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Life & Faith: Extravagance Part 2

The FirstMonday in May is a new documentary that takes viewers into the opulent world ofart, fashion and beauty via the Met Gala. As the beauty and glamour unfolds onthe silver screen, two conflicting responses may arise: on the one hand, youmay feel a sense of appreciation towards this form of fashion and art; on theother hand, this extravagance can seem excessive and almost obscene.

What is the role and value of art in our society? Is it frivolous tospend money on beautiful things, or spend time enjoying or pursuing art, whenall of that time and money could be spent on feeding the hungry or saving alife?

In this episode of Life & Faith, John Dickson and Simon Smart joinNatasha Moore in a discussion around form and function, beauty and utility –and whether we can justify art and culture.

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Life & Faith: Extravagance Part 1

Earlier this year, we posted a link on Facebook to an interview we did about a new museum being built in Washington DC, the Museum of the Bible. It’s a Smithsonian-sized project that will cost around $400 million.

In the comments, someone wrote: “Surely it is better to spend the time, money and energy required for this project on putting what Jesus said into practice. What about feeding the homeless on the streets of DC.”

It’s a fair point – $400 million could alleviate a lot of human suffering. But it’s a slippery slope.

If we’re truly paying attention to the poverty in our local communities and around the world, how can we ever spend money on a pair of nice shoes, an expensive holiday, or even our morning coffee?

In this episode of Life & Faith, John Dickson and Simon Smart join Natasha Moore in a discussion around poverty and luxury – can we ever justify spending money on ourselves, instead of on people in need?

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Life & Faith: Spotlight - 15 Years On

In 2002, the Boston Globe’s investigativereporting team, Spotlight, published a series of reports exposing clergy childsexual abuse, and a cover up by the Catholic Church. As the horrific andheartbreaking instances of abuse and betrayal came to light, more stories ofclergy sexual abuse and the Catholic Church’s effort to hide it began tounravel across the US, and all around the world.

“I don’t think any of us understood thatthis was a global phenomenon,” says Mike Rezendes, one of the Spotlightjournalists who reported on the original cover up of clergy child sexual abusein Boston. “None of us could’ve foreseen it, none of us did foresee it.”

Fifteen years on, a film about the originalSpotlight investigation has, importantly, brought this issue to the fore onceagain.

“There’s no doubt that the Spotlight moviehas inspired another wave of victims and survivors to come forward,” Mike says.“I think a lot more needs to be done, and I think the movie is letting peopleknow that more work needs to take place.”

In this episode of Life & Faith, MikeRezendes talks about his work on the Boston Globe investigation into the coverup of clergy sexual abuse, and the aftermath. He’s still a part of theSpotlight team at the Boston Globe, and continues to have a strong sense of socialjustice – which has a surprising origin.  

Plus, we have a bonus interview withProfessor James O’Toole from Boston College. He explains the complexrelationship between the prominent and powerful Boston archdiocese and thepeople of the city, and why some local parishes grew stronger after the scandalbroke.

“I think what was going on in people’sminds there was they had completely lost confidence in Cardinal Law, they’dlost confidence in the hierarchy and the leadership of the institution, butthey were committed to their local parish church,” Professor O’Toole says. “Ina sense they were saying, even after everything that’s gone wrong, they’re notgoing to take my church away from me.

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READ MORE from the Spotlight investigation: http://bit.ly/29NHrIL

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Life & Faith: How Would Jesus Vote

Religion plays a significant role in every US presidential election – and this year is no exception. The candidates on either side of the aisle, and the religious leaders who back them, claim to know where Jesus stands on various issues, or what the Bible says about the hottest political topics. But do they?

In his latest book, ‘How Would Jesus Vote?’, Professor Darrell Bock that the Bible challenges simplistic conclusions to complex issues, and encourages people to engage in respectful, passionate and peaceful dialogue instead.

“Something is valuable not because it’s in Scripture, but it’s in Scripture because it has something valuable to say,” he says.

In this episode of Life & Faith, Professor Bock tackles some of the most contentious political topics of today – immigration, welfare, race, and more – and examines them through the lens of the Bible.

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Life & Faith: Live Long

Research suggests that doing good is actually good for you. Stephen G. Post, author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People, explains why.

Stephen G. Post is Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University, and Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics. He is recognised internationally for his work on unselfish, compassionate love at the interface of science, ethics, spiritual thought, and behavioural medicine. He was in Sydney to speak at HammondCare’s international dementia conference in June, 2016.

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Life & Faith: Notes on Blindness

John Hull began losing his sight in his mid-forties. He describes it as a dark black disc that slowly progressed over his field of vision.

“Do remember that day when I caught a glimpse of a church spire?” the Australian theologian asks his wife, Marilyn,in the documentary film, Notes on Blindness. “I think that's the last thing you ever saw,” she replies.

As John was losing his sight, he was intent on understanding blindness and started recording an audio diary. “I had to think about blindness because if I didn't understand it, it would defeat me,”he explains.

On these tapes, he records his daily“notes” on blindness, his frustration and fears, and candid conversations with his children about blindness and why “God doesn’t help him get his eyes back”. 

Thirty years later, these tapes have become the basis for a documentary created by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, Notes on Blindness. The film takes viewers into the experience of what it was like for John Hull to lose his sight, and how he ultimately came to consider his blindness as a gift.

In this episode of Life & Faith,Natasha Moore speaks with Peter Middleton, about the documentary, the life ofJohn Hull, and how his audio diaries continue to shape our understanding of blindness.  

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Life & Faith: Ten Commandments

“The Ten Commandments are among the great cultural icons of the West,” John Dickson writes in the introduction to his new book, ‘A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments’.

 

For some, doubters and believers alike, the Ten Commandments conjures an image of a white-bearded Charlton Heston standing on top of a mountain, with the voice of God booming like thunder from the sky, and lightning bolts of fire inscribing these ancient instructions on two tablets of stone.

But perhaps there’s more to the Ten Commandments than this mystical event.

In fact, John Dickson says that these ten ancient instructions have changed the world and shows us, even today, what it means to live a good life.

BUY the book here: http://bit.ly/29AqBSu

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Life & Faith: Field Hospital

“I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds … and you have to start from the ground up.”

– Pope Francis, America: The National Catholic Review, September 2013 http://americamagazine.org/pope-interview

In 2013, Pope Francis famously likened the church to a field hospital. Renowned theologian, William Cavanaugh, takes hold of this metaphor and explores the meaning of it in his latest book, ‘Field Hospital: The Church's Engagement with a Wounded World’.

“I think in some senses, what Pope Francis is trying to do is to recapture the sense that you find in the earliest church where things are very decentralized,” Cavanaugh explains. “What you had was not very tightly institutionalized, but was more based on small communities of people taking care of each other’s needs.”

“It’s a response to the kind of one-on-one, flesh-to-flesh encounter with another person who suffers.”

In this episode of Life & Faith, we talk about how the church can operate as a ‘field hospital’, and why it is important for the church to do so.

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JOIN US at this year’s Richard Johnson Lecture with William Cavanaugh: http://www.richardjohnson.com.au

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Life & Faith: Beautiful Proof

“An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God.” – Srinivasa Ramanujan

Ramanujan was a self-taught mathematical genius from India, who moved to Cambridge University in 1914 to work with the eminent mathematician, GH Hardy 

His story, as told in the movie The Man Who Knew Infinity, not only tells of a brilliant mind capable of remarkable work, but of an unlikely friendship between a devout Hindu, and an atheist who was a stickler for proofs.

“Your theorem is wrong,” Hardy tells Ramanujan in the movie, “this is why we cannot publish anymore until you finally trust me on this business of proofs.”

Once described as “the most romantic figure in recent mathematical history”, Ramanujan’s life also speaks to the idea of finding beauty in maths – and this is what we explore in this episode of Life and Faith.

You’ll hear from a homegrown mathematician about how Ramanujan’s work has been influential in her own. Then, Oxford mathematics professor, John Lennox, shares his thoughts about the beauty of the world of numbers and patterns. Finally, we wrap up the episode with a beautiful poem from former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams – you won’t want to miss it.

“Why are numbers beautiful? It's like asking why is Beethoven's Ninth Symphony beautiful. If you don't see why, someone can't tell you. I know numbers are beautiful. If they aren't beautiful, nothing is.” – Paul Erdős

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READ a review of The Man Who Knew Infinity from ISCAST: http://iscast.org/node/1144

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Life & Faith: Beyond Belief

According to Hugh Mackay, Australia is in themiddle of a “soft revolution”.

After 30 years of consumerism and theso-called happiness movement, Mackay says people are ready to rid themselves oftheir materialistic and narcissistic characteristics and embrace that there’smore to life.

“Unless there’s something I put my faithin, life is meaningless.”

This is essentially what dozens ofAustralians across the spectrum of faith and spirituality told Mackay as heconducted interviews for his new book, BeyondBelief: How we find meaning, with or without religion.

The book explores Australia’s current spiritualclimate and recent shifts in our religious faith and practice. Mackay openlyadmits, though, that the book probably won’t appeal either to committedbelievers or committed atheists – and in this interview Simon and Hugh findplenty to disagree on, as well as some common ground.

In this episode of Life & Faith, we explore the spiritual landscape of Australian society,challenge some of Mackay’s views on Christian faith, and discuss the role ofreligion and the church in helping people find meaning and purpose.

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