Short & Sweet - week beginning June 25

Short & Sweet - week beginning June 25, 2012
Good times in the world of The Satchel; the wonderful Sophie and Brooke.
As a Christian it was somewhat disheartening to pick up the papers before church on Sunday and find that the number of young Australians aged 15 to 34 who identify with a religion dropping off the spectrum, such as it is with the latest statistics coming out of the Bureau and highlighted in the press, and also to hear that church attendance is on the wane.

Those declaring that they have ‘no religion’ has risen from 18.7 per cent to 22.3 per cent of Australians. As one friend put it, 'At least people are being honest' – they are much more comfortable with saying, 'About religion, I will not go on the record'.

It's no big secret that Australia is becoming an increasingly secular society, and, as noted by John Dixon of the Centre for Public Christianity in his superb and enlightening interview with the lovely Jane Hutcheon on ABC's One Plus One last night, it's partly – if not wholly – the fault of the church.

That said, there are several other factors at play, including a popular atheism, a school system less open to religious teaching and the media, or sections of it, which may not tell the other story: that the number of Catholics has grown by 300,000 between 2006 and 2011 and the 'other Christians' group showed a 1.1 per cent increase.

As noted by Margaret Simons in The Monthly last year, in the introduction her piece titled 'Crises of Faith: The future of Fairfax': It was Jay Rosen, the New York University academic and new media pioneer, who declared some years ago that journalism was a kind of religion, and the average newsroom a nest of believers. 'There is a religion of the press. There is also a priesthood. And there can be a crisis of faith,' he said.

The Australian media is having its own crises of faith, so perhaps it can learn something from the long history of the church. There is a disconnect between the reverence with which media is held by its practitioners and peers and its esteem in the eyes of the public, particularly young people who might not have a 'religious encounter' in the school context: we have to ask why.

An ivory tower mentality has not served the church, nor the media, particularly well. And that idea is equally applicable to the individual soul (i.e. it's not all about me... what a revelation!). Interestingly, all this comes at a time when school chaplains are being supported, essentially, by the state despite the recent High Court ruling, while elements of the Fairfax media are seeking to separate from both capitalism and the state.

As for the Satchel, the Gospel of Christ really is the most wonderful story to report, and even though it is told over and over and over again, it never gets tired to me as we bear witness to the wonderful manifestations of Him in people and places and circumstances everywhere.

While the press reports on the turmoils and troubles and unfortunate events of the world, there is a parallel story of grace, glory, hope and redemption – individually and collectively – that really ought to be told, though I appreciate that to those who really don't want to hear it, it sounds much like ancient history... like yesterday's papers.

The Word for the Week: "As the scripture says, 'How wonderful is the coming of messengers who bring good news!' But not all have accepted the good news. Isaiah himself said, 'Lord, who believed our message?' So then faith comes from hearing the message and the message comes through preaching Christ." Paul to the Romans 10:15.
Quote for the Week: "The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is...". - Sir Winston Churchill word for the week: makebate \MEYK-beyt\, noun: A person who causes contention or discord.
"Julian Assange is a makebate of the cultural elite who has polarised the public with his personal mission to Wikileak information while potentially putting lives in peril in the process. While not doubting his intellectual acumen, at what price truth?"

Girl With a Satchel