As the CEO of the World Vision charity, Tim Costello AO has often had to discuss faith. His latest book also deals with the topic of belief and how it can be used to highlight the things that humanity has in common as well as offering a vehicle for reconciliation and hope. This series of short essays is a mix of philosophy, morality, religion and inspiration as well as observations and quotes that seem more like pure memoir. Faith is not the kind of book you can skim through quickly. It is a disarming read where you need to pause, reflect and discuss the bigger issues with other people.
Costello is a Baptist minister who has had an impressive career in advocacy, social justice, charity and politics. He is the brother of Australia’s former Treasurer, Peter Costello but Tim’s ideology is more unashamedly Christian in focus. This collection of writings is not too dissimilar to Morgan Freeman’s The Story Of God documentary series in that it draws our attention to the things that individuals of different faiths have in common, even if it is little more than a belief in a higher being or power.
It is interesting that this collection is not too sanctimonious or preachy. Costello is honest and forthcoming in his admission that he is occasionally fed up with faith. He also says that he faces ire from the two opposing sides after speaking engagements because the secularists want him to dial down the spiritual elements while religious people think he should do more to emphasise his beliefs. What he does do well is talk about the importance of faith and inclusiveness while framing it through significant contemporary issues like: corruption, war, refugees, global warming and poverty.
In Faith, Tim Costello offers us some interesting food for thought about ideology, faith, human compassion and hope. He describes our first-world problems and the “soul sickness” that is permeating the affluent and manifesting itself in the high incidence of mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and high suicide rates. But perhaps the most fundamental message is that instead of comparing up and trying to keep up with the Joneses, Costello tells us we should compare down and count our blessings. It’s an important idea in our blasé modern world and one that should resonate with people irrespective of their beliefs.
Originally published on 9 September 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/book-review-faith-by-tim-costello/
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