Moderator’s column: Seeking wisdom

It is nearly fifty years since my wife, Jill, and I moved to Western Australia. The plan had been for us to stay four years, but Perth made such an impression upon us that we never left.

We have so many vivid memories from those early days in Perth and one of those for me is of the beautiful Reflection Pond in front of Winthrop Hall at the University of Western Australia (UWA). The Memorial Seat that looks down the length of the pond from the eastern end bears the inscription: ‘Verily by beauty it is that we come at wisdom’. The motto of UWA itself is: ‘Seek Wisdom.’

In the season of Lent that will be just concluded by the time this edition of Revive is published, I’ve been prompted by a few things to reflect upon the nature of wisdom, within the context of a Benedictine concept of renunciation.

What is truly important in the journey of following Christ, and what should be renounced in order to pursue it more fully? Continue Reading

Editorial: ageism and Australia

When my grandmother passed away just over a year ago, one of the things that gave me peace was seeing the love and care she received in her final days, from both family and staff at her residential aged care facility.

Unfortunately, not everyone is shown this kind of dignity and respect as they age.

While interviewing people for research for this edition’s feature article on elder abuse (page 9), a common theme which came up was our problem of ageism in Australia. The 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission Report, Elder Abuse: a national legal response, also names it as a problem. According to the report, Australia’s population is ageing, as we are living longer and having fewer children. In 2014–2015, 15% of our population was aged 65 or over and this is expected to rise to 23% by 2055. Continue Reading

Review: Promises and Blessings in the Book of Revelation, by Doug Rowston

Mosaic Press, 2014

“Today’s reading is from the Book of Revelation…” you can feel the apprehension… and no wonder. Like the evolution of our language from Oxford Dictionary standard to smart phone condensed, we have lost the understanding of the many codes used in the Bible, particularly those used within the pages of Revelation.

Promises and Blessings is a short (100 pages), easy to read book, which uses pen portraits of the ten martyrs who adorn the west front of Westminster Abbey as intermissions. Their relevance to the main context of the book are as examples of sacrificial, Christlike faith.

Best read alongside the Book of Revelation, its objective is to demystify much of the ancient text which was written in code to protect early Christians from punishment if they were caught reading it. It identifies the secret code as threefold: a number code, a colour code and an animal code. Continue Reading

Review: Bella’s Challenge, by Bella Burgemeister

The Book Incubator, 2016

Bella is a young girl on a mission. As a 10-year-old, she published a book called Bella’s Challenge – A Kid’s Take on the 17 United Nations (UN) Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Bella has a deep concern for the welfare of the planet, people and how we treat each other. She found that the UN General Assembly had developed a plan  to create a more harmonious and caring way of living, but she is aware that for these changes to become a reality everyone needs to get involved, including  kids.

In this delightful book, Bella explains simply what the 17 UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development are, how they came about, and how we can make small steps to meeting these goals. Bella does this by issuing challenges on each of the goals. These challenges are positive ways that everyone can begin to make a difference for the benefit of our planet and community.

The format of the book makes for easy reading and clarity on such a weighty subject. Each page has a goal, a short summary of what it means and then lists three or four challenges that will help make these goals a reality; things that kids, adults and communities can do. Continue Reading

Review: Resurrecting Easter: How the West lost and East kept the original Easter Vision

By John Dominic Crossan and Sarah Sexton Crossan, Harper Collins, 2018.

Biblical scholars John Dominic Crossan and the late Marcus Borg conducted pilgrimages over the years to Italy and Turkey, two of which I was fortunate to attend.

We learnt that all the major events in Christ’s life are described in the Gospels but no direct reports of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Instead, many artistic impressions of Jesus’ resurrection were created, some we visited in churches, caves and museums.

The first direct image appears by 400 and is part of the West’s individual resurrection tradition. The second direct image by the year 700 is part of the East’s universal resurrection tradition named the Anastasis, Greek for resurrection.

For 15 years Dominic and Sarah Crossan travelled across Europe and Asia creating a comprehensive photographic archive of this resurrection imagery. How timely when this book with Sarah’s images, the ancient texts which inspired them and Dominic’s scholarly interpretation arrived for Easter.

The cover image of their book is from the 1300s Chora Church in Istanbul, where we gazed at this beautiful Anastasis mosaic high in the half dome of the apse of the risen Christ, enveloped by a star studded mandorla, grasping the wrists of Adam and Eve, the personification of humankind. Christ pulls them from their tombs while standing firmly on the shattered gates of hell with lock and bolts strewn around his feet. Christ is trampling down a well-trussed Hades, guardian and personification of death, who is lying prone beneath his feet. Continue Reading

Moderator’s Column: Training versus trying

A very belated Happy New Year!

As I write this we are two weeks from 1 January, the day that some of us made New Year resolutions. Typically at the beginning of a new year we start to think about some changes that might help that year go better than the old one.

According to my Google research, the big four resolutions are: aiming to be fit and healthy, vowing to lose weight, trying to enjoy life more (less stress) and spending time with people we care about.

Other standard resolutions include spending less, getting more sleep and watching less television.

I wonder if you made a resolution. Mine was not so much a resolution but a reminder verse for the year: “. . . the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). I started to think about how this sense of the joy of God might become increasingly part of my daily life. That started me thinking about the difference between trying and training. Continue Reading