Lifestyle Choices

How easy it is to sit in judgement over other people’s lives.

We recently heard our own Prime Minister offering what seemed like a flippant judgement about the way in which some First Australians are living. By describing a whole way of being, anchored in spirituality, country and tradition as a ‘lifestyle choice’ demonstrated a lack of respect or appreciation for Indigenous Australians and their culture. Whatever was intended by this comment, it also showed a lack of respect for spirituality and cultural meaning more generally: elements that operates at a deeper level than Western economic forces or consumerist categories.

I had the recent privilege of seeing Sinead O’Connor in concert. She was angry, intense, powerful and fragile and she sang passionately about truth, God, the church, love, sex and relationships. Throughout the gig she wore a clerical collar and large cross around her neck.

As an ordained woman this struck me powerfully. I could imagine the kinds of judgements this clothing choice would draw from those in the wider church, especially Christian dominations that continue to deny ordination to people who are women. I was also aware of the likely judgements of those who think that the church is a primitive relic not fit for serious consideration by anyone with intellect.

Yet, Sinead wore her priestly clothes without explanation or apology. She inhabited her spirituality in a physical way that cut through the common stereotypes of our culture.

In the contemporary West it takes courage to stand against the forces of the market economy. It takes courage to choose to live in a way that says that there is more to life than consuming, competing, image and social status updates. It takes courage to choose to live a life grounded in the spiritual, open to the mysteries of the divine, and grounded in traditions that cannot be contained, quantified or monetised.

These are lifestyle choices that are worth more than words can say and I am grateful to all those who are choosing to live according to this different rhythm.

Rev Dr Sally Douglas