With more than 35 books under his belt, including The Tyranny of Distance, published in 1966, veteran Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey is well placed to write his latest offering, A Short History of Christianity.
Blainey, who was raised a Methodist, took care to walk the tightrope between academic historian and “true believer” in presenting the remarkable story of the Christian tradition.
The late Christopher Hitchens famously argued that “religion poisons everything.” Blainey takes the opposite view, observing that Christianity has been a great civilizing influence in the face of barbarism and tyranny, and a powerful antidote to widespread social indifference to the sick and the poor.
Despite the faults of institutional religion, Blainey is convinced Christianity has helped far more than it has harmed. He says there are outward signs of decline in Christianity, but “people still have a religious strand”, and in many places the way of Jesus, the call to a different set of values, a better life, is stronger than it has ever been.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 8 Jan 2012.