It’s been all over the news. The Pope has a plan to welcome Anglicans who are looking for a more hardcore church to the the Roman Catholic Church. Last night, the 7pm Project reported on it – with surprising clarity.
Of course, there was the normal laughing about the church that went on, and let’s face it, Anglicans do provide a fair selection of fodder: from the beginnings of the church as an excuse for Henry VIII’s adultery, to its constant bickering and compromising, to its reputation for casseroles and bake sales, the church doesn’t exactly scream, ‘take us seriously!’ Maybe more of an indignant yelp.
But amid all the jokes about the church trading players like in football, anchor Charlie Pickering pointed out that there are real issues at stake. He named ‘Justification by Faith’ as the key and briefly explained the doctrine. In doing so, he looked a giant taboo of Australian culture right in the face. Since when does a presenter on a mainstream channel take discussion of religion beyond the superficial?
I’m no defender of the Anglican church, but I am a fan of Christianity being given a guernsey in the Australian media. I have no idea what Pickering’s religious views are but whichever way you look at it, this was a pretty risky move. For a start, it changed the tone of the section quite substantially. While his co-hosts dismissed the story as in-house competition, Pickering brought a degree of gravity to the discussion. And not only that, he gave voice to a marginalised group of Australians – those who think about their religious affiliation. And it seems to me, that he’s unique in having done both those things. And I reckon he made a complex doctrine pretty accessible, considering the 7pm Project’s target audience and the 30 secs he had to explain it. And to do that takes a fair bit of depth. And guts.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.