I’ll admit missing all of these television programs as I was actually busy doing other things (for a change), but it hasn’t escaped me that although atheists are telling us we are no longer religious, religion simply won’t lay down and die.
If reality television is any gauge (let’s include Q&A in that genre for now) then religion sits right at the heart of the public’s psyche – for this week at least.
Amazing Race Australia had contestants carrying crosses through the streets of Jerusalem, MasterChef had the Dalai Lama, Rev Bill Cruse and Rev Tim Costello as guest judges while the ABC’s Q & A last night had a ‘spiritual special’ featuring Christian mathematician Prof John Lennox and perennial religious researcher, John Safran.
And an interesting inclusion in this program was “pentecostal scholar” Jacqueline Grey who lectures in Old Testament studies and is the Academic Dean of Alphacrucis College in Sydney.
Safran follows up tonight with his latest TV series – Jedis & Juggalos: Your Census Guide on ABC TV 1. In preparation for the upcoming Australian census, John scours the globe and hunts down people who blend spirituality with popular culture. The context for this program is the Australian Atheist Foundation’s billboard campaign urging Australian’s to tick ‘no religion’ on census night. (Also see the comment on this post regarding Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey series)
In all of this, one of the most personally challenging situations was MasterChef contestant Kate Bracks’ encounter with the Dalai Lama. Kate is a devout Christian (former teacher of my youngest son) and chose not to refer to the Buddhist leader as Your Holiness. Christian ministers, Rev Cruse and Costello had no such qualms, perhaps being acquainted with various church dignitaries who go by similar titles.
Kate’s view is that there is no one holy but God and presumably she would happily apply the same rule to Christian leaders who might have this included in their title. More power to her.
And while the tide of religion-in-popular-culture will no doubt recede as quickly as it came, we humans are still far more likely to consider there is a God and spiritual reality than not.
Oh, and just when we thought the topic had drifted away, good old Fred Nile stirs up the opposing camps by saying he’ll vote to rescind the NSW government’s public service pay bill unless ethic classes in schools are scrapped. He and many Christians oppose them because they compete with Scripture in schools.
Read the Herald Sun’s report of Kate’s response: Title one ingredient too much for MasterChef contestant.
Watch the ABC’s Q & A’s ‘spiritual special’.
Check out details of John Lennox’s debate with Peter Singer.
See my previous post re the AFA’s billboard campaign