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Timothy Egan’s book is part travelogue, part memoir, part meditation on the past and future of Christianity and part history of the Church in Europe.
One reality about being people of faith is that we can never claim to know the whole truth. Only God knows that. This makes it all the more important for us to have the courage and conviction to challenge each other and to enter into sometimes costly dialogue in order to search for what is true. In recent times, the congregation at St Saviour’s Anglican Church in Redfern has made significant changes to the way it will live out what it believes to be its mission.
Why would Sydneysiders want to read a book about Colin McCahon, who died in 1987? In 1984, Colin McCahon and his wife were in Sydney, to celebrate a small retrospective of his work at the Power Institute (University of Sydney). It was during this time that McCahon became lost, confused and went missing. His wife and friends found him, 28 hours later, in St Vincent’s Hospital. The police had picked him up in Centennial Park in the small hours of the morning. This was probably the first dramatic sign of the illness that eventually claimed the life of this great New Zealand artist.
I have found this particularly challenging to know what to say about the tragedy of the destruction of people’s lives through the sexual abuse, especially of the young, by people representing the church. Priests are seen by society, and indeed by many Catholics, as the problem or a potential danger in this regard and thus the least qualified to speak. I have a real fear of making matters worse.