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

Discovery of self

Dietricht Bonhoeffer

Dietricht Bonhoeffer

‘Who am I?’ The issue of identity is a vexing one, complex and simple at the same time. Over the last century and a half, psychologists have grappled with the notion of identity and  human behaviour, previously the domain of philosophers and theologians. The Psychoanalytic approach suggested that who we are is determined by unconscious conflicts that exist  within us, most of which we are not even aware. Behaviourists reject this approach, focussing only on human behaviour that can be observed. ‘Who we are’ is explained by what we have learnt.

Behaviours continue if rewarded but decrease if punished. The Cognitive approach says that how we think about the world and ourselves determines who we are. Errors in cognition  (thinking) are to blame for many of the troubles we face. The Humanistic approach has an overwhelmingly positive view of human beings, suggesting that by and large, all things being  equal, we will strive for self-actualisation, to better ourselves and will search for meaning in our lives. I have struggled to find among these psychological theories a satisfactory answer to the questionContinue 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

Welcoming the stranger: Putting it to the test

A journey in faith is so rarely put out there in public for all to see. But as Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber writes in her new book, “Pastrix: The beautiful cranky faith of a sinner and saint,” the  truth is so much better than just trying to be good all the time.

Raised in the Church of Christ in America, Nadia always felt uncomfortable with the strict rules of her church and the dismissive ways women were treated. While her journey has led  her to becoming a Lutheran Pastor, there was a time in her life when she felt so hurt by Christianity that she wanted nothing to do with it at all. Continue Reading

Religion and spirituality: Finding God within

“I don’t go to church – I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.”

It’s a phrase often heard and it’s being heard more and more. Research from the National Church Life Survey (NCLS) found that 44.6% of respondents to the 2009 Australian Survey of  Social Attitudes believed that there is something beyond this life that makes sense of it all. Of this, 24% have no religious affiliation.

So what does that mean exactly? As Dr Val Webb, theologian and author, explains, it’s a little hard to define – mostly because the term ‘spiritual’ is so full of baggage. Continue Reading