I didn’t use to think much about atheism; it didn’t bother me. But lately it is – the fact that intelligent people can come to such an opposite conclusion about the nature of the universe to me. Perhaps it’s because I have a number of friends, former believers, who have become atheists that it is starting to cut.
But in terms of PM Julia Gilliard reiterating that she is an atheist, I have to say I would MUCH rather that than have a ‘born again’ president like George W. Bush who brings the way of Christ into disrepute. (I am ideologically a long way from conservative Catholic opposition leader Tony Abbott, but there’s something about his faith which rings truer than Bush, Howard, Blair. I don’t even know what I mean by that, but I don’t think he’s a phony, even if he’s dangerous and has the wrong priorities in my judgment.)
I sent out On The Road #45 today. To subscribe email me at nathanhobby at gmail.com. Or you can find it online.
There’s plenty of interesting reading inside. There are four different Anabaptist ways to read the Old Testament proposed, there’s some responses to violence in the Old Testament, and you’ll learn things about Habakkuk and Ezekiel you probably didn’t know. Dave Andrews also has some interesting things to say about violence in the military and we review The Naked Anabaptist.
The next issue will be focusing on the Australian Federal Election.
Yesterday The West Australian previewed the findings of a survey about to be released by the Christian Research Association into belief and church attendance in Australia. The print version of the newspaper had more information, quoting, I think, that only 44% of Australians now believed in God. I was surprised by that, as my impression was that a fair majority of people believed in God, but just didn’t feel that any particular religion connected them to him/her. It’s so strange that we can all live in the same world, even the same country and have such different accounts of why we’re alive, or what the nature of the world is. (But then in another sense, there is a consensus about life, built around not religious questions, but economic and political ones – home ownership, career, education, health. And most believers share in this consensus, that’s how they can function in the world.) (I tried to read Charles Taylor’s massive 2007 opus, A Secular Age, on these questions, but it was too long, too dense and I couldn’t hold it up reading in bed.)
What do I think as an Anabaptist of the decline in monthly church attendance to 16%? Not sure; more mixed than a few years ago. (Comes from working for the Establishment now.) I think churches are not often places for authentic discipleship – but is it better people didn’t go at all? Probably not. I just hope something of Jesus truly gets into them. As more people grow up without a tradition of going to church, I’m hoping that truly post-Constintinian churches will develop, and those who go to church will more often be interested in deep discipleship.
What will actually happen? The megachurches will keep growing. The print version of the article hinted at this, interviewing Margaret Court of the Victory Life Centre, a warehouse in Osborne Park. I don’t think evangelicals and pentecostals are in decline.