5 - 11 August
Historic breakthrough by Melbourne Indigenous priest and artist; Anglicare Australia poll finds strong support for a Universal Basic Income; Religion and the Census; a chaplain's inspiration during COVID; Professor Alister McGrath welcomes development in Anglican engagement with science; ABC report on Hillsong founder and much more
August 11 2021
Once Glenn Loughrey’s work is done, when you enter the grand St Paul’s Cathedral in the heart of Melbourne you will first see the altar through a filter: a window marked with his subtle artwork depicting the Aboriginal country on which it stands. And when you leave, “You walk out into Aboriginal countries through those windows,” Loughrey says. To acknowledge the importance of his work, this month Loughrey – priest, artist and Wiradjuri man – was appointed a Canon of St Paul’s. He will be the first Aboriginal canon in its 141-year history (and its second First Nations artist in residence, following Maori artist and priest Regan O’Callaghan).
A survey of 1000 people commissioned by Anglicare Australia shows more than three-quarters of Australians support a basic income guarantee above the poverty line. In fact, more than half strongly support the concept, while only three per cent are strongly opposed. Anglicare Australia’s Executive Director Kasy Chambers believes the pandemic and associated recession have increased empathy for those who've fallen on hard times.
Five sociologists specialising in the study of religion – including Anglican priest and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Monash University Gary Bouma and former senior research officer with the Christian Research Association Professor Philip Hughes – say proposals made by the Rationalist Society, together with the Humanists and Atheists, involve a distorted interpretation of the religion question in the Census “and would produce a biased picture of Australia’s increasing religious complexity”. “The current Census religion question is not deceptive in any way,” they write. “It is not designed to reveal levels of religiosity — typically measured by attendance, beliefs, belonging, and what a person’s religious identification means to them. Adequate measurement of religiosity requires in-depth quantitative and qualitative analyses.”
On the day of the Census, author Michael McGirr contemplates the differences between atheists and what he calls “God cancellers” – and makes a plea for dialogue and understanding between them and with believers. “The religion question (in the Census) has plenty of room for people to be atheists or have no religion or not to answer,” he writes. “The days of people subscribing to the religion of their grandparents when it means little to them are long gone; I have not met anyone who has done this for years. We can all express whatever understanding we have worked hard to reach. Surely, we can embrace each other at that level without animosity.”
A retired mental health chaplain, Jean Fletcher, finds inspiration in a time of pandemic from the late Russian dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
As it celebrates its 100th anniversary, the Chinese Communist Party seeks to project the image of a unified nation returning to global political and economic dominance. But a US specialist in Buddhist studies and Chinese religions writes that at home, it faces manifold problems and is engaged in a balancing act: affirming its dual role as a guardian and curator of traditional Chinese culture and religion, but in a manner that enhances rather than undermines its power and authority.
The news that a new Anglican Communion Science Commission is being established is to be welcomed, not least because it ensures that Anglicanism will be prepared to engage an increasingly confident scientific culture that often challenges traditional beliefs and attitudes, writes Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford.
We’ve known for some time now that our universe is expanding, and in recent years discovered this was happening considerably faster than we’d expected. Yet despite momentous innovations in telescope and satellite technology, it’s thought much of what’s out there in the cosmos lies beyond our line of sight — beyond the “observable universe”, as it’s called. This article in The Conversation raises interesting questions not only for scientists but for theologians too!
In a predominantly Anglican region of western Kenya, a long-serving female priest has been elected an Anglican bishop, making her the second woman to hold that rank in a country where the consecration of women as bishops is still controversial. Earlier this year, the Revd Emily Onyango became Kenya’s first female Anglican bishop and the first in the Anglican Church in East and Central Africa. While the Kenyan canon permits women bishops, that conflicts with a moratorium by the Global Anglican Future Conference, which does not allow women bishops. The 2018 moratorium allows the consecration of only men to the episcopate until such a time when there is a consensus on the matter. Most African provinces are affiliated with Gafcon, but the dioceses in the provinces are independent.
From humble beginnings in the suburbs of Sydney, Hillsong has become a Pentecostal Christian mega-church with global reach. News that Hillsong founder Brian Houston has been charged with concealment of sexual offences by his father, after a two-year police investigation, have made headlines around the world. He will be defending the allegations. Watch ABC-TV’s 7.30 report from Tuesday.