Voluntary Assisted Dying: The Need for Communities of Discernment and Grace

Voluntary Assisted Dying: The Need for Communities of Discernment and Grace

This short piece is aimed at beginning some conversations around Voluntary Assisted Dying, which will become a legal right in Victoria, Australia in June 2019. The Uniting Church in Australia, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania, are in the process of developing a response, and is required to make decisions in response. Hopefully this will help to resource discussions in the lead up to those decisions.

Some Reflections on the Postmodern Moment Now Past

Warning Millennials about the perils of postmodernism is kind of like warning them of the perils of laser discs. That ship has sailed, and the discussion probably does more to date the one giving the warning than anything else.

That is not to say that postmodernism has not left a legacy that has shaped the cultural and intellectual climate in which Millennials live and think. A broad ambivalence towards the authority of institutions, in an era of increased proliferation of institutions claiming authority.*

*Note, for example, that YouTube's corporate policy has a bigger impact on intellectual property use in the US than actual courts and law. And an appreciation of the performative effect of words, not always directly connected to their meaning, still abounds.

Postmodernism, at one level, simply served as the canary in the coal mine for Western intellectuals that an era of hyper-connectivity and Durkheimian differentiation was on the horizon. But, like laser discs, it completely failed to be the platform through which we came to understand this new reality.

Postmodernism cleared the air, and opened up new possibilities and questions that Millennials are now exploring. In particular: How identity relates to knowing. How communication is always a function of context. And how to navigate a diffuse institutional landscape.

Postmodernism, at one level, uprooted a lot of thinking from the institutional, cultural, and historical moorings that kept things stable. Now, in the new millennium, the task is to find one's roots again. Through explorations of personal history, reimagining old institutions and institutional arrangements, and forming new modes of community.

With this in mind the insistence on diversity isn't an untethered, ambivalent acceptance of everything. It is a function of the new and diffuse institutional landscape, which is uncertain about the authority of older institutions. It is a function of the need to navigate identity and knowing. And it is a function of the attempt to communicate across contextual divides of historical, and cultural separation (and I should add sub-cultural).

Indeed, it is the attempt to find again some moorings. But in a new world.

*Note, for example, that YouTube's policy has a greater effect on intellectual property use in the US than actual courts and law.

Sermon: Covenant All the Way Down

Sermon: Covenant All the Way Down

“[Jesus] is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Eph. 2.14)

At the centre of today’s reading is this claim that Jesus is peace, and breaks down hostility within a new community. I want to try and unpack what this might mean for us today. But I want to admit from the start that this is not an easy idea to grapple with, and in my own reflections it has been somewhat confronting, and discomforting.

The Uniting Church in Australia and Marriage

The Uniting Church in Australia and Marriage

The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia has resolved to allows its ministers freedom to choose to marry two people, regardless of gender, or not. I welcome and celebrate this decision. I spoke for this decision.

And yet this decision was hard. Many people have been significantly hurt along the way. Many people have felt their voices choked in a church they thought offered them a space to belong.