A monthly get-together in which we share perceptions of different theologians over a glass of wine (or gluhwein) with cheese and nibbles.
All are welcome.
Friday 12 May at 7 pm in the Tidbinbilla Room at Curtin.
Our selected theologian for this meeting is the Rev Charles Strong (1844- 1942).
Strong was a young Scottish Presbyterian Minister who accepted a call to Scots Presbyterian Church in Melbourne in 1875. Liberal and energetic, his preaching attracted a strong following in colonial Melbourne both in his congregation and more widely but he fell out with the conservative Presbyterian authorities. In face of accusations of heresy he resigned in 1883 and went back to Scotland. He returned to Victoria a year later however where he became the key figure in the establishment of a new church, the Australian Church. Strong saw the task of the church to preach “freedom, justice, peace, compassion and reconciliation”. His religion was practical, aimed at serving the community, especially the poor. He believed religion and science were compatible and had no time for rigid creeds and liturgies or a focus on life after death. His church flourished for a time, attracting not only his old congregants but many from Melbourne’s liberal middle classes. From the 1890s on, however, his outspoken views on social justice and for peacemaking, saw many of the more prosperous members of his congregation leave. The church was in constant financial difficulty and especially following WW1 slowly declined in number. The Australian Church closed in 1957.
Entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography
Audio – conversation between Rachel Kohn and Ian Breward on Radio National in 2006
There is also an article by Norman Habel on Strong in Rex Hunt and John Smith (editors), Why weren’t we told, 2013
Leader gives a brief introduction on why this theologian or thinker is important to them. How has it changed their life or thinking?
Others who know the work of the theologian are asked to share their thoughts and impressions.
The leader then presents a short paper on the life, key theological thoughts and impact of the theologian.
The discussion topic then is how does this theologian have relevance to us in Australia, to society, to the church or to our personal lives.
Julian of Norwich (1343 - after 1416), an English mystic and anchoress. She recovered from a serious illness at age 30 after seeing a series of visions of Jesus, which she wrote about shortly afterwards, in a work now known as the Short Text. Decades later she began a theological exploration of the meaning of her visions, subsequently published on 1670 by Serenus de Cressy with the title XVI Revelations of Divine Love, shewed to a devout servant of Our Lord, called Mother Juliana. Following the publication of Grace Warrack's 1901 edition, Julian became more widely known and appreciated. Her theology is optimistic and emphasises being loved and protected by God.
Thomas Merton (1915 1968) converted to Catholicism in his twenties and initially was a relatively conservative Catholic. He joined the Trappist order and became a monk. Gradually he transformed into a person concerned both with social justice and wider peace issues such as the war in Vietnam, as well as becoming much more appreciative of other religious contemplative traditions. A good overview of his life can be found on Wikipedia .This rather lovely short film about Thomas Merton is worth watching.
In this tape of Thomas Merton you can hear him speaking about prayer and other matters in his own words.
Matthew Fox is a spiritual theologian, Episcopal priest and activist for gender justice and eco-justice. Read about Matthew Fox here and here.
Dr Anne Pattel-Gray is an Aboriginal woman who is a descendant of the Bidjara/ Kari Kari people in Queensland. She is recognised within Australia, nationally and internationally as an Aboriginal leader, scholar, theologian, activist and prolific writer.
Dorothee Soelle was a German theologian, whose theology was deeply affected by the reality of Auschwitz. She felt that after Auschwitz, theology could never be the same again. Originally, she thought of herself as writing “political theology”, but later developed a feminist/liberation theology approach. She also came to see that mysticism was integral to good theology.
Charles Birch (1918-2009) Biologist, ecologist and theologian. Charles Birch had a long association with the University of Sydney (1948-83), and finally Emeritus Professor.
In addition to his academic work, he wrote widely on theological topics including the idea that all life has intrinsic value for which he won the Templeton Prize for Religion in 1990. Charles Birch was a member of both the Club of Rome and the World Council of Churches.
List of possible theologians or thinkers for future discussion, not in any order:
Abraham and Susannah Heschel
Roberto Che Espinoza
J R R Tolkien
Roberto Che Espinoza