Liam Miller

I’m an Anglo-Australian living in Sydney, with a passion for theology and Avatar the Last Airbender. I’m the Uniting Church in Australia Chaplain at Macquarie University, and am completing an MDiv through Pilgrim Theological College. I live with my wife Heather, our daughter Shoshanna, my brother Tim, sister Hannah, and a dog named Zeus who’s afraid of thunder.

Ep07. Womanist Midrash, Wil Gafney

I sat down with Wil Gafney to talk about her new book Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne. We discuss what drew her to the Hebrew Bible, play some conceptual lightning round, ask her which woman from her book needs a major motion picture, discuss translation, the future of Womanist biblical studies, what its like to write a Biblical commentary, how the Hebrew Bible emphasis on remembering can inform contemporary debates about monuments and history, and I introduce a new segment centred on Amazon reviews… we talk about a LOT, and its a whole bunch of fun. Listen in iTunes

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A Responsible Christianity

With my work with the Uniting Church Chaplaincy at Macquarie University we have been exploring the idea of a responsible theology – an expression of the faith which is responsible to the world we find ourselves.

“Because, and this has long been pointed out, too much theology is irresponsible. Theologies of submission and sacrifice have guilted too many women into staying in abusive relationships. Theologies of God as powerful monarch have made synonymous the good character of God with the virtues and traits of white male authoritative figures. Too many sermons on salvation as rescue have fostered utilitarian and anthropocentric views toward the non-human world. And this doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about, for example, Christ’s sacrificial and self-giving love, it just means that we should keep in mind the dangers and walk the path responsibly, offering the odd caveat or clarification.”

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Ep06. Postcolonialism & Biblical Ethics, Mark Brett

I interviewed Mark G. Brett, the Professor of Old Testament and Research Coordinator at Whitley College, part of the University of Divinity, to talk about his recent book POLITICAL TRAUMA & HEALING: BIBLICAL ETHICS FOR A POSTCOLONIAL WORLD. 

We cover a lot! We do a conceptual rapid fire round, getting tweetable definitions for a host of complex terms. We talk about what postcolonialism offers conversations around secular democracy and human rights, we address the church, and its habit to fall into ethno-centrism, Mark explores how we begin to begin with Aboriginal voices, and the last 10 minutes is a can’t miss discussion on economics and Biblical ethics! Listen in iTunes

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Ep05. Race, Faith, & Comedy, Jonathan Braylock

“Comedy can teach us to let go a little bit and think about things in a new way, allow God to change us so we’re not stuck in one setting. I do that specifically with race right now.”

I talked with comedian and actor Jonathan Braylock, cohost of the excellent Black Men Can’t Jump (in Hollywood) Podcast. We discuss the podcast, diversity in Hollywood, trends and tropes in movies with Black leads. We also talk about his faith, comedy, and what a good laugh can teach the life of faith. And loads of other good stuff. Listen in iTunes

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Ep04. Challenging Racism in Church & Culture, Brandi Miller & Drew Hart

How are we to be Christian in the face of white supremacy… 

In the wake of Charlottesville this is a special “from the vault double feature”. Two interviews from last year with Brandi Miller and Drew Hart talking a black Jesus in a white church/society. These are powerful interviews that can be great resources in the ongoing resistance to white supremacy in the church and culture. Listen in iTunes

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LRR Ep03. Indigenous Art, Spirituality, and Faith, Narelle Urquhart

“Art can speak a different narrative over Aboriginal people, compared to what’s been spoken about us by others”

I spoke with Narelle Urquhart, brilliant Aboriginal artist and Indigenous Cultural Support Officer at Bond University. We discuss her emergence as an artist, her faith, what she hopes to capture with her work, the ongoing inequality that Aboriginal people face, working with young people, and the celebration of culture. Check out her work online (a quick google search will get you there). Listen in iTunes

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LRR Ep02, Explorations in Asian Christianity, Scott Sunquist

In this, our second episode, Liam is joined by Scott W Sunquist to talk about his book Explorations in Asian Christianity. We talk they why and how of studying Christian mission (including his excellent proposal of a cruciform and apostolic lens), discuss the multi-directional, complex, and fascinating story of the transmission of Christianity in Asia (spoiler: it’s much more complex than East to West), a theology for mission and migration, the question of unity in World Christianity, what story from world Christian history would Scott turn into a movie… and so much more! Listen in iTunes

“Christianity was born at the borderland of two empires, and at the confluence of three continents”

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LRR Ep01: A Very Good Gospel, Lisa Sharon Harper

“It’s not possible to say that you are under the Kingdom of God if you are ok with the image of God being crushed in your land”

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Welcome to the first episode of the Love Rinse Repeat Podcast. A podcast hosted by Liam Miller aiming to bring together fun interviews with dope theologians, practitioners, artists, and churchy folk. This first episode features an interview with Lisa Sharon Harper, Chief Church Engagement Officer at Sojourners and author of The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right.

This is a fun, inspiring, impassioned, and illuminating interview. Lisa walks her discovery that what she thought was good news wasn’t good enough to those who’ve suffered under oppression and injustice and the journey to find a thicker good news. We talk shalom, examples of communities embodying the kingdom, the image of God, colonisation, and more.

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To Hear Humanity Read Over Us

When the post-exilic community hear the Law of Moses read aloud they are moved to tears, what a thing to be reminded of your humanity after living amidst a dehumanising system/society. This piece explores James Cone, Slave Spirituals, Kendrick Lamar, and Sia as examples in this lineage of speaking humanity over the oppressed. It also asks what does it mean for me to be reminded of my humanity in a system designed to celebrate it above all else.

It is in the Law that they hear their humanity spoken over them. In the Law that they hear that they are created in God’s image, created for freedom not bondage, and that God is for them and not on the side of their vainglorious oppressors. What a thing that must be, when for 70 years you have heard (and witnessed) nothing but the opposite. What a thing it must be to hear that you are known, valued, and a person when the society around you has demonstrated their belief, in no uncertain terms, that you are lesser, disposable, a non-person.

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Advent! What do we do when the end is nigh?

From Y2K to Mayan 2012, Titanic to the movie 2012… how do we live in light of the end.

There seem to be two broad responses: 1) hoard and withdraw 2) intensify living. The second is the proper response for Christians, and when understood and embraced helps remind us (particularly in mainline traditions) of why focusing on the end is so important.

This was the model of the early church. The earliest believers tended to think that the end was nigh – that Jesus’ return would occur in their lifetime, or perhaps the generation after. However this did not send them off into the hills, this did not cause them to be insular, closed off, and withdrawn. Far from hording, it actually caused them to be joyfully generous with their possessions. The early church intensified their ethical engagement with the world; they upped their neighbourliness and outward focus. They sought to care for those marginalised by society – widows, orphans, lepers – they shared what they had, giving to all who had need, they devoted themselves to their cause, and to the one on whom it was grounded. The presumed immanence of the end empowered them to live boldly, to love boldly, to care boldly – because any difficulties, any struggles, anything they had to go without, would pale in comparison to what was coming. Rather than withdraw, they sought to witness and live out a rehearsal to the world that would be ushered in by the forthcoming end.

This post is based on a sermon I delivered at Forestville Uniting Church on the First Sunday of Advent, 2016.

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Awaiting a Response

Habakkuk’s prophetic book begins with a bang. Bursting open the doors of resigned apathy and quiet pietism by demanding of God a response to the violence and injustice he sees around him. I explore two responses, the first is direct from God, the second is found in Jesus’ interaction with Zacchaeus.

… how many of those under the thumb of Zacchaeus, who’ve had to go without because of the taxes he levied, how many of those oppressed by his economic exploitation found solidarity with the words of Habakkuk – how many, when they heard the scroll of Habakkuk read in Synagogue thought of the violence and injustice inflicted upon them and their community by Zacchaeus, and how many cried out to God hoping for a response… and here, Jesus embodies that response and brings change.

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SICARIO, and being sent in the midst of wolves

You will not survive here. You are not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves now. 

A reflection on the final line of the excellent film, SICARIO and Jesus’ sending of us into the midst of wolves. Why do we need the mix of dove and serpent, of shrewdness and innocence?

Serpents are wise to the ways of the wolves, to the darkness of the land, and because of that serpents can be subversive in their resistance, crafty in their struggle. The shrewdness of the serpents allows us to sidestep repaying like with like, of believing that the only way to stop a wolf is to become a wolf… 

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James Cone and #BlackLivesMatter

How James Cone’s ground-breaking, earth-shaking, woke-inducing, God of the Oppressed connects with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and speaks into (or against) the unfortunately too common response of ‘all lives matter’.

Image of James Cone speaking at the Rall Lectures in 1969 in the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful.

“Cone’s work grants a new perspective on those who criticise “Black Lives Matter”, insisting on the adoption of the ‘universal’, “All Lives Matter”. Cone (dealing with this before we had #’s) counters, that yes, all lives do matter, just as all are oppressed, but when the person contending that is not a member of the oppressed it becomes another way to silence those crying for liberation.”

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The Ghost of Grace: A Christmas Carol, Tillich, & Caputo

In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge receives three ghostly visitations awakening him to the separation that exists within himself (and and between he and others). Grace has a similar ghostly quality, it haunts and it spooks – provoking us out of our apathy with a call beyond ourselves.

In the event on the road to Damascus, was Saul not visited by a kind of ghost? His own Christmas ghost (or better yet, an Easter ghost)? Saul was spooked by a moment of grace, which struck him blind (– that led to his great awakening and the overcoming of his deepest separation –) and haunted him for the rest of his life. Grace struck Saul like an apocalypse rupturing his existence, separating old order from new life. But grace stuck around, as ghosts are prone to do, so that the haunting might remain. So that Paul would not be content to revert to Saul. Grace remained to spook Paul when he would not do the good he desired, but the evil he did not desire (Rom 7:19).

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Jesus the Trump Card

An extended reflection in two parts 1) why, despite the move away from Christianity and the church’s diminishing public influence, do people continue to employ Jesus as an argument in political and cultural debates. 2) With that background in mind, what positive claims about Jesus can we contribute to these discussions (in an attempt to save Jesus from becoming just another trump card).

Complexity is perhaps the most important contribution the church can make to discussions of Jesus and Christianity in the public sphere. Time and again, both Christians and non-Christians seek to win arguments by playing Jesus as a trump card. For the church, the best course of action may not be to challenge the Jesus trump card of the press with the Jesus trump card of the church, but rather to challenge the notion that Jesus is a trump card to begin with; that Jesus is an endorsement to be won. As we have explored, the memory of Jesus is deeply complex, rich in tradition and debate. For Christians who proclaim the risen Christ, Jesus is not a slogan, but the centre of a story, a living, breathing centre of a story, which began before time and has not ended. Perhaps we need to return to the efforts of Albert Schweitzer, and begin to counter the propensity of people to create a Jesus in their own image, by presenting pictures of the memory of Jesus; continual, full, and troublesome.

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