The Weekend Australian - Review - - Viewpoints -

MICHAEL Sy­mons ( Re­view , June 2- 3) points out that gas­tron­omy has to be­come more than fine food pro­mo­tion, yet it is the food me­dia that fo­cuses on the aes­thet­ics of food rather than pro­vid­ing more cere­bral con­tent. Sy­mons iden­ti­fies a num­ber of out­stand­ing Aus­tralian food writ­ers, and there are many oth­ers, but where is their fo­rum? Danielle Gal­le­gos and Felicity New­man Mur­doch Univer­sity, West­ern Aus­tralia THANK you, Deb­o­rah Hope, for ‘‘ Life’s lit­er­ary land­marks’’ ( Re­view , May 19- 20), which I’ve just reread. While I was too im­ma­ture for D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love , my eroti­cism had come years ear­lier from my fa­ther’s copy of the banned Lady Chat­ter­ley’s Lover . The ex­is­ten­tial angst came from Gra­ham Greene, not Al­bert Ca­mus, but The Out­sider left an in­deli­ble im­pres­sion of a dif­fer­ent cast. Un­like you, I’ve never rec­om­mended books to our daugh­ter, but when I see her read­ing The God Delu­sion , per­haps I don’t need to. Murray Browne New Farm, Queens­land FRANK Bren­nan’s con­tri­bu­tion to the de­bate about the place of re­li­gion in pub­lic life ( Re­view , June 2- 3) is ad­mirably fair- minded but per­pet­u­ates two all- too- com­mon er­rors. The first is that re­li­gion is tac­itly equated to ei­ther Chris­tian­ity or monothe­ism ( usu­ally Chris­tian­ity, Is­lam and Ju­daism), whereas the six most pop­u­lar world reli­gions in­clude Hin­duism and Bud­dhism. Mak­ing this ex­plicit and in­clud­ing them in the ar­gu­ments au­to­mat­i­cally high­lights fea­tures that are spe­cific to monothe­ism. Prime among them is the monothe­ist’s claim there is only one God — their own, of course. The sec­ond er­ror is that the na­ture of fun­da­men­tal­ism is so poorly de­fined. Fun­da­men­tal­ists are merely un­der­stood to be bad. Again, in­clud­ing Hin­duism and Bud­dhism in com­par­isons helps us see that fun­da­men­tal­ism in the poi­sonous sense we know too well is due less to doc­trine than to power struc­tures, in fact to author­ity. Wher­ever there is one book that is de­clared be­yond de­bate, or one re­li­gious leader ( imam, pope, lama or guru) whose state­ments are de­clared in­fal­li­ble, the pos­si­bil­ity of pro­duc­tive dis­cus­sion be­tween be­liev­ers and non- be­liev­ers — or, thence, con­sen­sus or ac­com­mo­da­tion — van­ishes. Mal­colm Tat­ter­sall Townsville, Queens­land THANKS to Frank Bren­nan for his con­sid­ered re­sponse to the spate of anti- re­li­gious aca­demic tomes. If I may sug­gest a fur­ther cor­rec­tive, it is in re­gard to the use of the term fun­da­men­tal­ist. Bren­nan al­ways thought be­cause he was not a fun­da­men­tal­ist who used sim­plis­tic re­li­gion to but­tress vi­o­lent or un­demo­cratic ac­tion that he was not re­ally in the athe­is­tic gun sights. Now he knows bet­ter, but I fear the pe­jo­ra­tive use of fun­da­men­tal­ist is re­ally an at­tack on any Chris­tian who takes faith se­ri­ously, even though they do not sup­port vi­o­lence or op­pose democ­racy. It has be­come a word with­out proper def­i­ni­tion, im­plic­itly linked to the be­hav­iour of fun­da­men­tal­ist Is­lam, and its tar­get is not sim­ply some sim­i­larly ex­treme group of Chris­tians, but any group of Chris­tians who take their faith se­ri­ously. Gary Smitham Baulkham Hills, NSW

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