Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Inbetween is a very dangerous place to be

January 5, 2009

 In-between is a dangerous place to be 

Joan Chittister OSB

Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois is under threat of excommunication for giving a homily at the unauthorized priestly ordination of a woman sponsored by the group Roman Catholic Womenpriests. The question, especially for those who know this priest to be a justice-loving, selfless prophet of peace, is how Fr. Roy’s “case” will be handled by the Vatican. No doubt about it: The situation is an important one — both for him and for the church who will judge him.

It is important for Fr. Bourgeois because it involves the possible fracturing of the commitment of a lifetime.

A man who has given his life for the Gospel, been one of the church’s most public witnesses for human rights, stood for the best in the human condition and modeled the highest standards of the priesthood should certainly not end his life a victim of the conscience that has stirred the conscience of a nation.

But the way this situation is handled is at least as important to the church as it ever will be to Roy Bourgeois. (Read full article)


Christian Nonviolent Direct Action as Public Theology

October 7, 2008

October 7, 2008 by Justin Whelan

Nonviolent vigil at Baxter Detention Centre

Peace Tree Community nonviolent vigil at Baxter Detention Centre

In  August 2005 a group known as Christians Against Greed joined a rowdy protest against a conference of global corporations at the Sydney Opera House, and found themselves sharing the Eucharist with riot police and anarchists. On Human Rights Day that year, four activists calling themselves Christians Against All Terrorism broke into and attempted a “citizens’ inspection” of the Pine Gap spy base. One week after their trial ended in 2007, five people walked into a war games zone at Shoalwater Bay to play frisbee with defence personnel.

These events were all very public and deeply theological. Yet we tend not to consider them, and other actions like them, as examples of public theology – a term for the process of the church thinking and speaking to the general public about contemporary issues.

In this paper I want to argue that we need a broader understanding of ‘public theology’ that includes public action on the part of the church (or members of the church) that speaks directly into the public sphere. I suggest that Christian nonviolent direct action should be seen in this light, and that both the acts themselves and the public statements made by the actors are clearly designed to articulate a Christian message in response to critical problems of their time.

In this paper I look at three recent examples of Christian nonviolent direct action in Australia. Using the ‘best practice principles’ for public theology identified by John W. de Gruchy, I will explore the way in which these actions make statements to the public about God’s judgment of current policies and God’s vision for a transformed world.

Read the full paper here (4000 words, 434kb PDF)

The sacred from below the ecological spirit of our time

October 3, 2008

An article by David Tacey, first published in Living Now September 2008.

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The sacred from below (David Tacey)

‘Agnostic’ priest’s social inclusion scepticism

September 25, 2008

Frank Brennan August 27, 2008

 The Rudd Government’s Social Inclusion Board has now commenced work. As a citizen who has never worked for government, I come to the topic of ‘social inclusion’ with an initial suspicion that it could simply be the novel catch-all phrase used by a new government to mimic recent initiatives in New Zealand, the UK and Ireland.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s broad panoply of ministerial portfolios — Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations, Education and Social Inclusion — may hold a clue: social inclusion is everything on the social agenda except or complementary to employment, workplace relations, and education.

The government commitment to social inclusion includes giving all Australians the opportunity to secure a job, access services, connect with family, friends, work and their local community, deal with crises, and have their voices heard. These are laudable objectives. But presumably they are to be delivered to the most disadvantaged at some cost to others.

Social inclusion is to be delivered by a new government after more than a decade of non-change. For the first time in three years, the government does not control the Senate. That increases the prospect of deliberative debate in the public square about policy questions.

The new government is also keen to engage with the non-government sector. Those of us from that sector had a sense with the previous government that we were perceived to have little to contribute to real policy formation.

In the area of policy and law, social inclusion will need to be assessed against the backdrop of the ongoing debate about the desirability of a national bill of rights. Recently the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, gave an insightful address at the London School of Economics pointing out that rights and utility are the two concepts that resonate most readily in the public square today.

The problem is that we need concepts to set limits on rights when they interfere with the common good, the public interest or, dare I say it, public morality — the concepts used by the UN when first formulating and limiting human rights 60 years ago. We also need concepts to set limits on utility when it interferes with the dignity of the most vulnerable and the liberty of the most despised in our community.

It may be in this grey area between rights and utility that social inclusion has work to do.

In the legal academy there is presently a great evangelical fervour for bills of rights. This fervour manifests itself in florid espousals of the virtues of weak statutory bills of rights together with the assurance that one need not be afraid because such bills do not really change anything.

It is a pleasant change for me to be cast in the role of the sceptical agnostic, insisting that the promised parousia of enhanced human rights protection be backed by hard evidence of tangibly different outcomes.

Those of us with a pragmatic, evidentiary approach to the question are now well positioned, given that two of Australia’s nine jurisdictions have now enacted such bills of rights with the double assurance that nothing has really changed and that things can now only get better.

It will be interesting to hear an assessment of the socially inclusionary benefits of a bill of rights which provides lawyers and judges with greater access to the realm of policy and service delivery.

There will presumably still be winners and losers under a policy of social inclusion. If we are to show a greater preference for the most disadvantaged, I presume that for every person on the bottom of the social ladder going through the social inclusionary program there will be ten persons slightly higher up who will be neglected.

The work of Professor Tony Vinson on the geographic distribution of social disadvantage in Australia, published by Jesuit Social Services under the title Dropping Off the Edge, has been pivotal in assisting the government to articulate its position on social inclusion.

In debating whether social inclusion is to be achieved by giving preference to geographically disadvantaged postcodes rather than to disadvantaged persons regardless of where they live, there will be a need to consider the double political impact. The places of greatest need will be safe Labor seats and thus there will be no short term political advantage in giving them preference, and there will be some flak for such preferential targeting.

When we move from law and policy to program implementation, there is the risk that social inclusion becomes the umbrella for every silo interest to push its barrow.

Provided ‘social inclusion’ does not become a buzzword to cloud discussion or close down argument about policy development and service delivery, it could be a useful, dignified and rightful means for enhancing the human flourishing and potential of even the most disadvantaged Australians, whether or not we have a bill of rights.

Australian Social Inclusion Board — Outcomes, July 2008

Frank Brennan SJ AO is a professor of law in the Institute of Legal Studies at the Australian Catholic University and Professorial Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of NSW.

Seduced by Grace: contemporary spirituality, gay experience and Christian faith

November 28, 2007

Seduced by Grace‘Seduced by Grace: Contemporary spirituality, Gay experience and Christian faith’
by Michael Bernard Kelly
With a Foreword by The Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG

RRP $24.95

ISBN: 9780980298321

These are the passionate despatches of a reporter from one of the most hostile – for gay men and women – regimes on earth: the Catholic church. Michael Kelly has come out but stayed in. His indictment of the church is stark but his vision of what it might become has the power to move even hardened atheists. – David Marr

Every chapter in this book is an invitation. Its thoughts and stories carry you over and over again into a deeper place where you can reflect on your own life and, indeed, universal life. At one point, its author observes ‘…religious talk is about religious talk. Life becomes a footnote.’ Life is never a footnote for Michael Kelly. His close experience of the engaging of religion with life is both challenging and inspiring. I couldn’t put this book down, not just because it relates to my own story but because it is authentic, vulnerable, yet life-giving. It does not demand that you agree, but gently and profoundly opens up the questions within a brave and faithful journey. Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon

Michael Kelly writes with great precision and poignancy of a yearning which everyone shares. A yearning for love, both physical and spiritual. A yearning for completion. In this wonderful collection of essays, Kelly seduces the reader with his insights into those fleeting moments in which we encounter the greatest mystery of all. – Dr Fiona Capp

 In these collected writings – essays, articles, letters, talks – Michael Kelly invites us into an intimate exploration of the inner wisdom and radical challenge of Christianity. In reflections that take us from the fields of Nicaragua to the ‘War on Terror’, from the joy of erotic pleasure to the challenge of rebuilding the church, Kelly gives voice to a spirituality of desire, grounded in justice and love. Michael Kelly is a freelance writer, activist, counsellor and educator, known internationally for his ministry in spirituality, sexuality and human integration.

This new book presents Michael Kelly’s collected writings and lectures, composed over a ten year period. Exploring contemplative spirituality, erotic grace, prophetic activism, gay experience, and the soulful challenges of contemporary living, this collection is a major new contribution from the author of The Erotic Contemplative lecture series.

Publisher: Clouds of Magellan

Title distributed by Bulldog Books

Publisher: Gordon Thompson – 0423 625 760 –

BOOK REVIEW Deep spirituality underlies gay Catholic’s activism
Terry Monagle
Seduced by GraceMichael Bernard Kelly undergoes the personal struggle to reconcile his own deep faith with being proudly gay. He then takes up the fight for acceptance of gays in the Catholic Church.
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The Face of Islam: SMH May 2007

April 30, 2007

The Face of Islam

Radical Nature

April 16, 2007

Radical Nature Cover


Praise for Radical Nature

This book exposes the biggest con job in the history of human thought-that matter and nature are dead, mindless, unfeeling, and disconnected from ourselves. Christian de Quincey brilliantly shows that this point of view is not only wrong, but it is dangerous and destructive for ourselves and our world. He shows that consciousness is primordial and that it permeates all of existence, a view that is consistent with much emerging scientific evidence. Radical Nature gives us an image that is as hopeful and fulfilling as the old view was empty and depressing. Never have we needed such a view as now.

Larry Dossey, MD
Author of Healing Beyond the Body and Reinventing Medicine
This book has been twenty years in the making. And now that it’s here, we should be thankful. Christian de Quincey’s Radical Nature is one of the most important books on consciousness and cosmology to appear in decades. Anyone interested in questions about soul and nature, about the relationship between consciousness and the world of matter, about meaning in the universe, needs to read it. The author presents a compelling “new cosmology story” so fitting for our times. I anticipate an eager market for this, ranging from cosmologists, philosophers, spiritual seekers, and theologians, to enlightened postmodern “New Agers.” The ideas will engage and challenge professionals for years to come; the clear, reader-friendly style will inspire any intelligent person who cares about the future of our world. This book will be required reading for my students in philosophy, cosmology, and consciousness.

Brian Swimme, PhD
Cosmologist and author of The Universe Story

Aboriginal peoples of the world (wherever they’re still found intact) know that consciousness goes “all the way down.” They perceive this as directly and as intuitively as we perceive the humor in a joke. For this reason, it’s not really something we can “discover,” any more than we “discovered” America. Nonetheless, for us latecomers (for whom the concept is a stranger), Christian de Quincey has provided a delightfully accessible
foundation for its rediscovery.

Daniel Quinn
Author of Ishmael and The Story of B

em>Radical Nature is that long-awaited book: a serious, philosophical-scientific treatise that addresses the greatestphilosophical issue of all times, and throws light on it. The concept of matter as inert and “dead” was indeed an exception in the long history of intellectual thought, but it came to be equated with self-evident truth in the modern mind. De Quincey shows that this is an aberration-that the universe is far more complex, vital, and “interesting” than standard materialistic science envisages. It is time to return to the concept that there is consciousness in nature, as de Quincey says, “all the way down.” The rediscovery of this perennial insight lends both fresh meaning to our individual existence, and a fresh impetus to changing our attitude to nature from exploitation to participation.Ervin Laszlo, PhD
Systems philosopher and author of The Whispering Pond

Christian de Quincey is that rare thing: someone equally at home in analytical philosophy and in the spirit of the New Age. No one knows better how to criticize the materialist position from the inside. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Radical Nature. I won’t say I always agree with it. But, if anything can shake the current scientific complacency about the mindlessness of matter, this will.

Nicholas Humphrey, PhD
Author of A History of the Mind and Leaps of Faith

Radical Nature is a unique book that gets right down to the essence of the challenges facing any science of consciousness. Christian de Quincey has made a very important contribution to the current debate on consciousness, placing it in a wider cosmological context and covering the breadth of philosophical perspectives on the mind-body issue. Radical Nature is essential reading for anyone interested in consciousness

Peter Russell
Scholar and author of The Global Brain, and Waking Up in Time


This is a brilliant and much needed book. De Quincey is aware of the deleterious effects of the dualisms that our modern scientific world is heir to, but he does not just wish them away. Instead he rigorously investigates the philosophical history underlying these dualisms, identifies some of the wrong turns and suggests imaginative solutions. As a result, he has produced a deep work that is both intellectually satisfying and spiritually reunitive.

Joseph Prabhu, PhD
Professor of Philosophy, California State University Occasional Visiting Professor of Religious Studies, U.C. Berkeley

Christian de Quincey is a thoughtful and well-informed writer, whose articles in the Noetic Sciences Review and elsewhere represent some of the best writing in this field. His book Radical Nature provides a comprehensive overview to modern debates about the nature of consciousness. It will appeal to thoughtful readers. His provocative proposal of a new model of radical naturalism will challenge both materialists and dualists, and play an important part in the current debate. His writing is clear and well balanced, and shows a well-developed power of synthesis.

Rupert Sheldrake, PhD
Biologist and author of A New Science of Life and Seven Experiments that Could Change the World

Christian de Quincey’s Radical Nature is a very welcome addition to the growing body of scientific and philosophical literature that proclaims consciousness at the ground of all being. Readers will especially benefit from the insights into the subtleties of consciousness that de Quincey contributes to the field.

Amit Goswami, PhD
Physicist and author of The Self-Aware Universe and The Visionary Window

Radical Natureis a powerful corrective to the prevalent dualisms encoded in our culture and consciousness. Christian de Quincey articulates another way of knowing and appreciating the world that rearranges our universe in quite remarkable ways. These well-researched and thought-provoking explorations are a philosophical road map for bridging the gap between spirit and matter.

Suzi Gablik
Art critic and author of The Reenchantment of Art

“Once More, With Feeling” a review by Alan Combs

Click Here to Order a Copy

The Biology of Transcendence

April 16, 2007

The Biology of Transcendence


Editorial Reviews
Jean Houston, author of A Passion for the Possible and Jump Time
Here, in brilliant and incisive words is the foundation for a new mind and a new world.

Fran Shaw, Parabola, Fall, 2003 : “. . . an engaging blend of scientific research and personal accounts of altered states, [this book] outlines the anatomy of levels of consciousness.”

Jean Houston, author of A Passion for the Possible and Jump Time : “This is a masterpiece of science and spirit, love over law, and the stunning biological truth  of the capacity for transcendence that the universe has placed within us.  There is much in this work that could solve the problems of history. Here, in brilliant and incisive words is the foundation for a new mind and a new world.”

Thom Hartmann, author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight :

The Biology of Transcendence will transform your worldview and change forever your understanding of our past, present, and future. Riveting, insightful, and penetrating, Pearce has laid out one of the most startling and powerful visions of our future. . . . You won’t be able to put this book down, and when you’ve read it, you won’t be able to stop talking about it with everybody you know.”
John W. Travis, M.D., M.P.H., author of Simply Well and Wellness Workbook : “I’ve spent over thirty years pioneering wellness programs, always trying to grasp why it is such a struggle for people to attain and maintain the well-being that is their birthright. In the last decade I finally came to appreciate what Pearce discovered long ago: that the heart and key to wellness lies in how we nurture our young–enabling them to thrive, rather than merely survive.”

Carla Hannaford, Ph.D., author of Smart  Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head and Awakening the Child Heart :”Joseph Chilton Pearce has profoundly altered my view of religion and culture and has left me with both the understanding and the tools to go beyond limitations to the joy of love and all its possibilities.”
Robert Simmon, The Metaphysical Guide to Tucson Gem & Mineral Shows 2004 : “Rarely does a single book encompass such far reaching vistas and disturbing revelations as The Biology of Transcendence.”

Charles Eisenstein, Progressive Health, Summer 2004 : “Revolutionary significance for anyone…seeking clues on how to develop the magnificent but frustrated potential that is ourbirthright.”

The Midwest Book Review: “…a survey of spiritual transcendence so linked to science that it earns a place of respect in the spheres of science, health, and metaphysics.”

See all Editorial Reviews


What is Conscience? a cautionary tale

January 2, 2007

Maguire CoverThis book will guide you to link your innermost self with the Creator and help you discover your own sense of conscience.


theologian – historian – writer
Conscience: a cautionary tale? ad tuendam fidem presents an analysis of the inner nature of moral conscience in terms of Thomas Aquinas’ insights into the metaphysics of existence: in the process it indicates how and why inevitably, there must be a tension between the demands of personal conscience and any attempt by the Magisterium of the Church to present an “objective” statement of moral propositions applicable to every situation; an epilogue contains a commentary on Pope John Paul II’s most recent encyclical, Fides et Ratio.

Review by Br Brian Grenier, CFC

Extracts from the book