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Working out an Australian Spirituality/Christianity

Breathing-space is a small group of people who meet as ‘church’ weekly in one of our homes. While continually evolving, words like “postmodern”, “alternative”, “missiological” & “experimental” could begin to describe us. We meet in Mont Albert, in Melbourne’s east, on Tuesday evenings to talk, think, drink coffee, & pray/worship in some form, although one week is rarely like the next. Guests & curious onlookers are always welcome.

Recently at breathing space we took a little diversion from our Labyrinth series, and since we were fresh back from overseas with some various observations, we decided to have a go at working out what we call an “Australian Spirituality/Christianity”… Needless to say, it was a night of a lot of confused people and perplexed expressions… But some thoughts did emerge – in no random order:

– That the pluralism of Australian society has meant that perhaps faith has not been able to be as segregated as that experienced by other societies – That dialogue must occur and tolerance should (hopefully!) prevail. And this extends to both Christianity relating to other faiths, but also to denominations dealing with each other – Most of us in the group considered that maybe official denominations based on doctrine and creed were fading away, to be replaced with ‘styles’, based on their approach to worship and church structure… maybe?

– Australian society has a delightful egalitarian-ness, perhaps harking back to our convict days… and that can help avoid some leaders getting too big for their boots, and for people to blindly follow a charismatic leader. (There are some notable exceptions to this in Oz of course!). I think that’s a characteristic that while having some negativity (tall poppy syndrome, etc.), does have some real potential in relating to the Gospel and reflecting what Christ was saying…

– While very hard to define an Australian Spirituality there are some things which feed into the mix. Leunig for example (A famous Australian cartoonist) is something which I think resonates with most Australians on a spiritual level, with his serious yet offbeat view of things. Likewise sport forms a major part of the psyche (especially at this time of year!), so it’s interesting to think of how that might impact our spirituality. It definitely impacts I think on who Australians regard as ‘heroes’… Most are sporting people. Few or none are ‘religous’ people…

Eddie Chapman is a founder member of Breathing Space and ‘Labyrinth Australia