by Fr. Rod Bower
There are twelve minutes and four seconds of my life of which I have no actual memory.
That is the length of time I stood on the stage at the International Convention Center in Sydney delivering my TEDx talk.
There seems to be a gap in the space/time continuum between the second the stage manager said ‘go’ to the moment my appointed minder asked ‘can I get you anything?’ It’s not that I am ‘unaccustomed to public speaking.’
I do it all the time. There was more than six months notice, weeks of preparation and days of rehearsals; it’s just that the bar is set so high.
There seems to be a focus and intensity to a TED talk that doesn’t exist in any other forum.
As I left the stage my response to my minders question was simple; ‘water,’ I was just so dry in the mouth that it’s a wonder that I could speak at all.
Perhaps that’s why TED talks are so popular; we are parched, thirsty for well-considered thoughts, honed arguments tested and reviewed reflections were deliberations have been distilled to their essence.
Presentations where we know people have given deep thought to their subject and have not only already been challenged on their content, but are willing to open themselves up to further criticism.
So there was TEDx and then came a book release.
As Kirsten put it “how could you ever imagine placing a message on your church sign could lead to these things?”
Kirsten asked me what inspired me to write the book. The question the strikes fear in the heart of most authors is this actual question. In my case, the superficial but truthful answer is “Penguin Random House asked me too.”
However, as I took up the challenge from the publisher a deeper and more complex reason emerged.
Outspoken became an answer to a parishioners question “Why are you different to all the other priests we have had in the parish before?”
Outspoken is the story of how I came to see that social order without justice is nothing more than tyranny and how and why I felt compelled to do something about it.
I hope that by telling my personal story, others may be inspired to reflect on their own stories and learn how order and justice might be better partners in the dance that leads to a more just society for all.
Because of my story, I see everything from the perspective of an outsider. This has given me a particular empathy for those who are marginalized by a society that values order over justice. I hope Outspoken contains something contagious for the reader and the world becomes infected with compassion.
From Penguin: “Dear Christians. Some PPL are gay. Get over it. Love God.’ On 24 July 2013, Anglican priest Rod Bower put up these words on the roadside sign of his Gosford parish church. Sparking a social media revolution. The post was shared thousands of times – suddenly the one-time butcher was on the public stage.
Today Fr Rod has close to 65,000 followers on social media. He uses this platform to raise questions about Australia’s corporate soul, to assert that we are all brothers and sisters – asylum seekers, Muslims, those identifying as LGBTI, Indigenous Australians …And for such messages, the death threats pour in. How did a shy adopted kid from the country become this steadfast conscience of our nation, preaching both peace and disruption? Part life story, part love story, part manifesto, Outspoken describes evolution as surprising as are Fr Rod’s views about Christianity.
Utterly frank, both philosophical and funny, this is a singular book by a singular person. It illuminates the life and work of the man behind those signs.” To get your copy go to: Penguin Books