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Life & Faith: Adoption

“It’s a mixed blessing to see yourself in your kids,” says Geoff Broughton, the rector at Paddington Anglican Church in Sydney.

He’s only half joking.

As an adopted child, the first time he met a ‘blood relative’ was at the birth of his son. Watching his son grow up and take on his likeness stirred something in Geoff that he had never felt before – a desire to find out about his birth family.

By age 40, Geoff realized that he had to make a decision. He went from saying, “I don’t need to know”, to asking “Do I never want to know?” If he waited another decade, it might be too late.

In this episode, Geoff shares his story of reconnecting with his birth family and what his experience as an adoptee has taught him about the theological concept of adoption.

Also, we consider the fact that Geoff’s positive experience of adoption is not what many children in his situation face.

In Australia, 2013-14 figures show that more than 43,000 children were placed in out of home care. Compared to the 317 adoptions finalised in this same period, there’s clearly an overwhelming number of children in need of a permanent home.

Jane Hunt, CEO of Adopt Change, tells us the real stories behind these statistics, explains the need for adoption reform so that policies prioritise the best interests of the child.

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FIND OUT MORE about Adopt Change: http://www.adoptchange.org.au

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Life & Faith: Good Grief

Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes. But if death is something we all face at some point, and grief is part of the human experience, we talk about them surprisingly little. In fact, it’s something we don’t necessarily do all that well as a culture.

“The word death is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips,” wrote the poet Octavio Paz in 1961. His words still ring true today. 

Some of us, like musician Phil Davidson, eventually find a way to deal with sorrow after the loss of a loved one.

I could hear the foghorns of the ships that were leaving Belfast harbour and going out to sea,” Phil says about that night after he last saw Agnes, his grandmother, alive. 

“I was lying there just thinking about my grandmother, I could hear these foghorns, and I’m thinking these ships are kind of all lost at sea. I thought that’s a great kind of analogy of how I was feeling – I felt really lost at sea at that point, but she was also lost at sea as well.”

So he got up and started writing Ballymena Agnes. It was his way of connecting with his emotions and working through his grief.

For philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff, it has been a different journey. His son died at 25 years of age in a mountain climbing accident. 

When he turned to philosophical attempts to explain this loss, he didn’t find any of them compelling.

“So I live with unanswered questions,” he says. “I continue to have faith in that there is a creator of this universe and that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, but how I fit that altogether with the early death of a beloved son … I live with the question.”

In this episode, we explore the tension that is presented in the face of death. On the one hand, the Christian faith says that death is much worse than we think and our instincts are right, it’s really not ok. But it also says that there’s far more hope and comfort to be found in the face of death, more than we might imagine.

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LISTEN to music by Phil Davidson: http://bit.ly/phildavidsonfb

PURCHASE Nicholas Wolterstorff’s ‘Lament for a Son’: http://amzn.to/1Vh6TMd

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Life & Faith: Leadership, Justice and Creativity

“I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”

You’ve probably said that before, or heard someone say that before. But Ken Wytsma won’t say it. And if he hears it, he won’t believe it.

“Artistic ability is a talent some possess,” he writes in his latest book, Create Vs. Copy. “Creativity is a human trait.”

In our fast-paced and rapidly changing world, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed or anxious. According to Ken, creativity is one of the keys to break through the anxiety and flourish in leadership and life. 

“Imagination not only helps us see more clearly what is, but what should be,” Ken says. 

In this episode, Ken explains why creativity is an important leadership quality, explores the connection between justice and imagination, and tells us why fairytales are not just stories for children – they’re for adults too.

More info about Ken Wytsma: www.kenwytsma.com

More info about The Justice Conference: www.thejusticeconference.com.au

Subscribe to Life & Faith: www.bit.ly/lifeandfaithpodcast

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Life & Faith: Museum of the Bible

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time - today, over 100 million copies a year are either sold or given away for free around the world. It’s also had an immeasurable impact on the world, for better and for worse.

In 2017, the Bible is getting its own museum. The Museum of the Bible is due to open in the middle of Washington DC, just a few blocks from the US Capitol and the Smithsonian, with a collection of more than 40,000 objects.

What is the museum for? What will be in it? Why is it a good idea? Who should visit it and why? In this episode of Life & Faith, Simon Smart and Natasha Moore interview two of the key players in this process: Allen Quine, Vice President of International Relations for the Museum of the Bible, and David Trobisch, director of the collections, to get an idea of what the Museum of the Bible will look like. 

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Life & Faith: Disagreeing Well

More than ever, left and right and ‘us and them’ seem like interminable divides, which makes it harder than ever to live productively alongside, and argue peaceably with, those with whom we disagree. What art is there to learning to disagree well, and what can Christianity offer in this regard? We speak to Scott Sauls, senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and author of the book Jesus outside the lines: a way forward for those who are tired of taking sides.    

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Life & Faith: Love Thy Neighbour

A Sydney siege survivor and the Anglican Dean of Sydney reflect on the ‘golden rule’ this Easter – love your neighbour as yourself. 

“I honestly was freaking out. I thought I had a terrorist next to me.”

Have you ever made a snap judgment based on how a person looked, or what a person was wearing? Kylie Beach was on a flight recently and the seat next to her was empty – but it wasn’t meant to be. Eventually, the flight attendants found the missing passenger and moved him back to his allocated seat. 

“He was sitting a few rows back,” Kylie says, “and he was the stereotype of a Muslim-looking person.” 

He was flustered, he was listening to voice recordings on his phone – he was not a terrorist. He just wanted to sit with his friend. 

“If he had looked different, if he had been a white woman, I would just have not gone anywhere near terrorism.”

Kylie Beach also happens to be Communications Director of Common Grace, a movement that seeks to connect people of Christian faith to social justice. At the time, she was working on the organisation’s Easter campaign, ‘Love Thy Neighbour’, and she remembered her ‘neighbour’ on that flight. Did her thoughts demonstrate love, or prejudice? 

This is exactly what the campaign is about. Common Grace is releasing a series of blogs and videos in the lead up to Easter, looking at what it means to love others and be a good neighbour – especially when your neighbour seems ‘different’, or could be considered your ‘enemy’. 

In this episode of Life & Faith, Sydney Siege survivor, Louisa Hope, walks us through what happened that day and how it led her on a path to actively connect with and love her Muslim neighbours. Then, Anglican Dean of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel, connects the ‘golden rule’ to the Easter story. 

Find out more about Common Grace: www.commongrace.org.au.

Subscribe to Life & Faith: www.bit.ly/lifeandfaithpodcast

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Life and Faith: US Politics and Religion

Almost all past US presidents have been openly religious, and close to half of them belong to the nation’s major Protestant denominations.

“It’s always better to be something than nothing,” Dr David Smith says when it comes to presidential candidates expressing their faith.

In this episode, Dr Smith explores the influence of religion in the 2016 Presidential primaries and beyond, and unpacks the complex relationship between faith and politics in the US.

Dr David Smith is a Senior Lecturer in American Politics and Foreign Policy at the University of Sydney’s US Studies Centre.

More info about the US Studies Centre: www.ussc.edu.au

Subscribe to Life & Faith: http://bit.ly/lifeandfaithpodcast

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Life and Faith: Risen

The Easter story, as it is typically told,starts with the death of Jesus on the cross and ends with the Resurrection. But what happened after? This was the question that screenwriter Paul Aiello and producer Patrick Aiello that sparked the idea for their latest movie, Risen.The story that unfolds is told through the eyes of Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), aRoman tribune who is investigating the disappearance of Jesus’ body.

 “The Christian will know this story,chapter and verse,” Paul Aiello says, “but Clavius stands in for the modern man.”

In this episode, Paul and Patrick Aiello talk about the writing process, casting Jesus, and why theResurrection is still an important story to tell. 

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Life & Faith: Generation Self-Esteem

We want young people to have a healthy sense of themselves but artificially inflating their self-esteem, argue its detractors, is not the way to go about it. We speak to John Smith, author of Beyond the Myth of Self-esteem: Finding Fulfilment, and psychologist Collett Smart about where true self-worth might be found. 

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Life and Faith: Not for Kids

The availability of online pornography has been called one of the biggest unconscious social experiments ever conducted. Research has shown that more than 90% of boys under the age of 16, and around 60% of girls, have visited a porn site online, and this exposure is having significant effects on the way that children and teenagers think about their own sexuality and relate to one another. 

Liz Walker is one of Australia’s leading experts on the harm that pornography does to kids. She became addicted to pornography herself as a child, and is the founder of the Youth Wellbeing Project. She has just published a children’s book to help parents talk to their kids about the problem of pornography, called Not for Kids, which you can find at www.notforkids.info.

This episode of Life & Faith addresses this all-but-silent public health crisis, and draws on interviews with a number of experts who gathered in February 2016 for a symposium on “Pornography and harms to children and young people” at the University of New South Wales. 

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