Letter from Australia 67
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Can I begin with some good news? We had zero cases of Covid community transmission yesterday – in the whole of Australia – for the first time in 5 months. Although it’s great to live in a place where we can walk around maskless and enjoy relative freedom I can’t help but wonder if we are just delaying the inevitable. We can’t keep the borders shut and stay isolated forever. Apparently the newly re-elected Premier of Queensland obviously thinks so. Such is the fear amongst the electorate that her policy of shutting Queensland off, not only from the world, but the rest of Australia, is popular – especially amongst the elderly. I suspect that despite the usual cry that it’s based ‘on the science’ (science we are never shown), it’s a policy based upon her (also secret) polling group which advises her how it is being perceived. It’s fascinating how when Donald Trump talked about building walls and closing borders there was uproar, but when ‘progressive’ populists do the same thing (‘Queensland for Queenslanders), it’s considered an enlightened and reasonable policy!
Australia describes itself as the ‘lucky’ country and it certainly has received great blessings. Perhaps one of those blessings will be a vaccine in the New Year. The Health minister informed us yesterday that we were on track to begin a vaccination programme in March. We shall see. But, as if to remind us, that ultimately, we are never in control, this weekend there was a 5.2 scale earthquake in the seas north of Darwin this weekend! (and another shark attack off the NSW coast!)…
Meanwhile I have a big favour to ask you. I am in the process of writing the follow up to A.S.K which has done surprisingly well. There have been lots of reviews (have a look at the Amazon ones – they are revealing and sometimes amusing! Feel free to add to them if you have read the book!).. – Here’s a sample negative one –
The views in this book are often the ones that teenagers I’ve worked with assume will be the viewpoint of Christians they know (sometimes this turns out to be true and sometimes it isn’t). Being told no to same sex marriage and abortion isn’t surprising from the church.In over 20 years of youthwork, I’ve more often found that teenagers want to be allowed to talk about the big questions rather than being handed a ‘right’ answer – and I’ve seen huge value in allowing opportunity to do that, looking at what the Bible says and acknowledging that Christians can hold differing views on what those Bible verses mean.If this book were being used for discussion with teens you know well then maybe it would be helpful. But the potential for reading it alone and finding it to be judgemental and condemning is huge.(I wasn’t allowed to give it no stars or I would have done.)
For the record the purpose of A.S.K is to enable teenagers (and others) to talk about the big questions – but to do so from a biblical perspective. We aim to see the culture through a biblical lens – rather then judge the Bible through a cultural one. But others thought it was worth more than zero stars!
David Robertson’s short book of letters to Richard Dawkin’s web-site is one of my favourite books ever (I’m not a great reader, but I’ve read it three times!) and this wonderful book of Christian answers to interesting questions is simple brilliant. David examines exactly the sort of questions that bright teenagers ask about faith and gives clear, engaging, helpful and faithful answers. He includes fascinating quotes, a Bible verse, further reading and even a short prayer. But what takes this from 4* to 5* is that they are exactly the sort of questions that many adults would like an answer to as well! Recommended.
Read it for yourself and make up your own mind!
S.E.E.K will follow the same format but be different in content. Firstly, it will be aimed at all age groups – not just teenagers. A.S.K was subtitled ‘Real World Questions, Real Word Answers’ – the subtitle for S.E.E.K is Real World Problems, Real Word Solutions’. Searching for a better world. The big question is ‘what is going on in world’ and ‘how can we be saved? ‘- with salvation being seen not just in individual but in family, community, national and world (even cosmic) terms. As per A.S.K I will be looking to answer questions from a biblical perspective. I have already received a few questions but would like more. S.E.E.K stands for:
Search – What is happening? The search for meaning, purpose and understanding.
Educate – In a world of lies, fake news and fear, how can we know?
Engage – It’s not enough to know. We do not observe the truth dispassionately – we are part of the story. How do we connect and interact with the Bigger Story?
Knock – This is a prelude to part 3! How can we be saved (in the widest sense)? What can we do?
Some of the questions I already have are: I may not use them all…
- Why does God permit disease?
- Do I have free will?
- Is it the case that the more educated you are, the less likely you are to believe?
- Is Hell fair?
- Is Heaven boring?
- Will the earth be destroyed from climate change?
- Does prayer work?
- If I have enough faith will I be healed?
- Is Islam a pathway to God?
- Why do we need borders? Why can’t we just have one united world?
- Why are there so many denominations?
- Are we progressing to a better world?
- Is Christianity backward?
- What about the mistakes in the Bible?
- I’ve tried to believe but I just can’t. Is there something wrong with me?
- Does the Bible support slavery?
- Is Social Media good for you?
- Since we’ve got Google, why bother reading books?
- Is it safe to bring children into this world?
- Are there 99 genders?
- What if I’m born in the wrong body?
- Why can’t I sleep with whoever I want?
- Is the future robotic?
- Is it ok to bet?
- Can we try sex before we get married to see if we are compatible?
- Is the future Western Capitalism, Chinese Communism or something else?
- Why can’t terminally ill people be killed and put out of their misery?
- Why is the Bible different from other sacred texts?
- If drugs make you feel better, what’s wrong with using them?
- If God has predestined everything, why bother?
- Why do I feel so lonely?
- Is there such a thing as good and bad art?
- Do we live in a post-truth era?
- I’m scared of dying – why?
- Is music spiritual?
- Does it matter what colour your skin is?
I would love you to send me any questions you, or your family and friends have. I am going to select 52. It would be really helpful if you could e-mail me within the next couple of weeks. Why not ask around? ‘If you had one question you wanted answered – what would it be?’ E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you ASAP!
Yours in Christ
This is who I am writing S.E.E.K for – we are searching for a better world.