television
ABC: Compass, Silma’s School; Peter Arden; Three Faces of Hope; Sisters of Charity
SBS: Trafficked
Catholic Church Television Australia:  All God’s Beggars; Me and a Camera + 70 Million Locals

books
Going to Heaven: The life and election of Bishop Gene Robinson
Oil and water: Two Faiths: One God
Virginity or Death!

ABC: Compass

ABC has what has been described as “a fantastic documentary” screening in early September on Compass. It is essentially a film that is a local Erin Brockovich story about an Anglo-Australian convert who discovers she's established her Muslim school on contaminated land.  The school loses a large amount of money and is struggling to survive.  Silma wants compensation - and to prove the Muslim community can get a fair go in Australia.

Silma's struggle for survival and justice is an intimate and important invitation into everyday Muslim life in the suburbs and provides a microcosm for many of the issues facing young Muslims growing up in the West.  It offers a unique perspective on the young Muslim community, such as the relationship of young Muslim boys to their mothers, the education system and fitting in prayers and lessons.

Largely observational in style, Silma’s School is said to be moving, funny and suspenseful.  Heralded as a cultural landmark, the film received a standing ovation at last year’s Sydney Film Festival, sold out in London and was a finalist in the New York Festivals’ television award.

Silma’s School will be screened on ABC on Sunday, September 3, at 10.05pm and on Thursday, September 7, at 11am.

Other programmes of interest to be screened soon on ABC are:

Peter Andren: A real believer (Compass, Sunday, September 10, at 10.15pm)  Federal MP Independent Peter Arden shares the values and principles that shape his life as a politician; how he does it and what sustains him along the way.

Three faces of hope (Compass, ABC2, September 1, 9.30am and 7pm) Compass follows a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian around schools and colleges of differing beliefs to respond to the difficult issues of inter-faith harmony.

Sisters of Charity (Compass, ABC2, September 8, 9.30am and 7pm) For 150 years the Sisters of Charity have engaged in welfare, hospital and education work in Australia. But with their numbers aging, how will the institutions they founded remain distinctive and different once the Sisters have gone?

SBS: Trafficked

This powerful documentary follows former police officer Chris Payne turned private investigator as he probes the shocking crime of trafficking for prostitution.   

Trafficked, SBS, Story Line Australia, Thursday, August 31, 8.30pm.

Catholic Church Television Australia

Two features to be presented by Catholic Church Television Australia, airing on Foxtel Digital's Aurora Channel are:

All God’s Beggars

This documentary was made with the assistance of the Asylum Seeker Centre in Sydney and Dandenong, Good Shepherd Sisters, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, the Christian Brothers and Actors for Refugees. They combinewith the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project and Jesuit Refugee Service to reflect on the effects of government policy on asylum seekers.

All God’s Beggars, Aurora Channel, Saturday, September 2, at 2pm.
    

Me and a Camera + 70 Million Locals

Caritas Australia is the Catholic Church’s official aid and development agency for the world’s poor. It belongs to the largest network of humanitarian relief agencies in the world, and is among the big five in Australia. One of Caritas’ works is to educate young people about development issues in the third world.

This film from Albert Street Productions makes the journey with a group of Catholic secondary students as they expose themselves to poverty in the Philippines, and to the reality of most people’s lives in the world.

Me and a Camera + 70 Million Locals: Aurora Channel, September 4, 8.30pm; 5, 2.30am, 9am, 2.30pm; 9, 1.30pm

Going to Heaven
The Life and Election of Bishop Gene Robinson
by Elizabeth Adams
Soft Skull Press, 2006
304pp

It may be an uniquely American success story: not long ago, who would have thought that the son of tobacco sharecroppers in Kentucky could be elected and ordained 56 years later as the first openly gay bishop in Christendom, finding himself at the centre of unprecedented positive and negative reaction in the religious world and beyond.

Gene Robinson’s life is a compelling story of challenges overcome by hard work, intelligence, humour, love, and deep faith. It is also a story of one man’s journey into his own “otherness”; of courage found and integrity retained; and the emergence of a ministry that speaks to countless people who believe in a Gospel of love and inclusion, and want the church to reflect that vision.

Through a lively text based on extensive interviews with Bishop Robinson, his closest associates, family, colleagues, and observers, and illustrated with photographs from all phases of his life, this book paints a portrait of Bishop Robinson not as a symbol but a human being who is, as he puts it, “neither the angel nor the devil some would make me out to be”.
   
It tells the story of the critical, central events of his election and consecration amid intense opposition, huge security concerns, and media attention. The book follows him through the next two years as he juggles dual roles—Bishop of New Hampshire, and symbol of gay achievement and the progressive church— while the opposition stirred by his election creates increasing pressure for schism in the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Communion worldwide.

The book concludes with a discussion of the deep theological and historical significance of Robinson’s election and personal vision for the future, and what this means for a Church seeking to be relevant in today’s world.

Elizabeth Adams has been granted unique, extraordinary access to Bishop Robinson and the events and people surrounding him and has been an observer, writer, and speaker for many years about the interface between religion and contemporary life and politics.     (read a chapter)

Oil & Water: Two Faiths: One God
by Amir Hussain
The Pilgrim Press
ISBN 1-896836-82-8
224 pp/softcover
scheduled release September 1

Cleveland, OH – The United States distributor of the Canadian-publisher, CopperHouse, has released an important new book during a time of increased anxiety about militant Islam in the wake of the thwarted bombing of London-based transatlantic flights and renewed conflict in the Middle East. 

The Pilgrim Press, based in Cleveland, Ohio, is the distributor of Oil & Water: Two Faiths: One God, by Muslim-scholar Amir Hussain, which is scheduled for official publication on September 1. 

Now a resident of California, Pakistani-born Canadian Muslim Amir Hussain confronts popular perceptions head-on.  In Oil & Water the author challenges readers to discover constructive and creative ways of relating with each other.

Says Marley Klaus, former 60 Minutes producer:  “Amir Hussain is a lucid, gentle, but provocative new voice, one that needs to be heard.  He offers fresh insight into the increasingly complex interplay of religion and society and is uniquely qualified to act as a bridge between the West and Islam.  For anyone who wants or needs to understand more about Islam and its relationship with Christianity, I can think of no better place to begin than with Oil & Water.”

Amir Hussain says:  “As a Muslim, I am deeply concerned about violence committed by Muslims, especially when it is done in the name of Islam.  However, as a Muslim, I also see the truth and beauty in my religion, and I choose to remain Muslim. As someone who loves to eat and cook, I know that oil and water can often be combined to produce delicious results. I see oil and water as necessary ingredients, not as mutually exclusive categories, which is why I have used them for my title.”

The author is associate professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. His area of specialty is the study of Islam, focusing on contemporary Muslim societies.  He received the Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.  Since September 11, 2001, he has given interviews and provided insight to various newspapers, magazines, and television media.

Virginity or Death!
by Katha Pollitt
Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2006
ISBN:  081297638X
288pp

Writer Katha Pollitt has been awarded a National Magazine Award, the US industry's highest honour.  Witty, astute and invariably logical, Pollitt's Nation column has been singled out as one of the key voices of the US, left with lively and penetrating dissections of America's most controversial political, social and cultural trends.

She also has a new collection of 84 taut and timely essays. Virginity or Death! displays the full range of this award-winning writer's indefatigable wit.  Read her most recent Nation column or read Sarah Goldstein's piece about the book:

“…Every other week, in the pages of this magazine, Katha Pollitt collects her thoughts in her column, Subject to Debate. To say that Pollitt's column is a hotbed of feminist polemic is only partly right. Each of her essays is a small marvel of anger leavened with wit. Armed with a sharp tongue and a broad interest in politics and culture, Pollitt is as likely to seriously critique Martha Stewart as she is to hilariously parody John Ashcroft…”  (continued)

 
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