The Australian Soul





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The Australian Soul

Dr Alex Tang


Bouma, Gary (2006), Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the Twenty-first Century, Port Melbourne, VIC: Cambridge University Press This is an interesting book about Australian religions and spiritualities.


Professor Gary Bouma is head of the School of Political and Social Enquiry at Monash University. He holds the UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations-Asia Pacific and is Chair of the Standing Committee on Ethics in Research involving Humans. He has served as a minister in United Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church of Australia, and the Anglican Church of Australia. I find it fascinating to discover more and more bivocational Christians who are proficient in both their vocations.



Professor Bouma describes

 Australian society can be seen as post-empire, post-colonial, post-modern, post-ecumenical, post-secular and post-family.(xiv) ... the Australian norms and expectations associated with the dimensions of patterned relations with the transcendent, religious and spiritual include:

*intensity: a strong tendency towards the subdued, laid back

*expressivity: a strong tendency towards the shy, withdrawn and not exuberant

*frequency: a strong tendency towards infrequent or occasional attendance

*periodicity: annual/biannual participation is more acceptable than weekly

*cyclicity: a tendency for participation to occur early and late in the lifecycle

*consistency: a low level of consistency between belief and practice is accepted

*singularity: persons are expected to identify with one religion

*proximity: the transcendent is expected to be distant, localised and diffuse

*efficacy: the transcendent is subject to influence, trustworthy and effective

*access: the transcendent to be accessed directly and through professionals

*social location: religious groups are expected to be on the margin, not central (35)


I find this book an interesting read. Australian society is not like the US and progressively less European. It is not Asian either. With immigrations, they are beginning to face issues of multifaith, multiculture and multiethnicity.

It is a post Christian, and progressively post Anglican culture. Many of us are familiar with Hillsong outside Sydney. However, the megachurch Hillsong is an exception rather than the rule in Australian Christianity.

Bouma calls for a way of doing church that is closer to the Australian psyche.


|posted 20 April 2007|


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 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  


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