How does place effect perspective?
How does space shape spirituality?
Gary Bouma, author of “Australia Soul” observes,
“While Americans seem to have an immediate sense of the presence of God, for Australians, God is more distant – I suppose, at least as far away as London is from Sydney. The centre of imperial authority was a long way away and only partially effective in exercising control, providing the necessities of life and observing the behaviour of convict and colonist alike. Such experiences correlate with the sense I detect among Australians that God is distant, able to be got around and, while useful for desperate last-minute appeals, not quite relevant to everyday life. The influences and effects of Australia having long had an absent ultimate authority in political, economic, social and cultural life can be seen in the distant, indistinct, low-expectation relationship with the transcendent that I have come to consider characteristic of Australia’s religious and spiritual life.”
I find this an interesting observation.
I think many Australians do perceive God as distant, and I think this represents a considerable challenge for the missional church.
But what if there was another way of looking?
What if, instead of focussing on the space between us and the centres of influence, we instead focussed on the place where we are at? Over the holidays I was reflecting on the vastness of our land and the vastness of God. The same God who created Galilee, created Australia, in all its rough beauty. I was reflecting on how Jesus spurned the power of Caesar, the dominating ways of Rome. It prompted me to ask, what sort of influence matters? Is God only to be found in the centres of influence? I think we need to be more open to finding God anywhere and everywhere, sometimes where we least expect.
Synchroblog: Christianity in Australia
This post is part of the Christianity In Australia synchroblog which a number of Australian Christians are participating in to celebrate Australia Day. For more on Christianity in Australia see:
Ben Wheatley on Australia
Les Chatwin on Some People are Never Happy
Fernando Gros on Australian Days
Steve Taylor on Credible Witness
Brunette Koala on Spirituality in Australia
Heather on Together