Category Archives: Other Forums

Project Launch: So That We Remember

We are pleased to join with our friends who are launching a great new project that focuses on the theme of dispossession entailed in the colonisation of this continent and its islands, and the cost to Indigenous lives that was so dearly paid for in that violent change of possession.

A story that began 233 years ago.

We offer So That We Remember as a verbal and visual guide to a particularly focused journey into the history of this country.

So That We Remember

This Website is offered as a verbal and visual path on a journey that began 233 years ago. It aims to expand awareness of the cost to Indigenous lives of the process of colonial dispossession.

This awareness is enhanced by Indigenous artist Glenn Loughrey’s artwork (glennloughrey.com). The visual has the capacity, beyond the verbal, to take the viewer into the primal feel of a landscape, an event, an encounter.

This collection of extracts from primary historical sources, and from historians seeking to gather as accurately as possible the memories of Australian history since 1788, is prompted by the felt need to expand the reach of memory into the wider Australian public.

What comes into view is a miscellany of testimonies, eye-witness accounts, secondary stories, justifications and obfuscations in regard to the nation-wide violence entailed in the imperial colonisation of this continent and its islands.

This collection takes the viewer into a day-to-day remembering.

Whether we are an individual, a family, a clan or a nation, we remember selectively. Both what we remember (and what we allow to be forgotten) shape the memories that shape us.

So That We Remember is being launched in the hope that in Australia it will bring to public awareness the cost in losing lives and in losing country, that has affected Australia’s Indigenous people to this present day. That awareness can find expression in remembrance.

Ray Barraclough

It all begins with a vision, a goal, a purpose.

An explanation for the contents and their presentation on So That We Remember.

Every day of the year people watch new telecasts, listen to news bulletins. These news programs share a common feature. There will be items side by side that have no inter-relationship. An item on economics, followed by a report of a car crash, then a politician is quoted, followed by sports results and the weather forecast.

In one sense this daily journal of historical remembrance, entitled So That We Remember is a collection of historical news bulletins. However it has a particular focus, a particular theme, a particular purpose. The contents will vary as regards the timelines of Australian history, and the locations of historical events.

“A Portrait of Australia With Important Bits Missing” by Glenn Loughrey

But the purpose is to focus on the theme of dispossession entailed in the colonisation of this continent and its islands, and the cost to Indigenous lives that was so dearly paid for that violent change of possession.

Professor Henry Reynolds has asked the question of Australia: “How, then, do we deal with the Aboriginal dead?[1] While Professor Mark McKenna observes that, “there is no state-sanctioned memorial to the frontier wars in Australia. This absence is one of the most telling silences that continues to reign over our official historical imagination.”[2]

In compiling So That We Remember, we offer it as a daily memorial to the cost to Indigenous lives in the emergence of contemporary Australia. Those lives deserve to be remembered. The consequences of that colonisation process are still with us. There are no exits from the realities of this history.

In a good number of the daily texts particular dates are highlighted. This is done to encourage reflection along the lines of: ‘On this very day in our past, this happened.’

“This absence is one of the most telling silences that continues to reign over our official historical imagination.”

— Professor Mark McKenna

Many of the pages contain a selection of quotations. Whether the excerpt is of page length or more succinct in expression, the intention is to provide varied food for thought, for remembrance, for contemplation. Each day’s entries are an invitation to ponder more deeply the history of Australia’s Indigenous people. And to reflect more deeply on the tide of consequences that colonialism brought in its wake – a wake that still permeates this county’s life.

We have decided to use the terms Indigenous and Aboriginal as general designations. Some of the historical sources cited contain abusive and derogatory terms that no longer have public currency. Where they are retained in the excerpts, they are reminders of the dehumanising attitudes that fuelled the violence against Indigenous people (men, women and children) in Australia’s internal history.

Where quotes are drawn from primary sources, whether paragraphs, phrases or single words, they are italicised in the daily entries.

This production is both a literal and a visual aid to remembrance.

  1. Henry Reynolds, The Other Side of the Frontier, p.165.

  2. Mark McKenna, Moment of Truth – History and Australia’s Future, p.68.

  3. See more: Acknowledgments.

Are you an educator?

If you’re a teacher or educator and are considering incorporating any of our content into your lesson planning, we invite you to explore our Education Resources page first to learn more about how to do so and our terms of use.

Go to: So That We Remember and regularly visit the site for a visual and verbal journey that will help you to understand and be sensitive to our history.

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Welcoming another group of explorers

St Lucia Spirituality Group

We are a small group in St Lucia, Brisbane that seeks to support spiritual seekers, particularly those who are nearby. Below is our recent newsletter for your information. We have a mailing list of nearly 70 and a private Facebook page with 23 members to aid sharing of information.

Greetings
As a consequence of the final Conspire conference organised by the Center for Contemplation & Action in New Mexico, we held two successful zoom meetings in October.

Our first meeting discussed the question “How do you live in the real world and take your faith
tradition seriously?” We recognised that the fastest growing denomination in Christianity today is the ‘Alumni Association’, yet the challenge before us is to live our lives with integrity if we are to remain within our tradition.

We considered Jesus’s instruction in his Sermon on the Mount: “Seek first the kingdom of God”.
However, before we can seek the “kingdom” we must first understand what Jesus meant when he used that expression – and recognise that Christian attitudes over time have not always been faithful to fulfilling that ambition for everyone. The Spanish biblical scholar, Jose Pagola, writes that the kingdom of God represents an abundant life filled with mercy and justice for everyone, now, and not just attainable after one dies.

Our second meeting looked at suffering and loss as a pathway to spiritual growth, again with
discussion in small groups. A fuller report on each of these meetings is available on our Facebook Page.

Butterfly Series – Streams of Spiritual Development

At our next meeting we shall be introduced to four different aspects of spiritual development, in
particular:
• Waking up
• Growing up
• Cleaning up and
• Showing up
John introduces these concepts in this brief video. You can also gain some insight into this model by reading Richard Rohr’s introduction here.

We shall hold our introductory meeting on Zoom at 7-8pm on Tuesday 16 November. To register, email John at jscoble@hradvantage.com.au so that he can send you the zoom link for the meeting, and remember to ensure your zoom software is up-to-date.

Our Facebook Page

The primary purpose of our newsletter is to keep you
informed about our activities, particularly through our
new and private Facebook group. The purpose of this FB
group is to provide a forum for members to share
information and promote discussion online.
We invite you to find our group by clicking on this link, it
will take you to our page where you will be able to apply
to join our private group. We shall be interested in your
comments.
If you are not a Facebook user, we can help you set up
your account with maximum privacy, you can be
anonymous and even use a nick name or an alias if you
wish, you can create a fake identity! Consult Robert or
John if you want help.

You can also contact us by email slsg4067@gmail.com.
Go well…
Robert van Mourik

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Update PCNet South Australia – Seminary of the Third Age

We have received the following information from the PCNetSA:

Seminary of the Third Age sessions are always videoed, and people can view these videos on the Effective Living Centre website:

https://effectiveliving.ucasa.org.au/podcasts/

Great to have this link included on UCFORUM as well – people can watch from interstate at their leisure.

The Effective Living Centre is the “parent” organization of PCNetSA, and the other links you have included – EAG, Social Issues, Sacred Creative, Poets Corner – are other “Task Groups” within the ELC.

Cheers,

Fergus McGinley , Chair ELC Management Committee and member of PCNeTSA Task Group

and further from PCNetSA

Please visit our website at www.pcnetsa.org for up to date information with regard to PCNetSA events, including Seminary of the 3rd Age. You can email us at contactpcnetsa@gmail.com.

Shalom

Maureen Howland, for PCNetSA committee

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Theos – Understanding Faith. Enriching Society.

Theos stimulates the debate about the place of religion in society, challenging and changing ideas through research, commentary and events.

For the latest thoughts from the Theos team and guest contributors on current issues around religion and society go to Theos.

Based in the United Kingdom, Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.

Examples:

Bridging the Gap: Economic Inequality and Church Responses in the UK

Simon Perfect

Science and religion: mapping the landscape

Nick Spencer
Nick Spencer

I personally find it reassuring to know that debates about the future of our country in a rapidly changing world are informed by the thoughtful and rigorous work coming out of Theos.

Joy Carter, Professor and Vice–Chancellor of the University of Winchester

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About Sea of Faith in Australia

SOFiA is a network of Australians interested in openly exploring issues of life and meaning through reason, philosophy, ethics, religion, science and the arts. We want to explore for ourselves what we can believe and how we can find meaning in our lives.

SOFiA has no philosophical or religious position beyond a desire to ‘openly explore’: it is a forum for discussing ideas, experiences and possibilities.

Any who find themselves in sympathy with our purpose – exploring life and meaning in an open and non-dogmatic manner – are most welcome to join us.

14 Richardson St
Lane Cove NSW 2066
AUSTRALIA

Email: sofnetwork@gmail.com

Website: www.sof-in-australia.org

For enquiries about local events/groups please see the local group details.

Join SoFiA

SoFiA members receive 6 editions of the SoFiA Bulletin annually. Subscription fees are $20 for 10 years’ membership.

The Bulletin is available either as an email attachment or in paper form.

The preferred method for payment is direct bank transfer. Please email sofnetwork@gmail.com to request our bank account details. You’ll need to use your own bank’s online banking facility to make the payment. Please use your surname in describing the payment.

Payment through the post by cheque or money order is also possible.

Please note: for overseas members, the SoFiA Bulletin is available only as an email attachment.

If you’d like to join SoFiA please complete and send the membership application together with either direct debit payment or a cheque/money order to:

The Membership Secretary
14 Richardson St
Lane Cove
NSW 2066

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Living the Change

Background 

Living the Change: faithful choices for a flourishing world” is a globally-connected community of religious and spiritual institutions working together with sustainable consumption experts to champion sustainable ways of life. The website is: https://livingthechange.net/

Living the Change was initiated at the UN Climate Conference in 2017 by the US-based multi-faith organization, GreenFaith, an interfaith organization whose mission is to educate, organize and mobilise people of diverse faiths to become environmental leaders. Serving to coordinate Living the Change, GreenFaith now has Implementing Partners who collaborate to shape a vision for a worldwide community of practice which drives lifestyle-related emission reductions.

They are:

Can lifestyle change make a difference?

The campaign emerged, in part, from a study which showed that “if the world’s top 10 percent of carbon dioxide emitters were to cut their emissions to the level of the average European Union citizen, global emissions would decline by 33 percent. If the top 20 percent were to do so, the reduction would be about 40 percent.”[1]  In other words, while structural change is legitimately pursued as being potentially most effective in creating change, individual behaviour change within a targeted demographic can indeed make a meaningful contribution to stabilizing the climate. 

Given that close to six billion people identify with a religion (Pew Research Center, 2017), the opportunity for these groups to create meaningful change through collective action cannot be ignored. In Australia, the 2016 census showed 60% of the population identified with a faith tradition.

There’s also the difference it creates in me, the individual. The more we act in ways congruent with science which tells us that climate disruption is a major threat, the more our determination to make climate action a priority can grow. By acting in line with my values, my integrity grows and, hey, fewer greenhouse gases actually go into the atmosphere! The various faith traditions value individual responsibility, and each person is intrinsically important.

What are people being asked to do?

Living the Change invites individuals to fortify healthy, balanced relationships that help sustain the earth. The three areas where religious leaders and people of faith will be asked to take steps are:

  1. reduced use of transportation based on fossil fuels, ie, air and road transport
  2. shifting towards plant-based diets, away from meat-based protein
  3. energy efficiency and sourcing energy from renewables

Leaders in faith communities are encouraged to make their pledges to lifestyle changes publicly and promote these changes in their communities. We are seeking faith leaders who will help us promote the campaign.

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What do Unbelievers believe?

What Do Unbelievers Believe?

We get atheism wrong if we see it simply as a detached, philosophical (dis)belief in God, argues Nick Spencer. 06/06/2019

My colleagues Elizabeth Oldfield and Lizzie Stanley had to go to Rome last week. It’s tough working for Theos sometimes. 

I tease. It was work, and rather interesting work at that. They were recording a Sacred podcast from a major conference, hosted at the Pontifical Gregorian University and part of the Understanding Unbelief programme, in which interim findings about “unbelief” in Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, the UK, and US were presented.

Here is a stereotype about unbelievers. They don’t believe in stuff. It’s a stereotype that is popular among some believers and unbelievers alike. The former, in a move of what is essentially self–protection, like to think that being an unbeliever entails abandoning belief in moral absolutes, or in human purpose or dignity. The latter, in a move that is no less self–serving, like to think that unbelievers are rational, materialist, naturalistic, and completely immune to the childish absurdities of “belief”. 

The reality is very far from these poles, as the Understanding Unbelief research shows. Two issues stood out for me. 

The first relates to what atheists believe. As one would expect, atheists are rather less likely to believe in the supernatural than agnostics or believers. But less likely does not mean unlikely. When presented with a list of such phenomena – life after death, reincarnation, astrology, objects or people with mystical powers, supernatural beings, underlying forces of good or evil, a universal spirit of life form, or karma – somewhere between 10% and 40% of the people in each country said they either “strongly” or “somewhat agreed” in their existence. Indeed, only a minority of atheists were “naturalists” in the sense of rejecting all such supernatural phenomena. The answer to the question of what atheists believe turns out to be quite a lot after all. 

The second issue relates to how they believe. Here the answer is, not as strongly as you might think. As the project’s interim report puts it “being an atheist does not necessarily entail a high level of confidence or certainty in one’s views.” In all six of the countries studied, “atheists express overall levels of confidence in their beliefs about God’s existence [that is] either notably lower than…or broadly comparable to the general population’s.” In other words, atheists are not usually much more confident in their (non)beliefs than the rest of us are in ours. 

I think these findings are interesting, encouraging and, in two particular ways, familiar. 

Several years ago, Theos conducted a much smaller and more local survey into what UK unbelievers believed, which we published as Post–religious Britain?: The faith of the faithless. This reported that:  

  • Around a third of people who belong to no–religion, over a quarter of “Nevers” (i.e. those who answered “never” in response to the question “How often do you participate in a religious service as a worshipper?”) and 15% of atheists said that they believe in life after death; 
  • One in five “Nevers” (21%) said they believe in angels as did 7% of atheists;  
  • More than two in five “Nevers” (44%) believe in a human soul, as do almost a quarter (23%) of atheists;  
  • A quarter (24%) of the non–religious believe in heaven and 15% in hell; and 
  • A fifth (20%) of non–religious people believe in the supernatural powers of deceased ancestors, compared to 23% of the total sample. 

More generally, the proportion of people who are consistently “naturalistic” – meaning that they don’t believe in God, never attend a place of worship, call themselves non–religious, and don’t believe life after death, the soul, angels, etc. – was very low, at 9%. 

There are lots of ways one might read this. No matter what some atheist polemicists say, thoroughgoing atheistic naturalism is extremely rare, and not even the default position among atheists themselves. Even among those who reject God, there linger persistent beliefs about the supernatural or numinous; the sense there is more in heaven and earth than we dream of in our naturalist philosophies nags away. Atheism is much more variegated and interesting, and atheists are a lot less dogmatic, self–assured or certain, than some public advocates might lead us to believe.  

All of this is true, but there is one other reading which interests me and leads back to my second reason for a sense of familiarity. 

The matching of atheistic certainty (or lack thereof) about God with the general population’s un/certainty says something more than “atheists aren’t as dogmatic as you imagine”. Take this sentence about unbelief in the US from the Understanding Unbelief report:  

“the comparatively high level of confidence exhibited by America’s atheists matches more–or–less exactly the high ‘religious confidence’ of Americans–in–general.”  

Or, with slightly more interpretative boldness, the atheists (and atheism) of a nation take their cue (and possibly also their hue) from the believers in it. 

This is perilously close to the argument that ran central to my history of atheism, namely that we get atheism wrong if we see it simply as a detached, philosophical (dis)belief in God. Today, as in history, atheism is embedded in the lives (and politics) of the wider culture. A generous, thoughtful, self–reflective culture of belief will generate a similar culture of atheism; an aggressive, self–righteous and exclusionary one will do the opposite.  

The parallel is not perfect – Chinese and Brazilian atheists are somewhat less sure about their beliefs than the general population in those countries – and other factors naturally come in to play. Nevertheless, the arguments in the Understanding Unbelief study, our Post–religious Britain? report, and my Atheists: The Origin of the Species, seem to cohere on this issue of the socially– and politically– mediated nature of unbelief, as they do on the wider point that whatever else it might be, the discussion between what believers and unbelievers believe is emphatically not an issue, simply, of us vs. them. 


Understanding Unbelief, which was exhibited at the Vatican, interviewed people who were atheist and agnostic (Photographer: Aubrey Wade)

Nick Spencer

Nick Spencer

Nick is Senior Fellow at Theos. He is the author of a number of books and reports, most recently The Political Samaritan: how power hijacked a parable (Bloomsbury, 2017), The Evolution of the West (SPCK, 2016) and Atheists: The Origin of the Species (Bloomsbury, 2014). Outside of Theos, Nick is Visiting Research Fellow at the Faiths and Civil Society Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London and a Fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion

Theos

Theos conducts research, publishes reports, and holds debates, seminars and lectures on the relationship between religion, politics and society in the contemporary world. We are a Christian think tank based in the UK. We are part of The British and Foreign Bible Society, charity number 232759.

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APCV recommended voting guide for the 2019 Federal election.

A Progressive Christian Voice Agenda for the 2019 Federal Election.
Introduction
A Progressive Christian Voice Australia (APCVA) promotes public awareness of the politically progressive dimensions of Christian opinion. The APCVA agenda for the 2019 Federal Election is based on consultation with members and on the issues that have directly concerned those members over the last 3 years. Underlying the agenda is our understanding that God identifies in a special way with those who are excluded or oppressed in our society.
APCVA supports

  1. An inclusive society in which everyone is valued and treated with respect and in which no one is excluded because of race, colour, creed, age, sexuality or differing ability. a. The commencement of a well funded and supported Royal Commission into the abuse of people with a disability b. The banning of gay conversion therapy c. The ending of gender inequality with regard to salary for equal work, positions on boards and as elected representatives
  2. A just and fair society in which no one lives in poverty. a. An increase in the Newstart Allowance, Austudy, Youth Allowance for students and Abstudy to 100% of the Aged Pension b. Doubling of the rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance c. Addressing the issues of inequity and a lack of transparency in the Australian superannuation system that currently favours the well off with overly generous tax concessions. d. Reducing substantially negative gearing on established properties e. Reforming the tax system to be fairer and simpler as per the recommendations of Richard Denniss of the The Australia Institute Go to: Video f. Increasing substantially funding for education across all sectors
  3. A profound respect for the earth. a. The halting of the Adani coal mine b. A renewed commitment to reducing carbon emissions c. A realistic timeline for the phasing out of our reliance on coal and the encouragement of sustainable energy sources d. A substantial reduction in the amount of waste produced by Australia e. A renewed commitment to an ecologically sustainable Murray Darling agreement
  4. A welcoming approach to refugees and asylum seekers. a. An increase in the intake of refugees under the humanitarian criteria b. Discussions with Indonesia and other countries in our region as to how we can help them with asylum seekers and refugees in their countries and discourage people smugglers c. Granting asylum seekers the same opportunities as refugees while they are awaiting their refugee status to be determined, for example, consistent access to income support, medical services, education and the right to work d. An increase in funding for agencies that are assisting refugees and asylum seekers e. The closing of the Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island detention centres with the result that all asylum seekers, no matter how they arrived, will be assessed on the mainland of Australia f. The cessation of mandatory detention of asylum seekers
  5. A peaceful society that serves the world as a peacemaker. a. Ceasing all government support for the arms export industry, especially sending arms to the middle east b. Demilitarising our approach to international migration and the world refugee crisis. c. Increasing our foreign aid to 1% of GDP
  6. A society that learns from, respects and includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. a. Committing to the Uluru Statement from the Heart which includes “that a referendum be held to provide in the Australian Constitution for a body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament” b. A nation-wide reform of the law enforcement system that currently produces such a disproportionate number of Indigenous incarcerations c. A national recognition of “the fallen” as regards Indigenous people who died defending their homelands – i.e. this continent and its islands
    For comment on APCVA’s election agenda please contact the Rev Peter Catt at advocate@progressivechristians.org.au

Authorised Ray Barraclough, 25 Buderim Street, Currimundi, Qld, 4551.

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Westar Institute: searching for the truth fearlessly

Westar Institute — home of the Jesus Seminar — is dedicated to fostering and communicating the results of cutting-edge scholarship on the history and evolution of the Christian tradition, thereby raising the level of public discourse about questions that matter in society and culture.

What is Westar? What does it stand for? Its new video gives an overview of the history, scholarship, and future of Westar.

Go to: Westar Institute

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More clericalism or a new doctrinal and organisation paradigm for the church

Is new life ahead in the (Catholic) church? An article by Sr. Ilia Delio

[Ilia Delio, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Washington, D.C., is the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University. She is the author of 16 books, including Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology and Consciousness (Orbis Books 2015), and the general editor of the series Catholicity in an Evolving Universe.]

September 6, 2018

The recent disclosure of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the extent of depravity reported in the news are symptomatic of a church in crisis. It is no longer acceptable for the pope simply to issue a public apology nor is it sufficient for any group merely to reflect on what has happened by issuing position statements.

The church has a deep structural problem that is entirely bound to ancient metaphysical and philosophical principles, not to mention imperial politics, that at this point requires either a radical decision towards a new ecclesial structure or the acceptance of the possibility of a major schism.

The rock-solid church has crushed human souls and twisted authority into deceit. The male-dominated Christ center no longer holds and there is simply no solution or comforting words that can placate the extensive damage to fragile human lives that has taken place over the past decades. The evidence of abuse brought to light in the Catholic Church is simply unfathomable.

There is something profoundly intransigent about the structure of the church. It is not church structures that have caused the abuse, but they have masked predators hiding as priests in a closed caste system of clerical elitism.

The resurgence of abuse points to something deeply amiss, if not embedded, in church culture. “Culture” is a complex term that encompasses the set of operative meanings and values. Church culture is based on operative principles of hierarchy, patriarchy, careerism and the notorious notion of priestly consecration as becoming “ontologically changed.”

The hierarchical pecking order from priest to pope has entailed obeisance in the quest for a higher position on the ladder of ecclesiastical success. Clericalism is a type of corporate ladder climbing and no different from the quest for power in the world of major corporations. Corporate power, like ecclesial power, is marked by the dominant male, akin to the evolutionary hunter who is “red in tooth and claw;” the priest-hunter can be cunningly deceptive at achieving his desired goal.

How did we get here? If the church is founded on the Good News of Jesus Christ, how did it become so radically disconnected from the itinerant preacher from Nazareth?

Read the full article here: Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

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