Review: Outspoken: The life and work of the man behind those signs

By Father Rod Bower, Penguin Books, 2018.

Born to a young unmarried mother through to his adoption, Father Rod Bower shares his struggles to establish his identity in the midst of bullying and his stepfather’s early death. He finds acceptance within Anglo-Catholicism, eventually going to seminary, ordination and appointment to the Gosford Parish with a deep passion for social justice.

His theology of billboard signs reveals a deep empathy for Jesus’ mission to the marginalised which in the modern context involves challenging attitudes towards ‘illegal’ asylum seekers, Islam, LGBTQ and climate change. Fr Rod Bower demonstrates how billboards gives the church a platform for sharing the Gospel in the public square, exposing the ethical failings of Parliament. Continue Reading

Review: Burke and Wills: The triumph and tragedy of Australia’s most famous explorers

By Peter FitzSimons, Hatchette Australia, 2018

When the Murray-Darling River system is news, raising questions about how well we know our own environment, Peter FitzSimons’ Burke and Wills has particular relevance. FitzSimons tells of their expedition from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1860–1861. He makes it possible to have an empathetic response to the participants, with their strengths and weaknesses, hubris and  blindness.

Australia is a very urbanised nation, despite traditions about the ‘bush’. Part of the romance of the bush is that others go there and we did not have to learn the hard lessons about the  environment they faced. Europeans also mostly had closed minds to what Indigenous Australians could teach them. It remains so.

Given the jealousies and characters of the participants, it is amazing that the expedition managed to achieve its goal. The party had separated and established a base camp at Cooper’s Creek, so a  smaller group could travel faster and reach the goal. It was tragic to miss the rendezvous (by hours) which led to the deaths of Burke and Wills. They were so close. Continue Reading

The ‘how’ of caring

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In the church, we talk a lot about loving and caring. It is core to the message of the gospel.

God cares, Jesus modelled compassionate care, and we are called to follow his example.

In recent months, after the death of my daughter, I have been reflecting on the care I have received and the carelessness of some forms of caring and non-caring. It seems to be that sometimes when we think we are caring we are in fact bruising people. Caring is an art; let me give a few examples. Continue Reading

Editorial: Have your say!

As some of our readers may already know, there have been many changes in staffing at the Uniting Church Centre over the last few months, with a number of redundancies.

The Media and Communications Team will, sadly, farewell Andy Reavell as our Production Officer at the end of April. Andy has been working at the Uniting Church WA for more than ten years and has been instrumental in the production of Revive, as well as loads of other Uniting Church WA publications and design work. Continue Reading

Review: Christmas: Myth, Magic and Legend, by John Queripel

Morningstar Press, 2018.

Rev John Queripel is a retired Uniting Church minister in NSW with a varied career in congregations and chaplaincies. He is known for his social justice concerns and his scholarly approach to understanding Christianity today.

His latest book is informed by scholarly understanding of the differences between factual writing about what happened and the power of metaphor and myth to convey deep meaning. For many modern readers it will be a new experience to read the chapters that describe conditions in Judea when the
gospels were written and which show the very different agendas of the only two New Testament writers who provide more than passing reference to the birth of Jesus.

The chapters guide the reader through the strange world of first century story and myth to an appreciation of the meaning of the stories about Jesus’ birth for us today. We may also reflect, sadly, on the way many churches celebrate Christmas giving prominence to magical stories of a baby, but little focus on the transformative life and teachings of the man who gave rise to such stories.

For more about other publications by John Queripel at www.facebook.com/JohnHenryQueripel/

David Merritt

Review: No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, by Behrouz Boochani

Pan Macmillan Australia, 2018

No Friend but the Mountains is a piece of literary genius, calling all Australians to account for the atrocities done in our name. The very way it was written, smuggled out of the Manus Island detention centre through text and Whatsapp messages, then painstakingly translated from Farsi to English, is astounding.

Written by Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani who has been incarcerated in Manus Island detention since 2013 and translated by Omid Tofighian, it is a first-hand witness account of – and an act of resistance to – our nation’s policies of detention and deterrence.

Behrouz Boochani tells his own story – and that of his friends – with empathy, respect and vivid descriptions bringing them to life through the pages. He mentions by name only those who have died on Manus Island, referring to others by nicknames and monikers. For those of us familiar with the men who have sadly lost their lives; The Smiling Youth (Hamid Khazaei) and The Gentle Giant (Reza Barati), his storytelling brings back the grief and anger we experienced when these avoidable tragedies occurred.
Each story is heartbreaking, personal and political.Continue Reading