Orwell & Dangerous Stories

It was a pleasure to speak twice at The Journey Uniting Church on Sunday, on ‘The Foundations of Belief in a Postmodern World”.

We explored the consequences of living within a culture that primarily celebrates the SURFACE of life; and what it means for the foundations of our belief to be informed by the ‘God who is there’ rather than the God we wish was there.

The night service went off in a totally different direction after the minister, my good friend Andy Hogarth, led us into a spontaneous prayer time for various nations and global circumstances. The outpouring of concern and passion from the young adults was incredibly moving.

What followed was a wonderful time of spirit-guided ministry as several people quite powerfully dedicated their lives afresh to the call of God to move beyond merely existing, to truly living on mission with Jesus.

I was reminded of the sheer audacity and importance of these moments in life when reading a quote by author George Orwell in a collection of older articles by Christopher Hitchens this afternoon:

“It is nonsense to pretend that at this date there is something daring & original in proclaiming oneself an atheist… the daring thing, or at any rate the unfashionable thing, is to believe in God.” 
– George Orwell

Something similar to this thought came to me when Hitchens was in Australia last, speaking at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.

Dangerous? Hitchens interviewed by Tony Jones at the Opera House?

Rarely has a preacher had a more devoted choir.

Jones (a confessed devotee) positively salivated over Hitch, refusing to seriously engage any of his atheistic arguments with any kind of objective reasoning. It was a book tour love-in.

Hitchens has certainly never avoided a tough audience, but they were getting decidedly less ‘dangerous’ in recent years.

But an adult today, deciding to live their life based on a Christian foundation, drawn from more than a materialist viewpoint, in our current popular culture – that’s getting way closer to what at Forge we used to call embracing the Dangerous Stories.