Review: Grateful: The transformative power of giving thanks

By Diana Butler-Bass, Harper One 2018.

Reading small chunks of Grateful has been my morning reading for the last month. Gratitude, I learnt, is often missing as a spiritual practice in a selffocused world.

More and more people are finding this experience of God beyond the walls of traditional religious institutions, but often miss the church community itself and its shared spiritual practices such as gratitude. Gratitude can easily get buried in rote liturgy with religious words that have lost their meaning. Many claim gratitude in their daily lives, but Bass finds that claim to be at odds with the discontent that permeates modern society and dominates our political discourse.

This highlighted a gap, she argues, between our desire to be grateful and our ability to behave gratefully—a divide that influences our understanding of morality, worship, and institutional religion itself. In Grateful, Bass challenges readers to think about the impact gratitude has in our spiritual lives, and encourages them to make gratitude a “difficult and much-needed spiritual practice for   our personal lives and to inspire us to work together for a better world.” Continue Reading

Review: Summer in the Forest

Directed by Randall Wright, Heritage Films, 2018

This review was published in the April 2019 hardcopy edition of Revive. Sadly, Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, passed away yesterday. We keep all those who knew and loved him in our thoughts.

In this heartfelt documentary, we are invited to spend time in a L’Arche community. This film is not so much the life story of Jean Vanier, but a peek into his everyday life and the community he founded.

The L’Arche community was founded in France in 1964 and aimed to do away with institutions for people living with disability and build life together instead. People with varying levels of ability live together in community, sharing day-to-day activities and becoming friends – equals – rather than residents and staff.

After visiting an institution for people living with disabilities in 1963 France, Jean was deeply affected by the suffering of those who lived there. He left his job teaching at the University of Toronto and moved to France to live with the people he met, helping to revolutionise the care system in the western world.

The violence, he says, was hard at first, but over time it became a place of peace. Continue Reading

Checking our empathy

When I bought my first car, I was encouraged to do regular checks on key components of the car. Checking the water, oil and tyres is standard practice to maintaining a healthy functioning car.

Just as my car needs regular attention, so do other aspects of my life. I try and go to the doctor and the dentist at regular intervals, so that my physical and dental health is in good shape. In more recent months, I have been thinking about how I check my levels of empathy. Continue Reading

Policy change cut Ministers’ retirement incomes

“I remember being taught that if you did something wrong, you should admit it and try to make it right again,” says Rev Neil Wilkinson. “But will politicians follow this rule?”

Neil is referring to the unfair treatment of Uniting Church Ministers whose retirement incomes were slashed by Scott Morrison as Minister for Social Services in the Abbott government in 2015.  The move was touted as reining in “public service fat-cats” who enjoyed generous superannuation as well as some aged pension. The policy change affected the way in which ‘defined benefit’ superannuation pensions were assessed for Centrelink purposes.Continue Reading

Life is sacred, be it short or long

Living can be a full time preoccupation these days.

Alex is anxious about the kids’ lunches, torn school uniform and the rash on the cat. Teenage Roy is torn between sporting practice, hanging out with mates and updating his new My e-Health Record. Jace is juggling part-time jobs with uni studies and keeping up with friends.

Elena and Jorge are busy juggling work rosters (one FIFO), paying off the mortgage, keeping up with a parent in hospital and finishing off a gardening project. Laurie is battling telecommunication hiccups between his new NBN connection and an ageing computer that keeps hanging – whilst trying to juggle medical appointments and an aching body. Continue Reading