An Informed Faith: The Uniting Church at the beginning of the 21st Century, edited by William W Emilsen

An informed Faith010William Emilsen is deeply committed to collecting observations about, and recording the history of, the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA). He was a founder of Uniting Church Studies, and earlier edited the collections Marking Twenty Years (1997) and The Uniting Church in Australia: The first 25 years (2003).

An Informed Faith has chapters on spirituality, ministry,  scholarship, The Basis of Union, management, politics, Uniting Church schools, ecology, the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, living cross-culturally, other faiths and  evangelical and progressive Christianity. Authors include Ian Breward, Chris Budden, Tony Floyd, Katharine Massam, Marion Maddox, Michael Owen, Geoff Thompson and Val Webb. Continue Reading

Editorial: Playing with honesty

I’ve just finished putting together our profile story on Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber after getting up to interview her at 3.00am, Perth time. It struck me that this edition, ‘I think,  therefore I am’, has really forced me to think a lot about my own faith. I’m usually pretty private about that sort of stuff, but after reading Nadia’s book and hearing her speak with such honesty, she inspired me to try to do the same.

I’m pretty new to this ‘thinking about faith’ thing, so I have lots of doubts, lots of questions and lots of hope that I can be accepted for all that I am. I imagine that many of you have  also been through this in entirely your own way. And you will have loads of experience and wisdom to share. This church is so diverse that there are many understandings of being Christian.  From small differences in interpreting a narrative, to major differences on controversial issues; we don’t have to all agree, but we still all come under the banner of the Uniting Church in  Australia. Continue Reading

Moderator’s column: I imagine with Christ, therefore I am a Christian

The Induction of Rev Nich Cole and the Commissioning of Richard Telfer at Trinity North Uniting Church.

The Induction of Rev Nich Cole and the Commissioning of Richard Telfer at Trinity North Uniting Church.

There is an old joke that goes: Rene Descartes went into his local for a drink. When he had finished his first drink the bartender said, “Mr Descartes would you like another?” To which Rene replied “I don’t think…” and disappeared!

To understand the joke you need to know that Rene Descartes, the 17th century French philosopher and mathematician, often regarded as the father of modern philosophy, coined the phrase ‘I think, therefore I am’ (Cogito ergo sum). You are probably familiar with Descartes’ other great contribution in the field of geometry, even if you are unaware, because  every time you see a graph with an x-y axis you are seeing Descartes work, as he invented the Cartesian representation that you see. Continue Reading

Messages from the aether: I think, therefore I am

What are people blogging?

I am…

I’d take a gamble that almost everyone has asked themselves the question “Who am I?” at some point in their life. Unfortunately we don’t have the liberty to answer that question with  “I am, that I am.” Pastor Mark Driscoll explores this topic with a recap on the movie Memento, and how sometimes our lack of knowledge on who we are can have disastrous  effects. Continue Reading

The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and other Apologetic Rabbit Tales, by Randal Rauser

The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and other Apologetic Rabbit Trails, by Randal RauserReaders are invited to join this author in an imaginary conversation over coffee with an atheist named Sheridan. In real life the author is a professor of theology teaching in the area of  apologetics. Apologetics is a branch of theology that defends Christian beliefs and critiques opposing belief systems. It tends to cast those who do not agree as opponents.

Randal wants to move away from scoring points or winning arguments over opponents, to talking about ideas in a non-threatening way. He develops an understanding of apologetics as  “the rigorous pursuit of truth in conversation.” His desire to model pursuit of truth, that is not inhibited by an “I am right and you are wrong” attitude, led to the writing of this book. Continue Reading

Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes towards sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian literature, by William Loader

Making Sense of Sex001I was recently sitting in a trendy cafe, reading my review copy of Making Sense of Sex. It was a somewhat embarrassing moment, sat in public view reading a book about sex and early  Jewish and Christian literature. I was convinced that those around me were thinking ‘what a lunatic’ as everyone knows the Christian position on sex; that is: somewhere between  vehemently and slightly opposed. For many of us within the Christian tradition, this opposition sits in direct contrast to our understanding and experience of the God of life.

There is very little reliable information about how the early Jewish and Christian communities understood sexuality. The debates that have raged in our churches have been  ideologically driven; using scripture to prove our point, whichever side of the debate we are on. William embarked on a five-year research project with the aim of listening to the early  Jewish and Christian communities understanding of sexuality.Continue Reading

In Defence of Doubt: An invitation to adventure (2nd edition), by Val Webb

In defense of doubt001“In my heart there is no faith… I want God with all the powers of my soul – and yet there between us – there is terrible separation. I don’t pray any longer – my soul is not one with you.”

Readers might be surprised that the great Mother Teresa wrote these words, addressed to Jesus, in the midst of a long and deep struggle with doubt.

Val’s style is uncomplicated and very accessible. She sets out first to explain the importance of doubt in every discipline. Without doubt and questioning, we would have no new  knowledge or human progress. And yet so many in the church seem to fear it.

After introducing the concept, Val identifies some of those throughout Christian history who struggled to interpret the good news for their time. In this second edition, she has added another chapter of doubters, including many women.Continue Reading

Editorial: A simple act

As we go to print with this edition of Revive, my family and I are right in the middle of moving house. We’re currently responsible for two houses – the old one and the new one – and  they are both in complete chaos.

I don’t know much about my new neighbourhood yet, I haven’t really had time to explore. But I know it must be a nice place to live, as on our first day of moving boxes over, we  were greeted with a delicious plate of brownies by one of my partner’s colleagues, Rev Narelle Collas. The plate was adorned with a gorgeous card, which read ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’. You can actually see some of her handiwork, as this card was used in a picture of a chocolate slice recipe, which we’ve included here. Continue Reading

Moderator’s column: God’s desire for peace, freedom and equality

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

It is good to be home after our long overseas trip followed by a brief visit to a very successful Yurora NCYC 2014 in Parramatta. Viv and I hope you had a happy Christmas and wish  you every blessing for 2014.

Our time in the Holy Land was a particular blessing to us both. We spent ten wonderful days as pilgrims travelling with twelve other pilgrims in what must be the place of pilgrimage for Christians. Even the worst snowfall in Jerusalem for 100 years, freezing temperatures at night and the heating breaking down in the college didn’t prevent us from soaking in the  pure wonder of just being there. Continue Reading

Moderator’s column: Living with mindfulness

As I gather my thoughts for this edition of Revive, on Intentional Living, I am reminded of a DVD based course Viv and I bought some time ago. The course was entitled Practicing  Mindfulness. The lecturer, Professor Mark Muesse, asserts that most of us live in a state of mindlessness most of the time. Mindlessness being “A mental state in which the mind  generates a constant swirl of remarks and judgements that create a barrier or words and images that separate people from their lives.” Continue Reading