Depolarising Connection: Perspectives on God

A panel curated by Roland Fravel.

We live in a time where it seems our society is becoming more and more polarised in the way it engages with and discusses issues with two opposing sides. As a society we seem to use words as weapons more than we do to create connection. So if we are going to learn how to engage with topics that are potentially polarising in a way that leads to deepening connection as opposed to widening separation, then we might as well start with a big one!

'God' is a word that in just three little letters seems to be able to inspire love, hate, anger, generosity… the whole gamut of human emotions. A word meant to signify our connection with the divine, source, the universe, our eternal self… basically a concept so large we have spent most of human history trying explain!

This service was an opportunity to listen to three very different stories of people interacting with this thing we call 'God' to open a space for us to explore this concept in a way that will (hopefully) lead to greater understanding and empathy for the way each of us interact, or don’t interact, with this concept of 'God'.


The Art of Care | Dr Catherine Crock

Catherine Crock is a physician who has dedicated her life to softening the hard edges of healthcare. Long before user experience and person-centred care entered the medical lexicon she listened carefully to her young patients and their families and discovered a novel way to improve their journey through the health system. Catherine pioneered the use of music in operating theatres and waiting rooms to create a calming and kind environment for children undergoing surgery. She subsequently founded the Hush Foundation which is dedicated to using art to improve the healthcare experience. Catherine's story is a living testament to the power of kindness and empathy - of deeply understanding another person’s needs and doing everything you can to meet them.


Stories from the Grapevine | Henry Churchill

A bottle of wine contains more than the sum of its parts: more than fruit, soil, sun and tender care. Wine is a labour of love filled with the uncertainties of living off the land, laughter, tension and patience. Henry Churchill took us behind the veil of the vineyard, to reveal the intimate emotions that will be infused in Zig Zag Winery's 2018 vintage. Thank you Harriet Rose Devereux Churchill and Henry Churchill for hosting this divine Service in Malmsbury and to the sun that shown continuously throughout the day – for this we are grapeful.

Dancing as a Vital Art | Brittany Laidlaw

"The revolution is embodied. We can't think our way into reconnecting with the Earth and remembering our place as stewards, just like we can't think our way into bike riding. We must feel it in our bodies to know how! We have to dance it baby! Just as all our ancient ancestors did." ~ Thanks Brittany Jane for sharing pearls of wisdom and your vibrant energy! 

Wild Awake: Living a Connected Life | Claire Dunn

Our natural state is living in intimate connection with the earth, others, and ourselves. And yet we live in a culture of profound disconnection - the source of much of the world's suffering. We hosted our first service South or the river, in a room full of wattles, natural light and wild humans.

Claire Dunn knows the wild. She is an explorer and pioneer in the movement known as 'Rewilding,' and facilitates nature-based reconnection retreats and contemporary wilderness rites of passage. She has published 'My Year Without Matches: Escaping the the City in Search of the Wild', a memoir of her year living in the bush.

Longing For Home | Aseel Hamarneh

Aseel’s story was so moving for so many of us. Home is a concept that feels real to us all in some form. We were reminded again that simple stories can be so profoundly universal. Yet in that simplicity, Aseel also touched on some complex societal issues. For instance internalising messaging that around cultural superiority/inferiority, and what that means for personal identity. She left us with a lot to ponder. For us there was also the sweet sense of fruition seeing Aseel take the chair. She has attended the Service for years and expressed disbelief about how we find so many people with interesting stories. Now her story has elegantly emerged; it’s come full circle. It’s always a gift to see the extraordinary ordinariness, the humanity and the uniqueness of everyone’s stories.

Journeys with Voice

“Go into the unknown. Be in the unknown in every moment… I am constantly teaching myself how to be in that space in every moment, with every person I meet along the way.”

Jacinta is a sound weaver, a teacher, a facilitator. She talks about her journey with voice. Throughout her life she has worked with many instruments, but the voice is the instrument that creates the deepest resonance for her.

She shares about trust and safety, the stories that play out inside of us, and how we need to come together and sound again. Even in the way she says “sounding” she shows her unique approach to singing; healing the insecurities many of us have around our own voice.

Jacinta’s is a voice that your ears will want to drink.

Celebrating Absurdity

This really was a unique (read: absurd) service. From the get go things were set for hilarity. A stage of trivial calamities: Nique happened to be specifically allergic to the decorative autumn foliage, our soy candles too; there also featured one delightfully anxious dog. As such, apologies for the abrupt conclusion of this podcast, said dog intervened with the mic and called “cut” on our recording. Humour is everywhere!

Nique trained in physical theatre in Paris in the 80's. Other features of her rich and varied life include practicing Buddhism, and living in Alice Springs for 20 years. She currently facilitates mindfulness based courses and practices radical presence as an elder clown with sick kids and people with dementia.

Listening to Nique will wake you up to life, and maybe show you your inner clown…

Joys and Sorrows

A moment in time, of reverence and aliveness, at The Weekly Service.

This beautiful and short piece captures some of the joys and sorrows humans were feeling on 14th October 2017. For no other reason than to remind ourselves we all experience the the profound and the horrendous. The beautiful and the painful.

Stay to the end for the 'bonus track'...

Awe and the Sacred

As a child, Todd Gillen's visits to the vaulted ceilings of his local church were filled with bouts of awe that stilled his frayed nerves and sent tingles shivering down his spine. He felt himself in the presence of god.

All that changed on one particular day, when his religious faith dropped away. Since then he has spent most of his life searching for ideas and theories of god that match what he feels and his experience of his own spirituality.

As a professional archaeologist, he has spent the last 15 years reading, writing, breathing and actually digging up ancient Egypt in pursuit of the sacred. The Egyptians invented formal religion as we know it, and in the desert sands you can see the literal remains of the birth of god. The colossal pyramids, temples and tombs that have captured our popular imagination are testament to the role of awe in that process.

Join Todd as he shares his humanist perspective on god, spirituality and the sacred and asks: what new ways of understanding god are emerging in a world of increasing diversity of belief, what role does awe play in our spirituality, and how can we curate the sacred in our lives?

Finding Stillness In Action

Passionate about spiritual practice and positive societal change, Bobbi connected the two in 1984 when she read Joanna Macy’s first ‘Work that Reconnects’ book by torchlight in a tent in a rainforest on a meditation retreat. Since then Bobbi’s quest has been connection – linking nature, the personal, social and political. It has been a lifelong quest to create a culture of sustainable activism. After studying then teaching insight meditation and ‘engaged Buddhism’ for over 30 years, pioneering environmental and social justice campaigns and bringing up twins off-grid, Bobbi’s elder hood is one forged through passionate engagement with the world.

Catalysing a Creative Rebellion

Abe Nouk is a poet, a community educator, a mentor and a humble human being with an infectious sense of gratitude. In this Weekly Service podcast he talks about his journey to Australia - fleeing civil war in Sudan with his mother and siblings - and his journey to creativity and gratitude as a way of unravelling the numbness and trauma he grew up with. He talks about discovering how important it is to be 'available for life', and his daily appreciation of the lavish freedom of living in a peaceful country. Through his story, Abe encourages the audience to be open to both suffering and joy, and 'know your truth, keep your peace and speak your joy'. Abe also performs some of his of his spoken word poetry.

Poster girl for neuroplasticity

Haley's story begins with ordinary, yet tragic miscommunication, journeys through self-harming and feeling crazy, then having successful psychotherapy. Her story, or at least the telling of it, ends with her becoming a molecular neuroscientist and realising that her super neuroplastic brain and body had adapted in meaningful ways to the experiences she had, for better and for worse. Haley explores how early experiences biologically shape our anticipations of love and the world, and what happens to us if the meaning of experiences that hurt us is lost and confounded by diagnoses.

The pull towards community

The Czech Theologian Tomas Halik says that the division in our culture is not between religion and atheism but between passion and apathy; not between sets of propositions but between forms of engagement with the Other.

Rod grew up in a Christian community where the Other was primarily seen as an enemy, or something to be colonised - something to turn into the same. This is his story of his journey away from this to a vision of community built on both a shared sense of lack and a shared sense of possibility, rather than over against some Other