Book Review: Further exploration of Friendship

From our Caloundra Explorers:

Continue a reading of John Smith’s Jesus and the Empowering Influence of Friendship

Chapters 7 and 8 we found very challenging and relevant.

Social commentaries on the current circumstances

P 151  Julian Burnside argued that Australians ‘ought to be angry—with an unrelenting anger—that our Aborigines have the world’s highest infant mortality rate’.

P 151 We thought that Paul Kelly’s song From little things big things grow should be an encouragement to those involved in the fight for social justice.

P154  We agreed with Mike Carlton (The land of the fair gone, Saturday Paper 31 March 2018) that ‘the financial theory of Trickle Down promulgated by the federal government is simply not working’.

P 155  ‘. . . more than half the juveniles in Australian jails are indigenous and are products of a third-world squalor.’ Let’s hope the Voice can do something about this.

P 158. A snippet from Richard Flanagan’s Our politics is a dreadful black comedy (The Guardian 2018): Our screens are filled with a preening peloton of potential leaders, but nowhere is there to be found leadership.

P 160  We have not honoured the ’65 000 indigenous Australians who tragically lost their lives defending their country in the frontier wars of the 1880s’.

We noted that John Smith’s book has a copy of the Uluru Statement from the heart p 253.

P 161  Regarding Australia’s first people, we agreed with John that ‘we need to tell their story and honour their contribution for the nurture of this land. We need to value their dreamings, sayings, languages, and their methods to renew the cosmos’.

P 165  We discussed Andrew Hamilton’s idea (Whatever happened to ‘kindness to strangers’? Eureka Street Vol 28 No 13) that we need refugee policies that emphasise ‘inclusion within society, rather than assimilation’.

P 166  For a change to happen, we will require morally coherent and ethically aware political and social leaders, who know that a generous and compassionate society is founded on just, compassionate and hospitable personal relationships.

P 169  ‘Hospitality, then, is away of living life and living it more abundantly, by sharing not only what we have but also, who we are.’  We agreed, but several in our group shared experiences where people had taken advantage of their hospitality.

P 174  John quotes Eva Cox: We live in a society not an economy. . . If the Government doesn’t look after the people, people can’t look after the economy.

P 176  As friends of Jesus of Nazareth, we can disagree on many issues but it should be hard to argue against the belief that there is an overriding call in the Bible to demonstrate a particular concern for the poor and prioritise the welfare of the vulnerable.

The role of faith communities

P 178  It is easier to talk about ‘prayers of intercession’ and handing over the responsibility of doing something to God than to meditate on how I could respond to the plight of my friends, the poor or disadvantaged and actually do something about it.

P 180  John talks about Marcus Borg’s ‘thin places’—where we recognise the activity and presence of God. Not an ‘elsewhere God’ but a God who is present ‘here and now’.

P 182  John raises this important question: ‘If the church as we know it ceased to exist, would God’s work continue? What is it that the church adds to our understanding of the society that makes for a better world?

P 185. This sums up John’s book pretty well: ‘. . . people are attracted to Jesus because he made them feel worthwhile, included and valued. He conveyed a passion about life that was empowering.’

Chapters 9 and 10 of John Smith’s book certainly challenged us.

Spirituality without borders

P 189  To live a ‘good life’ for me means to experience the sacred energy force I call God in the lives of those I meet.

P 192  ‘God’s spirit is present now within, between and around you.’ This reminded us of George Stuart’s God beyond, within and between us.

P 192  ‘I see my role now as a committed subversive saboteur, with the aim of rescuing the message of the human Jesus from the distorted view of both orthodox Christianity and mainstream Western society.’ We though this was similar to Gretta Vosper’s mission of ‘irritating the church into the 21st century’.

P 194  John reminded us that God works through us.

Our role in community as subversives

P 198  John reminded us of Martin Luther King’s principle that ‘the right time to do the right thing is now’.

P 206  . . . while Jesus’ actions were non-violent, they were not passive resistance either, but active non-violent resistance.

P 210  One of our group recalled the days when the ‘Wanted’ posters of Jesus were promoted by the Methodist Church.

P 212  I wish to continue the task I believe I have been given, which is to smuggle the true Jesus back into the Christian Community and into everyday living, against all opposition.

P 214  . . . the sacred energy source we call God is within each person and it comes to visibility primarily in the way we relate personally to each other.

P 216  We discussed the ‘irrational fear that continues to pervade modern society toward those who dare to be different and who are willing to speak the truth as they understand it.

Next week we discuss the vital Chapter 11 ‘The future structure of inclusive faith communities’.

Ken Williamson






Ken Williamson








4 thoughts on “Book Review: Further exploration of Friendship

  1. Bev Floyd

    The idea has been on my mind
    a lot lately. Religious wars have been fought over the slightest theological differences.
    Friendships have collapsed when one or both think their ‘friend’ unacceptable if they behave ‘differently’. We couldn’t be friendly with ‘x’… he or she (drinks, is loud, is negative, supports a different political
    party, is woke, etc. etc.)
    I’ve recently been asking the question ‘How can we ‘love’ someone we can’t stand?’
    All solutions welcome!

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