Pointers 30-4 December 2020

Inside this issue:

Australians’ Attitudes to Relationships, Sexuality and Human Life
The attitudes of Australians to relationships, sexuality and human life differs widely between various religious and non-religious groups in the population. For many, religious beliefs are about values, morals and relationships, and the intersection of all three characteristics affect their everyday decisions and lifestyles. That is, their religious beliefs become the basis for making ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ choices in life. For some, decisions are made on the basis of an understanding or interpretation of their religious Scriptures. For others, the teachings of their religious organisations become the foundations for what is right or wrong. And for many others, a combination of Scriptural teachings, adherence to religious organisational doctrines, as well as following one’s ‘conscious’ in matters of morality, become the basis for decision-making. The 2018 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes asked a number of questions about Australians’ attitudes to sexuality, relationships and human life. Analysis of the data has revealed some important findings and some fascinating trends.

Charting the Faith of Australians: Thirty Years of Pointers
With the December 2020 edition, Pointers completes thirty years of production. During that time, around 120 issues have been published and around 500 articles have been produced. Pointers is neither a newsletter nor a fully-fledged journal. It falls between the two, which has sometimes produced some confusion over its status. However, I believe it has fulfilled a valuable role for the Australian churches and church-related organisations.

Building Community
Life has been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between March and October 2020, much Australian community life was suspended, particularly in Victoria, with four months of hard lock-down. There have been hard borders between most states. Many people have not been able to meet even close members of their families face-to-face let alone their friends. People were told to work from home if they could. Many industries and businesses closed and hundreds of thousands lost their jobs. Throughout much of Australia, there were limits on the numbers of people who could meet in religious communities, and many have had no face-to-face meetings for eight months.

World Christian Encyclopedia (3rd edition) Released
The third edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia was launched in March 2020. It is a huge volume with articles covering Christianity in every part of the globe.

Church Online
In October 2020, Dr Peter Brierley, former director of the Christian Research Association of the UK, reported some research in the UK about church online. It was the result of just 180 responses from one Anglican diocese in the UK, but it gives some clues as to what information might be sought and how people might feel.

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