Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Talking Religion, Spirituality and all that...

On Monday morning about 40 students from an RMIT course on Globalization and Religion came to St. Peter's to hear about what Anglicanism might mean. We all sat in the church for almost three hours and talked about everything from architecture to migration, meaning to myth, scripture to politics. They had some wonderful questions, made some great comments, and I hope it was as good for them as it was for us.

The Vicar and I were talking afterwards about how energysing it was to deal with that level of questioning and discussion. I think that "Christian Education" can degenerate into some pretty cloying sessions where everyone agrees that, "Jesus really is great, isn't he," and we go on to have tea. But there is so much that is absurd, beyond belief, needs to be taken out and shaken, pulled apart and looked through, probably with something stronger than tea on hand.

We are doing a lot of that at St. Peter's and, as I learn more about the two Universities where I am working, I will put more out there. One program we started at this parish has been the Canterbury Readers, where up to 12 people get together monthly for an evening to discuss a recent essay by Rowan Williams. He's sometimes a difficult writer, but worth the struggle, because when you really wrestle with what he's putting into words, you find it pointing to a reality that is (surprise) more than words, more vibrant, something that pushes back; like human flesh and God.

And it is worth it. There is reality, deep and good, under all the stained glass visions and ecclesial voices. And it is important to make room for raw questions and concerns to be heard and shared. The reality of God has room for that.

Thanks to all the people that showed up from RMIT on Monday, you gave me a great day!


Chris J. Thompson said...


Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy checking in and reading your blog. I recently had a couple of weeks holiday in Melbourne (I'm from Brisbane) and I came across your Chaplinesque newsletter while wandering through St Peter's one quiet day.

I must drop you a line sometime because I would really like to ask you a few questions and perhaps (if time permits) to engage in a little bit of discussion. It seems that you're on a similar path to me in some ways, but are further along it and have been following longer ....

- Chris

Robert Whalley said...

Thanks for this, it is good to get responses and have some company on the way. Give a shout next time you are in Melbourne and we'll get a coffee if you like.