This is a post I've been meaning to write for a while, but prompted by Canberra Observer, I wanted to draw reader's attention to the rather good ABC Religion and Ethics website. And yes, I really am talking about your ABC in praise, not condemnation!
When the Australian Broadcasting Commission went online...
There was a fair amount of angst a year or so back from the bishops and others when the ABC decided to axe Radio National's The Religion Report and go online instead. Now I admit it wasn't angst I shared - I figured anything would be an improvement on then presenter Stephen Crittenden's entirely secular-liberal perspective.
But all the same, I have been impressed by the overall quality of the site. It makes a genuine effort to cover all ends of the spectrum (I even saw some comments lauding it on aCatholica, and yes the downside of this is that Paul Collins still gets his time on the ABC!), and tackles a wide range of issues. And it makes clever use of the technologies, including podcasts, video and twitter.
So let me point you to two excellent articles up there currently that illustrate the diversity of the site, and are well worth a careful read.
The unintended consequences of Dawkins et al...
First up is a piece by Alistair McGrath arguing that the new atheists have done us a favour - far from killing off religion as obsolete, they've helped but God back on the public agenda.
Much of the most penetrating critique of Dawkins et al, he argues, is actually coming from fellow secularists, worrying about the effects of the over the top rhetoric that is their hallmark:
"It easy to see why the "old school" of atheism is worried. The slick and breezy slogans of the New Atheism simply conceal its obvious evidential and rational deficit. Sooner or later, someone's going to notice that these simplistic slogans just don't match up with the reality. And they're right to be apprehensive."
There are some interesting implications he draws out from all this...
The future of Aged Care in Australia
Secondly I wanted to mention a blog post by Scott Stephens on the Draft Report of the Productivity Commission on Aged Care reform.
How we care for our currently largely neglected, and rapidly growing ageing population is a crucial issue for Australia, and one I hope to come back to in a later post. But this article is an excellent starting point for your consideration. Stephens goes right to the core of the issue from a Christian perspective:
"...for far too many Australians, the ability to go on living in our consumerist nirvana is predicated on the capacity to forget our obligations to the elderly.
And here there is a rather distressing correlation between our failure to honour our obligations to the unborn and to the elderly. In this respect, what Peter Hitchens says about the "strange popularity of abortion" applies to our haste to consign the elderly to third-party care:
"I have often thought that the strange popularity of abortion among people who ought to know better has much to do with this sensation of lost control, of being pulled down into a world of servitude, into becoming our own parents. It is not the doomed baby that the unwilling parents hate ... It is the life they might have to live if the baby is born."
And so it seems that the elderly, like unwanted pregnancies, have become a kind of ritual sacrifice that we as a society offer to the most implacable of our modern idols: what Herve Juvin has described as a kind of lived immortality sustained by unlimited choice, a freedom from obligation to others, and the delusion that we can somehow indefinitely defer our deaths."
Do read it all, take a look around the rest of the site while you are there.