Dr Peter Lewis has produced a second edition of his very interesting book The Ending of Mark’s Gospel.
This is essentially the same content, just expanded a little. A few changes have been made and two chapters added If you have the first edition, no need to rush out and buy the second but new readers should look out for the second edition.
Peter’s hope is that this rational investigation of the abrupt ending to Mark’s Gospel will be a key to understanding how the gospels came to be the way they are. He sees this as integral to revitalising the faith.
The love of God crosses all boundaries. Every. Single. One.
Every day, millions of people lament the loss of civility, respect, and hope, and they wonder if it’s possible to cultivate a love big enough to overthrow hate and heal our hurts. With courage, authenticity, and relevance, Jacqueline A. Bussie proclaims, “Yes! It’s possible!” and urges readers to widen love’s wingspan and to love as God loves–without limits or exceptions.
In Love Without Limits, Bussie imparts practical solutions for people of faith who yearn to love across division and difference in these troubled times. Through poignant personal memoir, engaging theological reflection, inspiring true stories of boundary-busting friendships, creative readings of scripture, and surprising shout-outs to some of love’s unsung heroes, Bussie challenges readers to answer God’s call to practice a love so deep, it subverts the social order; so radical, it scandalizes the powerful; so vast, it excludes no one.
“A must-read for all Christians interested in inclusivity for their communities.” –Publishers Weekly
From Rev Fran Pratt – Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas , USA
The Rev Fran Pratt has been on a faith journey which may be familiar to many Christians. She has gone from the charismatic experience of certitude within the Vineyard Fellowship to a place of doubt and uncertainty, where prayer did not come easily to her …
Call and Response: Litanies for Congregational Prayer
A compilation of modern call and response litanies intended for congregational use. Whether your community is liturgical and looking for fresh language, or contemporary and looking to incorporate liturgical elements, this volume contains relevant, reflective prayers that call congregations deeper into the story of Divine Love.
Written with attention to beauty, theological resonance, and justice-mindedness, these prayers probe the depths of what it means to live out faith in today’s context. People of faith from various traditions can find helpful language for integrating spirituality and contemporary life in this rich trove of communal prayers.
I feel a great deal of urgency combined with hope. People, especially people who claim to follow the Christ – the Peacemaking, violence-ending, death-resurrecting Christ – need to wake up to the understanding that caring for creation = caring for the poor. This is my prayer that Spirit People will not wait to face this, that they will start now, make and push for change now. So that we can leave a legacy of a healthy planet to our children and grandchildren.
God, we ask for your help. Our planet, our mother, is suffering Due to human neglect, apathy, and greed; Due to overconsumption, mass production, and pollution.…
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
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
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.
people of faith must work for change, by Rev JimAntal, 2018.
The national synod of the United Church
of Christ, USA passed a motion in 2017 that: The climate crisis is the
opportunity for which the Church was born.
Jim Antal’s book
opens with historian Lynn White’s words in 1967.. More science and
technology are not going to get us out of the present ecological crisis until
we find a new religion or rethink our old one. Antal argues that climate change is the greatest
moral challenge humanity has ever faced because it multiplies all forms of
global injustice: hunger, refugees, poverty, inequality, deadly viruses and war.
A compelling case is
presented that it’s time for the church to meet this moral challenge, just as
the church addressed previous moral challenges. He calls for the church to
embrace a new vocation so that future generations might live in harmony with
God’s creation and each other. After describing how we have created the dangers
our planet now faces, Antal urges the church to embrace a new vocation, one
focused on collective not individual salvation and an expanded understanding of
the Golden Rule. He suggests ways people of faith can reorient what they prize
through new approaches to worship, preaching, witnessing, and other spiritual
practices that honours creation, cultivates hope and motivates love for others into
Sometimes books come along at just the right time. One such book has been Activist Theology by Robyn Henderson-Espinoza which my wife and I have been listening to on audible as we have been driving round Tasmania. I can’t recall anything quite like it.
When I first came to this country (USA) and started to teach at Union Theological Seminary, the faculty and students asked me again and again: What has your theology to do with your being a woman? I did not know how to respond. Of course I knew of some things I intensely disliked in male theological circles – namely, the springing from one quotation to the next in their writing without the courage to use personal discourse; the almost anal obsession with footnotes, called ‘scientific style’; the conscious – but much worse, the unconscious – craving for orthodoxy and shelter it offers to the professional theologian; the neglect of historical reflection in favour of glib talk about ‘historicity’; the failure to evaluate and reflect on praxis.
I also felt a certain lack of candour and honesty, and I sensed no need to be personally exposed to the truth of Scripture and tradition.”[i] (p.xvi)
None of these criticisms can be levelled at Robyn Henderson-Espinoza. Her life transparently informs her work. Robyn describes herself a transqueer activist and Latinx scholar with white-passing privilege because of the colour of her melanin who has had to rely on food stamps to survive.
She works at the interface between the academy (university defined widely), the church and local activist movements. While at one level this is not new, (I think of Jurgen and Elizabeth Moltmann, and Jacques Ellul in Europe, James Cone in the USA, the South American Liberation theologians, and even Charles Birch and Veronica Brady here in Australia), her approach has a freshness, immediacy and a companionable solidarity. Her inclusion of the work of and discussion with activist poet Britt!ni “Ree Belle” Gray is one of the many highlights.
When she writes about the importance of “struggle” you know that this is not a remote theological concept, but something that is integral to her life as an activist theologian. Her work then becomes nourishing emotionally as well as intellectually. Her theology is literally written onto her body, tattooed on her hands in prayer as “divine doubter”.
For activist theology, God is in the change that is becoming. Activist theology is thus hope filled, not covered in despair. This is the message our time needs.
A month ago, this was brought home to me when I gave a workshop for social work academics on what they could do about student poverty. Though well intentioned, many of the academics felt overwhelmed and powerless to act. This may seem strange to the outsider, for after all, academics have resources in terms of knowledge, communication skills, status and in some cases money that are far greater than those most in need. Yet it was true that the neoliberal system was putting obstacles in the way of their acting, (lack of tenure, increased workload, greater administration). More importantly, the neoliberal system sent out the message that social problems were all too hard, there was nothing that one can do.
As it happens, a week later I was called to give evidence in person to the Senate Inquiry into the Adequacy of Newstart and Related Payments. This was unusual. I am not employed by any institution, nor am I particularly well known or influential, nor do I have much power or influence. What I and a colleague did was write a submission on student poverty, (no 76), based on our research but not limited to it, that caught the attention of the Senate Committee. There are probably 1,000s of academics in Australia who are better qualified than I to have made a submission on student poverty, but with a couple of rare exceptions they did not submit. Their attention was elsewhere. They missed a valuable opportunity.
The hour in which I was given the opportunity to discuss student poverty with the Committee was a special time of grace. As always, the chair of the Committee, Senator Rachel Siewert of the Greens, was deeply respectful and concerned about the plight of the poor. Senator Malarndirri McCarthy of the Labor Party came down to welcome me into the space before the proceedings began. This certainly helped me feel at ease and calmed my nerves. Senator McCarthy, through her mother, is descended from the Garrwa and Yanyuwa peoples, whose traditional lands straddle the McArthur River and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Both Senators had clearly read my submission closely, asking insightful questions that showed an understanding of the individual and the wider policy issues. Also present was the Liberal Senator, Hollie Hughes, who unfortunately had been given the remit to promote the Government line, that 1. the best type of welfare is a job and 2. increasing income support payments was unsustainable.
Also giving evidence in the same hour was Cat Nadel from Young Campaigns. Her evidence was outstanding. When challenged by Senator Hollis on the sustainability of increasing payments she gave the best off the cuff explanation of the true meaning of sustainability that I have heard. Below is the Hansard transcript.
I would agree that young people are concerned about the future and want to see the Australian economy remain sustainable. I can really only speak for myself and the young people I work with and interact with, not for all young people. We have seen Australia go through years of what we are told has been economic growth, but we’ve also seen inequality widen deeply in that time. In my mind, a budget that is sustainable into the future needs to look after all of society and especially the poorest and most vulnerable in society. We are currently not seeing that; we are seeing the gap widen. While we are talking about how young people look into the future: we are also looking down the barrel of huge challenges to come, like climate change, and it is not clear how governments are budgeting to prevent those problems, and what implications that is going to have for future budgets. I would say that young people do want to see Australia continue to be a sustainable economy that looks after everyone, and that means we have to think about how we allocate support to the poorest in society.
This was a spine-tingling moment in the proceedings. Though the Hansard record can’t show it, there was a moment as Cat finished, when Senator Hollis was left speechless, … before she proceeded on with her next scripted question. With young advocates like this, there is still great hope in these dark political times.
Yet this hope does not come without a cost. Despite her young age, Cat must have spent years preparing for this moment. (Not just this moment of course, but any moment when her talents can be used.) Time spent studying, researching, going to meetings, organising, listening and feeling the pain of others and the environment.
It is this cost that so few academics and church attendees are prepared to pay. Those with conservative views of course can maintain the illusion that they live in the best of all possible worlds, that they are safe and comfortable. However, those who profess progressive views present more of a problem. Why don’t more step up? In my own profession of social work, only a handful of social workers ever become involved in meaningful activism despite a commitment to social justice being written into their code of ethics. Academics, even those with tenure, rarely get their hands dirty with pressing social concerns. As for theologians, they may as well not exist in Australia. At best, the mainstream churches limit themselves to general statements that don’t offend too much.
What is the cost? The cost is a preparedness to share the pain. This is one of the meanings of incarnation, and without it, incarnation makes no sense. It means to regard status, career, security as nothing when compared to the call for justice and mercy for all: not just for humans but for the whole of creation. This seems to be the stumbling block. Progressives, like their conservative brothers and sisters can be too comfortable. They prepare their progressive thinking and their theology, use it to define themselves as not conservative, but then don’t use it often enough to address the growing injustice all round them.
The activist theology of Robyn Henderson-Espinoza does not let progressive Christians off the hook. Without activism there is no theology, progressive or otherwise, there is only a logy of empire, or of a nation, or of a cultic group. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza gives no easy answers. She is flailing about in what Dorothy Searle has called “the open horizon of Christ”.[ii] One sees at times those flashes of sparkling brilliance, but you know that to fully understand you must dive in. This is the challenge for these turbulent times. The need to dive in is more urgent than ever. Safe and steady will not do.
Len Baglow, Management Committee APCVA
[i] Dorothee Soelle, 1968, 1995 preface. Creative Disobedience. Wipf & Stock. p. xvi. (I realise the irony of an old white male footnoting a quote about the “almost anal obsession with footnotes” but this book is very good and I hope some of you will read it.)
Thanks to Richard Smith from the Progressive Christianity NetworkWestern Australia for this review.
This book reveals how
scholars believe that Paul’s remarkable words in Galatians 3:28 of radical
equality among all people irrespective of race, gender, slave or free was
borrowed from an ancient baptismal creed. The original author long since
This ancient creed said nothing about God or Christ or
salvation. Its claims were about the whole human race. In a world of bigotry,
slavery and sexism the followers of Jesus proclaimed at baptism: “You are
all children of God. There is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male and
female, for you are all one.” But Christianity
would within 300 years become a religion that despised Jews, condoned slavery
as the will of God, and championed patriarchy.
Freedom slowly emerged 1500 year later as Christianity gave
birth to secularism (this world) enabling the Church to rediscover its true
original nature, from the historical teachings of Jesus and from science (Latin
scio – to know and scientia – knowledge). Science gives birth to
Ecology revealing the fullness of God, the ultimate reality that sustains all
life on earth irrespective of race, gender, slave or free, human or non-human.
But can Christianity resist the temptation of falling prey to the powers and
privileges of wealth that science has bequeathed us. Again abandoning Jesus’
radical teachings and in Greta Thunberg’s words ignoring for the last 30 years,
the science of climate change.
By Meredith Lake, ABC RN Soul Search presenter and academic.
Meredith Lake collected the Australian History prize for her book The Bible in Australia in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards last month. Lake said when public debate about the national history curriculum was in full swing she decided to write the book as an antidote to the so-called culture wars. She said the phrase “Bible basher” had been coined in Australia and her research revealed Australians still held passionate and varied opinions about the Bible.
“[There exists] the idea of Australia as a somehow Christian nation adrift from its Judeo-Christian moorings, a nation whose freedoms may be somehow under threat. On the other hand, the idea of a Godless or secular nation in which religious belief has been at best weird and is best now put behind us [also prevails],” she said.
The ceremony at Parliament House was hosted by ABC presenter Annabel Crabb. The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were launched in 2008 by then prime minister Kevin Rudd as the nation’s richest literary prize for fiction and non-fiction.
They no longer claim the “richest” title after the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award was raised to $150,000 but they do offer the largest prize pool, with $600,000 distributed in six categories. Winners receive $80,000 and finalists receive $5,000 each, all tax free.
Full list of awards
Australian History: Meredith Lake for The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History (NewSouth Books)
Fiction: Gail Jones for The Death of Noah Glass (Text Publishing)
Young Adult Fiction: Michael Gerard Bauer for The Things That Will Not Stand (Scholastic Australia)
Children’s Literature: Emily Rodda for His Name Was Walter (HarperCollins Australia)
Poetry: Judith Beveridge for Sun Music: New and Selected Poems (Giramondo Publishing)
Non-Fiction: Tanya Dalziell and Paul Genoni for Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955-1964 (Monash University Publishing)
This is a big sweep of the history of Australia and the influence of the Bible on that history and the developing and changing culture experienced by European settlers, indigenous residents, missionaries and in more recent times the new citizens from all parts of the world. The Bible was a staple text of colonial Australian life.
But the influence of the Bible on Australian culture goes back hundreds of years before European settlement and this is a fascinating piece of research that includes St Augustine and Portuguese and Dutch traders. By the time of Cook the Bible had been available in English for 250 years and was ubiquitous. It circulated widely as a whole volume or separate books and was in the hands of settlers and convicts and slowly also the indigenous inhabitants. But it was not a smooth pathway of acceptance. It was a contested document right from the start of European settlement, with settlers, convicts and aborigines. Yet it was clearly locked into popular culture and the basis for many decisions, laws and practices. In a European imperial guise it was wrapped in colonial thought and culture. For indigenous it was a new mind set, one that challenged much of their world view. The ‘civilizing’ view of missionaries played out in many different and conflicting ways. They made reading, hearing and learning from the scriptures a part of the rhythm of mission life.
At the same time it became a focus for challenging the encroachment of colonial thought on the original inhabitants. Many efforts to include a rewriting of the Bible in local languages were the subject of enormous battles within the churches and amongst aboriginal communities. But for colonial governments the role of missionaries was to ‘civilize’ and make the aborigines compliant to the new overlords. One great challenge in translations was to agree on a name for God and in several cases ‘boss’ was the substitute.
The legal notion of terra nullius was a crucial cultural product of the bibles European history. people who knew the Bible, believed it, were among those who harmed aboriginal people or profited from frontier violence. There were humanitarians making some noise about the treatment of aborigines but they stopped short of saying colonialism should end.
Lake does a great job of covering the whole territory that includes how the ‘word’ was spread, the growth of publishing houses, the massive influence of the Bible Society, frontier work in a huge country, the way a devotional attachment to the Bible was seen as a means to a good society, the Bibles influence upon the development of banks, schools, hospitals and much more. But it never produced an agreed model for a good society.
Inevitably the text was re-examined as new scholarship in the form of scientific knowledge made its impact on the developing nation, as it did elsewhere. By the late 19th century many works began to appear critiquing the Bible and by 1869 Jesus was being credibly portrayed as a man rather than a God by none less the evangelical Chief Justice of South Australia. New ideas flourished and spread, but only for a couple of decades. By the 1920s 96% of the population was identifying as Christian and dissent was minimal. Once again new views evolved with the development of critical thinking groups, feminist critics and gradually the Bible became one of many books that informed ethical and good practice. At the same time temperance and moral reform movements were influential until mid-20th century.
From the moment the first Australian parliament met, scripture and prayer were locked into politics. The constitution ‘humbly relied on the mercy of God’. The White Australia was indirectly influenced by interpretations of scripture. religion pervaded political parties and influenced policies. Two world wars had a great influence on future perspectives where faiths were shaken. Nevertheless the commemoration ceremonies captured the scriptures as integral to ceremonies for generations. The country continues to erect ‘religious’ memorials with biblical quotes. ANZAC day has become the new religion for Australians.
So much more could be told here, but that would spoil it for the reader.
At 439 pages this is a big read, but an easy one, full of interesting characters and anecdotes from our history. This is a book that all seekers after the truth about our Australian biblical heritage will find fascinating and enjoyable.
A seeker’s reflection on the rooms of Christian living
by Kevin Treston
I have been looking forward to more from Kevin Treston since his The
Wind Blows Where it Chooses made practical sense of the crisis facing
western Christianity. Opening Doors is a great follow on from that book
and once again he has produced a text that is useful for personal as well as group
studies. This time the exercise is to reconcile a contemporary faith with
modern science, cosmology and spirituality.
Dr Kevin Treston has taught and lectured for many years in 14 different countries. He is the author of 30 books, and a highly respected presenter among Christian educators. He was a visiting Scholar at Boston College and is a member of the association of Practical Theology Oceania. He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to education.
He calls himself a seeker because he has taken on board Jesus’ invitation to open the door to him, get to know him better and at the same time bring Jesus wisdom into contemporary society. He invites us to be seekers and gives us the tools for shifting from the old anthropocentric (human centred) faith to an ecocentric faith better suited to our times. This is a very personal exercise and the book acts as a resource that guides the reader/s through a range of elements that enhance Christian living today.
For Kevin it is obvious that the Christ Story is told within the Great Story of the Universe which is a much longer narrative than the 2000 years of Christianity. The profound mystery of God within and beyond creation needs to be reframed within the wondrous story of the universe. He has developed this theme in previous books so that the three great movements from Jewish beginnings to the traditional story we are familiar with are linked to the emerging cosmic story including teachings, theology, liturgy, ethical living that form a new consciousness that includes modern science.
Kevin builds the discussion on a foundation of human evolutionary destiny for homo sapiens as an exclusive species of hominoids exhibiting unique attributes of self-reflection, language, art and consciousness over 150,000 years through towards today’s global people to emerging trans human forms. This is accompanied by a history of the development of religions and especially in the Christian religion the rise of the clerical class which has had a depowering effect on individuals ‘reducing them to a spiritually dependent lay state’. He makes the point that the propensity to be religious deeply embedded in the human psyche is not confined to those who endorse creeds and doctrines. But it does give each of us an inclination to consider the question What Does it mean to live life given the fact that one day I will die? He gives fresh insights into the meaning of ‘incarnation’ as core thinking in the human narrative.
reader is given opportunities to consider the issues and questions raised by
the author’s commentary on life, religion, spirituality, advances in science,
love and relationships, the divine, sin, God as Trinity, the worship of Jesus,
the teachings of Jesus and the Cosmic or Universal Christ, the exercise of
ministry, the role and status of women and the problems of patriarchy and
domestic violence, morality and shifts in teaching about morality. All of this
leads to Kevin’s model for the spirituality journey which is really a framework
for each of us to develop our own intentional model.
I found this book personally liberating and I was motivated to follow up on Kevin’s invitation to describe the room of life that I would like to be in after opening the door. Highly recommended for individuals, conversations and self-directed groups who will find some great ideas for getting underway. It is a resource suitable inside and outside the church with particular benefit to communities looking at the renewal and relevance of their mission focus.