Category Archives: Publications

Book review: Beyond Power (Marilyn French)

Rodney Eivers, Chair of our UCFORUM Executive, has managed some reading over the Easter break.

Beyond Power,  – on Women, Men and Morals

Marilyn French (November 21, 1929 – May 2, 2009)

Being away from the pull of my at-home office for an Easter break gave me the opportunity to catch up with a bit of general reading. For the rare occasions  on which I have done this , oveMarilyn Frenchr the past 12 months or more, I have been working my way through, Marilyn French’s “Beyond Power – On men women and morals.”

Marilyn French was a flavour of the month feminist writer of a previous generation. Her best known title was probably, The Women’s Room. Beyond Power would probably claim to be an academic study on the tragic and demeaning effect that patriarchy has had on both women and men over many years – it has 640 closely-written pages with several thousand notes and references. I have no quarrel at all with her argument and it is one which needs to put. It does need to be kept in mind that being first published in 1985 the world had moved on in some respects. And yet as the daily newspapers remind us, the treatment of women by men and society’s attitudes even in our “enlightened” Western society still leaves much to be desired.

As I made my way through the book and its litany of “complaints” I found myself from time to time thinking, “Yes, all right, but what do we do about it?” Ms French does not seem to come up with any specific solution other than we can hope to educate people to “do the right thing”. There is no religious orientation. There is plenty to regret and condemnation at  the history of religions, including Christianity in their response to the place of women in our culture. The book does not hold back in describing instances of oppression.

Imagine my surprise, then when I reached the penultimate page of “Beyond Power” to find this paragraph:

But I am heartened by the thought of the early followers of Jesus’s ideas: slaves, women, publicans, poor Jews, Greeks, and Roman soldiers, prostitutes, respectable housewives, intellectuals, people who craved a new and more tolerant way of life; people who were sickened  by the Beyond Powerways of power. Of course, if their success stands as an example , the subsequent fate of their religion, which was swallowed whole by patriarchy, stands as a warning.“

Isn’t this what we are trying to achieve by revitalising the Jesus message through Progressive Christianity. I take heart that a relatively secular observer can come to the same conclusion.

Rodney Eivers,   April 2017

God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism

The Transhumanism topic has been exercising the minds of members of the UCFORUM Executive thanks to Paul Wildman. He has drawn our attention to this very interesting paper in the Guardian’s “Long Read” on 18th April 2017. The author is Meghan O’Gieblyn. Meghan is a writer based in Madison, Wisconsin. Her work has appeared most recently in the Oxford American, Guernica and Indiana Review

Extracts:

“After losing her faith, a former evangelical Christian felt adrift in the world. She then found solace in a radical technological philosophy – but its promises of immortality and spiritual transcendence soon seemed unsettlingly familiar……”

“At Bible school, I had studied a branch of theology that divided all of history into successive stages by which God revealed his truth. We were told we were living in the “Dispensation of Grace”, the penultimate era, which precedes that glorious culmination, the “Millennial Kingdom”, when the clouds part and Christ returns and life is altered beyond comprehension. But I no longer believed in this future. More than the death of God, I was mourning the dissolution of this narrative, which envisioned all of history as an arc bending towards a moment of final redemption. It was a loss that had fractured even my experience of time. My hours had become non-hours. Days seemed to unravel and circle back on themselves………”

“Transhumanists, in their eagerness to preempt charges of dualism, tend to sound an awful lot like these early church fathers. Eric Steinhart, a “digitalist” philosopher at William Paterson University, is among the transhumanists who insist the resurrection must be physical. “Uploading does not aim to leave the flesh behind,” he writes, “on the contrary, it aims at the intensification of the flesh.” The irony is that transhumanists are arguing these questions as though they were the first to consider them. Their discussions give no indication that these debates belong to a theological tradition that stretches back to the earliest centuries of the Common Era……”

To read the article go to: God in the machine and be disturbed or challenged to find out more.

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Spiritual Mindfulness

Just when I was learning about mindfulness and mind (brain) body connections while doing an intensive three week Back Rehab Program at Wesley Hospital Brisbane, along comes a message about Jim Burklo’s latest. (Thanks Noel Preston).

Mindfulness has been liberated from religion.  Jim Burklo’s new book liberates religion with mindfulness. The book anMindful Christianityd website are windows into mindful Christian spiritual practice for individuals, churches, retreats, and groups.  More at MINDFULCHRISTIANITY.ORG

About the book:

Just now, mindfulness – defined in secular terms, studied scientifically, and practiced ubiquitously – has come fully into the cultural mainstream.  Now is the time to rediscover it in the mainstream of Christian faith and practice, in the writings and practices of contemplatives throughout its history.  Mindful prayer leads to fresh interpretation of Christian tradition, and reveals the Bible for what it is: not a book of facts, not a fixed set of prescriptions for behavior, but rather a collection of wisdom and poetry and myth made sacred by the ongoing human quest for intimate encounter with the Ultimate Reality.

Mindful Christianity is spiritual practice in the service of engagement with the quest for social and environmental justice.  By seeing clearly what is, we can begin working on what ought to be.  The mystical knowledge of God leads to a life of compassion and activism.

For forty dawns in solitude before he began his ministry, what awe filled Jesus’ soul?  To what inner and outer realities did he awaken?  In silence, searching for himself, whom did he find?  MINDFUL CHRISTIANITY invites you to join Jesus in the desert, and with him meet God face to face.

Order multiple copies directly from the publisher, St Johann Press, or individual copies at AMAZON

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Recommended Journal: Scientific GOD Journal

A scientific view of GOD

The Scientific GOD Journal has been recommended by a member of our UCFORUM Executive.

Scientific God JournalI have enjoyed trawling through its editorial board and examining its ethical and innovative process for approving articles for publication.

The current issue focuses on the theme: Beyond the circle of life.

Articles: Beyond the Circle of Life; Death, Consciousness, & Phenomenology; Consciousness, a Cosmic Phenomenon; Idealist View of Consciousness After Death; Science & Postmortem Survival; Non-Locality/Disembodiment; Tilde Fallacy & Reincarnation; Theory of a Natural Afterlife; & Vision Statement on Science & Spirituality.

The purpose and mission of Scientific GOD Journal (“SGJ”, ISSN: 2153-831X) are to conduct scientific inquiries on the nature and origins of life, mind, physical laws and mathematics and their possible connections to a scientifically approachable transcendental ground of existence – we call “Scientific GOD.” By “scientific inquiries”, we mean building concrete and testable models and/or hypotheses connected to hard sciences (e.g., physics, neuroscience, biochemistry and physiology) and doing the experimental testing. We believe that in this golden age of Science the GOD in whom we trust should be spiritual as well as scientific. Indeed, since we are all made out of the same subatomic, atomic and genetic alphabets, the scientific GOD each of us seeks should be one and the same whatever our race, religion and other differences. There is also a Scientific GOD Forum available.

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The search for spirituality beyond organised religion.

hugh-mackayIf you missed it, it is well worth listening to this ABC Podcast

 

 

Hugh MacKay

Spirituality in a secular age (click on this link)

Regular church going has been on the wane in Australia for years. Those who call themselves atheists are more abundant in number. And many of the big institutional religions have suffered reputational damage in recent times. But none of this means we have abandoned spirituality or a search for meaning in the modern world. So says author and social researcher, Hugh MacKay. We want to feel connected to something bigger, he maintains, even if we have turned away from organised religion.

In Hugh MacKay’s recent publication Beyond Belief , he argues that while our attachment to a traditional idea of God may be waning, our desire for a life of meaning remains as strong as ever. In his social research on Australian culture, he asks what do people actually mean when they say ‘God’? Around two-thirds of us say we believe in God or some ‘higher power’, but fewer than one in ten Australians attend church weekly. In Beyond Belief, Hugh Mackay presents this discrepancy as one of the great unexamined topics of our time.

Recorded at the Brisbane Powerhouse 26th May 2016.

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Improved book buying

From Rex Hunt:

G’day folks,

After a lot of planning and discussing, and plenty of other negotiation, Morning Star Publishing – the Australian publisher of my books – has announced readers in UK and NZ (as well as OZ!) can order copies of all my books direct from their web site, and the books will be printed and delivered locally.

Readers in South Africa can also order the same way but their books will be printed in UK.

This is a significant break-through for all authors who reside within the Morning Star Publishing stable. Thanks to all concerned.

Morning Star Publishing:   http://www.morningstarpublishing.net.au/

Morning Star Publishing have publishing arrangements with Wipf & Stock.:   https://wipfandstock.com/

Thank you for support during the past few months.

Warm regards,  RAEH

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Who do you say I am? by Kevin Treston

Kevin Treston’s latest book is called Who do you say I am? 

treston-book

It can be purchased from Morning Star Publishing

 The religious landscape is changing rapidly and many of those still affiliated with the Christian communities are increasingly uneasy about the Traditional Christian
Story whose original impulse was God’s act of restoration through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus following the primal sin.
Who do you say I am?, Kevin Treston offers a complementary understanding of the tradition, exploring the features of a Cosmic Christian Story that situates God’s
revelation in Jesus as the Christ firmly within the evolving dynamics of creation. It seeks a response to how Christians may understand and celebrate the Incarnation within the wondrous evolution of all things in our cosmic context. It is a Story that takes account of modern science, especially cosmology, quantum physics, energy field theories, genetics, globalisation, technology, and neuroscience that are changing forever how humans live as citizens of the planet.  is book is for general readers who aspire to extend their understanding of the Christian story and live their faith in the modern world.

Kevin Treston is a well known author and consultant. He has worked
globally for many years in the areas of education, spirituality,
theology and pastoral ministry.
WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?
The Christ story in the cosmic context
Kevin Treston
Morning Star Publishing
9780995381520
148mm x 210mm
124 pages
$19.95

‘Made on Earth’ by Lorraine Parkinson – now available

The latest from Dr Lorraine Parkinson.

For Australians and New Zealanders it is free of postage for $35 from Spectrum Publications.  The web site is www.spectrumpublications.com.au

Why have millions of Christians across two millennia been convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is the divinely anointed Christ?  Lorraine Parkinson sets out compelling reasons why the gospels may be found to have been ‘made on earth’. She builds a strong argument that each gospel was written to make a distinct case for Jesus as the Christ. She presents detailed evidence that the Christ of the gMade on Earth 1ospels is the creation of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, plus later editors. The sub-text of this book contends that by including teachings of Jesus alongside claims for him as Christ, gospel writers bequeathed to Christianity two contradictory gospels – the gospel of Jesus and the gospel about Jesus. There is both detailed and courageous biblical scholarship in Made on Earth.

Rev Rex A E Hunt, Founding Director, The Centre for Progressive Religious Thought, Canberra. Immediate Past Chair, Common Dreams Conference of Religious Progressives, Australia/New Zealand : At last! A book that helps its readers to see and understand how the Way of Jesus with its emphasis on this world, was wrong-footed into fixation on “the Christ” and the next world. There is no bigger challenge to Christianity today than to rid itself of this fixation and from creedal adherence to the worldview that shaped it. In this book Lorraine Parkinson provides us with the perfect follow-up to her previous work, The World According to Jesus: his blueprint for the best possible world.

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‘Testing Tradition and Liberating Theology: Finding your own voice’ by VAL WEBB

Val Webb says of her new book: “There has never been one truth, despite what people claim.  Theological ideas have waxed and waned through history, taking conflicting turns with changing leaders, worldviews and political forces.  This fast-paced, lay-friendly book, backed by serious, inquisitive scholarship, follows this maze, shining a spotlight into dark corners and dusty shelves to observe ideas silenced and others declared eternal.  As many people walk away from churches unwilling to face the big questions, this book offers readers permission to think for themselves”.

Endorsements of Val’s new book

Val Webb has done it again – bringing God-talk out of both the Academy and the Church; and into the everyday … This is a book of liberation in that it allows each one of us to ‘do our own theology’ – to express what we mean by ‘God’ and not leave it to the ecclesiastical or scholastic authorities to make up our minds for us … This is a brave and challenging book that puts God back in the midst of people – where God belongs!  The late Revd Dr Nigel Leaves, Canon St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, Australia.

Val Webb invites us into a broad yet comprehensive sweep of much that has influenced the theological landscape for today’s 21st Century Christian. In doing so Webb both encourages and provokes our thinking about who we are and what we believe. Above all, the book is a call to the lay people of the church to accept responsibility for their own theological explorations and to no longer be shrinking violets in the important matters of informed faith.. Rev Dr Jennifer Byrnes, Executive Director of the Centre for Theology and Ministry, Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Victoria-Tasmania.

“Testing Tradition and Liberating Theology is a little Aussie gem from our own pre-eminent lay theologian Dr Val Webb.  It makes theology accessible for the average reader, using clear language and everyday images that open up the mysteries of religious belief  … Reading this book is to be empowered by a credible lay theologian … The book submits that there are many ways to think theologically, and Webb leaves the reader to make their own decision”.  Bruce Mullan, Acting director, Uniting Communications, Uniting Church in Australia Queensland Synod.

Testing Traditions and Liberating Theology may well be the best volume to come from Val Webb’s prolific key pad – and that is quite a rap! Her primary audience is the inquiring lay personMuch of the book is an  historical survey of the development of (Christian) theological ideas. As such, it will be a great eye opener to many, and an enlightening refresher to others”. Rev. Dr. Noel Preston, retired Uniting Church minister and an ethicist formerly Associate Professor at Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University.

Val Webb 2Australian theologian Dr. Val Webb holds a graduate degree in science and a Ph.D. in theology.  She has taught religious studies in universities in the United States and Australia and has written eleven books, including Like Catching Water in a Net: human attempts to describe the Divine which won the religion category of the 2007 Best Books USA Awards.  She now lives in Mudgee, New South Wales and is a member of the Uniting Church.

Purchasing:  Go to Book Depository or order through your local bookshop.

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“Come and See” – exploring Spirituality

400 copies sold in four weeks!

‘COME AND SEE: Come and See bookSPIRITUALITY FOR EVERYDAY LIVING’

A RESOURCE FOR SCHOOLS, PARISHES and HOME GROUPS and FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION

Come and See: Spirituality for Everyday Living is a resource for all those in schools, home groups and parishes who wish to develop further their own spiritual journeys.

In a culture driven by consumerism, people are searching for a spirituality which gives them deep meaning in their lives.

This resource is organised in four sections:

·         Explaining the meaning of spirituality

·         Spirituality within creation

·         Christian spirituality

·         Spirituality for everyday living

 

Reflection questions are embedded in all sections for reflection and sharing.

An ideal contemporary resource for helping people deepen their spirituality.

68 pages   $15 per copy.  $12 per copy for 5 or more copies with minimised postage cost.

Kevin Treston has been involved over many years in education, theology, spirituality and leadership in several countries. His qualifications include a Doctorate at the University of Notre Dame (USA) and post doctoral studies in Washington, Chicago and Boston. He lives in Brisbane, Australia with his wife Kathryn.

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To order Come and See

Name:

Address:                                                                             

P/Code

Send order to:  Kevin Treston,  Creation Enterprises, 66 Antill St, Wilston Q 4051 

Or email: kevintreston@gmail.com

Invoice is sent with the order.     Inquiry (not order) Kevin Treston (07)38561712

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