MAGAZINE NO. 145 [ April 2019 ]
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
HOLY DREAMING by Neil Millar 5
CHRISTIAN VOICES IN SEARCH
OF RECONCILIATION by Katherine Rainger 9
REFLECTIONS FOR EASTER by Sarah Bachelard
NO REPRIEVE: MAUNDY THURSDAY 13
A MAN DISCARDED: GOOD FRIDAY 15
THE CRUCIFIED GOD: HOLY SATURDAY 17
OUTWARDS FROM THE HEART OF BEING:
EASTER SUNDAY 19
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THOSE FORTY DAYS?
by Ian Riley 22
THE NECESSITY OF DISILLUSIONMENT
by Geoff Stevenson 28
SOLITUDE, CONTEMPLATION AND INSIGHT
by Michael Lewin 31
COMPASSION OR COLLUSION?
by Richard Browning 36
JAN MORGAN & GRAEME GARRETT’S ‘ON THE EDGE’ reviewed by Frances Mackay 38
ROLAND ASHBY’S ‘A FAITH TO LIVE BY’
reviewed by Frances Mackay 41
‘A RECKLESS GOD’ reviewed by Frances Mackay 42
EREMOS INFORMATION AND MEMBERSHIP 44
Welcome to our Autumn/Easter edition!
It can be tempting to lose hope, or at least to become discouraged and cynical in today’s political climate – especially with ongoing media revelations of corruption or abuse in yet another institution. Trust has been betrayed. Fear is constantly manipulated for political gain, as we saw again in February in the ramping up of border protection rhetoric surrounding the medical evacuation bill.
I was therefore delighted to discover a poem called ‘Nil Desperandum’ by the Irish philosopher-poet, John O’Donohue, where he speaks of ‘joy tempered by deciduousness’. He says, ‘We are skin-shedding creatures, unfettered by the past, / Uncompromised by the future’. Bark-shedding eucalypts remind us that deciduousness in Australia refers to more than autumn leaves. What narratives do we need to shed individually and as a nation to allow us to move forward? Are there other narratives we need to embrace?
You were no doubt aware of the controversy surrounding Australia Day. Perhaps, like me, you were unaware that as early as 1938, a remarkable Indigenous man, William Cooper, was advocating that January 26 should be declared a day of mourning. This advocate and activist for his people also led a delegation marched on the German Consulate in Melbourne to protest the horrors of Kristallnacht that had taken place in Nazi Germany that same year! He is one of three Christian voices for reconciliation that Katherine Rainger honours in her article.
‘Poor bugger whitefella got no dreaming’ is the attention-grabbing opening for Neil Millar’s ‘Holy Dreaming’. Neil responds to this colourful challenge by suggesting that we need to rediscover our own dreaming rather than colonising Indigenous dreaming. In this respect, he is on the same page as David Tacey who has said we must not ‘steal their dreaming ... because this would be the ultimate act of desecration’ (EREMOS December 2016). That is not to say that our dreaming should remain uninfluenced by our dialogue with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Such practices as Miriam- Rose Ungunmerr’s dadirri (deep, contemplative listening and respect for the land) have much to teach us in addressing our current spiritual, social and environmental challenges.
The problem with Easter and Christmas narratives is that they are familiar. Sarah Bachelard’s four reflections, based on Mark’s version of the Easter story from Maundy Thursday to Easter Day, may help us to engage afresh with what may be familiar. These reflections are not just theologically stimulating. They are also spiritually challenging in that they invite the reader to participate, rather than remain in that narrative – in other words, open to being changed by it. The Maundy Thursday reflection issues the invitation: ‘Let us keep awake, let us keep company with him – and as we open ourselves in silence, let us draw within into that still centre, the heart of God, to discover our destiny there’. In allowing ourselves to be drawn into the story in new ways, we may find ourselves challenged to give up our fantasies about God (Holy Saturday) and to recognise a power that seeks ‘not to rescue but to transform’ (Easter Day).
Have you ever wondered, as Ian Riley obviously has, what happened to the disciples during those forty days following Jesus’ resurrection? Apart from a few tantalising resurrection appearances in the gospels, there is little to account for the transformation we see in them on the Day of Pentecost. Ian has given himself permission to play imaginatively, to narrate what might have happened, what inner journey the disciples might have undergone.
In the next two reflections by Geoff Stevenson and Richard Browning we return to our current socio-political context. For Geoff Stevenson, disillusionment is not just inevitable, but necessary for a mature faith. For Richard Browning, discussion around the medical evacuation bill raised questions about the way compassion is construed and contested, especially where vested interests and power structures are challenged.
In ‘Solitude, Contemplation and Insight’ Michael Lewin asks himself if seeking refuge in solitude from a noisy marketplace and frantic technological innovation is an escape from social issues he should be concerned about. Unsurprisingly, he sees solitude as not running away from life but running into a more fulfilling life – including greater creativity and insight that could help us in the addressing social issues.
We conclude with three book reviews. Jan Morgan and Graeme Garrett’s At the Edge. shows the strong link between contemplation and action, between the contemplative and the prophetic. Drawing on contemplative voices in the Christian tradition and Aboriginal spirituality, they develop a practice of standing meditation, where they allow the sea to address them. In so doing, they find themselves bearing witness not only to its beauty but also its degradation. Bearing witness in this way can be heartbreaking.
In a world where faith seems to be losing credibility, A Faith to Live By (edited by Roland Ashby) and A Reckless God: Currents and Challenges in the Christian Conversation with Science (edited by Roland Ashby et al.) offer hope. The many voices represented in these books (and in this issue) remind us of a cloud of contemporary witnesses who are engaging with some of the great moral issues of our time in a spirit of reconciliation, wisdom and love. Do we dare ‘raise our voices [with theirs] to a better future – /The world as God would have it be’ (O’Donohue, op cit.)?