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Link highlights - October 2016

Thursday, 3 November 2016  | Ethos editor

Link highlights – October 2016

Below is a selection of links to online news and opinion pieces, posted on the Ethos Facebook and Twitter pages between 1st and 31st October 2016. To keep up-to-date with our posts, ‘like’ us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.

The articles below are selected by the editor, Armen Gakavian, at his discretion. Neither the editor nor Ethos necessarily endorse the views expressed in these articles.


October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Kylie Lang discusses the proposed Medicare-funded blood test to detect the syndrome and the search for perfection.

The arts & entertainment

What is up for grabs in all drama is how characters negotiate what Stanley Hauerwas has called 'the grain of the universe', writes Peter Sellick.

Asylum seekers, refugees and immigration

A moral history of Australia's asylum-seeker policy would reveal a process whereby we gradually lost the capacity to see the horror of what we were willing to do to fellow human beings, writes Robert Manne.


Eugenics doesn’t need to be a dirty word anymore, argues Nicholas Evans.

Death penalty

How we deal with our desire for revenge isn't just about challenging the death penalty. Mark Woods asks: What Would Jesus Do?


October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Kylie Lang discusses the proposed Medicare-funded blood test to detect the syndrome and the search for perfection.

End of Life

‘...crossing the threshold to euthanasia is the ultimate step in medical, moral and social terms. A polity is never the same afterwards and a society is never the same’, writes Paul Kelly.

‘When we abandon the principle that the law protects all of its citizens equally … drawing a new line is arbitrary’, writes Paul Russell.

Other links:

The South Australian voluntary euthanasia bill 2016 has gaps that feed the fears of those who believe that their right to life will be impacted, writes Tricia Malowney.


Caring for Creation, a book by Mitch Hescox and Paul Douglas, makes the Christian case for climate action.


The Christian’s conviction of the assuredness of victory is no forlorn hope, bereft of foundation, since it has already been anticipated in a foretaste of what’s to come’, writes Scott Buchanan.


Adam Piovarchy explores the ethics of “Nudge Units”, bodies that aim to change the environment around people to encourage them to make better choices.


Halloween is a window into our collective soul, an inversion ritual, an unconscious attempt to affirm the norm we are mocking, writes Mike Frost.

Hallowe'en has become an orgy of blood-spattered nonsense. But we trivialise spiritual forces at our peril, writes James Cary.

Indigenous affairs

The ‘radical centre’ - bringing together high ideals and hard realism - can solve indigenous issues, says Noel Pearson.

The ancient sin against Australian Aboriginals is the theft of land on a very large scale, writes Peter Adam.

Law, human rights and free speech

Neil Foster comments on why some of Victoria’s 'inherent requirements' amendments may be unconstitutional.

Churches aren't business and they still deserve a tax break, writes Natasha Moore.


'Television's reliance on "received ideas" as a way of maximising the audience means that, in the competition for ratings, everything ends up being more or less the same as everything else', writes Waleed Aly.


The worship of money is in the end, like all idols, a god that fails, writes Brian Rosner.

Politics & ideology

A new moral majority is emerging, suggests Mike Frost, consisting of those who identify as neither liberal nor conservative but who want to see action on a range of social issues.

Murray Campbell responds to Mike Frost’s blog, arguing that both cultural conservatives and progressives can become selective in the issues they promote and focus on social issues at the expense of gospel proclamation.

The tendency to turn a blind eye to the sins of those in our political, cultural or religious tribe is toxic and infectious.

Neo-liberalism ‘does not require a policy response. It requires something much bigger: the reappraisal of an entire worldview’, writes George Monbiot.

Can patriotism be Christian? American Christians have confused America with the Kingdom of God, writes Stanley Hauerwas.

History is often a volley between revolutionaries and reactionaries, writes David Brooks.

Neoliberalism is now faltering, argues Martin Jacques. But what happens next?

The moral basis of the Right, by Don Aitkin.

The moral basis of the Left, by Don Aitkin.

If the Religious Right is not able to re-focus on the Gospel, it deserves to die, writes Russell Moore.

Portraying Bonhoeffer according to our own ideological preferences does a grave disservice to his legacy, writes Charles Marsh, in response to comments by Eric Metaxas.


Professor Ian Hutchinson talks about the latest developments in nuclear energy, and the fusion of faith and science in his work and life, as part of the Centre for Public Christianity's Life & Faith series.

Secularism & religion

The latest offerings from the Social Science Research Council's blog 'The Immanent Frame: secularism, religion and the public sphere':

* Why do evangelicals vote for Trump?

* Religion, secularism, and Black Lives Matter

* A cautious rapprochement: Habermas and Taylor on translation and articulacy

* Relativism and Religion: An introduction

And more...

Scott Buchanan responds to calls last year, by Brian Morris, for MPs to openly declare their religious commitments. (This article was originally published in Engage.Mail in June 2016, but is worth reposting.)

Sexual abuse

Jane Dowling's book, 'Child, Arise! The Courage to Stand', documents her journey and is helping other survivors overcome deep, serious spiritual effects of child sexual abuse.

Sexuality – gender

Adolfo Aranjuez reviews ABC’s ‘Man Up’, a three-part factual program aiming to 'kick-start a national conversation about Aussie male suicide'.

Sexuality - same-sex marriage

All members of parliament should be given a free conscience vote on any bill amending the Marriage Act to include same sex marriage, writes Frank Brennan.

In a recent opinion piece, Jane Gilmore described the Sydney Anglican booklet ‘What has God Joined Together?’ as a ‘logic fail’, accusing the church of trying to take ownership of the gay marriage debate.

Michael Stead, one of the authors of the booklet, responds to Jane Gilmore, clarifying his intent and calling for a healthy debate around marriage.

Neil Foster analyses the draft Australian Same Sex Marriage legislation.

Neil Foster asks: what are the legal implications of same sex marriage for Christian life and ministry?

The Ever Shrinking Case against Same-Sex Marriage’, by Keith Mascord.

It's about Children's Rights, not Sexual Orientation’, by Margaret Somerville -

Sally Goldner, who was raised Jewish but went to an Anglican boys' school, she shares her journey of sexuality, gender and faith.

Social policy and welfare

Enthusiasm for innovative approaches must be tempered with the acknowledgement that there is a wider economic story at play, writes Kasy Chambers of Anglicare.

Jesus’ statement 'We shall always have the poor with us' is not a justification for a modern society that allows people to live in poverty. It is an indictment, writes Julie Edwards.

Society & culture

In an interview with Nick Spencer, the Centre for Public Christianity explores how Christianity has shaped our values.


The commodification of spirituality: ‘Adhering to the rules of mainstream advertising, yoga, like sex, has become something only thin, eroticised bodies can enjoy’, writes Katerina Cosgrove.

While Mother Teresa worked amidst heart-breaking poverty, she found her own heart beaten down by interior struggles of doubt, pain, loneliness, and anxiety, writes Michael J. Lichens.

”Faith Healer” is less about miracles and more about the mystery of relationships. Namely, why do we stick by people who treat us badly? Why love a scoundrel?’, writes Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore.


Sport is a spiritual experience, writes Richard Hutch - a call to spiritual adventure, full of ritual, coming to terms with failure and suffering, and facing one’s own mortality create faith and transcendent experiences.

Melbourne Bishop Philip Huggins has criticised a decision by AFL to stage a match on Good Friday next year, saying it was ‘another win for market, not for people’.

US elections

The fact that so much of the religious vote will go to the obviously less religious candidate says a lot about the 2016 US presidential election, writes Tim Verhoeven.

Trump supporters are not the caricatures journalists depict, and Sarah Smarsh sets out to correct what newsrooms get wrong.

Donald Trump's nomination is a failure of the Republicans and of American conservatism since World War Two and reflects a long-term economic and cultural crisis in the US, writes Paul Kelly.

The left shares blame for the rise of the rogues, writes Fatima Measham.

Mike Frost asks: Does it really matter what the character of the President is like? Should voters elect a person based on their personal morals and private life?

‘The problem is that it took "retrospect" and "the Donald" to come to the conclusion that evangelicals have invested far too much hope in elections and presidential candidates’, writes Stephen McAlpine.

‘... the hypocrisy of [conservative Christians] claiming to support moral standards while ignoring Trump's flagrant contempt for them is striking’, writes Barney Zwartz.

It's an embarrassment that any Christian would vote for Trump, argues Jim Wallis.

Wayne Grudem argues that voting for Donald Trump is a morally good choice.

John Reynolds responds to Grudem, arguing that voting for Trump is ‘an evil deed’.

Donald Trump and the Pharisees, by James Patrick Riley.

Can religion trump the climate change deniers, asks India Brooke? Meet the inter-faith environmentalists


The 'Trolley Problem', ‘Moral Progress’ and utilitarian ethics: did Pontus Pilate make the right decision? Steve Fuller Discusses.

Peter Singer's utilitarian argument for vegetarianism is incoherent, argues Thomas Wells, and that instead we should recoil from animal cruelty because it is inherently inhumane.


The concept of Circles of Support provides a relational alternative to thinking about welfare reform, writes Vern Hughes.

There's no such thing as the ‘deserving poor’, writes Craig Greenfield.


A panel of scholars discuss the contribution of Christianity to women's flourishing and to their oppression.

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