I drove a taxi while at Moore College. All up, I drove for about six years.
Quite frankly, I needed the money.
And yet, I discovered two significant things about the Australian cultural landscape.
1. The first thing is how secular our individual ethics are. Most of us ‘make it up as we go along’.
For some reason, people think of a cabbie as being invisible (if in the back seat) and as a priest (if in the front seat). So I listened to people as they figured out their sexual ethics between Kirribilli and Killara. I brokered arguments from Wynyard to Strathfield. One boomer shed tears from King’s Cross to Five Dock about ‘killing a man’ (he was referring to Vietnam). I left a semi-famous television presenter drunk on his front yard while insisting to me over and over ‘Do you know who I am?!’ I listened to men boldly lie to their wives about their whereabouts. Most heartbreakingly, one woman hadn’t told her parents over Christmas that she was working in a brothel.
The truth is, of course, that all these people were very normal. Very nice. And very Aussie.
2. The other thing I learnt: the city is profoundly not-Christian. Many of my customers found out that I was a Christian (I was studying theology), and yet over a period of six years, I would have had only four or five say that they were Christian. The rest looked at me blankly, as though I was a dinosaur of Old Europe.
I think that the old term ‘post-Christian’ describes Australia (if we ever were). A friend thinks that if you want to reach Sydney for Jesus, you’ve got to think of her as being Paris. Christian-no-more.
Mark Driscoll often says that Seattle is one of the least-churched parts of the US (‘More Dogs than Christians’ etc). But I preached in Portland last year, and people were engaging in conversation with me all night about Jesus. I realised then that even in the Pacific North West, Christianity is still part of the American national dialogue. We have no such dialogue.
So, all of us who are interested in winning Sydney for Christ:
1. Is Australia a Christian Nation? And does this matter?
2. Is it worth fostering a ‘national dialogue’?
3. How do you speak into such a secular culture?
I’m here on York St.
Give us a clue.
Or comment over HERE.
Pic on Flikr by rtse.