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

4 thoughts on “Spirit of Australia

  1. Re Gary Bouma —> ‘While Americans seem to have an immediate sense of the presence of God, for Australians, God is more distant…’
    Ridiculous statement. Perhaps if he is referring to the dumbed down masses in America who will vote for anyone who states they are a Christian it would be valid. (After all who voted in Bush and his murdering lying regime…)
    I think Australia’s history and the great white British colonizer Aryan Jesus has shaped a distrust of established christian institutions which has intensified in the 21st century.
    We are more laidback in Australia and apathetic politically and not as floorshowy spiritually because of the laidback life style.
    The divorcing of our involvement in having a part in war and oppression or needing to have a voice on these issues is erroded… We as Christians are being propelled forward into having to make a choice as to our apathy. Example – do we sit silent whilst Israel commits war crimes or do we speak out, rally and protest.
    The absence of church voices and leaders speaking out against the oppression and murder of Palestinians in the name of a Zionism ideology is tragic/shameful
    The growth of Islam in Australia (conversions) is happening just as it did in america decades ago. In jails across Australia… it is happening Why? because it answers not just a spiritual facet but also strongly endorses political and social action. It addresses what institutionalized christianity has consistently failed to do.
    Australia is a beautiful country and once you leave the crammed cities and hit the vast expenses of deserts etc the spirituality of this land is obvious.
    having said that you could also go down The Block Redfern and see the strong spirituality there that has welcomed and cared for Indigenous brothers and sisters for decades.
    I believe Christians are living in a matrix of lies politically, socially and spiritually. The sooner we recognise this and agitate for truth literal and spiritual the sooner we shape a Christian society that is real, heard and powerful.


  2. Australia Day and Christianity – 2009
    The Genocidal Jesus came
    down under
    to split cultures
    & peoples asunder
    gloating over his plunder
    He said:
    “Let’s build our church
    & civilize the oppressed”
    “Let’s utilize our convicts
    & the black man”
    “Let’s make a river of blood
    flow under a Union Jack”
    “Let’s teach them about God &
    Jesus and that place called Hell”
    Let us build a great nation
    Let’s honor our
    ‘Genocidal Jesus’
    (They build a police station)
    The Genocidal Jesus
    is still alive and kickin
    in the 21st century
    All you got to do
    is switch on your TV…
    He mutters concern
    from the pulpit
    about the homeless, broken and insane
    He looks at the poverty
    and asks for a donation
    He introduces the
    contorts his face into a patronising
    smile with death on it’s breath
    He now says the Muslim and Arab
    are second best
    because surely we all now know
    The Genocidal Jesus
    knows how to appropriately talk and dress!
    And there every Sunday
    in their churches
    They sing their hymns
    thanking the Genocidal Jesus
    for their passage into heaven
    and the privileged life
    of living down under
    Rich o so rich on Brit plunder
    “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”
    Jesus on the cross dying
    (Written on a blisteringly hot day in Sydney!)


  3. Wow – our thoughts did sort of go in parallel directions.
    I love that thought:
    “The same God who created Galilee, created Australia, in all its rough beauty.”


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