It keeps coming up on QandA

Hi, I’m back! I don’t know how long for but here is my attempt at a blog post, my first in a number of months.

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So I used to watch QandA, a live panel discussion program from the Government Station ABC. I’ve stopped watching it, it’s not good for my health. It’s a show, that more times than not, puts a capital S in Sound bite. This is partly due to the pace of the show and the need to get through as many audience questions as possible, but also because you have panellists who are expected to give an answer even if they have very little, to no clue, about said topic. So questions that often require a fairly robust thought out answer generally get a one sentence surface level one instead.

Secondly QandA is a show of polarisation, often inviting panellists who hold extreme opposite views to each other, I assume to encourage passionate discussion. I suppose why would you watch the show if it was just a back slapping exercise, “Oh that’s exactly what I was going to say”, “Oh me too”, “Yay”.

So it’s not a backslapping session it’s a show of opposites; Liberal MP vs Labour MP, Mining Magnate vs Conservation Guru, etc. But really, the militant Atheist vs the militant ultra conservative fundamental Christian is never going to be a good mix.

And as is so often the case discussion goes from being measured, thoughtful, and reasoned, to silliness and sound bites. Panellists sling words with no real substance at each other in an attempt to win the jeering crowd’s affection and approval. Words are tossed back and forth because how dare the other person say that about my position on an issue, etc.

Anyway enough of why I’ve stopped watching the show, As I was flicking channels on Monday I stumbled across QandA and managed to watch a few minute before having to change the channel again. And during that few minutes I noticed something quite interesting.

For a proudly secular nation, who has allegedly grown up and moved away from the childish notion of religion,there seems to be a lot of talk about it.

It’s not often that an episode, even when there is no religious specialist on, doesn’t talk about religion. Now all this talk about religion is not necessarily positive. Questioners often ask loaded questions aimed at making religion look dumb and at worse down right offensive.

However my observation still stands, regardless of whether or not people are for or against religion, people can’t seem to let it go. I want to know why?

Part of me wonders if there is an uneasiness about religion and God. Maybe people can’t seem to reconcile religion’s popularity and the nonsense of it. Maybe people can’t seem to understand why Christians hold to certain view points when said view points are outdated and backward.

Maybe, just maybe, people ask questions about religion because there is something that just doesn’t add up with secularism and religion might have an answer. Maybe people have heard bits and pieces, good bits and pieces, about Jesus and yet what they see of so called Jesus followers is something very different. Maybe people want to know why so many people declare their allegiance to a man that lived 2000 years ago.

What ever the reason for this fascination, the fascination still exists. And I wonder if the QandA audience is representative of a larger audience at home, with this same fascination whether condemning or inquisitive.

Really what we need is Jesus to sit on the QandA panel and answer questions directly and the audience can have all their questions and concerns answered by the guy whose responsible for all this commotion.However I don’t think this is going to happen. The scary thing is it doesn’t need to happen because…

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV)

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:19–20 NIV)

Just some thoughts.

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6 thoughts on “It keeps coming up on QandA

  1. Hi mate
    This tallies well with my experience on the streets of Midland yesterday doing.. GASP .. doorknocking. Lots of very inquisitive people and good conversations. The interest level was high. (I don’t watch QandA anymore either for the same reasons you don’t, and am crying out for a great show in that style, but with more nuance and less circus).

    1. It’s good to know I am not alone in my feelings towards QandA. And it’s also good to hear that QandA audience inquisitiveness is also being seen in the community. Do you find a common concern/question that keeps coming up as you door knock?

      1. Yep – how can there be a God if….? Lots of questions have to do with caricatures of Christianity rather than the real thing. I’m gonna write a blog post about it today actually, and in light of your post, will link it to yours

      2. Thanks for the shout out! I like that, “caricatures of Christianity” well put. Unfortunately it comes from the outside and is so often confirmed from the inside. Misrepresenting what Jesus was really all about. Often arguments are based on hearsay hence conversations that are less about circus are so important (and a life that doesn’t scream too much hypocrisy).

  2. Hi Ben, thanks for the thoughtful, nuanced post above. I came here on the Steve McAlpine’s link on his FB page. Agree about Q&A. Not good for my health or growth in godliness.

    I have worked with Uni students as a campus staffworker for close to 10 years. Many of the students I have come across had a fascination with the God question, the meaning of life and the man Jesus, but they could not stomach the institutional visible church, its history and many a religious person. My view on this is that sometimes its due to caricatures but on the whole I think we have given them/and continue to give them plenty of ammunition.

    Think about the current situation. If you’re a Q&A audience members type who gives a toss about these sort of questions what are you seeing on the news/social space these days. On the one hand the never ending disgusting saga of the church’s involvement in perpetrating and then covering up/excusing/minimising child sexual abuse and on the other hand strident religious voices wanting to tell people who they can and cannot marry. I just don’t see how the church/christians has any moral authority whatsoever. Watching Cardinal George Pell on live ABC 24 TV news the other day was excruciating. There he was with the whole nation watching mumbling something about “…not under my jurisdiction….I have limited jurisdiction…I am not the prime-minister of the Catholic Church…we have a flat structure…” Sigh..My understanding is that the Protestant traditions haven’t fared much better in this sad situation, whether Anglican, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc…

    I do think though that the best antidote to all this is for people to actually meet a decent follower of Jesus like Steve M (not perfect but a pretty good bloke 🙂 and have honest conversations, build relationship and hopefully get to share life with them. However, in the impersonal public space, having the kinds of discussions we see in Q&A…that’s never going to go well. There’s no future in those situations.But that is not because people are reacting to caricatures – those christians/situations they’re reacting to are only too real and sad. Rather its because they get to meet and know a christian who provides them with an in the flesh alternative to what they’ve seen/experienced/come across up to that point. That’s exactly what this lapsed Catholic said to me a few years back. He was my wife’s boss at the time and he had grown up under a mother who was deeply and devoutly Catholic but who would come home from mass and beat her son for the smallest infractions. Needless to say her son grew up wanting nothing to do with God/church/christianity. Having met us, after 4 years of conversations at work functions as we were about to leave Perth to head over to Sydney he turned to me and said – “well I now have known a bad christian and a good christian”. Not that I ever was nor considered myself a “good christian” but I guess the bar was set pretty low – as long as I treated him with respect, showed concern for him and engaged him in conversations he was comfortable with then I guess that’s all that was needed.

    Anyway, that’s enough from me. Sorry for the overly long comment.
    All the best

    Rob R

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