I’m enchanted by Peter Garrett, the gravel-voiced retired rock singer of the Aussie band Midnight Oil and now Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth in Australia. He’s a Christian who’s determined to bring his faith to bear on his culture–to transform it out of the strength of his convictions. He’s certainly no perfect Christian. I’m sure he’s done or said things in his young, activist days that would make some Christians uncomfortable–and even now as an Australian politician he’s probably not making friends–particularly with political opponents.
Why have I been thinking about Peter Garrett this week? Blame my long grass. As I mowed the lawn on Monday and listened to my playlist of Midnight Oil tunes, I was struck by the fact that Garrett unapologetically pounded the issues of injustice sparked by his faith: the systemic wrongs done to Aborigines (the original peoples of ancient Australia…) and the destruction wreaked on the environment by human carelessness. Garrett used his fame as both an outspoken activist and devoted Christian. As he once challenged his nation to change in the song “Beds are Burning”,
“The time has come
To say fair’s fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share
The time has come
A fact’s a fact
It belongs to them
Let’s give it back
How can we dance when our earth is turning?
How do we sleep while our beds are burning?”
I’ll never be as famous as Peter Garrett, but I hope my own faith in Christ is transparent enough with my neighbors and before my own children to not sit idly by and allow my culture’s beliefs to shape and form both me and them. This is where I have real leverage to create change through how we live and raise our children together. I still want to “kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight” (Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers In A Dangerous Time” 1991).
My leg twitches as a dad when my kids interact with media in our home–and we don’t even have cable. Perhaps I’m hyper-conservative, but I cringe sometimes at the messages directed at my kids through supposedly “G-rated” content–particularly about guy/girl relationships or the less-and-less discreet LGBT agenda (among many other things…).
When I say nothing to my kids, I speak very loudly.
I may never be able to leverage broad societal change out of the strength of my Christian convictions, but I’ll pray for it. And I can’t help but long for more men like Peter Garrett using the platform God has given them, to stand up for what is right and biblically true, no matter what stories or judgments are out there about Christians and Christianity (many of them justified, unfortunately).
We may never live to see it but the greatest way to paint broad brushstrokes of societal change starts in our homes with our children. Like it or not, that’s the spirit in which our country was founded–we just stopped speaking up for Christ and living Him out along the way in defense of the gospel with the young ones around us.
So like Peter Garrett, given the circumstances God has given us, as Chrysostom reminded me in my devotional book this morning,
“Make your journey to Jesus. It is not far to travel if we are willing to make the trip. We need not cross the sea or climb the mountain crests…You can see him without leaving home, you can tear down the whole wall, remove every obstacle and shorten the length of the journey. As the prophet said, “I am the God near at hand and not a God afar off” and, “The Lord is close to all who call on him in truth.” (Against the Anomoeans 6.34)
For today, Peter Garrett’s my latest example of godly enchantment–an individual determined to transform his culture for Christ with the opportunities God has provided for him. If you’d like to know more about Peter Garrett, here’s a link to an in-depth interview he gave to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2009.
How about you? I invite you to share an example of a Christian who inspires or enchants you as a reply to this post.