The 2021 May Maclod lecture will explore the theme, ‘Can religious history reframe how we imagine Australia now?’
Dr Merideth Lake will deliver the lecture on Monday 22 April at United Theological College.
Dr Lake is a historian, broadcaster, and award-winning writer interested in how Australians understand the big questions of faith and meaning.
She currently hosts Soul Search on ABC Radio National – a weekly show about the lived experience of religion and spirituality. She has also guest presented Compass.
In 2018, her book, The Bible in Australia, was released for the first time.
“The book first came out nearly three years ago,” Dr Lake said.
Since then, she said that she has,” watched with astonishment and delight the questions [the book] provoked.”
Since the book’s 2018 launch, the world has experienced the election of a Pentecostal Prime Minister, the Black Lives Matter movement, and Trump’s years as president.
A new edition of the book was released at the end of 2020. It features a new preface by the author, who details her own history of connection to the Bible and growing up as an Australian Christian.
“As a historian, I’m really interested in memory,” she said.
“When the book first came out, I remember going into my first interview about it.”
“I didn’t know what to say.”
“I’ve had to find words to what my own connection to the Bible is.”
“Christians have ways of remembering”
With the May Macleod lecture, Dr Lake said that she would be exploring what it meant to remember a nation’s history, and the ethical act of remembering it well.
“History wars have been tied in how nations and histories present themselves,” Dr Lake said.
Dr Lake mentioned the Uluru statement as one instance of a presentation of Australian history.
“What we remember, who we remember and with whom is so important,” Dr Lake said.
“Christian do have ways of remembering.”
In a nation like Australia, with a long and complex history of dispossession and discrimination against indigenous peoples, Dr Lake said there was a complexity for Christians who inhabit the space.
“How to be a Christian in Australia, an ancient place,” she said, was one of the topics that the lecture would wrestle with.
“I hope we listen well to each other,” she said.
“I do think history can help us with that conversation.”
The May Macleod lecture is an annual event that first began in 1989. Named after the late May Macleod (1913-1984), the lecture aims to bring theological insights to the wider church and to celebrate the church’s ministries.
The Bible in Australia is now available in bookstores.
The May Macleod lecture takes place at United Theological College on Monday, 22 April from 6:30pm to 9pm. To register, visit the Eventbrite page here.