The Centre for Public Christianity aims to promote the public understanding of the Christian faith. The Centre offers free comment, interviews, and other web based material. For more information go to publicchristianity.org.
The wounds you can’t see
We’ve heard of burnout and PTSD but what about “moral injury”, that’s affecting soldiers and also Covid-19 health workers?
That’s how some of the literature describes the effects of “moral injury” on people. Perhaps we’re more used to violence leaving a physical mark or causing psychological trauma that disrupts a person’s ability to live their everyday life.
But moral injury is a different kind of wound altogether. As defined by Andrew Sloane, theologian and Morling College ethicist, “it’s when somebody has either done or witnessed something which is in deep conflict with their internalised moral values, and it leaves them damaged psychologically, emotionally, ethically, spiritually.”
“It is a disruption to someone’s understanding of themselves. It’s a matter of wounded identity and a wounded sense of what the world is meant to be and who they’re meant to be in it,” Andrew said, before explaining how the experience of caring for people during the Covid-19 pandemic left many health workers morally injured.
In this episode of Life & Faith, we also hear from Sam Gregory, the last Australian Defence Force (ADF) chaplain in Afghanistan, sent there as Coalition forces were withdrawing after 20 years in the country.
He describes the turmoil of feeling “the sense [that] we weren’t done yet, and that we were being constrained by political forces to bring about the end of that operation”. Then there were his “feelings of profound shame” that Australian military involvement in Afghanistan meant that soldiers essentially had to dehumanise not only the enemy but also their local allies.
“My faith tells me that every human is made in the image of God and therefore worthy of dignity and respect and value. And then I’m part of an organiszation that has taken that dignity and respect away from a whole nation of people,” Sam said.
This is a confronting and difficult exploration of the invisible wounds suffered by those to whom we entrust our safety and security. But as health workers leave the caring professions, and returned war veterans struggle to adjust to normal life, it’s an increasingly necessary conversation.
Andrew Sloane’s article for ABC Religion & Ethics on moral injury and Covid-19 health workers
Atonement: the Australian Story episode featuring Dean Yates
Gabriel Bani’s life in the Torres Strait
Australians are used to filling in forms that ask whether they have Aboriginal or Torres Strait heritage. But not many of us have contact with people from the farthest northern reaches of our country.
This week on Life & Faith we talk with Torres strait community leader and pastor Gabriel Bani. We hear about his growing up on the islands where houses were crowded but community life was very strong.
Gabriel tells us about his, and his people’s embrace of Christianity, despite the dubious methods used to bring that message to his people.
What has been the cost to the people of the Torres Strait of their encounter with Europeans? And what can be learned from the islander people? Gabriel Bani urges us to listen to his people, and to be hopeful, as we all search for meaningful and positive engagement.
REBROADCAST: Murder Most Popular
A detective and a scholar tackle the question: why are we all so obsessed with crime stories?
“When I was a child, not everything was a detective story. Now it is, on television. And it’s almost as if we all want to know, we want to know the big question: who did it??”
Judging by the perennial popularity of detective novels and crime shows, and the current wave of true crime podcasts, it’s not a stretch to call our culture murder-obsessed. Why are these stories so fascinating to us? Is there something wrong with us?
It’s a topic writers have long been drawn to, in essays like George Orwell’s “Decline of the English Murder” and W. H. Auden’s “The Guilty Vicarage”. In this episode of Life & Faith, Natasha Moore speaks with literary scholar and theologian Alison Milbank about the hold these stories have over us – and also Jim Warner Wallace, who’s been dealing with the real thing for decades in his work as a cold case detective.
“When you knock on the door of the neighbour of a serial killer, they’re likely to say, ‘Oh I’m so glad you’re taking that guy to jail, that guy is crazy – I mean it smells bad over there, there’s all kinds of weird noises, he’s always digging holes in his backyard’ … When you think of my kinds of cases, you knock on the neighbour’s door and tell them ‘I’m taking your neighbour to jail for this case from 30 years ago’, they’ll generally say, ‘No, I’ve known that guy for 30 years, he’s a great guy. No way could he have done that.’”
From our deepest convictions about human nature to how you can tell if a suspect might be lying, this episode delves into the appeal of the murder mystery, and also unfolds the surprising story of how Jim came to apply his particular skill-set to the truth claims of the Christian faith.
“All of my cases, I call these ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’ – cases where you’ve got 80 pieces of evidence that point to this suspect. Any one of those pieces of evidence I’m not sure I would want to go to trial with … but when you have all 80 and they point to the same reasonable inference, this is now heavy and weighty. And that’s where I was with the Gospels.”
George Orwell, “Decline of the English Murder”
W. H. Auden, “The Guilty Vicarage: Notes on the detective story, by an addict”
Jim Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity (10th Anniversary Edition)
And check out the rest of Jim’s work at https://coldcasechristianity.com/
Martin Luther King Jr and race in Australia
Sixty years ago, MLK declared “I have a dream”. As Australia votes on the Voice, we grapple with racism.
It’s been 60 years since Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr. ascended the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., declaring that “one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers – I have a dream today.”
More than half a century on from King’s dream, where are we in Australia on the vexed question of race relations?
In this episode of Life & Faith, we speak to fellow CPXer Max Jeganathan, who’s recently written about the Voice and his own experience of racism in Australia – according to him, the “least racist” country he’s ever lived in.
Max was born into a Sri Lankan Tamil family with close personal experience of the Black July riots of 1983, a government-sanctioned program of racial discrimination against minority Tamils. His family wound up in Australia as humanitarian refugees.
While Max is very positive about growing up in Australia, he’s still experienced racism. Which provides a glimpse, perhaps, of the racial discrimination experienced by Aboriginal Australians on an ongoing basis.
Max’s article on how the Voice is a question of love and moral imagination
Max’s article on racism in light of the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech
The Martin Luther King Jr. segment from For the love of God: How the church is better and worse than you ever imagined.
Spiritual Explorer: A Conversation with Heather Rose
An award-winning Australian novelist shares her experience of grief, chronic pain, great joy – and the supernatural.
“As I’ve travelled the world and talked to endless strangers and asked them, did they ever have an experience they couldn’t explain? … I would have asked that question many, many hundreds of times. There’s been nobody who said no.”
49% of Australians say they never have a spiritual conversation. We think of ourselves as a very secular people – yet behind labels like “no religion” and “spiritual but not religious” lies a rich and varied (and sometimes strange) story.
Heather Rose is the award-winning author of Museum of Modern Love and Bruny – and now, the spiritual memoir she says she didn’t mean to write, Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here.
Heather’s life has been punctuated by encounters with the supernatural and intense spiritual experiences. In this conversation, she talks about nearly becoming a Buddhist nun, participating in a Native American Sun Dance, the beauty of her father’s Christian faith, and her wrestle with the idea that perhaps nothing bad does ever happen here.
Home Truths: Rob Stokes and the battle to end homelessness
Rob Stokes reflects on the joys and challenges of his political career, as well as his latest challenge – solving homelessness.
Simon Smart speaks with ex-politician Rob Stokes about public service and the most satisfying aspects of his life in politics. Stokes gives an honest account of not only the best aspects of being able to “get things done” but also the frustrations of compromise, the exhausting demands and the life of a politician. Ultimately Stokes encourages would-be political operatives to dive in with an attitude of service and sacrifice and urges us all to be more engaged in the political process.
His latest project aims to tackle homelessness, a challenge Stokes is remarkably upbeat and energised about.
Faith Housing Alliance
Intelligent and honest
This is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and honest podcasts I’ve listened to. There’s a great breadth of subjects, intelligent guests, and interviewers who give them the space they need.
My favourite podcast
My favourite podcast. I’m Australian. I’m Christian. I’m feeling like an outsider in both mainstream culture and churches. My simple question is ‘How do I live as a Christian?’ And do so intelligently? And sensitively? And without compromise? Why has it all got so complicated? I love the simplicity and intelligence of this podcast.
Thoughtful, intelligent presentation with consideration for differences. Always anticipated.