Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Most evangelical Christians in Sydney, if not the world (I kid), have heard of Koorong Books. Koorong is only the spring point for this post.

When much younger and Koorong was in a couple of old shops in Rydedale Road I was an avid shopper there and reader of thus shopped books. Friends of mine lived in the flat above the shop. H was the manager, as I recall, and her husband R either a minister or still a student. I spent a lot of wonderful time with them, even helping out to unload shipping containers of books.

Koorong then had the feel of something slightly radical, conservatively subversive even, and Paul, the proprietor, had the air of mysterious mission about him with his ferociously hard work at running the business. It was near to the Christian equivalent of Gould's Book Arcade in Newtown.

The radical air came to my mind from the previous denizens of the premises (hoping my geography from the early 1970s is correct) The House of the New World, coordinated by John Hirt, a Uniting Church minister, who responded to the disaffection of young people from the church and mainstream society with his 'Christian Counter-Culture'. I silk screened some t-shirts for myself with the opposed arrow symbol. Hirt went on, I think, to be a chaplain at Sydney University.

For those who might remember, The House seemed to have similarities to Keith Green's Last Days Ministries in its approach to younger people, production of training materials and clubby atmosphere with an edge of vanguardism about it. All pretty good when one is younger. I was introduced to The House by the teacher who sponsored the ISCF group I was in.

Anyway, that's the spring point.

I grew friendly with one of the part time workers there, a fellow of about my age, very bright, incredibly well read, I thought, and personable. He introduced me to a couple of periodicals that fueled my thinking in those years...mid to late 70s, perhaps early 80s, it would have been.

They were Baptist Reformation Review, still going strong as Searching Together, and Verdict, a very strident curry to SDAism edited and mostly written by Robert Brinsmead. Brinsmead wrote material that absorbed me. It was complex, deeply thoughtful, but standing in SDAism, a little hard to come to grips with. My friend was very impressed with it. Brinsmead come to mind this evening, so I Googled him. His mission is now much changed, although some of his theology remains on the Internet.

BRR was arresting with its anti-puritan flavour, which Zens maintains. These jarred against the Puritan reprints from Banner of Truth that I read at the time.

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