8 to 14 August
A Pacific churchman makes a climate change plea to Scott Morrison; is Hong Kong, once described as a "borrowed place on borrowed time", out of time?; how Abraham Lincoln's Episcopalian wife helped turn him from "village atheist" to one who wanted to walk "in the footsteps of the Saviour"; and St Paul turns the question of identity on its head, writes the Revd Dr Samuel Wells.
August 14 2019
The Revd James Bhagwan, General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches (whose members represent about 90 per cent of the population of the Pacific Islands), tells Prime Minister Scott Morrison that Biblical and scientific wisdom alike call on Australia to get serious on climate change. In an open letter published in The Age this week, Mr Bhagwan writes: “As Australia’s Prime Minister arrives in Tuvalu for the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting on Tuesday, I want to remind him that he is setting foot in a country that could soon be under water.”
There's hardly a media outlet around the world not reporting the chaos unfolding in Hong Kong. Details and depth of coverage may vary in quality. But the extent and reach of the chaos are beyond dispute and without precedent in the former British colony, writes Michael Kelly in Eureka Street.
An Australian Christian charity is urging young people to speak up about the main issues they face by taking part in a wide-ranging national survey. Mission Australia has invited young people aged between 15 and 19 years to take part in the survey, which will be published in November.
A survey of 1000 New Zealanders, taken a month after the Christchurch mosque shootings on 15 March, find that Buddhists are the most trusted religious group in NZ but that fewer people trust Evangelical Christians. Dr Simon Chapple, Director of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, writes: “There is some evidence of moderate disproportional social prejudice towards non-mainstream Evangelical Christians, with nearly four in 10 of the population distrusting them.”
A majority of Britons think climate change will be a more important issue than Brexit in the future, a survey commissioned by British charity Christian Aid has shown.
In many places of Christian worship throughout Australia, at any given worship service, music will play a significant role in the facilitation of worship. But how often does music stand alone – as textless? Can textless music function as a corporate worship act? Can, for example, the contemplation of a Bach fugue or an improvised guitar solo during worship mediate Christian experience, meaning-generation, and transformation?
Christian aid and development organisation TEAR Australia has joined its sister agency Tearfund UK to launch The Rubbish Campaign, which highlights the developing world’s huge and growing plastic pollution problem – a problem that hits people in poverty the hardest. TEAR is encouraging people to sign a global petition calling on key multinational companies to take responsibility for the plastic waste their products are creating in communities facing poverty.
Liberalism today, in rejecting its Christian roots, is cut off from all limits, all common sense and from a living tradition, writes The Australian’s Greg Sheridan, who has been a visiting fellow at King’s College London this year, in The Spectator. “The prestige of the West has declined as its belief in Christianity has declined. The world is full of vigorous societies and movements — Chinese and Russian nationalism, Islamism in all its forms, east Asian economic dynamism — which no longer think the West has anything much to say.”
Abraham Lincoln was once “the village atheist”, Stephen Mansfield writes in the Religion News Service. “He carried a Bible only to argue against it.” But the faith story of the President who led America through the Civil War was one of a journey, including his marriage to devout Episcopalian Mary Todd, who told a clergyman after her husband’s assassination that among his last words were that he hoped to go to Jerusalem after the war to walk “in the footsteps of the Saviour”.
Identity is the flashpoint of so many debates and struggles in culture and society today, writes the Revd Dr Samuel Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square and Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at King’s College London, who is visiting Australia. But he writes that St Paul, by saying we’re citizens of heaven, is declaring: “It’s not finally about where you’re coming from – it’s about where you’re going.”