Beyond Belief – Hugh Mackay’s conversations with Buderim July 18, 2016 – Posted in: Books, Love, Thoughts – Tags: , , , , , , ,

Beyond Belief

After a wonderful afternoon with Hugh Mackay discussing his new book Beyond Belief, at St Marks Anglican church at Buderim, Sunshine Coast on Sunday 17 July, the messages he left with us I felt needed to be shared. Forgive me if I have misinterpreted some wonderful commentary.

Hugh Mackay reminded us of how in every civilisation in human history, religion has been embedded in the culture. Religion will always be apart of our lives because of what it offers people. Religion is as good for your health as pet ownership, maybe a bit of both will keep us all healthier. Religion provides a sense of community, like a tribalness, a sense of belonging.

Australia has seen a decline in traditional church attendance in contrast to China and India. However, there is still an affiliation with the work of religious institutions such as charities, schools etc and people are often prepared to call themselves spiritual as opposed to religious.

Hugh also explained how Religious beliefs are different to faith. Faith can move people to do all sorts of things. This is where his new book Beyond Belief provides greater understanding of religion and faith in the community. Faith provides a rich sense of meaning, people place their faith on some power greater than ourselves such as community, love, family, music and religion.

He reminded us that religion provides a framework for something greater than ourselves. The messages from religion are based on kind and compassionate stories which don’t necessarily need to be taken literally.

He suggests there is a change in the way people are thinking about religion. There is a steady shift in the way people imagine God, the idea of God as the author, the creator of civilisation. Another way of imaging God, is a move away from the supernatural to the spiritual. He mentions the God within of love and kindness. There is a strong sense of the loving spirit being God. It is all enveloping in love.

Many are rejecting religion but not rejecting a spiritual journey. The spiritual journey can involve yoga, mindfulness, mediation. It is a realisation that we are all one. Embracing other people through loving with kindness and compassion.

It seems by rediscovering the power of the neighbourhood, provides a spirituality and enlightenment. Materialism is very seductive but disappointing. Individualism cannot survive as a cultural norm, we are by nature social creatures. We need each other and there is a big shift back to the community. “I need my community and my community needs me” Spirituality makes no sense outside community. This will lead to a revival of community spirit. If churches are going to survive and be relevant there needs to be an emphasis on spirituality and community rather than outdated rhetoric and dogma.

This is a discussion that Hugh Mackay has taken on further in his new book Beyond Belief, Also available at Books of Buderim, your local bookstore, are Hugh’s other recent books ‘The Art of Belonging” and ‘The Good Life” as well as some of his backlist. As author of 11 thoughtful non fiction books and 6 novels, Hugh’s ability to make sense out of a difficult and controversial subject is outstanding