Re-visioning the Good Society
Harnessing the economy to the Good Society:
a policy strategy for church & community activists from 2015
Paul Smyth is Professor of Social Policy at the University of Melbourne, and from 2004-2013 was also General Manager of the Research & Policy Centre at the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Fitzroy, Australia. He was previously Director of Social Policy in the School of Social Work & Social Policy at the University of Queensland. Currently, he is on the councils of the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Catholic Social Justice Commission.
Photo AusAID’s Amanda Jennings and Shahriar Islam on the embankments (Shatkhira) where most of the cyclone Aila affected people took shelter in 2008. A few families are still living there. Bangladesh 2010. AusAID. flickr cc.
Pope Francis ran moral template over G20
In his letter to Prime Minister Abbott and the G20 meeting in Brisbane, Pope Francis urged deep reforms to the economic system to support poor populations and increase social and economic equity. He attacked the failed policies behind the global financial crisis as a form of aggression like the terrorist attacks. The Pope’s support for increased overseas aid, generous responses to refugees, and measures to tackle climate change would presumably have embarrassed Mr Abbott.
Read this article in full.
Peacemaking in Islamic traditions
The shocking crimes by Islamist terrorists against other Muslims and minority groups have shaken world opinion, and have brought dishonour on the Muslim community. Bruce Duncan, in his talk at the SPC forum on 6 November, compares western and Islamic traditions of just war, and considers the relationship between religion and violence. He argues that nothing in Islam justifies the wanton killing of innocent people, especially women, children, and the sick or aged. However, he says that the Islamist groups feed off real grievances which the West must help address, for it was partly responsible for them. Armed force will not defeat terrorism; only the determined opposition of the mainstream Muslim world will do that, coupled with concerted progress promoting social justice. Read this article in full.
For an excellent explanation of the Islamic State, see the interview on the VICE site with Graeme Wood, a journalist specialising in Islamic affairs.
Valuing secularism in Syria
Susan Day Dirgham
Susan Dirgham spoke at an SPC forum on 6 November about her experience of living as an English teacher for several years in Syria before the civil war broke out. She described a society living in harmony with its different religious and cultural groups, and of her impressions and contacts at that time. She argues that the world has been given a false impression of life under the Assad regime, and fears for the outcome if the regime should fall to the Islamist groups. In 2013, she joined an international peace delegation organised by Mother Agnes Mariam and headed by Mairead Maguire, an Irish Peace Laureate.
Susan Dirgham is National Coordinator of Australians for Mussalah (Reconciliation) in Syria. Susan’s SPC talk can be found on the SPC website.
Indigenous reconciliation & responsibility
John Hilary Martin OP
Standing back from the history of the Aboriginal people and the impact of white settlement with the displacement of the original inhabitants, John Hilary Martin gives an overview of what has happened. He highlights Aboriginal relationships with the land and their management practices, and contrasts this with European efforts to support indigenous people through charitable work and the welfare state. He argues that many groups of Aborigines have been disempowered by these policies, resulting in a losses of independence and sense of responsibility to ensure their own future wellbeing. Read this article in full.
Social Justice & the Churches:
Challenges & Responsibilities
Edited by John D’Arcy May
Chapters written by representatives of seven Australian Churches show that Christian approaches to social justice are startlingly distinctive, in their starting points as well as in their positions on urgent matters of human rights, sexual ethics, and economic justice. Social justice is not just a matter of applying well-known ‘first principles’ shared by all Christian traditions, but is coloured by history, culture, and context.
The book includes contributions by Major Jenny Begent (Salvation Army), Fr Max Vodola (Roman Catholic), Revd Gerard Rose (Churches of Christ), Revd Geoff Pound (Baptist), Revd Raymond Cleary (Anglican), Dr Mark Zirnsak (Uniting Church), and Fr Shenouda Boutros (Coptic Orthodox Church). Margaret Coffey from ABC Radio National also offered her reflections in response to the presentations
Read Professor Peter Sherlock’s launch address.
Read Dr John D’Arcy May’s response.
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Books available at SPC
A World United or a World Exploited? Christian Perspectives on Globalisation Edited by Peter Price $20+$5 postage & handling.
Young People, Faith, & Social Justice Joan Daw $20+$5 postage & handling.
Towards a Better World Arthur Gibbs $10+$5 postage & handling.