The Bible continues to be the world's bestselling book - but it isn’t the easiest book to just dive into. John Dickson’s forthcoming book A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible: Inside History’s Bestseller for Believers and Skeptics wants to make it easier for everyone - whether Christians or curious doubters - to find their way around the Bible. Part II takes us on a whirlwind tour of the whole of the Old Testament - Abraham’s promises, Moses’ laws, Joshua’s wars - and offers a few key concepts for understanding it as a unified story.
The Bible continues to be the world's bestselling book - but it isn’t the easiest book to just dive into. John Dickson’s forthcoming book A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible: Inside History’s Bestseller for Believers and Skeptics wants to make it easier for everyone - whether Christians or curious doubters - to find their way around the Bible. Part I tackles the Bible's controversial opening chapters - creation, the “fall”, and how they explain the world in which we find ourselves.
There is an abundance of evidence that children do best in stable families with two biological parents, and that the casualisation of families is one of the leading factors entrenching disadvantage for kids. Bettina Arndt has been a sex therapist, author, and clinical psychologist, and after decades of talking to the Australian public about sex has become an advocate for that most old-fashioned of institutions: marriage. Talking about the importance of marriage in ensuring good outcomes for children across our society, however, has proven very unpopular. Life and Faith asks Bettina about the evidence, and why people don’t want to hear it.
Halloween is becoming more popular in Australia every year - but not everyone is happy about it. Some complain that it’s an American tradition; others, usually on religious grounds, object to the way it makes light of evil. Are there good reasons to celebrate this once pagan festival that (like Christmas) has been Christianised - then again secularised - and now very much commercialised? Life and Faith asked John Dickson for his thoughts on the meaning of Halloween - and the relationship of Christian believers to secular culture more generally.
Origin stories - those accounts of beginnings that tell us who we are and where we come from - are often controversial. Debates about the Bible’s creation story and its compatibility with the theory of evolution can be especially so. Life and Faith spoke to Chris Mulherin, who lectures and tutors in the history of science, philosophy, and theology, and works with ISCAST (a group of Christians working in science), about how to distinguish the different strands of Christian belief about creation: Young Earth Creationism, Intelligent Design, and theistic evolution. The program also includes part of an interview with Oxford Professor of Mathematics John Lennox about how to read the opening chapters of Genesis, and concludes that sceptics do not need to choose between science and Christian belief.
In September 2013, The Guardian declared that “Jesus is having a moment in literary fiction”. From Dickens to Norman Mailer, as well as a more recent crop of novelists, writers have been intrigued by the story of Jesus and have set out to explore its limits and possibilities in fictional form. Australian author Peter McKinnon asked himself the question: what would the character of Jesus look like in 1960s Australia instead of 1st-century Palestine? The result, The Songs of Jesse Adams, pushes the boundaries of our assumptions about Jesus with its reimagining of his life amidst the social, political, and musical tumult of the ‘60s.
Arda Aghazarian lives in the Old City of Jerusalem, a place where the stark realities of living with conflict and religious difference are impossible to avoid. She has worked in radio and film, as well as with the YWCA of Palestine and the UN seeking to empower young women in places and periods of conflict. She wants people in the West to understand more about the religious and political complexities of daily life in Palestine, and came in to speak to Life and Faith about peace, justice, identity, bitterness, and hope.
Western culture tends to worship efficiency, which even creeps into our leisure time and challenges the possibility of achieving a good work/life balance. Life and Faith explores the concept of the Sabbath and considers what the benefits of taking regular time to rest might be.
The Bible is the literary classic. Six billion copies have been sold; since records began it’s been the number one bestseller worldwide every year except 2007 (when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows topped the list at 44 million sales). In 2009 alone it sold 30 million copies. But how many people in the West actually read it today? John Dickson, Founding Director of CPX, issues a challenge to those who would never dream of opening the Bible: give it 100 pages.
Joel McKerrow is a Melbourne-based performance poet, writer, speaker, educator, and community arts worker. He’s the Artist Ambassador for TEAR Australia and co-founder of the Centre for Poetics and Justice. He speaks to CPX about how his art relates to his faith and to questions of social justice, and suggests how poetry can have an impact on real life issues. Visit joelmckerrow.com for more on Joel and his work.