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.

A second review of “Activist Theology” by Robyn Henderson-Espinoza

See an earlier review at: Activist Theology

This review is by Paul Wildman, a member of the UCFORUM Executive.

This short book is well written and on topic from the point of view of an intellectual activist. However, the book has little at all to do with act-ual ground up, tr-act-ive, hands on, act-ivism.  The book is not entitled the ‘Theology of Activism’ and actually reverses these words to Activist Theology. However, Activist qualifies Theology in the title and as such the latter is subordinate to the former in content, process and ‘enfleshment’ and this does not happen. 

The book is really a Theology of Activism or more correctly it is a Theology of Feminist intellectual perspectives on theories and issues that are associated with activism. The author is a self-described ‘intellectual activist’ and this is indeed an appropriate term, as she doesn’t move from the intellectual, indeed hyper academic intellectual for the whole book.  This means she spends nearly 20% at the start of the (short) book explaining her ‘perspective’ in the preface and acknowledgement sections ………And then another 20% on poems….at the end of the book, and approximately half of the short book on ‘stuff other than hands on activism’. 

This is, I argue, part of a bigger picture that is the failure of academe in the West to grasp what action and activism actually is.  Indeed, when confronted with this author’s simple reframe of action and critique to fit within the hyper academic mind set of ‘my writing is my activism’ and all is at peace with the world, I recall that  I have had this literally said to me by a famous futurist.  So the critique is brushed aside by reframing. She finishes with a ‘call to action’. Yet, of course, that is not the action that she does and again is a form of hyper intellectualism on steroids, a hyper activism that is totally oblivious to itself and, as such, a sort of intellectual somnambulism.  This is a flaw/issue many of us, including me, struggle with. However, it needs to be surfaced and articulated and owned and addressed. This book does little to address same.

There is not one actual activist action she has done listed in the book, not one – bizarre and tragic in a sense as with many academics. When discussing the futures field they have NO grasp of what activism actually is and if they even smell a whiff of critique they reframe it as above as ‘my writing is my activist’, or go for ‘I am very busy so I outsource my activism to a social justice/religious organisation’, or ‘you don’t grasp what activism is about. Here read these 5 books I have written…..’  (all are literal experiences I have had). This book is shades of the first in my opinion.  Action Learning, conscientisation and craft, Peer to Peer, hacktivism, Wilding, Permaculture are for instance some ways of addressing same.  At least she has the honesty to call herself an ‘intellectual activist’. However, this allows the author and basically most other so call activist academics to call themselves same without ever actually doing it.

There are, some most excellent, indeed brilliant, paragraphs and phrases in the book, that as snippets on how to live one’s life somewhat make up for the above. A few of these include:

L837 Collective liberation does not materialize in a vacuum; liberation materializes as we midwife more shalom into this world.

L815 The struggle to humanize those who have been most affected by systems of oppression is so much of our work in activism. To embody a theological imagination that holds the complexities of our human experiences including our difference and diversity in tandem with a divine source of becoming is part of our struggle today.

L776 Church was also the place that could not hold my complexities.  Yet though I have left, church won’t, and I can’t, let go.

L1120 In this martyrdom of Arnulfo Romero’s, we can see a third dimension of Christian martyrdom. It is a dimension that has received little attention up to now, but today it is becoming more and more important. The first dimension is suffering for faith’s sake: Paul Schneider. The second dimension is suffering through resistance against unjust and lawless power: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The third dimension is participation in the sufferings of the oppressed people: Arnulfo Romero.

In terms of the authors analysis of Jesus’s role as an activist she readily identifies that it is Jesus’s hands on pragmatics with the poor of the poor that come first in his work at the margins of the margins. Yes, the background theology matters, and yet, it is one’s personal practical hands on commitment and action that qualify the theology not the other way around.  So maybe the kingdom/commonwealth of god is an activist theological one after all??!! I certainly agree with her in this regard.

So, in conclusion 99% of academics and purchasers would be most satisfied with the value for money they have received in what Dr Henderson-Espinoza has written, and indeed I congratulate her for same.

Dr Paul Wildman 7th January 2020.

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Why is church attendance declining – even among committed Christians?

In 2016 Patheos produced this summary of the reasons for this in USA:

  1. Social expectation and pressures have lightened. People used to live their lives according to social convention. Those who strayed from accepted norms were ostracized and shamed. Churches used this power to “guilt” people into a variety of behaviors, including weekly church attendance. Obviously this doesn’t work any more.
  2. Church is no longer the best show in town. For centuries, Sunday morning was an entertainment desert. Shops were closed. Sports commenced at noon. There was no cable TV or video games. Church was literally the only thing happening on Sunday morning – so people went. Sunday now presents lots of attractive options and everyone – including Christians – is taking advantage.
  3. Increased mobility. People travel as never before, so more and more churchgoers find themselves out of town on Sunday. Relatively few see the need to visit a nearby church.
  4. Weekend work. Blue laws used to keep businesses shuttered on Sunday. Now many people work on the Sabbath, which makes attendance difficult or impossible.
  5. People need a day of rest. For stressed-out couples Sunday may be the only pajama morning of the week. Can we blame families for wanting a little downtime with each other? After all, aren’t we supposed to take a sabbath?
  6. The rise of do-it-yourself Christianity. The Internet and various media offerings allow believers to tailor a spiritual life to their own liking. They get Christianity without the challenge of having to interact with other Christians.
  7. The expectation of choice. Modern Americans are used to getting exactly what they want. Amazon.com offers more than 200 million items. Petco sells more than 100 varieties of dog food. Christians shop for pastors they connect with. Megachurch attenders often have favorite teaching pastors – and will skip a Sunday if “the other guy” is preaching.
  8. The most faithful saints are burning out. I know a number of very committed Christians who no longer attend – or do so sporadically – because their churches worked them so hard in the past.
  9. Video streaming. In the past five years many churches have begun live-streaming their weekly worship services. It’s a heck of a lot easer to watch church on your iPad than it is to drag everyone to a building. And here’s the best part: no singing!
  10. Churches increasingly model individuality in weekly worship and teaching. We’ve trained people to pursue Christ on their own – so that’s what they’re doing.

The complete paper can be found at: Declining attendances

Is this the same story in Australia? More to come on this issue and your opinion is valued.

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What is the status, role and authority of the Basis of Union in the Uniting Church today?

Rev Don Whebell. [Don is one of the few people still living that were actively involved in the process of coming into Union that formed the Uniting Church from three previous denominations. As well as a minister, he was a Queensland Synod Moderator and taught the subject ‘Basis of Union’ for many years at Trinity Theological College in the Queensland Synod].

“That question had been in front of me for some time for at least three reasons:

  1. There was a time when, as a Christian Education and Youth Worker, I had responsibility for a program of education for the participating denominations in North Queensland. Having been involved in studies in the first Basis [and disappointed at its rejection by the Presbyterian Church] my task was to try to help people to understand it in ways that would make sense to them in their journeys.

“I was frequently disappointed at what I saw to be the superficial responses a lot of people were making to the whole issue and a general unwillingness to grapple with the theological basis of what it means to be the Church.

“Most seemed to be just wanting some ‘ecclesiastical carpentry’ to glue the three denominations’ organisations together – or wanting a Church under another name that was vey similar to what they already had….

“2. In my roles as a Presbytery Minister and as Moderator, I was frequently confronted by the same sort of thing in the 80s and 90s that I had encountered in the 70s.

“Many people were often just not willing – or motivated – or able – to do the theological work, wanting a simple way of being the Church that made few demands on their thinking, believing and acting….

“Concerned that the Basis of Union was not being given its intended role, status and authority in the Uniting Church, the Council of Synod asked Duncan Harrison and I to write some studies on the Basis for people in Congregations, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Inauguration of the Uniting Church. And to encourage people to re-engage in a search through the Basis and rediscover the sources of their faith. It’s called A Hitchhiker’s Trip through the Basis of Union.

“3.The third area of my concern was aroused – say the least – when, at a Presbytery Ministers’ Conference a many years ago, The General Secretary of the Assembly announced that there was a growing problem with the place of the Basis in the UCA.

“He said something like:

“There is an emerging viewpoint among some that holds that The Basis of Union does not have the relevance for the Uniting Church that it had for the three denominations that were negotiating the Church Union proposals that led to the inauguration of the Uniting Church in 1977.”

“That is to say that The Basis of Union belongs to the pre-union denominations, and is no longer relevant to the Uniting Church. A historical archive, that served its purpose in the forming of the UCA, but of no real continuing significance.

“This is no new issue….”

Don’s work on re-appraising the Basis of Union is at last being made publicly available. He has kindly offered his work to the UCFORUM’s readers to reflect on.

You can follow this work at: The Basis of Union re-examined. This is a work in progress. The first six sessions are available and many more are to follow. So come back to this site when you can.

Don welcomes ideas and opinions and although he is battling some serious health issues you can email him at: Don Whebell.

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Literal reading of the Bible, source of many social problems

Evangelical churches believe men should control women. It can lead to domestic violence – ABC Report 9th December 2019

An ABC investigation last year showed how conservative Christian churches both enable and conceal domestic violence.

Vicki Lowik’s and Annabel Taylor’s ongoing research shows this is exacerbated by what’s taught in evangelical church communities, creating fertile ground for domestic violence, its justification and its concealment.

Traditional understandings about male headship, both in the family and the Church, were promoted as being ordained by God. This meant the authority of men and the subordination of women were considered to be “permanently binding” principles.

Conservative evangelical Christians enthusiastically embraced this as a form of resistance against the feminist movement, and still support these “permanently binding” principles today.

Sadly, there are no statistics on the prevalence of domestic violence in the Australian Christian community, but it’s addressed in international research. More Australian research is needed urgently.

For the full report go to: Conversations

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New Year Reflection: Evolving Church

from Fr Richard Rohr

Brian McLaren
  Summary: An Evolving Faith       A School for Love
Friday, January 3, 2020     Today, friend and CAC faculty member Brian McLaren continues describing the three shifts Christianity needs to make in order to be true to the vision and mission of Jesus the Christ. Yesterday Brian explained the importance of becoming (1) “decentralized and diverse.” Today, he describes the need to be (2) “radically collaborative” and to (3) “love as Jesus taught and embodied.” Rather than a top-heavy institution concerned about in-house salvation, the Christianity of the future will place love of God, neighbor, self, and all creation at the center. Brian writes: The diverse and decentralized movement we need will be radically collaborative, working with, across, and, when necessary, outside of and in spite of existing institutions to seek the common good. It will not be anti-institutional because institutions are necessary for human survival, but neither will it be institutional, in the sense that it is preoccupied with its own survival or bringing benefits only to its members. Rather, it will be trans-institutional, working across institutions, both religious and non-religious, seeking the common good of those inside and outside the movement and the institutions it involves. . . .  The . . . most important aspect of this [new] form of Christianity in the future is simple, obvious, and yet radical: it is about love, as Jesus taught and embodied [emphasis mine—RR]. . . . The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that Jesus was about love first and foremost, in word and deed. Jesus began with love for God, but inseparably linked that love with love for neighbor [1], with the understanding that neighbor includes the other, the outsider, the outcast, the last, the least, the lost, the disgraced, the dispossessed, and the enemy. This love for neighbor was, in turn, inextricably related to an appropriate love for self. In fact, to love neighbor as oneself leads to the realization that oneself and one’s neighbor are actually distinct yet inseparable realities. In today’s world, we must add that, for Jesus, God’s love extends to the wildflower, the meadow grass, the sparrow, and the raven. He saw all of God’s creatures as part of one heavenly realm, as did dear St. Francis, and as do more and more of us. When I think of this [new] kind of Christianity of the future, then, I think of a movement of revolutionary love. I see it as distinctively Christian, but not in any exclusive way, because if we truly see love as Jesus’ point and passion, then the depth of our devotion to Christ will always lead us to love our Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Indigenous, nonreligious, agnostic, atheist, and other neighbors as ourselves. . . . In this desirable future, every willing Christian congregation makes every competing interest subsidiary to love, which is the fruit of all contemplation and the goal of all action. If we embody this [emergent] form of Christianity, . . .  if we become the seeds of a movement of contemplative activism in the Spirit of Christ, I can imagine hundreds of thousands of congregations, . . . each a locally and globally engaged school of love, teaching future generations to discover, practice, and live in love: love for our neighbor, love for ourselves, love for all creatures and all creation—all comprising love for God, who is all in all in all.  


For more go to: Richard Rohr’s daily Meditation
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Poem: No insurance – Poem for Australia

Rex Hunt

These crazy flames that lick and lap at all that ranges round us,  the trappings of our wealth,
experience and existence.
At birth we can’t anticipate our existential ending,
the length of life not ours to count or measure.
But then we face eternity,
or nothingness,
depending on belief.
Like night’s thief, flames hotter than hell’s painting are not some distant image,
but sharpened fronds dissembling each dwelling.
And if we leave reality says,
‘there is no return’.
Can faith uphold us through this conflagration?
Survival walks naked of all that we have known,
valued or possessed.
That is the option open to us.
Our Hobson has no choice.
So if we die we will know what rests beyond this life.
Remaining so much is loss or lost.
Whichever path we walk pray this,
pray only this,
that now and on beyond this moment
the love a letter writer once described
will hold,
enfold
and keep us still through all that is to come.
And no insurance…just the faith…

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Same faith – different perspectives

The Christian Right and Left in USA are driven by the same bible but argue for totally different interpretations.

“While conservative evangelicalism tends to focus on sin, repentance, and salvation, the Christian Left identify Christ’s radical love and inclusion for marginalized people as the locus of their faith. “

The whole article is available at: They couldn’t be more different

CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 14: Marchers, led by Cardinal Blase Cupich, walk through the Englewood neighborhood calling for an end to the violence that has plagued the city on April 14, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The marchers stopped several times to reflect on the Stations of the Cross and to read out the names of Chicago homicide victims. With 14 homicides so far in 2017, Englewood is one of the most violent neighborhoods in the city. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Although some belong to historically conservative denominations, liberal Christians are helping to frame conversations around issues such as environmental action, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s reproductive health, immigration, racial equity, affordable housing, and wealth disparity. “

Is this same set of differences now clearly manifest in the Australian church?

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Is the Queen progressive?

After hearing and watching this year’s Christmas message from the Queen, Tim O’Dwyer has asked that question. What do you think?

“Of course, at the heart of the Christmas story lies the birth of a child: a seemingly small and insignificant step overlooked by many in Bethlehem.

“But in time, through his teaching and by his example, Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding.

“Many of us already try to follow in his footsteps. The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.

“As Christmas dawned, church congregations around the world joined in singing It Came Upon The Midnight Clear. Like many timeless carols, it speaks not just of the coming of Jesus Christ into a divided world, many years ago, but also of the relevance, even today, of the angel’s message of peace and goodwill.

“It’s a timely reminder of what positive things can be achieved when people set aside past differences and come together in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation. And, as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”

(From the Queen’s Christmas Speech 2019)

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Some timely thoughts from Kevin Smith and a question….

[About Kevin: As a free-thinking progressive-christian messianic god-seeker. Kévin Aryé Hatikvah Smith, aged 98, deaf, in a wheel-chair in Sydney, Supreme Cross of Honour in 2005 (from Benedict XVI) for 50 years of ecumenism (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) in France and Australia. His mother, Esther Myers, was culturally Jewish although non-observant and became Catholic before wedding my Catholic father in 1921. She was a splendid model of Hebrew neighbourly-love and wrote poetry about the blessed virgin Mary and Jesus. He made friends with a messianic rabbi and he invited him to be a reader in his synagogue, which he loved doing. With his wife they were foundation members of the NSW Council of Christians & Jews.

Kevin’s Jewish Cockney ancestor Emmanuel Solomon arrived in Sydney in 1818 and in about 1835  he became a patriarch founder of Adelaide. As a leading Jew he became a close friend of Saint Mary MacKillop and helped her during her excommunication… more than once supplying free accommodation on his properties to the nuns expelled from their convents by a bishop.]1. THE 9 BEATITUDES …

— There are nine beatitudes in Matthew’s Eight Beatitudes! Here is what I understand.

-1. It’s OK to be destitute (ptochoi).

-2. It’s Ok to  mourn. 

-3. It’s OK to be humble and gentle. 

-4. You must hunger for goodness and integrity. 

-5. Be merciful and generous. 

-6. Be unpretentious and sincere. 

-7. Champion peace.  

-8. Suffer fools gladly and thugs too.

9. It’s OK to be reviled or persecuted.  

and The Intercession of Yeshuah

Learning not from church christology but from bible christology I note that a main message concerning Yeshuah is that he is shown as subject, submissive, in a servant role to Yahweh-Elohim/Adonai … “Not my will but thine be done.”
-Thus NT scripture reveals that divinity has levels, at least 2, since the divine Yeshuah’s is not equal to that of Adonai.
— This is rammed home in 1 Cor 15: “After the last judgement, at the final act of salvation history, Yeshuah hands over humanity and the Church to Adonai and then … Wait for it! … he submits.
1 Cor. 24+ “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death for he ‘has put everything under his feet.’
Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.
When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. …”
— … THE SON WILL BE MADE SUBJECT … so that GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL
— The eternal job of Jesus Christ from then on will be to intercede, a servant role.    

The question:

                             Can anyone tell who or what Yeshuah will be interceding for?

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Does Australia need a religious freedom bill?

In the next few months the government will vote on a religious freedom bill. It’s been hugely controversial, and critics say instead of protecting vulnerable people, it could act as a licence for hate. David Marr and Paul Karp analyse how this bill could change Australia.

You can read David Marr’s opinion pieces on the right to expel gay children and Israel Folau’s sacking.

Paul Karp has written extensively on the Ruddock religious freedom review.

The Guardian provides independent editorials with open access journalism. See more and follow at: The Guardian.

If you only have time for a shorter summary go to: What will Australians be allowed to say and do?

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