Moderator’s column: Yearning for a simpler life

Whilst living in the Middle East in 1980 I mail-ordered my first personal computer. That is, I ordered a kit to build a Sinclair ZX80 personal computer, along with a correspondence  course on BASIC programing (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). With my trusty soldering iron in hand I swiftly – and to my surprise successfully – assembled the  computer, plugged it into the TV aerial socket, powered it up and, armed with my correspondence course, entered the brave new world of personal computing. Continue Reading

Cards, Carols and Claus: Christmas in popular culture and progressive Christianity, by Rex A E Hunt

Cards, Carols and ClausIn his latest book, (released in time for Christmas) Rex A E Hunt, a retired Uniting Church minister suggests the festival called Christmas is a celebration still “under construction”. He describes it as “a weaving of story, myth, customs and ritual, which since its inception has been debated, ignored, celebrated, banned and from the mid 1800s, reinvented”. Continue Reading

The Good Life: What makes a life worth living? by Hugh Mackay

The Good LifeIn his introductory chapter Hugh Mackay looks at the Utopia complex being sold to us by business, the media and general societal pressure. He suggests that the pursuit of  happiness can actually make you miserable. We seem to think that happiness is our default position whereas often we grow through pain. Wholeness can involve the whole range of emotions and  experiences. Continue Reading

Sophia and Daughters, by Rosalie Sugrue

Sophia & Daughters

In Sophia & Daughters, Rosalie Sugrue offers reflections on 29 wise women from the Bible, some expressed in dialogue form. Some of the women such as Eve, Sarah, Esther, Ruth,  Martha and Lydia are reasonably well known. Others such as Mahlah, Achsah, the wife of  Manoah, Joanna and the wife of Cleopas are largely buried in the biblical text. Continue Reading

Editorial: The many faces of courage

Revive October 2013 Front Cover resizedPutting this issue of Revive together has forced us to think about what ‘Courage’ really means – and who are we to say whether someone has shown courage or not?

While trying to find the right cover for the edition, we came across a heap of pictures of courageous beings: knights in shining armour, army tanks, you get the picture. We could have chosen an  image of a lion – king of the jungle – but as you can see we went with a courageous little penguin. Standing up to a bigger breed of penguins, we thought this little guy epitomised  Christian courage. Continue Reading

Moderator’s column: Courage for our time

As a boy I would spend much of the summer holidays staying with my grandparents. It was always a splendid time. I would sit with my grandfather early in the morning and drink  morning Camp Coffee while he smoked his pipe. I still remember the smell of the Condor Tobacco as he told me stories of his life. In some way I think telling his story was about beginning to write my story.Continue Reading

Changing the church or Wilful Blindness?

One night as I drove home, I heard an interview with Margaret Heffernan about her then new book, Wilful Blindness. As she explained the premise of her book it occurred to me that  we, the church, suffer from this phenomena. Wilful blindness can be seen in marriages (why did she never ask about all those business trips?), in hospitals (why did he skip his  check-ups?) and in boardrooms (why did nobody question those deals?). Indeed it can be seen in every walk of life. And I think it explains what’s going on in the church.

For over two decades researchers from the National Church Life Survey, among others, have been telling us that unless we  change drastically, church decline will become terminal by around 2020. The researchers were vilified when their first results were published and yet, with very few exceptions, mainline Christian denominations in Australia, the UCA  included, have continued to age and decline. And we’re still not doing anything significant about it.

Yes, we talk about it a lot. We tinker around the edges of worship; we even talk the language of emerging church and fresh expressions. But we continue to do what we’ve always done  but with fewer and fewer people, and little or no hope. We continue to behave like a church that is considerably bigger and more influential than it is; we continue to place  almost all our time and energy and resourcing on Sunday worship despite the fact that we know that any newcomers are most likely transfers from another congregation or  denomination. Continue Reading

Editorial: Finding direction

So often in life we float through and take things as they come. In fact, I think most of my life is spent in this way – I’m messy, disorganised and probably a bit too ‘cruisy’. While that  might have its place, I’ve heard it’s also important to have in mind some sort of direction or purpose… Maybe one day I’ll get there, but in the meantime I can say I’m honestly inspired by some of the stories I’ve heard and people I’ve met for this edition of Revive. Continue Reading