Did you know that more than 200,000 people died yesterday? Losses on this appalling scale, accompanied as they are by measureless human grief and misery, happen every day, every year. Some of those poor souls died of old age, but far too many died of preventable disease, hunger, thirst and brutal, pitiless violence.

How do I know this? Not by watching the ABC’s newscasts, or following CNN or any of the other single news source, but by doing a simple calculation on the back of an envelope. It’s based on an average human lifespan of 70 years.   That’s a generous estimate, so the real death toll was probably even higher.

I watch the news on TV every night, as most of us do. Sometimes it’s instructive to make a note of the main items. Single deaths, single near-deaths (if it’s a quiet news day), break-ins, fires, one or two items of international news glibly reported, a political altercation of two (especially if there’s a whiff of sex or corruption): that’s your ration.

The media are not to be blamed, of course, but such bulletins add nothing at all to my appreciation of my world. Worse, they can give me the impression that all is well on every other front, that ISIS is taking it easy, that minorities are not being pushed around, that all monies are being handled honestly.

If you want your death to stand out from all the others, try to meet the following criteria:

  1. Don’t die alone. Multiple deaths are always more attractive to a voracious public and the media.

  2. If you’re not an English speaker, ensure that most of those killed with you are. Better still, take care to die in a Western country.

  3. If possible your death should be a consequence of violence or structural collapse. Both offer splendid opportunities for blame and compensation, which is the big vote-winner.

Note that a violent perpetrator was probably not a bad guy really, but a victim of inadequate social services and education funding. If structural collapse was the cause a world of rich pickings lies open: land developers, politicians, architects, builders and electricians can all be targets for public outrage.

We in the privileged West are readily lulled into believing that we’re here forever and that death is avoidable, not inevitable. If someone we’re close to dies we prefer to think that it was somebody else’s fault. We don’t handle unforeseen tragedy at all well because we’re not used to it, and the media give us what we want.

The alert Christian will not lose sight of the big picture. We know that we live in a fallen world, that there are tares sown among the wheat, that death will come when it will but that Christ has redeemed us. We also know that Christians (and others) all over the world are being persecuted for their Faith and that every day some pay the ultimate price. Against the backdrop of reality, fitful and sensation-driven reporting is pathetically inadequate.


‘A WORLD WITHOUT CHRISTIANITY’ – What would a Post-Christian world look like?

The next Dawson Centre Colloquium will take place on 29-30 June 2018

The following have promised papers so far:

Hal Colebatch

Peter Cunich

Eric Lockett

Campbell Markham

Philippa Martyr

Erik Peacock

Karl Schmude

Margaret Somerville

Augusto Zimmermann

Nigel Zimmermann