Smuggling Christ into popular culture: Q&A with Greg Sheridan
Greg Sheridan is one of Australia’s most influential journalists and commentators. The Catholic Voice recently spoke to him about his recent books on Christianity and its place in Australia today. The following is an edited extract of the conversation.
Why write God is Good for You and Christians: the urgent case for Jesus in our world?
Three books ago I wrote a memoir…[and] I attended a lot of writer’s festivals. I was struck by the fact that, amongst the hundreds of books that I saw promoted and discussed, there was not a single book which argued anything from a pro-Christian or pro Jewish point of view.
That’s extraordinary because the Judeo-Christian tradition has completely shaped our civilization. And I thought really if you’ve got a public microphone by accident or circumstance or whatever, then maybe you should say something about this.
Your response to the new atheists?
They [the new atheists] would say the universe is 14 billion years old and therefore God obviously didn’t create it because he wouldn’t waste his time doing that. You think, how would you know what God would do? It’s absolutely characteristic of God that he would spend 14 billion years creating a garden for us.
What did you mean in Christians that Jesus is ‘history, living and true’?
I was struck by the belief that’s very common in our culture that the New Testament is all a fiction and was written hundreds of years later by canny church officials to retrospectively fit up a whole lot of doctrine.
I thought the people ought to know in fact that everything we know from secular scholarship, archaeology and history con
firms the broad historicity of the New Testament.
The gospels and the writings of St Paul are just full of humanity and vigour. Paul was such a cross-grained, irascible, brilliant, magnificent figure of humanity and I thought, gosh, our culture has forgotten all this even if it ever knew it.
Do you find it difficult being a person of faith in our country?
Well, not really. In the West the culture is against Christianity and Christians aren’t used to that. But [that] doesn’t significantly impede our freedoms. We need to take advantage of those freedoms and claim a proper space for truth in our culture.
There are two chapters on Chinese Christians [in Christians]. They really are persecuted. Christians in the Middle East really are persecuted. Christians are suffering terrible persecution in large parts of Africa.
Your views on controversies such as euthanasia?
To turn doctors into killers is extraordinarily dangerous and to create a situation where older people, frail people, people who are unwell, will in effect – not by design – but in effect, be pressured to end their lives is really a terrible wrong road for society to go down.
The Catholic Voice recently reviewed Sheridan’s latest book, Christians: the urgent case for Jesus in our world. Go to www.catholicvoice.org.au to read the review.
Copies are available at the Canberra Catholic Bookstore and can now be purchased online Ph: (02) 6239 9888