The Festival of Dangerous Ideas is on again at Sydney Opera House on October 2-3 covering everything from The Right is the New Left through to that most important of questions, Are All Men Fakes?
But before we take a closer a look at the festival (tomorrow), I recall discovering a dangerous idea when I was at university studying humanities back in the early eighties.
That was a time when Australia still had an active communist party and I think most of its members were either studying or lecturing in my course.
It might also explain why one of the subjects on offer was Studies in Rebellion and I was just rebellious enough to take it.
Then while most of my comrades where sliding to the left politically or dallying deeply into capitalism, I became a Christian and began volunteering in a soup kitchen.
Despite being a shy, gangly creature with long hair, torn jeans and Dunlop volleys (yes, long before they were cool) I felt compelled to bring Jesus into every assignment I possibly could.
This included arguing personality psychology from the Bible, doing a radio show on the conversion of Bob Dylan, and interviewing Aboriginal Christians and visiting their churches on the Block in Redfern.
But things got really dangerous when I decided to choose Jesus as the subject of my major essay in Studies of Rebellion.
The lecturer began the course by proclaiming his atheism and his communism and declaring that if he had to choose a religion, it would probably be Buddhism, with protestant Christianity at the bottom of the list.
You can see why my essay on Jesus was a dangerous idea…
I argued that Jesus was the only true rebel as he rebelled against rebellion itself, throwing off every earthly system and declaring them all worthless. You can’t get more rebellious than that, I argued.
I received my essay back with a very begrudging pass and the added note that if I ever again used my assignments to try and preach Christianity, I would be failed. Apparently spruiking your beliefs as a lecturer to your impressionable students didn’t count.
Jesus has been a dangerous idea ever since. He was often very dangerous when treading the fine line of journalism. He has been extremely dangerous when considering our responsibility to a lost and hurting world (especially to my heart, wallet and my suitcases). And he retains his dangerousness as I contemplate settling… for anything…
So by all means enjoy the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, but in a world of new atheism, relentless materialism and dehumanising despair, Jesus is about as dangerous as it gets.