Father Rod Bower, Archdeacon of the Central Coast in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle, is the subject of a new documentary called The Troublesome Priest.
A synopsis of the new documentary on the Documentary Foundation Australia website said: “Father Rod Bower…is famous for his church signs which regularly go viral around the world via social media.
“The Troublesome Priest explores the man behind the sign, revealing why this complex yet simple man lives on the fringe of his church, and why he speaks out when so many others remain silent.”
Father Bower and the documentary’s director and writer, Ms Kay Harrison, were recently interviewed by Mr Scott Levi on ABC Radio Central Coast.
Ms Harrison said she had been filming footage for the documentary for the past 18 months.
“The film is talking about who God is and what God is and the idea that God is not a being, but God is being, itself,” Ms Harrison said.
Father Bower expanded on the theme of God as a “doing word”.
“I guess at the essence of what we do is reflecting a divinity that is an act, an act of being, a verb, and compassion of course is a verb, we’ve got to do it and so the film is very much about that,” Father Bower said.
“It focuses on one aspect of our work and that it is in the refugee area and the area of the ‘otherisation’ that goes on in our community, and trying to speak into that and address that, how we actually project all our stuff onto a minority group in our community, and how damaging that can be.”
Father Bower said scapegoating was “a terribly damaging thing to do.
“It is a biblical concept that goes right back into the Judeo Christian narrative, and when we start scapegoating people in our modern communities, it is an incredibly painful and damaging thing to do to them, and to do to ourselves, so the film addresses some of those really important issues in our communal life today.
“Hate and anger are very contagious emotions.
“If someone is projecting hate and anger at you, it is really easy to catch that and package it all up and hurl it back at the person.
“It is a very natural thing to do, but it is a very destructive thing to do, because it is a never ending spiral.
“Jesus was the ultimate scapegoat.
“When he said love your enemy, he stuffed up a perfectly good religion really.
“He made it really difficult, but it is essential.
“If humanity is to evolve into something greater than we are at the moment, then that is the key,” Father Bower said.
Father Bower’s most recent controversial sign said “We support Narara Mosque”.
“The Muslim community has been worshipping in Narara for the past 10 years and they have purchased an old Brethren Church,” Father Bower said.
“I met with the Muslim community … and I’m very clearly supporting what they are trying to achieve.
“They are wonderful people with a great sense of community and want to bring that generosity into it, so I am there standing beside them, and with them, to support freedom of worship.
“The terrorist attacks we have seen in recent days just make it more important for us to have good, well-run mosques, because when we marginalise the Muslim community, we push young people to the sides of our society.
“They feel marginalised, they don’t feel welcome and it is then that they are more likely to listen to some of the nonsense they might get on facebook or youtube from some radical Imam.
“Those who are opposing the Narara mosque are doing the radicals’ work for them,” Father Rod said.
The Troublesome Priest will be broadcast on ABC television at 6:00pm on June 17, in the usual Compass program spot.
Central Coast for Social Justice will also be showing the documentary with another feature film at the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre on Friday, June 23.
Audio recording, Jun 6
Rod Bower and Kay Harrison with Scott Levi, ABC Central Coast