Fr Rod Bower

Fr Rod Bower

Priest at Gosford Anglican Church
Fr Rod Bower is an Anglican priest and social activist. He has been the Parish Priest in Gosford, NSW, for 16 years and is a passionate advocate for asylum seekers, the environment, social justice and human rights.
Fr Rod Bower
Fr Rod Bower is famous for the messages on human rights and social equity which he posts on the board in front of the Anglican church in Gosford. He was a speaker at the MarchInMarch rally in Canberra and is outspoken across a range of public policy areas.

Fr Rod bower Christmas message #illridewithyou
I avoid using the ‘G’ word these days. This makes life a bit complicated for me because, well, I’m a priest and I’m expected to talk about God. The trouble is the second I do mention the ‘G’ word I’m in a no win situation.

The difficulty is that the word comes with so much baggage. Before I get past the initial ‘g’ sound, the fundamentalists think I’m talking about their particular divinity, who apparently spends all day lying in wait to smite homosexuals, atheists and clergy who put up questionable roadside signs. One such Christian gentleman accused me of not mentioning Jesus enough in media interviews, when I supplied him with a number of links evidencing my many references to the founder of the firm, his response was; ‘Yes, but which Jesus?’

My Atheist friends, of whom I have many, on the other hand assume I am referring to the deity that they have rejected, perhaps because the only option considerable is the fundamentalist version, or perhaps because the whole ‘G’ thing just doesn’t compute. Those who exist at the fundamentalist extreme of atheism accuse me of believing in ‘sky fairies’ and worshiping the “flying spaghetti monster”; all of which are totally unfamiliar to me.

So I’m stuck, caught like a deer in the headlights, standing in the middle of the road. I just can’t stomach the fundo/literalist stuff as it offends not only my intellect (such as it is), but also my appreciation of the truth contained in myth and the beauty of poetic expression. Yet something deep within me wants to scream out ‘I believe in evolution but also know I am more than a collection of elements and chemical reactions’ and that the ‘more’ in me has something to do with the More of the Universe. The Atheist option, although sometimes appealing, ends up leaving me a little unsatisfied. I expect that the majority of humanity can relate to this predicament, perhaps it may well be the quintessential human condition.

Partly by accident, and partly by choice, I explore the More in the context of Anglican Christianity. Had I been born in Calcutta or Dubai instead of the Hunter Valley, I would probably be happily exploring this path as a Hindu or a Muslim.

So here I am an Anglican Christian, a priest, attempting to explore the relationship between the ‘more of myself’ and the ‘More of the Universe’ in the context of a post theistic, post doctrinal world. To make things just a little more interesting, NoFibs have asked for a Christmas article.

Here we are with the mythology and poetry of virgins and angels, carpenters and kings, and a child born, kindling hopes and expectations. Is there a universal truth in the midst of all this that can be engaged by fundamentalist Christians and atheists, by people of all faiths and none? If this cannot be, then the question must be asked whether there is any truth here at all.

As the terrible story unfolded around the Sydney siege, Rachael Jacobs journeyed on a train. She noticed a Muslim woman removing her headscarf. At the next station, Ms Jacobs felt compelled to reach out to the woman and let her know she had a friend in her. She then posted about her experience on her private Facebook page, which was shared by her friends; and so a hashtag was born, #illridewithyou. It was such a simple thing, one human reaching out to another, then another and another and then a whole community reaching out to another whole community. Some would call this a social media phenomenon, and they would be correct. Some would call it an act of corporate consciousness, and they too would be correct. For me, it is not only the movement of one human towards another, although it is certainly that, it is the movement of the more in that human towards the more in the other.

“But, wait there’s more!” For me it is also the movement of the Universal More towards the more in us. Now many will not feel the need to take that last step, but I remain unsatisfied without it.

So before some readers rush off to jam the switchboard of the Bishop’s office with more demands that I be burnt at the stake for heresy, while others quietly dismiss the ravings of just another religious nutter, perhaps we can all pause and consider a possibility.

Could it possibility be that if one archetypal human can embody both the immanent and the transcendent, then, perhaps so can we. If one archetypal human was made from both the dust of the earth and the dust of heaven, then, could it be that we are too. If in one archetypal person the yearning of the human and the universal can meet in an eruption of love, then, could the possibility of this exist in us?

For me Christmas is the “G” word, the Universal More, whispering ‘#illridewithyou’.