Towards the Quest for an Australian Jesus

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Queenie McKenzie, People talking to Jesus in the Bough Shed, 1995. Christof Collection of the Diocese of Broome. This painting was the theme image for Catholic celebrations of NAIDOC Week 2019.

HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies, a South African-based open-access journal, has just published a little piece that I wrote:

‘“A Pretty Decent Sort of Bloke”: Towards the Quest for an Australian Jesus’. HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 75, no. 4 (2019), e1–e10. (HTMLEPUBPDF)

Abstract

From many Aboriginal elders, such as Tjangika Napaltjani, Bob Williams and Djiniyini Gondarra, to painters, such as Arthur Boyd, Pro Hart and John Forrester-Clack, from historians, such as Manning Clark, and poets, such as Maureen Watson, Francis Webb and Henry Lawson, to celebrated novelists, such as Joseph Furphy, Patrick White and Tim Winton, the figure of Jesus has occupied an endearing and idiosyncratic place in the Australian imagination. It is evidence enough that ‘Australians have been anticlerical and antichurch, but rarely antiJesus’ (Stuart Piggin). But which Jesus? In what follows, I seek to listen to what some Australians make of Jesus, and to consider some theological implications of their contributions for the enduring quest for an Australian Jesus.

The article can be accessed here.

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JASON GORONCY IS A THEOLOGIAN, ARTIST, AND folk festival tragic WHO LIVES AND PLAYS ON WURUNDJERI LAND.

 

Sacred Solitude

I had thought the tangible empty
the tingling hint the yearning
for palm to palm – an absence
but I begin feel a whisper
Your whisper across my palm
where no other hand will fit,
no other can remain,
in intimate embrace
others feel Your grasp in
the clasping hands with an other, but I –
am I destined for a different
kind of intimate?

not sex not tawdry not ‘in love
with God My Saviour’
this taking hand in hand
this different
I have known much longer
than admitted
without name without voice
for what was clouded before
the forced withdrawal this fogged
fatigue demanded cleared
the way and now as once before
in darkness here we are
here with me You are here
the only one I never
turn away and is that not
the intimate, are You not
the one to hold my hand, the one
who will bear witness, and it has taken
me till now to truly shed
the story I’ve been told
that in that place can only
stand a human?

I hear another story
Hildegard, Julian, Thérèse
tell me another story of being one
whose hand is held by
Holy hand – and by no other
tell me now my story so that I
can feel the whisper
on my palm as Presence.

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Sarah Agnew is a storyteller, poet, and Uniting Church minister currently in placement with Canberra Central Parish. Her poetry and liturgy appear in Wild Goose Publications as stand-alone e-liturgies, and in edited anthologies as weekly prayer-poems at Pray the Story. Her most recent published poetry collection is Hold Them Close (Resource Publications, 2018). She lives and works on Ngunnawal country.

An Aged Isaiah Remembers

Chagall - Isaiah, 1956. Lithograph, 31.8 × 24.1 cm.jpg
Marc Chagall, Isaiah, 1956. Lithograph, 31.8 × 24.1 cm. Private collection.

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CHRIS GREEN IS PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY AT SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY IN THE USA. HE IS THE AUTHOR OF SEVERAL BOOKS, INCLUDING SURPRISED BY GOD AND THE END IS MUSIC, BOTH PUBLISHED BY CASCADE PRESS. HE IS ALSO A VISUAL ARTIST.

Healing/Wounding

By his wounds
You have been healed.

By his healing
You have been wounded.

By his wounds
You shall be wounded.

By his healing
You shall be healed.

By your wounds
He has been wounded.

By your wounds
You shall be healed.

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CHRIS GREEN IS PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY AT SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY IN THE USA. HE IS THE AUTHOR OF SEVERAL BOOKS, INCLUDING SURPRISED BY GOD AND THE END IS MUSIC, BOTH PUBLISHED BY CASCADE PRESS. HE IS ALSO A VISUAL ARTIST.

Broken Vessel

broken body
broken heart
forever hanging
held by
the crying love of the Spirit

his wound
my hurt
our blood mixing together

his open arms
my nailed hands
pierced together

we share
the birth pain
we partake
the letting go

we release
the life to become
we form
the theology from the womb

we groan
with hope
we sob
with agony

until
creation is fully alive
until
lives flourish without blemish

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XIAOLI YANG IS A THEOLOGIAN, POET, AND SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR. SHE LIVES AND PLAYS ON WURUNDJERI LAND AND IN THE MIDDLE KINGDOM.