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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

War, memory and civil religion in Australia

Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape ( Fully updated 3rd edition) by K.S. Inglis (Melbourne University Press, 2008)

This is an engaging and revealing work of Australian history that takes you down into the architecture and the community interactions that have shaped the memorialising of Australian engagement in war since the late nineteenth century.

What is particularly interesting from a theological point of view is the evidence it provides on the Christian churches ongoing engagement with a Christendom mentality in entanglement with nationalism and how it has morphed into a peculiarly Australian form of civil religion. The sacred does not disappear it simply migrates and morphs and this migration is largely unrecognised neither by the worshipers and devotees nor by the Christian churches.

According to Inglis the ... cult of Anzac Day warrants the name of civil religion even when the language of conventional religion is avoided or disowned.(445)

What is interesting is that the emergence of this civil religion has received very little attention by theologians - a critique of idolatry and a self critique of the Churches' implication in support of war in Australia is badly overdue.

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