Musings of an antipodean contrarian

Archive for the category “history”

Religion as a civilizing influence

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.

Suppressing the truth about history

The latest furore over the proposed National History Curriculum, which is set to be rolled out to schools across Australia in 2013, is an apparent attempt at symbolic secularism where the familiar terms BC and AD (referring to historical dates “Before Christ” or “Anno Domini,” literally “in the year of our Lord”) are to be replaced by the politically correct and spiritually sterile BCE and CE (“Before the Common Era” and “Common Era”).

In one sense the traditional terms do seem out of place in a post-Christian era, but no one says that about Aboriginal Dreamtime stories which are to be taught to almost every year level in the new English curriculum.

It’s a symbol of a wider turning away from this nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage.  A national curriculum that suppresses the truth about Christian history, and seeks to cleanse course content of even symbolic traces of the significance of Christianity, is a curriculum controlled by ideologues and secular bigots.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 23 October 2011.

Faith and the National Curriculum

An artist's representation of early Sydney Town

In early 2008 the Rudd government set up a National Curriculum Board to develop a national school curriculum for Australia. Documents for key subject areas have now been released, and have attracted strong criticism from educators and churches.

Dr Kevin Donnelly, director of the Melbourne-based Education Standards Institute, writing in Quadrant magazine, said the new curriculum was dumbed down, politically correct, and reinforced an outcomes-based model. In particular, the history curriculum fails to acknowledge the grand narrative associated with the rise of Western civilization, and the importance of Christianity in shaping the modern world.

When Christianity is mentioned in the national history curriculum, it is usually in the context of other religions, and its historical and cultural significance is sidelined.

All Australian schools will be forced to implement this flawed curriculum as a condition of Commonwealth funding – and when that happens, the revisionists will have won.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 17 April 2011.

History curriculum ignores faith

Image by Eric Lobbecke. Source:

In the lull between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, I learned a new word: oikophobia.

Oikophobia literally means “fear of one’s own home,” but English philosopher Roger Scruton has adapted the term to mean “rejection of everything one’s parents and grandparents respected.”

And President of Campion College, David Daintree, sees oikophobia behind the efforts of drafters of the new national curriculum for history to expunge all references to Christianity from the nation’s teaching in schools.

The draft curriculum in history certainly ignores the role of religion in general, and is silent about Christianity, despite the profound influence of Christian faith, morality and compassion on Australian history and that of most other countries.

A secularist or atheist conspiracy?  It would appear so, and it is time for people of faith, and Christians in particular, to stand up and be heard.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 9 January 2011.

The King James Bible turns 400

Title page of the KJV Bible.

Well, here we are in 2011, and one of the most significant anniversaries this year is the 400th anniversary not of the works of William Shakespeare but of the first edition of the Authorised King James Version of the Bible.

Deriving its name from the English monarch who authorised its translation, the King James Bible has sold an estimated one billion copies; introduced words such as “long-suffering,” “scapegoat,” and “peacemaker” into our language; and given the Word of God to the common people in the vernacular, without bloodshed.

And U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt described the King James Bible as “a Magna Carta for the poor and oppressed: the most democratic book in the world.”

But above all, it is a faithful representation of the good news of Jesus Christ, a spiritual treasure without rival, which, as St Paul said to Timothy, “is able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:15). 

Happy anniversary, King James Bible! 

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 2 January 2011.

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