On August 21st, Carriageworks in Sydney was transformed into a Mad Hatter’s tea party of sorts. The Sydney Tea Festival is now in its third year and it’s an event that continues to go from strength to strength. In 2016 over 80 different stallholders came together to celebrate their love of Camellia Sinensis and offered tea for two and three, and more!



The festival consisted of several parts. There were workshops where people could learn about the origins and essentials of tea, about blending their own varieties and participate in a tea reading (or at one stall a “tongue” reading) to enhance their knowledge of themselves and how it relates back to tea. A chocolate pairing workshop allowed patrons to sample truffles from Koko Black along with different types of teas. There was also a cube where patrons could either participate or witness an ancient tea ceremony.




The main part of the festival was dedicated to a large tea market. These stalls were a buzzing hive of activity where ceramics and china were for sale alongside tea cosies (including Pokémon ones!) and various tea pots and tea wares. There were hundreds of different teas that visitors could sample in the ceramic mugs that were included in the ticket price. They also had the chance to purchase boxes of tea on the day. These included things like oolongs and spicy chais to smooth green teas and robust English Breakfasts and even a purple leaf Kenyan tea that was rich in antioxidants. There were teas that promised to alleviate the symptoms of gout, arthritis or anxiety, and another that claimed to help you quit smoking.




The Tea Cosy stall reminded us that cream and jam-topped scones and tea, are a match made in heaven. The amazing Black Star Pastry had lots of gorgeous sweet teats like a lychee cake, an orange cake with Persian figs and their famous strawberry watermelon cake. Other stallholders even added tea to their desserts like Rainbow Nourishments with their chai and blueberry cheesecake.




The Sydney Tea Festival is an annual event that takes place in August, while the Melbourne instalment occurs in May. The Sydney one saw thousands of people descend upon Carriageworks to learn and experience tea, along with some passionate and knowledgeable tea and dessert artisans, in what proved to be one fun day. There was a little something for everyone at this event which meant thatThe Sydney Tea Festival proved it could be everyone’s cup of tea.


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Q&A with Corinne Smith co-founder of Sydney Tea Festival and The Rabbit Hole Tea Bar

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and describe your involvement in the Sydney Tea Festival?
My name is Corinne Smith and I am one of the co-founders of the Festival. I also have a tea business called The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar.




2. How long have you been involved with the Sydney Tea Festival? How did you come to be involved?
I’ve been involved since the very inception as my co-founder, Renee Creer (fromPerfect South) used to sit around drinking tea, lamenting the lack of celebration of tea in Australia – which is how the concept for the tea festival was first hatched.




3. What is your favourite tea and why?
I’m an oolong fan. It’s my go-to, any time of the day or night tea and I love the variety. Within this one style of tea there are thousands of different variants and enormous breadth of flavour profiles. For someone who gets bored easily, I never tire of it!




4. What are you most looking forward to at Sydney Tea Festival? Why?
I’m looking forward to seeing all the new tea companies exhibiting for the first time. The industry is growing so fast and it’s really exciting to see the innovation happening.




5. Iced tea vs. hot tea and coffee vs. tea. What are your preferences and why?
Of course I have to say tea! I do drink coffee, but I max out on one cup a day before I start getting jittery. Tea, on the other hand I can drink almost intravenously and feel fantastic afterwards. I love hot tea in the cooler months but my go to in summer is one of our sparkling tea sodas.




6. The Tea Festival looks set to feature workshops and an interactive tea ceremony. Can you tell us more about this?
Absolutely. The workshops are an opportunity to discover more about tea. For those starting their journey, Tea Essentials and the Origins of Tea are where it’s at, hosted by renowned expert, David Lyons. For others, perhaps a peek into the world of tea leaf reading might hit the spot or even dabbling in blending your own tea.
The interactive tea ceremony will be an opportunity for festival-goers to experience the ancient tea ceremony ritual with a contemporary slant.




7. Why do you think people should attend the Sydney Tea Festival?
It’s a really great opportunity to discover a lot about tea in a very short space of time. There are so many knowledgeable people, passionate about great tea and ready to share that with you. For those who are already in love with the leaf, it’s an opportunity to get their hands on new blends and special Festival releases.




8. What do you think are the essential ingredients for a good tea? What ingredients should never be used to make tea?
Essential “ingredients” for good tea are quality leaves and the right amount of them, using the correct temperature and steeping for the correct time. In terms of what you can use to make a tea, really it’s only limited by your imagination, there are very few rules.




9. Is the temperature of the water important when making tea? I’ve heard that green tea requires one temperature while black requires another?
Absolutely. The lighter the tea (i.e. white, green or oolong tea), the cooler the water needs to be so as not to burn the leaves and to bring out excess astringency. Black teas and tisanes (herbal teas not actually containing the tea leaf, Camellia Sinensis) can tolerate boiling water with no trouble.




10. Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers of The Australia Times Gourmet magazine about the Sydney Tea Festival or tea in general?
This is tea but not as you know it. Come and discover specialty tea and explore what could be your new favourite drink.




Originally published on 28 September 2016 at the following website:

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Prince was an enigma. And after reading a biography like Prince: Purple Reign the artist formerly known as remains a real mystery. The book is by the accomplished music journalist Mick Wall, and while it presents some facts, anecdotes and chronology about Prince’s life, there are many aspects that are glossed over or omitted from this slender volume.

Wall begins the biography in an objectionable way, including the verbatim 911 call from Prince’s home by an unidentified male on the day the musician’s body was discovered. This biography is bookended by salicaceous text, because at the end also sees Wall speculating on Prince’s alleged addiction to pain killers and other drugs. Fortunately, the rest of the book seems to be more focused on the music and the art.

Purple Reign does not offer any new information for the diehard Prince Rogers Nelson fan (and it is these readers who will notice some glaring mistakes and omissions.) Instead, this biography relies on secondary sources like the few interviews the artist gave himself, as well as articles and books delivered by those closest to Prince. The story is by no means comprehensive, but it does at least present a straight-forward, easy-to-read chronology of the majority of Prince’s projects. This in itself is no mean feat considering how prolific this talented, composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was.

Mick Wall is no stranger to the world of music. He is a music fan through and through. He was also an early champion of Prince’s music as well as many other artists he wrote about in his decades spent working as a music journalist. Wall is also a prolific writer himself, having penned dozens of music biographies for the likes of AC/DC, Lou Reed, Metallica, Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam, to name a few. There is no question that Wall is an excellent writer who creates interesting sentences that are easy-to-read and follow, but these biographies do feel like they barely scratch the surface.

For casual fans, Purple Reign may satiate your appetite for learning about Prince’s background and the wider cultural context he operated in. There are some interesting moments where you learn about his quest for artistic freedom and his insatiable appetite for writing, recording and creating. But for those readers who want books with more in-depth analysis of their favourite artist, Purple Reign will leave them hungry for a book with more diamonds and pearls.

Originally published on 26 September 2016 at the following website:

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DNA Nation is a documentary that is both illuminating and frustrating. It’s an ambitious TV series that seeks to answer the question of who we are and where do we come from. This project will ultimately challenge our ideas of culture and identity but it is by no means perfect or definitive. Its main flaw is that it oversimplifies the science in favour of playing up what the filmmakers believe are the more “entertaining” aspects at the heart of the show.

The program is produced by Blackfella Films and it brings together the former athlete, Ian Thorpe, actress and Eurovision host, Julia Zemiro and former Great Outdoors presenter, Ernie Dingo. Zemiro has a vivacious presenting style but there are moments – particularly in the first episode with the Hadza people in Tanzania – where she is a tad patronising. Dingo on the other hand does an excellent job of connecting with the subjects that he is interviewing and he is very charismatic and likeable. There are moments where Thorpe looks like a fish out of water and he really seems to be outside of his comfort zone. This is particularly evident when he asks yet another long-winded question and seems forced when participating in activities (it’s almost like you can read his mind and see that this is something he does not want to do.)

Episode two sees the group travelling to Kenya for an archaeology lesson because this is where the oldest human remains were found. In episode three the presenters’ stories diverge. Thorpe and Zemiro travel to North Israel and Turkey before the former travels to the nomadic herders of Kurdistan before eventually settling in Scotland, while Zemiro learns about Phoenicians in Sardinia and meets her genetic equal in England. Ernie on the other hand goes to India and Timor-Leste and eventually winds up in the Australian outback where he learns that 1600 generations of his family have lived in Western Australia.

This TV show wants to delve deeper than a series like Who Do You Think You Are? to get a sense of human evolution and to highlight our similarities and differences. This documentary does have some interesting moments but there are other times where the science feels too dumbed down and some of the presenters are too cringeworthy to really make an interesting point. This series was a great idea and the premise was good but ultimately it was let down by some problems in its evolution. Geddit?

Originally published on 22 September 2016 at the following website:

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Graeme Simsion had lots of inspiration he could draw upon for the socially-challenged professor character (Don Tillman) in his novel, The Rosie Project. Simsion is a self-confessed “escapee” from the world of IT. For over 30 years he worked with computers and he’s also studied and taught science at University. These experiences have all helped shape his books, even if this is sometimes in an inadvertent way.

His latest novel, The Best of Adam Sharp looks poised to take a slightly different direction. This book is a first person narrative about a man grappling with the girl that got away. It’s a reflection on love, life and regrets and it even has its own Spotify playlist to help set the tone for the reader. We sat down with Simsion to have a chat about music, his work with his wife and fellow author (Anne Buist) and how Adam Sharp is being realised as an audiobook.

Can you briefly describe yourself and tell us how long you’ve been working as a writer?

I’m an escapee from the IT industry, where I spent 30 years and I wrote a couple of books on database specification. I didn’t start writing fiction ‘til ten years ago, when I enrolled in a screenwriting course, which led to a novel-writing course… My first novel, The Rosie Project, was published in 2013.

Your novel The Rosie Project was a big success. Where did you get the inspiration for the socially-challenged professor, Don Tillman?

I told you, I spent 30 years working in IT. And before that, I studied physics. I have a PhD in a science faculty and have taught at universities. I had plenty of inspiration for a socially-challenged scientist.

Your latest novel is called The Best of Adam Sharp. Can you briefly describe this book for us?

It’s about a love affair rekindled. Adam Sharp has never truly let go of the “one that got away”, the Great Love of his Life. So when she gets in touch 22 years after they met, he has some decisions to make. Like what to do about the 20-year relationship he’s in.

It’s about the nature of love and how we deal with the past. And it’s full of classic rock music – because Adam’s a pianist and rock-music lover.

The Best of Adam Sharp is about love, life and regrets in middle age. Why do you think readers should read this book?

Because they care about love, life and the things they might have done. My early readers tell me it’s compelling reading (which I’m always aiming for), moving and funny, and leaves them thinking. And the music references will bring back memories.

The Best Of Adam Sharp sounds like it has a few things in common with Alain de Botton’s work. Are you influenced by other writers and if so, who are they?

Well, in his latest book, he looks at the nature of love, and so do I, through Adam, who has to choose between what the psychologist Robert Sternberg would call “companionate” love with his long-term partner and passionate love with his old flame.

I’m influenced by many, many writers, every writer I’ve read, I suppose, and I’ve read a few! I don’t want to mislead readers though – to say I’ve been influenced by Albert Camus is not to say that reading Adam Sharp is like reading Camus. It’s more John Irving, John Fowles, Nick Hornby…

Can you please explain how the audiobook of The Best of Adam Sharp was important in bringing the characters to life?

Well, Adam Sharp’s Northern England accent was an important feature of his characterisation, so it was important that the reader could manage that! An Aussie accent (for him) would have been all wrong. But his Great Love is Australian and the reader had to get that right too without overplaying it.

It’s a first person narrative, and reader David Barker makes us feel as if we’re sitting at the dinner table or in the bar and he’s telling us a story – it’s a lovely way to experience the book and totally in line with what I was reaching for. A lot of women (my wife included) find Northern accents pretty sexy, so that may be a bonus!

You are a fellow of the Australian Computer Society and you have a PhD in data modelling. How difficult was it to transition away from your work in analytics to writing fiction?

And you’ve been looking at my Wikipedia entry. My ACS fellowship has expired!

It wasn’t any more difficult than any transition to another profession is going to be, and I took more with me than you might imagine. I studied creativity in my PhD – really useful stuff for a writer – I learned how to manage complex writing projects and I developed working practices that have stood me in good stead. The most important thing I learned from working in another profession was how long it takes to become expert. I tackled the transition with that in mind.

Who are some of your favourite authors? and Why?

My wife, Anne Buist, author of Medea’s Curse and Dangerous to Know and a swag of erotic fiction under the name Simone Sinna.

Seriously, this is such a hard question. I used to follow individual authors, reading all they wrote, but these days I tend to go from book to book – and I don’t have as much time for reading as I’d like.

Some authors have been important in my past (as a teen I read the leading science fiction authors) but I wouldn’t read them today. The last three books I read were Music and Freedom by Zoe Morrison, Love Life by Zeruya Shalev and The Original Ginny Moon in proof by Benjamin Ludwig – a real mixed bag.

The Sydney Morning Herald said that you are planning to write a novel with your wife Anne Buist about a man and a woman who meet on a famous pilgrim work through France and Spain. How is this coming along and can you tell us any more about it?

The SMH was correct. It’s coming along really well – and I’m working on it right now. The working title is Left Right and it will be alternating chapters from the male and female protagonists’ points of view. Anne is writing the female part and I’m writing the male – we thought we’d keep it simple! It’s a romantic comedy, but hopefully, like The Rosie Project, there will be more to it if people want to look. Publication late 2017, we’re thinking.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Expect to put in the amount and type of effort that would be required if you were learning any other profession: architecture, neurosurgery… database design.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers of The AU Review about The Best of Adam Sharp or your other projects?

Get hold of the Spotify playlist for The Best of Adam Sharp  and listen to it before you read or listen to the book.

I tried to do something unusual by creating a soundtrack to the novel and this will give you the best chance of experiencing what I was aiming for.

The Best of Adam Sharp is available now as an Audiobook through You can also get a print version of the book, which is available now through Text Publishing.

Originally published on 21 September 2016 at the following website:

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Wai Chim’s novel, Freedom Swimmer may be a work of fiction but it’s based on an amazing true story. It tells the tale of two unlikely friends who embark on a treacherous swim from mainland China to Hong Kong in order to escape the oppression of living under the communist rule of Chairman Mao Zedong. The story is ultimately an incredible and inspiring one that will get us thinking and talking about an important chapter in history (and unfortunately one where millions of people died.)

The book is Chim’s first foray into the world of young adult literature but it isn’t her first story to be set in China. Chim has successfully written The Chook Chook series for younger readers. In Freedom Swimmer she writes a first-person narrative where the perspective shifts between the shy, orphaned peasant boy Ming and the suave and educated city boy, Li. The book opens with some tragedy for Ming- his mother has died from starvation and this has left him an orphan. He is all alone but he does receive some kindness and compassion from a local village girl named Fei.

In 1968 the boys from the village are left to work hard in the fields and survive on a meagre diet of rations. Eventually they are joined by a group of young upstarts from the city that includes Li. This new group are teenage members of Mao’s red guards and they have come to the countryside to help spread the word for the Communist Party’s re-education program. At first the differences between the two groups are stark but over time Ming and Li bond over their harsh circumstances. The pair eventually decide that they need to escape and that they should undertake a difficult swim through shark-infested waters and oceans that are patrolled by cruel guards. What happens next is in their destiny.

Freedom Swimmer shares a few things in common with Alice Pung’s Her Father’s Daughter and Micheline Lee’s The Healing Party. In the case of the former, both authors draw inspiration from their father’s harsh childhoods in order to make us stop, re-think and count our blessings. In the case of the latter, both novels deal with poignant and meaningful topics but also manage to tell their stories through light and easy language.

In Freedom Swimmer Wai Chim manages to negotiate a potential minefield and handle some difficult subjects with a deft touch.  This story is ultimately an inspiring one about the resilience of the human spirit and how people can remain optimistic even in the face of darkness and oppression. In all, this book is an excellent one that packs a lot in and is basically like a punch to the heart.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit:





Fathers & Daughters is a sentimental film that shares a few things in common with a Nicholas Sparks movie. The story is a rather saccharine one where the love between a father and a young daughter and the same girl when she is all grown up with her new beau is explored and marked by some tragedies. This film ultimately tackles one too many stories and is a bit too smultzy for its own good.

The film begins in New York City in 1989. A gifted Pulitzer-Prize winning author (Russell Crowe) is involved in a car accident. His wife is killed and he is left facing the prospect of being a single father to his cute five year old daughter, Katie AKA “Potato Chip” (Kylie Rogers.) He also has to grieve and deal with other issues like epilepsy and challenges to his right for custody.

The story then flashes forward to 2014 where Katie is all grown-up and played by the gorgeous, Amanda Seyfried. Katie is becoming a therapist but she also has a very self-destructive streak. By day she forges a relationship with her young patient Lucy (Quvenzhané Wallis.) The latter is an intense mute girl who has some trust issues. But Katie wins her over by taking her to the park and coming out with crazy clangers like saying she wants to come back to life as a duck! In the evenings Katie drinks excessively and has one night stands with creepy men. Classy.

Katie looks like she is set on a downward spiral until she meets a fan of her father’s work (Aaron Paul Breaking Bad.) The pair start dating and their relationship has the expected ups and downs. This film also includes cameos from Octavia Spencer as Katie’s boss and Jane Fonda as a literary agent for Katie’s father. These supporting characters are rather underdeveloped and they seem rather cursory.

This story of a troubled writer grappling with his own demons as well as his adult daughter dealing with a fair share of her own seem on paper to be a decent enough premise. But in reality, this story lacks drama and tension. This then leaves the film feeling quite hollow and disposable. Fathers & Daughters ultimately has some good moments and some fine performances but the complete portrait is of one unconvincing family melodrama.

Originally published on 17 September 2016 at the following website:

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It’s interesting that in her debut novel specifically written for adults, award-winning Young Adult author Gayle Forman has picked such a mature and relatable topic. Leave Me is the story of an over-stressed, over-worked and under-appreciated mother of four-year-old twins who is forced to stop and re-evaluate her life. It’s a book that is easy-to-read and is likely to strike a chord with audiences who can see a little something of themselves in the main protagonist, even if they don’t always agree with her actions.

Maribeth Klein is a woman in her mid-40s. She is stuck in the rat race and continues going about her hectic schedule while ignoring the pains in her chest. This eventually develops into a full-blown heart attack and Klein subsequently requires emergency bypass surgery. Her mother flies in to join the family and assist with her recuperation. But instead of concentrating on her respite at home, Klein decides to pack her bags and run away/abandon her family.

This story is a very engaging one, particularly at the beginning where it is easy to relate to Klein’s role as a busy Mum working at a glossy magazine. She is a brave woman but she’s not always the most likeable or logical character. There will be some readers who will fail to understand how she could just get up and leave. Klein does embark on a journey of discovery of sorts thanks to spending time with her new young neighbours and having a flirtatious relationship with an older cardiologist. These supporting characters could have been a little more developed.

Leave Me is an interesting book about love, success, failure, dislocation, regret, fear and redemption. There is a little something we can all take away from this book, even if we don’t always agree with things or if we’re left a little dissatisfied with the questions left unanswered at the end. In all, this is one swift read that readers can connect with because at the end of the day this story is simply just a sign of the times.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit:




Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi is an excellent documentary and cautionary tale. It tells the story of a Brown University student who went missing in 2013 and how he was wrongly accused of being one of the Boston Marathon bombers. The film is a sensitive one about an amazing character and a sad indictment of social media and how a vocal few could turn into digital vigilantes and participate in a crazy witch-hunt.

The film is directed by former CNN journalist, Neal Broffman and written by Heather O’Neill. It is a story with lots of layers and depth. At the start we meet the family and friends of Sunil “Sunny” Tripathi. We learn that he was a kind person, talented musician and an intelligent student. He loved playing the saxophone and learning about philosophy. A beautiful portrait of him is developed through a series of home videos and photographs.

Sunil had difficulties at university and many believe he was suffering from depression. In March 2013 he left his apartment in Providence and he vanished. His family and friends launched a search party and reached out to people through social media and traditional broadcasters in order to find him. Sadly, this was largely to no avail.

On April 15 2013 the Boston Marathon bombing occurred and Tripathi’s elder brother and sister were there supporting a friend. Shortly afterwards the FBI released two blurry photographs of the suspects. An individual on Reddit falsely accused Tripathi as being one of the individuals in the pictures and all hell broke loose. The family were harassed by hungry journalists seeking an exclusive and the internet turned into the Wild West full of racist taunts and threats. The individuals online made huge leaps and presented unsubstantiated claims as fact and basically tried to punish Sunil even though we are supposed to treat individuals as innocent until proven guilty.

The filmmakers were unable to interview any of the people who wrongly accused Tripathi so this film can be a tad one-sided. But they do interview two representatives from Reddit and the users who made those hateful and ignorant comments have their writings shown in graphics that punctuate the film. The bloodthirsty journalists who left voicemails in the early hours of the morning are also represented through the audio they left on the Tripathi’s phones.

This story ultimately shows us the real Sunil Tripathi. He was an innocent, articulate and loving young man who was unfairly subjected to mob mentality and digital vigilantes. This is ultimately an emotional, thoughtful and important tale that will leave you frustrated and sad about our broken system and the internet in general.

Originally published on 15 September 2016 at the following website:

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It’s frightening to think that the events that are depicted in the documentary film, Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four happened at all, never mind as recently as in the 1990s. The film is a damning look at the trial and convictions of the San Antonio Four, a group of low-income homosexual Latina women who were accused of gang rape. The story is ultimately an important one about homophobia, prejudice and a miscarriage of justice.

In 1994 a pregnant Elizabeth Ramirez cared for her two nieces for one week at her apartment. The girls were Stephanie and Vanessa Limon and they were aged just seven and nine years old. The pair were looked after by their aunt and their aunt’s friends: Kristie Mayhugh, Anna Vasquez and Cassandra Rivera. Vasquez and Rivera were in a committed relationship and had been parenting the latter’s two children for some time.

The two Limon girls made allegations of rape against the four adult women. It was a rough time in America where homophobia was rife and the public were fascinated by stories of satanic worship, witchcraft and abuse. In some cases allegations of abuse were made against homosexuals and this film has some brief scenes about two other individuals who were charged with abuse around this same time and seems to indicate that they were charged for a large part because of their sexual orientation. After the bizarre trial of the San Antonio Four, Ramirez was sentenced to an eye-watering 37.5 years for multiple convictions while her friends received 15 years in prison for sexual assault and 10 years for indecency.

This film is a little like the Making A Murderer series in that it attempts to look at the lives of these four women before the alleged crime as well as the case and sentencing. The Netflix series is by far a more comprehensive and better organised one, but it is important to note that the 90 minutes here constitute the debut feature documentary by director and broadcaster, Deborah Esquenazi.What Southwest of Salem does do well is focusing on the heart-wrenching ramifications of the events (as two of the women were separated from their biological children and all of them from their families) and it allows the group to tell their story and maintain their innocence through candid interviews. In spite of being informative and providing some background, it does leave some questions unanswered.

The women were subsequently released (Vasquez in 2012 and the remaining three in 2013) after over a decade in prison. They were released after one of the alleged victims, Stephanie Martinez (née Limon) recanted her testimony. There was also new evidence from one of the expert witnesses Dr. Nancy Kellogg who admitted that advances in medical science had rendered her previous statements as false. The women were free but their rights are still curtailed and they are seeking exoneration. Their case is currently in the hands of the Texas Court of Appeals.

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four is a powerful documentary about a system that failed a marginalised group of four women. It’s a story that is demanding of your attention, particularly as it seemed to have alluded much of the media’s attention for some time. This film is ultimately a very emotional and visceral one where you will be angry about the past but hopeful about the future…

Originally published on 14 September 2016 at the following website:

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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:

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