Outspoken should be mandatory reading to begin a much-needed civil conversation around the issues that have threatened to tear this country apart for too many years now.
In 2013, Anglican priest, Father Rod Bower, became an internet sensation when he posted a pro-gay message on the signboard of his church in Gosford, NSW. It read: “Dear Christians. Some PPL are gay. Get over it. Love God.”
Photos of the sign went viral around the globe and Father Bower has since used that sign and the power of the internet to share his messages of unconditional love and social justice. In doing so, he has received threats and lost parishioners but also built a global stage to share his interpretation of the Christian bible – one of helping the poor and disadvantaged, and living as a community instead of living only for ourselves and those we know personally.
Outspoken is Father Bower’s story, beginning with his autobiography, then moving into a passionate and articulate discussion about social justice and how he believes the church should be leading the charge. He reviews the successes and failings of his faith and our politicians, particularly around asylum seekers and refugees. He discusses the crushing revelations of child abuse within the church, including from some people he once respected. He ties all his views back to the Christian bible, particularly on issues the Church openly opposed, such as the marriage equality debate in Australia.
Father Bower’s views seem to often be against the broader view of the church, which is far more conservative in its interpretation of the Bible, but his ability to remain true to his faith and spread his messages of equality and compassion without preaching to the masses is what makes his messages to accessible to everyone.
His writing style is easy to read, his passion is evident in his words, and his honesty is sometimes quite brutal. All this makes for a fascinating read, particularly when his own history provides some context to the man and leader he has become today.
Regardless of anyone’s personal views on the issues Father Rod Bower holds dear, Outspoken should be mandatory reading to begin a much-needed civil conversation around the issues that have threatened to tear this country apart for too many years now.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Distributed by: Penguin Random House Australia
Released: September 2018
RRP: $34.99 trade paperback