworks College, an Anglican school. “It’s a lot to do with generation Y needing to have experiences rather than explanations.”

 

McNeill leads a new chapter in the life of the church. Using his Blackberry, a blog and two websites, he keeps in touch with students and parishioners at the Sylvania diocese where he is a minister.

 

He also runs Year 13, a program for school leavers who want to make a contribution to the world and their own religious upbringing. Last year, 16 students took the course, which included a trip to disadvantaged communities in Africa. This year, 30 have enrolled and another 50 are studying for a diploma of theology.

 

“We live in totally decadent times,” McNeill says. “We have so much prosperity, we’ve got all the toys – the latest iPod and phones – [yet] young people are wondering how come they are still not happy.

 

“After they immerse themselves in the whole materialistic thing they feel an emptiness and a sentimentalism, to a certain extent … There is a longing for a time when it was right to be an activist and fight for what really mattered.”

 

He also says we live in conflicting times, torn between consumerism and the need to sign up to worthy causes – hence our readiness to buy $2 wristbands and cause-related pins. But for some young people, that is not enough.

 

“It has to do with being post-Christian, as well. Before, kids could ask their parents what it all meant. Now the parents don’t know. There’s a spiritual desert out there. So [interest] is bubbling to the surface.” 

Painful Confusion

Pain and suffering is confusing. If God is powerful, then why can’t he make it stop? Is it because he doesn’t care? Or is it because he doesn’t even exist at all?

The problem of pain is hotly debated by theologians and philosophers. But the issue is most real and important when it directly affects our own lives.

John Dickson, in his short book ‘If I were God, I’d end all the Pain’ offers a survey of the solutions offered to this problem by the world’s main religions. One religion promises to help its followers desensitise themselves so they don’t feel pain. Another religion demands its followers submit themselves to God, come what may. Yet another attempts to solve the problem by completely removing God from the equation.

Yet, as Dickson compellingly argues, none of these solutions compete with the profound alternative offered in Christianity. God shows his power and compassion by becoming a human in the person Jesus Christ, and experiences pain as he suffers in death.

However, his death offered more than just a source of divine empathy, the ability for God to say “I know how you feel.” It provided a guaranteed long-term solution to the problem of pain. Jesus’ death provides the certainty of eternal life for those repent and believe in him–a life that offers the hope of a pain-free existence.

There is no simple solution to the problem of pain. But only Christianity promises present-comfort and future-relief from the God who loves us to death.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Today my local newspaper (the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader) printed an article entitled “Muslim faithful get immersed in festival” (Feb 5). I submitted this letter to the editor in response:

“Thank you for the helpful and positive article on the current Muslim celebrations (‘Muslim faithful get immersed in festival’, February 5). In particular, I was impressed to see that it included a concise explanation of what Muslims believe.

In this age of religious pluralism it is refreshing to see such a clear and balanced representation of a religious position.

Yet, as we present these views it will become apparent that these positions will often disagree with each other in important matters. For example, the Koran states that Jesus was not crucified, a statement in clear disagreement with what the Bible records as history. Thus, it is foolish to suggest that Islam and Christianity are both true.

Notwithstanding, it is a great privilege that in this free, peace-loving democracy we can disagree with each other without fear. For true tolerance protects the right for people to not only hold contradictory truth views, but allows them the freedom to preach them and defend them.

May The Leader continue to show leadership in this vital virtue of true tolerance.”

I’ll let you know if it gets published.

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