Video Conversation #1: Where has God gone in people's lives today?

"Where has God gone in people's lives today?": Conversation #1

After months of planning we are pleased today to launch the first of our series of extended cyber conversations essentially discussing the future for religion in a world where most people seem to have lost interest, at least in the developed world. We hope this will not only be a conversation between experts — they're here to stimulate the conversation — but we want to hear your responses and opinions as well.

To set the ball rolling, we recently recorded a series of video conversations with four authors who have published recent books with incisive insights into some of the challenges being faced by the institutional Church today. Unfortunately our panellists are all males but we're going to seek to redress that in a subsequent series early next year, and we seek the input of women as well as men commenting on, or criticising, what is discussed in these videos. [See our further invitation at the bottom of this page.]

We will publish these videoed "conversation starters" each Monday for the next seven weeks with the exception of Christmas week. The first conversation today is a general introduction that helps introduce the entire series. In the following two weeks the panellists discuss in further detail some of their observations from their own research and books as to why such large numbers of people seem to have lost interest in institutionalised religion. The final three conversations, to be published after Christmas, will focus on the changing spiritual landscape. These authors would seem to share the common perception that while participation is declining interest in the spiritual or numinous side of life is very much alive. Their conversation in the final three programs focuses on how the spiritual landscape is changing in more positive ways.

The video today contains its own introduction to the panellists but we have also included further background information below on this page. We have also opened up a moderated discussion at the bottom of this page you can contribute your responses to the discussion. Hopefully there will also be contributions in our own more restricted forum for registered members.

Series Navigation: Conversation #1 | Conversation #2 | Conversation #3
Conversation #4 | Conversation #5 | Conversation #6

Watch the video conversation here or on YouTube

Series Navigation: Conversation #1 | Conversation #2 | Conversation #3
Conversation #4 | Conversation #5 | Conversation #6

Background Information about the Facilitator & Panellists...

Stephen Crittenden is one of Australia's leading religion journalists and presenters. He began his radio career as a schoolboy, broadcasting with Sydney's classical FM community radio station 2MBS-FM. After working as a policy officer in the NSW Cabinet Office (1986-88), he joined the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1989 as a reporter for ABC Radio Current Affairs. In 1995-96 he was the national arts correspondent for the 7.30 Report, and he later went on to be one of the presenters of Express, a weekly magazine arts program based in Melbourne. In 1999 he was appointed as Executive Producer of ABC Radio's Religion department, a post he held until the beginning of 2002 when he returned to a fulltime on air role as host of The Religion Report. In 2009 he became the Arts, Culture and Religion Correspondent for the online newspaper The Global Mail and now is a freelance writer and presenter for a range of publications including The Global Mail, The Guardian and National Catholic Reporter.

Stephen Crittenden
Eugene Stockton

Father Eugene Stockton has served as a parish priest and priest assistant to the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry (Parramatta Diocese). He has gained doctorates in theology and philosophy (Sydney) and a licentiate in sacred scripture (Rome). Lecturing for many years in the Catholic seminaries at Springwood and Manly, he has written widely on theology, spirituality, scripture, archaeology, anthropology and social issues. The book we will focus on in these conversations is titled "The Deep Within: Towards an Archetypal Theology"

The Deep Within
David Tacey

David Tacey is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the School of Communication, Arts and Critical Enquiry at La Trobe University, Australia. He is the author of five books on spirituality and culture, including Edge of the Sacred and ReEnchantment: The New Australian Spirituality. More at Wikipedia. The book we will focus on in these conversations is titled "Gods and Diseases: Making sense of our physical and mental wellbeing". Please Note: This is a different book to the one originally advertised on this page.

The Spirituality Revolution
Peter B. Todd

Peter B. Todd has been a research psychologist at the Neuropsychiatric Institute Sydney and a member of the Biopsychosocial AIDS Project at the University of California. His papers have appeared in the British Journal of Medical Psychology, the Griffith Review and the interdisciplinary journal Mind and Matter. He is currently a psychoanalytic psychologist in private practice in Sydney, Australia. The book we will focus on in these conversations is titled "The Individuation of God: Integrating science and religion"

The Individuation of God
Kevin Treston

Dr Kevin Treston has been a teacher, author and consultant in pastoral ministry for over 50 years in many countries including his own country, Australia. He obtained his PhD from the University of Notre Dame (Indiana), and pursued post-doctoral studies in Chicago, Boston and Washington. Kevin is a member of the Association of Practical Theology Oceania. He lives with his wife, Kathryn, in Brisbane, Australia. The book we will focus on in these conversations is titled "Emergence For Life Not Fall From Grace: Making Sense of the Jesus Story in the Light of Evolution"

Emergence For Life Not Fall From Grace

Click on the images of the book covers above for more information about the books!

Credits and Thank Yous...

The Conversations were recorded at Our Lady of the Nativity Primary School at Lawson in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, on Sunday, 17th November 2013. We extend our thanks to Michael Cowley, Principal, and the staff and community at Our Lady of the Nativity Primary School for the use of their facilities.

We extend our thanks to Stephen Crittenden and the panellists: Eugene Stockton, David Tacey, Peter Todd and Kevin Treston. The books of these authors are available from Amazon, Fishpond and The Book Depository through the Catholica Spiritual Marketplace [LINK]

Producer, Director, Editor: Brian Coyne
Video facilities & Main cameras: Vic O'Callaghan
Support Cameras: Phoebe Coyne & Brian Coyne
Sound: Steve Parsons
Additional facilities: Zoltan Budimcevic

With thanks to the Committee of the Blue Mountain Education & Research Trust: Eugene Stockton (founder), David Maguire (chair), Len Blahut, Brian Coyne, Anne Fitzgerald, Tony Griffin, Chris McGillion, Terry O'Donnell, Laurie Woods, Allan Walsh.

For assistance with catering and general assistance on the day of filming: Michael Cowley, Liz O'Callaghan, Carol & Len Blahut, Amanda McKenna, Allan Walsh.

Music by Amanda McKenna: "Breath of Creator" (composer & singer); "Theologica" (composer & performer).

People footage for opening titles sourced from Vadim I. Filimonov [].

Original Footage from the Hubble Space Telescope [] sourced from David Schombert's tribute video to the space telescope: [].

Do women have a different perspective on these matters?

As publisher of this initiative I have already explained on our forum and via email that initially we endeavoured to seek female input on the perspectives. For a complexity of reasons, including budget and time constrains it ended up as a conversation essentially between five males. We have all been acutely conscious of this shortcoming throughout our planning and the discussions themselves. To redress the imbalance we resolved that early in the new year as a follow-up to this series we will organise a fresh initiative seeking exploration of the territory we're discussing in these conversation with a bias towards betting the female perspective. At this stage we are open to suggestions from readers about how to best proceed with this. As discussed on our forum, it might not necessarily just be by a repeat of the conversations we're now having but with a bunch of women. It might be via some different documentary-type form. Presuming the contrinued financial support of our donors and sponsors we are open to committing funds to the exporation of spirituality from the female perspective in either similar, or complementary ways, to what we're attempting to do in this present series.

Series Navigation: Conversation #1 | Conversation #2 | Conversation #3
Conversation #4 | Conversation #5 | Conversation #6

Brian Coyne, Editor 1 Dec 2013

An invitation to be part of a very special conversation: Catholica and the Blue Mountain Education & Research Trust presents a conversation with four leading writers exploring changing perceptions of faith and belief in our world today.

What are your thoughts on this commentary?
You can contribute to the discussion in our forum.

©2013Brian Coyne

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