Simon Smart

Director of Centre for Public Christianity, author and social commentator

Simon Smart is Executive Director of the Centre for Public Christianity.  A former English and History teacher, Simon has a Masters in Christian Studies from Regent College, Vancouver. He is the author of For God’s Sake: An Atheist, a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim Debate Religion, and was co-presenter and co-writer of the historical documentary For the Love of God: How the church is better and worse than you ever imagined. Simon’s writing has appeared in such places as The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC, The Australian, and The Guardian. He lives on Sydney’s northern beaches and is an inept but enthusiastic surfer.

Glorious Ruins: The image of God and human value

Contemporary thought presents human beings as material objects (‘I am my brain’), a consumer of goods and experiences (‘I buy therefore I am’) or autonomous individuals (‘I am the author of my destiny’). These descriptors, however, are profoundly unsatisfying and inevitably reduce the complexity of human life and experience.

The Christian vision, that has profoundly shaped our understanding of the value of the human person, is extreme and sobering, and yet extraordinarily uplifting.

What has been Christianity’s contribution to our understanding of who we are as human beings? Where has this vision taken us and what difference has it made? This session will survey some triumphs and catastrophes of Christian history, while highlighting the rich and utterly unique claim that Christianity makes of all human life: that each person is made in the image of God.

Elective: Charged with Grandeur of God

While increasing numbers of us claim “no religion” and speak as if our faith ultimately rests in science and materialism, our longing for transcendence clearly has not left us. Where does this longing come from? What does it tell us about ourselves and what it is to be human?

This session will consider the way we are attuned to the non-material and yet vital aspects of life expressed in music, and art and literature, as a way of finding connections to the Christian story. Can our desire for transcendence open us to Christian faith? How might this be a point of connection with the public estranged from the church?