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Does God live in the suburbs? What ordinary people believe.

Indra Publishing 2007
RRP $34.95

Reviewed by Linda Hanson

When I read the title of this book I was expecting a book on whether Christianity was alive and well in the suburbs and how it is viewed in today’s society. Instead, as the title suggests, the book is about what ordinary people of all walks of life believe. The twenty three chapters each deal with a different religion eg Buddhism and Hinduism or a different denomination in the Christian church eg: Catholic Aboriginal Ministry, Lutheran Church and Pentecostal Church. (Pentecostal wasn’t broken down into smaller categories.) As a Uniting Church member I naturally read that chapter first, even though it was the last chapter in the book. (Chapters are in alphabetical order of faith grouping.)

Each chapter is based on an interview with one practising adherent of that faith group. The interviewee was usually a lay person and they were asked to speak for themselves and not for the organisation they are a part of, thus the observations mentioned may differ from official views.

Margaret Watson from Victoria was interviewed for the chapter on our denomination. Thus her description of structures was different to Queensland Synod structures. Even though the book was published in 2007, the information gathered was quite old referring to Parish Councils and the Synod of Victoria (not including Tasmania.) I mention this as if this information is out of date; the same might be said for the other chapters. Otherwise the information given was a fair reflection of life in the UCIA.

The book was easy to read, and if this chapter is indicative of other chapters, then readers will find this an easy to comprehend survey of the different religions and denominations in Australia. Basically the book achieves what it sets out to do – provide an overview of the beliefs of ordinary people in Australia.