Michael Duffy Polemical
I was reading an abstract of the Boyer Lectures given this year by Archbishop Peter Jensen. This is the abstract given on the Boyer Lectures Web Site:
Jesus is more important to the Australian values of 'a fair go' and 'mateship' than the stories of the Eureka Stockade and Gallipoli; in forgetting him, as Australians we risk losing our core values now and in the future, warns Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen in his 2005 Boyer Lectures, The Future of Jesus, beginning Sunday, 13 November.Now the purpose of the Boyer Lectures:
The Boyer Lectures is a series of talks by prominent Australians chosen by the ABC Board to present ideas on major social, scientific or cultural issues. The lectures have been broadcast on ABC Radio for more than 40 years and have stimulated thought, discussion and debate in Australia on an astonishing range of subjects – great minds examining issues and values.So AB Jensen is seeking to propose and argue a proposition of Jesus' centrality and importance in the Australian culture and way of life. At an abstract intellectual level, this is great. Jesus is being put back on the agenda. C.S. Lewis did this in the early 20th century in England. AB Jensen is doing this in the early 21st century.
So when I read Michael Duffy's opinion of the talks, I was less than surprised, but quite frustrated:
...what the Anglican Jensen has given us, in two lectures so far, strikes me more as a sermon, indeed a vigorous attempt to convert listeners to Christianity. I can find no precedence for this in the 46-year history of the Boyers.Why is this verboten? Is it because this offends the sensibilities of former trade union delegated Michael Duffy, now intellectual, who has admitted that
Australia's intellectual culture is very left wing...I concede the following:
I have considerable respect for Jensen. One reason I'm writing this is in response to his call for a "national debate" regarding the gospels. I wish him well in his appeal for converts.However, this is certainly not true:
But I do wonder why the Boyer Lectures are being used for this appeal, which is outside their stated purpose and for which there are plenty of other avenues.Sure the content of the Boyer Lectures given by AB Jensen are evangelistic. But this does not preclude them from contributing to the discussion of "major social" or "cultural" issues. Why is the role of Jesus in Australian society not a major social or cultural issue in the eyes of Michael Duffy? I assert that AB Jensen's topic is well within the bounds of the purpose of the Boyer Lectures.
Certainly the lectures presented by AB Jensen are "stimulating", for otherwise Michael Duffy's would not have responsed.