Author Archives: Paul Inglis

About Paul Inglis

Paul Inglis is a long time member of the Uniting and Anglican Churches in Australia. He recently retired as the Community Minister for Dayboro and Mt Mee Uniting Churches, just north of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He accepted an invitation to become the Queensland's first Uniting Church Community Minister and continued in that role for more than 10 years. Previously he had been a State primary school teacher, school principal for 11 years and then Lecturer in Education at the Queensland University of Technology for 25 years. He has served on UCA Assembly, Synod, Presbytery and Congregational Councils. In retirement he is actively involved in family, church, and community. His commitment to 'progressive' Christianity emerged from contact with the late Professor Rod Jensen who founded the Lay Forum in 2004 and from his experience in ministry with people seeking an authentic faith. Paul's PhD from the University of Queensland is in Adult Learning.

Reflecting on a very successful seven seminars

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As we look back over the last fortnight and the successful running of seven seminars in New Farm, Redcliffe, Buderim, Fortitude Valley and Caloundra, it is very pleasing to report that each seminar was unique and interesting and brought positive feedback.

Thank you to the team at PCNQ and each of the Explorers Groups that mounted the seminars. Thank you also to the hosts who billeted the speakers and kept our costs down.

It was a great challenge to offer two notable exponents of progressive Christianity, both organisationally and economically, but in the end it was worth it.

Professor Hal Taussig was starting a Common Dreams on the Road series in several States after doing the same in New Zealand as a build up to next years Common Dreams Conference in Sydney. Book sales and orders, especially for his A New New Testament were greater than we anticipated. Watch for a review of this book soon. We brought Michael Morwood from Perth after the incredibly good feedback we had about his presentations at Common Dreams 4 in Brisbane last year. Once again he achieved a very high standard of teaching and discussion. As organisers we were impressed with the way the two speakers who had never met set to work to integrate around common themes.

The PCNQ has resolved to continue meeting monthly at New Farm as a fellowship and discussion group. Watch for more news about this and for events at other Explorers groups.

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The last words – Harry T. Cook’s final essay

Testament by Harry T. Cook

10/11/17

NOTE: Harry T. Cook died Monday, October 9, 2017, following a three-year battle with prostate cancer. He wrote this essay in advance, anticipating a time when his disease would force him to retire. In fact, he published his last essay just three days before his death. You can read his obituary in the Detroit Free Press.

Circumstances dictate that this essay is to be the last in a series that began in April 2005 and now ends with this post. The magic of the Internet has garnered for these essays an international readership and response that has both surprised and pleased me.

The Readers Write feature that has followed each essay has been the best part as consumers of my prose have responded with critiques, complaints, praise and anger — just as it should have been.

Readers whom I did not know before the series began and have never yet met in person have become friends. They live in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, South Africa, France, across Canada and in most of the United States. Their company I shall miss very much.

I have entitled this essay “Testament” because that is precisely how I mean it to be taken. The disease with which I was diagnosed within a week of my 75th birthday has come to call with the message that I am now on a path that will slow me down sufficiently that I could not do my work with the effort I insist on putting into it. As one who has always thought he wanted to quit while he was ahead, I am doing just that. Also, I have promises to keep with not quite as many miles as I hoped in which to keep them.

Meanwhile, I leave you with these somewhat random thoughts:

+ Love the English language and use it with respect and care. None of us is Shakespeare redivivus. Winston Churchill, H.L. Mencken and Graham Greene still stand alone with their Firsts in English composition. They should be our standard.

+ A question — and, indeed, its formulation — is likely to be more rewarding than straining to produce a quick answer. Inquiry, research and hypotheses tend to invite more thorough thoughtfulness — a supreme value in human relationships at any level. If you have never read the work of the late philosopher Richard Rorty and his take on what he termed “contingency,” now would be as good a time as any to do so.

+ Beware the politician who runs for office with an index finger pointed at those of an identifiable nationality or ethnic group whilst blaming the woes of the nation on them. Jews were long victims of such an evil, African Americans and Native Americans, as well. Mexicans and Muslims in recent times became targets of such calumny. Who needs a reprise of Nazism?

+ Resist the claims of absolute truth made by those who march under various religious banners. No one can possibly know what any possible deity wants or wills. Likewise, no one can encompass the whole truth about anything.

+ Conserve Earth, her atmosphere, her waterways and seas, her land, her creatures as good stewards would estates entrusted to their care and protection. One can lick away on an ice cream cone only so long before it disappears.

+ Help society understand that punitive incarceration in and of itself is cruel and unusual punishment. Justice is not served by putting people behind bars in violent environments. In the same spirit, help society understand that capital punishment is legalized murder, collective vengeance under the guise of doing justice.

+ Give all you can to encourage compassion for women who struggle to retain control of their own bodies where unwanted or dangerous pregnancies are concerned. Tell the anti-abortion zealots that, if they oppose the practice, they should take care not to submit to it.

+ At least once a year, listen to all six of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti (BWV 1046-1051) and overture to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (K. 492) as well as his Symphony No. 41, (K. 551), the Jupiter. Each one of them is guaranteed to bestow upon the listener both joy and profundity, mercifully tuning out the mindless cacophony that presses in on every side.

+ Above all, follow the wisdom offered by Hillel the Great more than two millennia ago: “What you hate, do not do to another.” The great sage must have known that such behavior as a habit runs contrary to nature. Also he must have believed that humankind could outdo nature. William Faulkner in his speech accepting the 1949 Nobel Prize in literature appeared to have shared Hillel’s optimism: I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. As a dear bishop friend was wont to say, “May it be so.”

Now an important credit: Susan Marie Chevalier, my loyal and loving wife of almost 38 years, made these essays not only possible but readable by crowding into her busy work schedule their editing and design.

Finally, this last flourish of defiance, taking the closing lines of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses as my own valedictory:

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are, —

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

 

 

Copyright 2017 Harry T. Cook. All rights reserved. This article may not be used or reproduced without proper credit.

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Join Everald Compton’s Celebration of 500 years since the Reformation

Aspley Uniting Church has taken up the suggestion of our good friend, philanthropist and church elder, Everald Compton to mark the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Luther’s declaration to the Church that big changes were essential for it to survive, with a dinner at which the Heads of Churches will briefly outline what the Reformation means to the Church today and tomorrow.

Like many insider observers, Everald recognizes that the time is right for a New Reformation, one that will re-instate the integrity and authenticity of the institutional Church as a pivotal player in our nation’s destiny. People of goodwill and commitment to the future church will gather for this event, which marks the beginning of a project that will evolve in the months ahead.

Robyn and I are keen to be there and participate in the development of this initiative. Everald has asked me to extend this invitation to subscribers to the UCFORUM of which he is one. I hope you will give this serious thought. Instead of RSVPing as advised in the Invitation below, please respond directly to Everald at 0407 721710 or by email here.

Rev. Sandra Jebb

ASPLEY UNITING CHURCH

is pleased to invite you to attend our REFORMATION DINNER

at GEEBUNG RSL CLUB  Newman Road, Geebung

on

TUESDAY, 31 OCTOBER, 2017 at 6.30pm for 7.00pm

to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall and Moderator David Baker will speak on the meaning of the Reformation today.

There will be a charge of 50 dollars per person for food and drinks.

Any surplus funds will be donated to

“Aspley Caring Through Service” (ACTS)

our outreach program to people in need.

Please RSVP by email to – minister@aspleyuc.org.au

Or Phone the Church office 3263 9275.

Arrangements for payment will be advised

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Seminars update

Michael Morwood led an enthusiastic crowd from the Sunshine Coast and hinterland at our first seminar in the current series. Yesterday’s event at Caloundra Uniting Church focussed on Putting Exploration into Practice. Michael’s brilliant talent as a speaker and discussion facilitator was on show.

Exploring how we think and talk about “the mystery in which the universe is bathed”, the discussion picked up on much of the wonderful material that Michael introduced to the Common Dreams Conference in Brisbane in 2016 and delved deeply into our understandings of a progressive and relevant faith.

Great crowd – great event! Congratulations to the Caloundra Explorers.

The program continues over the next two weeks:

Monday 2nd October – 6.30 to 8.30pm – Redcliffe – Michael Morwood “Articulating a 21st century Christian Spirituality”.

Wednesday 4th October – from 7pm – Holy Trinity Church, Fortitude Valley – Michael Morwood “God and Jesus through a 21st Century Lens”.

Saturday 7th October – 9am to 3.30pm – Merthyr Uniting Church, New Farm – Hal Taussig and Michael Morwood – “Christianity, 1st Century, Now, and in the Future”

Monday 9th October – 6pm – Buderim Tavern, Buderim – Hal Taussig – “Breaking Bread, Breaking Rules”.

Tuesday 10th October – from 7pm – Holy Trinity Church, Fortitude Valley – Hal Taussig – “What’s in and what’s out: Canon/Extra Canon/A New New Testament”

Bookings: If you have yet to book a place at one of these sessions please send an email to psinglis@westnet.com.au as soon as possible, and I will help you to negotiate the booking process.

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Registration for Morwood/Taussig Seminar at New Farm

REGISTRATION FORM

Merthyr Explorers and Progressive Christian Network Qld present:

 Christianity – 1st Century …. 21st Century …. what is the future?

7th October 2017       9 am to 3:30 pm

Merthyr Rd Uniting Church, 52 Merthyr Rd, New Farm

 Cost: $50 including morning tea

BYO lunch or order for $15 per person – pay on the day

Name: ____________________________________________________________________________________

Email: ____________________________________________________________________________________

Phone: ______________________________Dietary requirements_____________________________

(  ) Payment Enclosed for _____­­­____ registrations: $___________     (cheques or money orders made out to Progressive  Christian Network Qld)

(  ) Payment for __________ registrations of $ ___________ has been paid by bank transfer (please post or email registration information)

BSB: 638010     Acct no: 14431629

Acct name: Progressive Christianity Network Qld

Reference: Please use your surname as on this form as the reference.

Name/s of others for whom registration is being paid

Post registration to: PCNQ, PO Box 374 New Farm Q 4005

Or email to:  drgarn@bigpond.net.au

Enquiries: 0409 498 403

Registration closing date: Wed 4th October

I am planning to purchase catered lunch          Yes      No

Transport and Parking:

Small amount of off-street parking, plenty of on-street parking (no parking meters).

 

Bus route 196, Stop 13 (outside Venue). Bus leaves from Cultural Centre, outside City Hall in Adelaide St and in Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley.

 

Our guest speakers:

Professor Hal Taussig from USA

Michael Morwood from Western Australia

Redcliffe seminar with Michael Morwood

Articulating a 21st Century Christian Spirituality

The Redcliffe Explorers Group has pleasure in inviting you to this talk by well-known Progressive Christian

Michael Morwood

Michael regularly lectures and conducts retreats and workshops in Australia, USA, Canada, Ireland and England on themes such as Re-Shaping Christian Thought and Imagination; Praying a New Story; Contemporary Christian Spirituality and Questions of Faith for Modern Christians. A retired Catholic priest, he has authored a number of international best-selling books, and was voted ’most popular speaker’ at the 4th International Common Dreams Conference in Brisbane last year.

Monday evening 2 October 2017 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Azure Blue Retirement Centre Common Room

91 Anzac Ave Redcliffe 4019

Cost: $5 (payable at the door)

Note: security gates are open between 6:30 and 6:55 p.m.

Please register by calling Ian Brown on 3284 3688 or 0419 513 723 or email Ian Brown

*This session has been subsidized by the Redcliffe Explorers to enable a reduced fee.

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Buderim Event with Hal Taussig

Breaking Rules Breaking Bread

Hal Taussig

Professor Hal Taussig is one of the leading theologians of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Hal has recently retired as Visiting Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary, New York where he taught masters & doctoral level studies. He is Professor of Early Christianity at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Hal is co-chair of the Society of Biblical Literature’s Consultation on Greco-Roman meals, & on the steering committees of SBL’s Seminar on Modern Theories & Ancient Myths of Christian Origins.
Professor Taussig is a foundation fellow of the Westar Institute & participated in that Institute’s celebrated Jesus Seminar.
Among his 14 published books are A New New Testament: A Bible for the 21stCentury & Newly Discovered Texts (2013); A New Spiritual Home: Progressive Christianity at the Grass Roots (2006); & Re-imagining Life Together in America: A New Gospel of Community (2002).

A meal and conversation with Professor Hal Taussig

Monday October 9th, 6pm Buderim Tavern
81 Burnett St. Buderim $40 for dinner and talk (3 options for mains, plus dessert and tea/coffee) or $15 for the talk only.

Meal tickets available until midnight Friday October 6th.

Bookings essential: https://www.trybooking.com/RXTR

Talk only tickets can be purchased at the door.

Enquiries: Deborah Bird 0404 073 306 deborahtbird@gmail.com

A Common Dreams on the Road event – more information at
www.commondreams.org.au/index.php/events

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Bursary Applications for students of theology in 2018 close 30th October

UCFORUM and Fresh Steps in Faith Pty Ltd Bursaries

We have posted application forms and other material to students who expressed interest in receiving assistance with their study expenses at Trinity Theological College in Brisbane in 2018.

It is not too late to make an application. Closing date is 30th October 2017 and successful applicants will be advised after 30th November 2017.

Application forms are available from Dr Paul Inglis

We are pleased with the amount of interest in this offer of up to $5000 for graduate studies and up to $500 for short courses.

We also welcome expressions of interest for grants in 2019. We will advise these people when applications can be made formally.

The condition for receiving assistance is the provision of a short essay: “My Response to progressive Christianity”

Important Note: The personal position of the applicant in favour or against arguments presented in the field of progressive Christianity is welcome and will not be used as a determinant of acceptance for a bursary. The award will be based on evidence of understanding. The purpose of the awards is to equip more students to have an awareness of the growing interest within many congregations of critical scholarship in the field of progressive Christianity.

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Recommended: Two books on God

  1. “A History of God” by Karen Armstrong, author of “The Case for God”
  2. “God’s Human Future: the struggle to define theology today” by David Galston

1. A History of God

Karen Armstrong is one of the world’s leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent years as a Roman Catholic nun in the 1960s, but then left her teaching order in 1969 to read English at St Anne’s College, Oxford. In 1982, she became a fulltime writer and broadcaster. She is a best-selling author of over 15 books. An accomplished writer and passionate campaigner for religious liberty, Armstrong has addressed members of the United States Congress and the Senate, has participated in the World Economic Forum, and in 2005, was appointed by Kofi Annan to take part in the United Nations initiative ‘The Alliance of Civilisations’. In 2008 she was awarded the Franklin J Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal for her work on religious liberty.

“Indeed, our current secularism is an entirely new experiment, unprecedented in human history. We have yet to see how it will work. It is also true to say that our Western liberal humanism is not something that comes naturally to us; like an appreciation of art and poetry, it has to be cultivated. Humanism is itself a religion without God – not all religions, of course are theistic. Our ethical secular ideal has its own disciplines of mind and heart and gives people the means of finding faith in the ultimate meaning of human life that were once provided by the more conventional religions” (Armstrong)

Her description of the 4000 year history of God from Abraham to the present day makes for easy and interesting reading and challenges at all points. She is both reverent and curious and ultimately discusses the question: Does God have a future? Which is the subject of our next text ….. This is a big book but held my interest all the way.

 

  1. God’s Human Future

David Galston is a University Chaplain and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Brock University in St Catharines, Ontario, Academic Director at Westar Institute, a regular speaker at the Quest Learning Centre, and academic adviser to the SnowStar Institute in Canada. He is the author of Embracing the Human Jesus: a wisdom path for contemporary Christianity (2012) and Archives and the Event of God: the impact of Michael Foucault on Philosophical Theology (2012).

“The Bible holds uncommon authority in Western history and everyone presumably needs to know at least a little bit about it for no other reason than to appreciate great Western literature like Shakespeare. Still, once the surface is scratched, it turns out that underneath the cultural level basic knowledge about the Bible is piecemeal, even among the well-educated and, more surprisingly, especially among Bible fundamentalists. Before it is possible to talk about God and the western tradition of theology, the presupposition of that tradition, which is the Bible and its authority, must be encountered. It is important to know all that we commonly do not know about the Bible.” (Galston)

One of the great strengths of this work is the careful way in which it explains how we got here and where the current state of our thinking is likely to take us. As history it is a very different view of theology from that taught in most mainstream colleges. It is great reading for the sceptical and the progressive thinker. Galston managed to cheer me on rather than paint the depressing picture of human futures. There is a level of liberation in this book that justifies reading and re-reading it.

“We call something that is challenging, playful, and creative a work of art. In religion, we call it a parable. As a theology we can call it one of joy.” (Galston)

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