100 episodes

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.

Life & Faith Centre for Public Christianity

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.8 • 257 Ratings

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.

    Birth Days

    Birth Days

    Reflections on a human experience that’s at once routine and exceptional; both very costly and very good. 
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    Life & Faith has covered many stories relating to birth over the years – incredible stories of courage and heartbreak, difficult decisions, life and death – but we’ve never done an episode on birth itself: what’s amazing about this process, what’s so hard about it, what makes it so meaningful for so many people.  
    This year Simon Smart is celebrating a once-every-four-years occasion (yes, he was born on 29 February!) and Natasha Moore is due to head off on maternity leave soon, so Justine Toh joins them for a conversation about birthdays – that is, birth ... days. And midwife Jodie McIver, author of Bringing Forth Life: God’s Purposes in Pregnancy and Birth, offers some insights on the journey to becoming a parent, including how surprisingly frequently pregnancy and birth – in story and as metaphor – feature in the Bible. 
    “I think the fact that God chooses birth to help us understand deep spiritual realities about his character and work in the world really gives honour to women’s bodies, and to these human experiences as well, as we kind of share in the cost of bringing forth life in our own little way.” 
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    EXPLORE 
    Jodie McIver, Bringing Forth Life: God’s Purposes in Pregnancy and Birth 
    A few other Life & Faith episodes related to birth, touching on disability, loss, infertility, and fostering: 
    Speak Up, Show Up 
    Intensive Care 
    When Life Doesn’t Go to Plan 
    Home Extension 

    • 37 min
    Lent for Dummies

    Lent for Dummies

    …of which CPX’s Justine Toh is first and foremost. 
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    In the lead up to Easter, Justine is giving up not only sugar, but her ignorance about all things Lent. She speaks to Catholic theologian Matt Tan, who goes by Awkward Asian Theologian on socials, about Lent and its three-fold focus: giving up, alms-giving, and prayer. They discuss the difficulty of self-sacrifice and the way that, strangely enough, it often proves the easier option over alms-giving, which needn’t only include giving to charity, but also intentional, active investment in the lives of others. 
    Matt also alludes to the way church seasons induct the believer into an entirely different order of time. He cites the work of Neil Postman, who said the clock was originally invented to help monks keep to their daily prayer schedule. In time, however, the clock, went beyond the monastery and conquered the rest of the world. Time is now subdivided into increasingly minute moments that all need to be filled. So, what does it mean to live according to the rhythms of sacred time? 
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    Explore 
    Simon Smart’s Ash Wednesday article  
    Life & Faith episode with Matt Tan on the metaphysics of pornography 
    Follow Awkward Asian Theologian on Instagram 

    • 28 min
    The Social Media Age

    The Social Media Age

    20 years on from the founding of Facebook, what role do these platforms play in our lives? 
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    February 4 marked 20 years since Mark Zuckerburg launched the site that was initially known as The Facebook from his Harvard dorm room, so this seems like a good time to take stock of what social media now looks like, and what our lives look like as a result. 
    Whether you’re an avid user of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X, TikTok, and more, or a social media sceptic, join Simon Smart, Justine Toh, and Natasha Moore for a frank chat about the better and worse of these platforms in 2024. With cameos from Andy Crouch, CPX brand manager (and socials pro) Clare Potts, and recent social media quitter Jess Forsyth, the discussion ranges from whether group chats count as social media to whether the internet is “made of demons” - as well as the advantages (and disciplines) of being an iceberg vs an ocean liner.  
    --- 
    EXPLORE: 
    New York Times article How Group Chats Rule the World  
    Philippa Moore’s article about quitting social media  
    Paul Kingsnorth’s Substack essays The Universal and The Neon God 
    Alan Jacobs’ New Atlantis piece 
    Andy Crouch’s Spiritual Practices for Public Leadership 

    • 37 min
    Christmas in a place of war

    Christmas in a place of war

    Anglican Priest David Pileggi talks about what Christmas means in his town of Jerusalem in the midst of war.   
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    Anglican priest David Pileggi has lived in Jerusalem for over 40 years. In that time he has seen a lot, but recent events in Israel and Gaza have been as shocking and disturbing as any he has encountered. He talks to Life & Faith about his life in the “Holy City” - what he loves about it and the things he weeps over.
    Despite all that has transpired in recent days David Pileggi refuses to despair. As he prepares his Christmas 2023 message for the gathered locals and pilgrims, he remains convinced the story of the baby born down the road in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, remains the best hope for not only that troubled part of the world, but for all of us.  
    ---
    Christ church Jerusalem is the oldest protestant church in the Middle East 

    • 33 min
    Brexit, Trump ... and the Voice? Australia’s political divides

    Brexit, Trump ... and the Voice? Australia’s political divides

    British journalist David Goodhart on the Anywhere-Somewhere divide challenging national unity abroad and at home.
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    Is Australia polarised?  
    The country is no UK roiled by Brexit, or US torn apart by the election of Donald Trump to the American presidency in 2016. But we’ve had our own brushes with polarisation – most recently on the question of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. 
    On this episode of Life & Faith, we look at the issue of national division from a sideways angle: could the Anywhere-Somewhere divide explain contemporary polarisation and the gulf in people’s instincts? 
    The terms belong to David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics and Head, Hand, Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century.  
    People in the Anywhere class, Goodhart says, tend to be well-educated, mobile, and cosmopolitan, making up about 20-25% of the national population. Their Somewhere counterparts, on the other hand, tend to be more rooted in their local communities, perhaps more conservative and communitarian, and make up 50% of the population. 
    Neither worldview is better or worse, he argues, but Anywheres tend to run the country, and don’t reliably read the national room. For Goodhart, this explains the cry for recognition of recent populist movements – and raises the question of where someone might seek what Goodhart calls “unconditional recognition”. 
    “The institutions that gave people unconditional recognition like the family, like the church or indeed the nation, all of these things are weaker and the weakening of that unconditional recognition bears most heavily on the people who are the lowest achievers, as it were, in modern liberal democracies.” 
    -- 
    Explore 
    David’s book The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
    David’s book Head, Hand, Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century 
    David’s “Too Diverse?” essay for Prospect  
    Brigid Delaney’s piece in The Guardian after the 2019 federal election 
    The LSE blog post on British Parliament’s “class problem” 
    The SMH report on the backgrounds of Australia’s federal MPs 

    • 36 min
    Seen & Heard V: Getting disenchanted with disenchantment

    Seen & Heard V: Getting disenchanted with disenchantment

    Our cultural narrative says there is no supernatural or transcendent realm. The CPX team wants to break that spell. 
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    Seen & Heard is back – and this time, the team have disenchantment in their sights, or the belief that there is no more supernatural or transcendent realm to life, that science is the only verifiable path to truth, and that all things religious are debunked, once and for all. 
    But is this true? The books and films we’ve been reading and watching might disagree.  
    Natasha highlights beloved Australian author Helen Garner’s encounter with an angel and our flirtation with the supernatural through occasions like Halloween, before taking us through the supernatural stylings of the latest Poirot film A Haunting in Venice, based (extremely loosely) on Agatha Christie’s 1969 novel Hallowe’en Party.  
    Simon has been reading the biography of tennis icon and former World No. 1 Andre Agassi who, it turns out, hated tennis and wrestled with fame, but discovered that helping people is the “only perfection there is”.  
    A world that has cast off religion and the transcendent also leaves behind any account of the good life that goes along with those claims. Yet Agassi discovered that being the best tennis player in the world didn’t fulfil him. Only serving others did, which resonates with the Christian claim that the good life is a life lived for others.  
    And Justine raves about Susannah Clarke’s novel Piranesi and its vivid portrayal of what the disenchanted view of the world lacks: wonder, deep communion with the world, joy, and hope. Plus, Justine makes a bold claim:  Susannah Clarke is the 21st-century successor to C.S. Lewis. 
    -- 
    Explore 
    Helen Garner describing her angelic encounter at the 2018 Sydney Writers’ Festival (from 30 mins) 
    Sean Kelly’s column mentioning Hilary Mantel’s possibly demonic encounter 
    Trailer for A Haunting in Venice 
    Natasha’s article on Halloween, published in the Sydney Morning Herald 
    Andre Agassi’s Open: An Autobiography 
    The Guardian’s interview with Susannah Clarke 
    Piranesi by Susannah Clarke 
    Wikipedia entry on the real-life Piranesi, the 18th-century architect and artist 

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
257 Ratings

257 Ratings

AndrewM123abc ,

Inspiring and informative

Have very much appreciated the show over the last couple of years, with many inspiring and informative discussions. This week I appreciated the insights from Sam Gregory and Andrew Sloane. Keep up the good work!

ChristinaBaehr ,

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.

megan.bells ,

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.

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