At a recent seminar exploring moral disagreement in the media age, ABC commentator Scott Stephens noted, “Opinion isn’t something you fasten onto, or you express in a kneejerk, instead opinion is something that is incubated within the soul, with intelligence, with moral conviction, hopefully with a great deal of reading, hopefully with a great deal of chastening from others.”
Everyone has an opinion on a wide range of issues—including, most likely, those covered within this edition—but have they been formed by a great deal of reading, intelligence and moral conviction?
The complexities and nuances of today’s global conflicts and challenges demand a much more rigorous interrogation of ideas than simply getting swept up in identity politics or deferring to a television personality, and then blasting out an opinion on social media or at a get-together with friends or family.
You may have an opinion on this nation’s Indigenous incarceration epidemic, but it is clear there are no easy fixes to the problem and the seemingly annual release of well-intentioned words and official inquiries is not leading to a sustainable solution. We hope our feature on First Peoples prison chaplains (page 6) gets you thinking about the issue and contributes to a wider discussion on what could be a circuit breaker to the cycle of harm and hopelessness. I look forward to your letters on this.
Elsewhere, Dianne Jensen’s feature on church newcomers (page 8) is a terrific look at welcoming strategies to embrace that stranger who walks through church doors in search of God and community. Does your church make newcomers feel at home or is it simply more concerned with maintaining the status-quo? Again, I eagerly await your letters on how you make strangers welcome in your church; I’m sure other readers would also appreciate innovative ideas from others.
Ashley Thompson talks with Brisbane musician Tony Doevendans (page 16) about faith, music and disability inclusiveness. It’s a great read, and draws attention to how seemingly harmless statements or questions can have a deeper emotional impact on those with a disability. If you’d like to know more about disability inclusiveness and spirituality, please stay tuned as we are busy planning a feature article for a forthcoming edition.