Sunday, 30 December 2007

Holiday Reading

Everyone is slowly disappearing from PTC for holidays. The students are gone, Peter Moore is having a holiday at the end of study leave, I’m off on Thursday, John, Susan and Laurie will be finished on Friday. I’m looking forward to some reading time.

I’m definitely going to read John Owen by Carl Trueman

I’d like to have a look at Four ages of understanding by John Deely (a postmodern survey of philosophy )

If it arrives in the library in time I also hope to spend some time with Kenny’s new 4 volume history of philosophy.

But most of the reading will probably be crime novels and other relaxing things.

Hope your reading is fun this summer.

Santa Claus IS coming to town

It’s a year old, but I only saw it a few weeks ago – and it is seasonal (again). Malcolm Williams from FEVA has an article telling us that it is time to speak against Santa Claus. Santa is “manmade religion” he says, who teaches good works and brings the magical and mystical into a mechanical worldview, he is a bit of easy and pretend religion for a secular nation. The message of Santa flips and spins the gospel.

I don’t think this is a great model of cultural engagement. I’d guess most Aussies would think it took the whole thing far too seriously. Some would get angry, because Santa is sentimentally important for them. I don’t think we’ll get far attacking Santa, and we’ll get further thinking about what makes Santa special for people – the longing for childhood innocence, for magic and for memorable emotional landmarks and showing people that Jesus offers a reality that can’t be found anywhere else, even in a great family Christmas. Attacking Santa as an idol under estimates what real idols are like!

The stories of the year.

Christianity Today have listed their top ten stories of the year.

For Aussie’s I’d guess some of these would make our ten:
1. Taliban takes Korean short-term mission team hostage, killing two

2. Atheism tops the bestseller charts

3. Anglican Communion fractures over Scripture, homosexuality

4. Three Christians tortured and killed in eastern Turkey
We had a local connection with this story since one of our students had met some of these men when visiting Turkey. He did an interesting piece of art work about the incident for my Christian worldview class.

5. Francis Beckwith returns to Catholicism

One of the CT stories which probably wouldn’t make an Aussie top ten, but is worth noting is “Campaign to oust NAE's Richard Cizik fails”. This was a move by conservative evangelicals including to James Dobson to remove Cizik a vice-president of NAE who was very active in campaigning about global warming. Remember that the climate debate is political, and theo-political in the US.

I’d suggest our top ten continue as

6. Howard and Rudd meet with Christian leaders watched 100,000 Christians across Australia in a web-cast in ACL’s ‘Make it Count 2007’ on August 9.

7. Election of Rudd government with implications for IR, climate change, foreign aid and same-sex relationships – all of which Christians will be watching in 2008.

8. The release of the 2006 census information indicating that more Australians than ever identify as ‘no religion’, mainline denominations continue to decline in numbers, Christians make a smaller proportion of the population and the number of Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus has grow

9. Preparations for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day continue in Sydney, including controversy over organizers getting access to Randwick Race course.

10. Announcement of findings that skin cells can be reprogrammed to act as embryonic stem cells, a technique which will reshape the debate about theraputic cloning

Perhaps the resolution of the case between the Islamic Council of Victoria and Catch the Fire Ministries, Pastor Daniel Scot and Pastor Daniel Nalliah could sneak in – since the main judgement came in Dec ’06 but it was finally resolved in June

I’d also note the death of T.F.Torrance one of the most influential British theologians of the late twentieth century on December 2nd.