Pauline Books and Media


Beyond Belief
Category: Books > Theology > Australian Society
Author/Artist: MACKAY, HUGH
ISBN / ID: 9781743534854
Publisher: Macmillan Books
Price: AU$32.99
Description: This book as stated by Hugh Mackay in the introduction is largely about “people’s quest for meaning in a society that has lost its appetite for conventional religion.” It addresses one of the critical issues of our time located in people’s religious beliefs and spiritual practices. Current statistics point to the fact that about two thirds of Australians say they believe in God or some ‘higher power.’ However fewer than one in ten Australians attend church weekly. Mackay argues that while our attachment to a traditional idea of God may be waning, our desire for a life of meaning remains as strong as ever. He contends that with the changing philosophical and scientific landscapes and the growth of a largely secular culture, one kind of god may be dead but the yearning for some kind of god goes on.

Mackay interviews dozens of Australians representing many different points on the spectrum of faith, including some who are part of the emerging ‘spiritual but not religious’ movement. He exposes the deep vein of ambivalence about religion that runs through our society: we may not actively worship, but we still like to see local churches operating in our midst, and we use ‘our’ church to marry, christen our babies, educate our children and commemorate our dead. He points out some uncomfortable truths, such as our tendency to call on God only in a crisis, and unpacks our human need for ‘answers’, even when science can’t find them. He endorses the Christian ideal of the good life – a life lived for others – but acknowledges that there are many pathways to that same goal, not all of them religious.

Mackay notes that this book is not for committed Christians and admits that it may not have an appeal for committed atheists. However he presents it as a book for doubters, sceptics, heretics, agnostics and religious fringe dwellers and invites those who are still open to the idea of faith in ‘something greater than ourselves’ to read Beyond Belief.

Recommended uses of this book
•  For those wanting a sketch of a statistical overview of the growth in world religions
•  For leaders of School and Parish communities who may wish to gain insight and understanding regarding the diversity of faith perspectives in their cultural context
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