Newsstand 10 - 16 December
Archbishop's Christmas message; Sydney Bishops respond to blessing of SSM in Wangaratta; why churches are worried about Victoria's gay conversion legislation; how can Christianity engage with shari'a; and more
December 17 2020
The December issue of TMA has been mailed out to parishes, and is available online here. As is our custom, there will be no January edition, and parishes will receive their next TMA in early February 2021.
Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Dr Philip Freier says this Christmas we should pause and rejoice for the almost unimaginably good news that is the birth of Christ.
Archbishop Glenn Davies and his fellow bishops in the Sydney diocese say they are "deeply distressed" that retired Bishop of Wangaratta John Parkes should take "presumptive action" by blessing a same-sex marriage, warning that this action before the 2021 General Synod creates a serious breach in Australian Church life.
“Most Victorian churches are intensely concerned about legislation the state government is rushing through Parliament without consultation to ban so-called conversion therapy to change sexual orientation,” writes the Centre for Public Christianity’s Barney Zwartz. “It is not that the churches practise or defend any form of coercive conversion therapy; the problem is the massive overreach of the bill and the State arrogating to itself wide control over the religious beliefs and practices of religious believers.”
Cardinal George Pell has praised Donald Trump’s “splendid” supreme court appointments, but questioned his effort to sow doubt in the integrity of the US presidential election during a virtual press conference to launch his book, Prison Journal, about the 404 days he spent in solitary confinement before his sexual abuse conviction was overturned by Australia’s high court.
Advent is the season in which Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, writes former TMA Editor Roland Ashby on his Living Water blog. But it is also about giving birth to Christ in our inmost heart and, like devout elder Simeon recognising the infant Jesus in the Temple as Saviour, becoming enraptured with the light that reveals God “to the nations” and brings salvation to the world.
Expatriate Australian writer Gillian Bouras spent childhood Christmases beside a river in Victoria's North-East but has lived for many years in Greece. She writes: "During my first winter here, I was struck by memories of the warmth and light of an Antipodean Christmas, but now I think every southerner should experience the starkness of a northern one ..."
Christian theologians have yet to engage meaningfully with sharÄ«‘a, reducing it instead to a kind of short-hand for legalism, barbarity, and injustice. And yet sharÄ«‘a remains a central component of most Muslim practice and piety, and a vital counterpoint to Christianity’s own blindspots when it comes to jurisprudence and public policy. For the sake of shared understanding and mutual growth, this lack of engagement needs to change.
The desire to “take back control” -- a slogan of the Leave campaign during the EU referendum -- dates from the 16th-century reign of King Henry VIII, who believed that one law gave the monarch complete control over the Church and courts, the Archbishop of Canterbury says. Archbishop Justin Welby was preaching at a special Evensong at Southwark Cathedral, to mark 850 years since the final sermon of his predecessor St Thomas Becket was delivered on the same spot, then the Priory of St Mary Overie. St Thomas was murdered shortly afterwards in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of King Henry II, apparently on orders of the monarch.
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas acknowledges that its first bishop in 1859 was a slaveholder. An Episcopal church erects a plaque noting the building’s creation in New York City in 1810 was made possible by wealth resulting from slavery. These efforts reflect a widespread surge of interest among many US religious groups in the area of reparations, particularly among long-established Protestant churches that were active in the era of slavery. Many are weighing how to make amends through financial investments and long-term programs benefiting African Americans.
Watch as historian Lucy Worsley uncovers the surprising history of our most beloved Christmas carols. Were they invented to lure locals out of the pub? Why did Silent Night spread around the world so quickly?