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Link highlights - September 2016

Wednesday, 5 October 2016  | Ethos editor

Link highlights – September 2016

Below is a selection of links to online news and opinion pieces, posted on the Ethos Facebook and Twitter pages between 1st and 30th September 2016. To keep up-to-date with our posts, ‘like’ us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.

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

The arts & entertainment

‘Why do we appear to value the faith of celebrities more than we do 'normal' people?’ The Christian obsession with celebrity has got to stop, writes Carey Lodge.

The power of music is a path to God, pointing to the divine rationality and beauty of the Creator, writes Barney Zwartz.

Asylum seekers, refugees and immigration

The unsung efforts of Australians - many of them churchmen - who helped Armenian genocide survivors after WW1 were celebrated in a special ceremony in Sydney.

An indecent asylum policy damages us all, writes Samuel Dariol.

In the light of PM Malcolm Turnbull's speeches in New York this week commending Australia’s approach to the refugee crisis, Scott Higgins asks three questions.

Culture & society

Hope, not nihilism, is the antidote to bleak times, writes Fatima Measham.

Do we want a public culture where we can believe the best of one another, where we can hope to change each others' minds rather than condemn one another, and have our own minds changed?’, asks Natasha Moore.


Something fundamentally shifts when you are both spouse and carer. “Til death do us part” can be a long and lonely road without the right support’, writes Lucy O'Flaherty.


Choosing death over life with disability is perceived as noble, brave and compassionate. Well those 15,000 of us currently living with spinal cord injury in Australia would beg to differ’, writes Joan Hume.

‘Suicide is not seen as socially desirable – so why is assisted suicide seen as compassionate when it’s for ill or disabled people?’, asks Liz Carr.


Should we test schoolkids on their ethical understanding?’, asks Lauren Martyn-Jones.

End of Life

Choosing death over life with disability is perceived as noble, brave and compassionate. Well those 15,000 of us currently living with spinal cord injury in Australia would beg to differ’, writes Joan Hume.

‘Suicide is not seen as socially desirable – so why is assisted suicide seen as compassionate when it’s for ill or disabled people?’, asks Liz Carr.

As Australia's religious make-up changes, so, too, is the country's funeral-service industry.


Some conservationists are proposing 'gene drive' - a controversial genetic editing technique through which scientists could alter or eliminate entire species - as a way to control invasive species.

Humans are facing the greatest test in the million-year ascent of our kind. But this isn’t a single challenge, like a famine or disease outbreak. It is a constellation of ten huge man-made threats, which are now coming together to imperil our existence.’ By Julian Cribb.

Law, human rights
and free speech

The Victorian Equal Opportunity Amendment (Religious Exceptions) Bill ‘will fundamentally impair the religious freedom of faith-based organisations. In fact, it might also be found to be constitutionally invalid and of no effect’, writes Neil Foster.

The proposed amendment to Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act is more likely to exacerbate division by forcing some voluntary associations to host or endorse views with which they deeply disagree, writes Mark Sneddon.

Liberalism gives us the right and freedom to judge what other people say for ourselves; toleration stops us from acting on our judgements to summarily silence those of whom we disapprove, writes Tomas Wells.

In Section 18C, 'the words “offend, insult, [and] humiliate” are the problem. They're too subjective', write Chris Fotinopoulos and Jonathan Meddings.

Other religions

Yoga: a nice way of keeping fit, or a gateway to demonic powers? Ross Clifford and Philip Johnson discuss their book: 'Taboo or To Do?'


Life’s worth is not found in endless examination of its meaning, but in grateful acceptance of its gift’, writes the Bible Society's Greg Clarke.


Repressive regimes fear religious freedom because it is a different source of authority, a structure to organise for change and a different value system, writes Andy Walton.


In the midst of hollow politics and crass commercialism, Bruce Wearne asks: how can a Christian promote public justice?

This Parliament – indeed this country – seems divided in a way we haven't really seen before. People don't simply disagree now: they inhabit different universes’, writes Waleed Aly.

It is a welcome change to see budgets spoken of in moral terms, with the government recently insisted on a moral responsibility to future generations to fix the deficit, writes Andrew Hamilton.

‘Progressive wonks – and I put myself in this camp – write as much with passion for a cause as they do with passion for facts.’ Facts are not the only truth in life, or politics, writes Greg Jericho.


It is through prayer that we get in touch with the God who has a passion for justice and righteousness, writes Nils von Kalm.


Science and religion provide different levels of explanation and together provide a complete picture, writes Sharon Dirckx.

Secularism & faith

‘A majority of the religiously unaffiliated … say they fell away from faith … because they ‘stopped believing, usually before the age of 30’, writes Kimberly Winston. ‘And only seven percent are looking for a religion to belong to at all.'

Sexuality and same-sex marriage plebiscite

Murray Campbell discusses the pastoral letter by the head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, on the SSM plebiscite.

Australia is not mature enough for a plebiscite on same sex marriage, argues Mike Frost.

Marriage is the people’s institution, and the people themselves should have their say on exactly what it means, writes Andrew Hastie MP.

There are ‘various problems in the Safe Schools materials which ought to be rectified if a program like this is to continue to be offered in schools’, writes Patrick Parkinson.

Eternity News reported on Parkinson’s findings.

Would church leaders support a populist vote on euthanasia or abortion? Church leaders ought to think about all the other complex issues parliamentarians could outsource to a populist vote’, argues Kristina Keneally.

Conservative Christians often present ‘‘scientif-ish’ arguments: those shrouded in the language of secular scholarship, but which don’t pass scholarly review’, writes Timothy Jones.

The debate around the plebiscite is as much about marriage as it is about the role of parliament in our political system, writes Bruce Wearne.

Akos Balogh suggests ways in which we, as Christians, can respond to the ugly side of sexual politics.

I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I'm not a bigot), writes Michael Jensen.

Russell Blackford responds to Michael Jensen’s article.

Decisions about sexual lifestyle are about how much we want our bodily selves to mean rather than what emotional needs we're meeting or what laws we're satisfying, writes Rowan Williams. (From the ABC archives, 24 Aug 2011.)

Social policy and welfare

The Coalition has revealed a new plan for social security spending with the aim of ending welfare-dependency among at-risk groups, but it has already drawn criticism from community organisations.

Vulnerable people must be at the heart of welfare reforms, and any reforms must serve the good of the whole community, writes Andrew Hamilton.

US elections

Trump 'Stands Against Everything Christianity Believes', writes Philip Yancey.

Wealth and poverty

Part 1 of 2: Can we ever justify spending money on ourselves, instead of on people in need? The Centre for Public Christianity’s Simon Smart, John Dickson and Natasha Moore discuss.

Part 2 of 2: What is the role and value of art in our society? Is it frivolous to spend money on beautiful things such as art, instead of on feeding the hungry or saving a life? 

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