Here at Cyberpunk and Blue Twin, we love the Bible Society. And we love Eternity newspaper. In fact, Arthur’s written before about how great it is, providing a wonderful balance of levity and seriousness; tackling big issues with wisdom, tact and a winsome tone; and appealing to a diverse range of Australian Christians.
In the latest edition, Sophie Gyles’ article on lessons for Christians from the Global Atheist Convention embodies all of these characteristics. She could have had a go at atheists but instead she asks how we Christians need to change in order to be better witnesses to Christ. Also worth the read is the profile of the Kingsley family who are missionaries in Slovenia, one of the toughest mission fields on earth.
But alongside these stunning examples of some of Eternity’s main focuses – personal testimonies, missionary news, book excerpts, social justice, and perspectives on popular culture – were some puzzling inclusions.
There was the call from the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton for Christians to have more of an influence in the Australian Labor Party in order to combat the ‘gay-Green’ agenda. I’m all for Christian influence in the ALP but why is there no call for Christians to be involved with the Greens? And why is the Green agenda caricatured as ‘gay’ with no regard for policies regarding health care, the environment, immigration or the plight of the economically underprivileged? Is this article Christian or merely conservative?
Then there was the popular culture section including a review of ‘The Five Year Long Engagement’. Actual discussion of the film is at a minimum here; instead, the article seems to be little more than a platform for the author to espouse the well-worn line that Christians need to protect ourselves (and the world) from the ‘social erosion of marriage’s sanctity.’ The take-home message here seems to be that this film has a poor view of marriage, so don’t bother with it.
Then there’s the assertion in the article about friendship in films that ‘The Lion King’ is a poor example of friendship because Timon and Pumbaa’s philosophy is ‘hakuna matata. Got problems? Just ignore them.’ While this is a memorable line from the film, it is certainly not its message. In fact, by the end, all sympathetic characters have rejected ‘hakuna matata’, instead opting to take the harder road of fighting for what is right. This isn’t engagement with popular culture: it’s a surface-level dismissal of it.
Many Christians do identify with a conservative agenda and legitimately so. But conservativism can only ever be compelling when it is robust enough to genuinely interact with others. Faith that ignores or dismisses its challengers is only a frightened shadow. And genuine interaction can’t happen without respect; so we need to have the humility to really listen and a willingness to learn from others, as Sophie’s article demonstrates. Eternity has been a great example of such full-bodied love in the past. My hope is that it will continue to stay true to its commitment to being winsome.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.