Eremos No. 124Editorial:
We live in a kaleidoscopic, media-charged world where the stories are constantly changing. The drama surrounding the leadership changes in the Labor Party has now receded somewhat.But at the time the events seemed somehow reminiscent of a Shakespearean play (Macbeth?).
We no longer inhabit a world where resolution can be obtained by restoring a divinely-sanctioned order. After all a modern multicultural democracy like Australia does not share the comparatively unified world-view found in Shakespearean or scriptural texts.
Our world is so much smaller, thanks to social and other media, yet infinitely more complex in terms of understanding its dynamics. How then are we to live justly and compassionately, not just in our local but also our global community?
In a time where many lives are measured out, if not in coffee-spoons then in tweets, texts, or opinion polls, the contributors to this issue have pressed the pause button to reflect more deeply on contemporary life in search of an authentic spirituality appropriate to our time and place.
Evan Ellis’ ‘Listening Revolutions’ begins the conversation by showing the contemporary relevance of two diverse spiritual traditions. The diversity theme continues in Sarah Macneil’s ‘Celebrating Difference’ where she addresses the challenge of how to read scriptures that come from a different time and place. Are we, as Bishop Spong suggests, trying to sell 21st century a 1st century product?
This conversation continues with Karl Hand’s ‘Critical Bible Study as Spiritual Adventure’. A reading of scripture that stops with historical-critical methodology, he claims, can lead to spiritual bankruptcy, not the adventure we find in engaging with the text with heart, imagination and intuition as well.
Rod Pattenden’s ‘From the Ground up’ reminds us of the prophetic power of visual art to evoke in the viewer connections between traditional texts and practices and contemporary challenges like the environment and cultural diversity.
In the following pieces the writers seem to be sifting through the spiritual context they have inherited, with its taken-for-granted assumptions, to find a more authentic spirituality. For Rob Brennan this represents a move from unexamined certainty to some selective doubt.
In Larraine’s case we see how early experience shapes how we ‘hear’ (or read) texts and how we image God and ourselves. Peter Newall’s recovery from an evangelicalism from which ‘the passion and beauty had gone’, has meant an ongoing ‘stripping’ and ‘building up’. The dismantling theme continues as Noël Davis speaks of being ‘stripped of all/but the persistent inner call to trust’.
Marlene Marburg’s poem is a contemplative reflection on reading and writing. Moving back and forth between the travel writer’s world by the river and her own room in a sort of dialogue, she eventually reaches the place where ‘even poetry is lost/to the mystery of abundance’ and, I sense, communion.
We conclude with a member profile and, sadly, news of the deaths of Robin Pryor and Robert Leighton-Jones.