All posts tagged: religion

“For 13 years after our girls died, I tried hard to have little to do with God.”

This article is part of the #flamfaces series. Say hello to Karen Mace of Launceston. It was a Saturday evening in November. We were expecting people from church over for dinner and I was preparing my dish for the evening. Miriam had already left to babysit for a couple coming to dinner, Ross was at a concert practice, and Sarah said she would bath Ileana. I noticed a sudden, sharp pain in the chest as the thought that Sarah and Ileana were taking too long popped into my head. I walked to the bathroom and noticed the silence, the sense that I was walking in dense fog, the feeling of panic rising up in me. That night my still-uncertain faith was snatched from me and shaken so hard I could no longer recognise it. For 13 years after our girls died I tried hard to have little to do with God. I kept my back to Him and my hands over my ears. Despite this I knew he was there, and I sensed Him intervening in things at times, …

Going Deeper into the Comfort of The Comforter

Blanky is on the blink. The fine woollen blanket that has played the role of my son’s comfort thing for the past four years is unravelling with vigour. I see you parents nodding your heads as I describe the grimy rag that he totes from bedroom to lounge to kitchen to bathroom. It hasn’t been washed in… well… if I’m honest, I can’t remember when it was last prised from little blondie’s hands to take a whirl in the front-loader. He likes it spread a certain way across his torso when his head hits the pillow each evening. And then his chipolata fingers fiddle with the loose yarn at the edges, weaving in and out of the knit. He finds a strange comfort in the texture, the ritual and rhythm of holding Blanky in his fingers, close to his face, as his breathing slows and his eyelids droop. I have retrieved marooned pieces of poor, falling-apart Blanky and wondered how my darling is going to cope when the tatters of his comfort rug are diminished to a …

An Ordinary Guy Called Merv

He rocks up each week and sets up his sandwich board in Launceston’s Brisbane Street Mall. The sign simply asks, “Need Prayer?” Perhaps you’ve seen Merv on a Thursday, standing there whatever the weather, armed with a friendly greeting and a smile. As you’ve bustled about, ticking items off your shopping list, Merv has been looking for eye contact and the opportunity to bestow blessing on someone’s day. It takes a certain amount of courage to shelve one’s inhibitions and put faith into action. I’ve always admired people with such conviction that their beliefs are more important than how they are perceived by the rest of the herd. Even if their beliefs are different to mine – who can help but acknowledge the self-sacrifice they make? People like Merv, however, aren’t about passing judgement or shoving religion down people’s throats. When I asked him why he would do such a counter-cultural thing as offering to pray for strangers in a city’s busiest shopping district, he said it was to “be a friendly face” and to …

Philomena: a Story of Freedom Through Forgiveness

A cricket bat is not an inherently evil object.  You might argue otherwise when it is wielded by a 6-foot-something lunkhead with murderous intent.  Nor is a cricket bat an inherently holy object.  Again, some might have argued otherwise when it was in the hands of cricketing legends like our beloved Ricky Ponting or the great Sir Donald Bradman. Cricket bats are designed, crafted and sold for what is considered a good purpose; sport and enjoyment.  But it’s the intent in the mind of the man or woman holding the bat that determines whether that purpose is realised. Religion is a lot like a cricket bat. There is no more powerful illustration of this than in the film Philomena.  Starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan (based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith), the film traverses a familiar true story of forced adoption in Ireland.  Finding herself pregnant out of wedlock, teenager Philomena Lee is deposited at an Irish-Catholic convent where nuns shamed and manipulated young women into relinquishing their babies for …

Covering the Faith Base

Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on doors.  Muslims eat halal food.  Hare Krishnas wear distinctive orange robes.  Buddhists meditate.  What of Christians? All these religions are committed to some kind of meaningful custom that sets them apart and honours their concept of god.  Modern Christianity, however, seems increasingly devoid of distinction, bending to the ways of its culture. I realise this isn’t necessarily bad or wrong.  It is in an attempt to remain relevant, after all, that the modern church features pop-style worship music over traditional hymns, services that employ the latest mixed-media innovations, shortened sermons to meet our shortened attention spans and social media engagement. But how do you know me to be a follower of Christ?  What sets me apart? The Bible is the believer’s life manual.  If that’s the case, and we’re serious about our convictions, perhaps we should be recognised by its physical presence in our home, handbag, workplace and car.  Perhaps we should be set apart by the fact we have our nose in it at every opportunity.  Not a common sight, …

Holy Switch Points to Tough Truth of the Gospel

“I saw the truth,” said Launceston woman Kim Grainger. She had just participated in Holy Switch, a documentary that took young people from six different observant religious families and swapped their lives for a week. Anglican Christian Kim went to stay with Hindu Aakash Tolani’s family in Sydney. The ABC series began last week and we saw a Kim enchanted by the mix of Hindu and Indian culture in her wealthy host family. I was intrigued to know how the switcheroo had impacted her, if it had rattled her faith. “At first, I was completely thrown by just how similar these faiths are on the surface,” Kim shared with me, “they identify and live by all the same Christian values that I live by, it just looked a little more glamorous!” It certainly did. Especially when contrasted with the chilly scenes of Tasmania that met Aakash as he stepped from his taxi in the dark of night to traipse to the door of a modest weatherboard home. Kim’s arrival was by boat to the family’s private jetty, …