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In 1973, Arthur Boyd painted ‘a figure in a cave with a smoking book’. It was the year Australia ended its involvement in the Vietnam war, the Woodward Royal Commission into Aboriginal land rights began, the Opera House opened, and Patrick White was named Australian of the Year. It was an eventful time in a tumultuous era – but how did the Bible fare? How might we make sense of its changing place in Australia? Has its influence all but burned out? What smoky traces remain in the air?
Meredith Lake is a Senior Research Fellow at Anglican Deaconess Ministries, Sydney. She has a doctorate in history from Sydney University, where she has also taught courses in Australian history. She is the author of a student guide to The Bible Down Under (Bible Society, 2016), a major study of faith-based social welfare Faith in Action: HammondCare (UNSW Press, 2013), and several academic articles on aspects of Christianity. Her interpretative account of the Bible in Australian society and culture – from convicts to artists to indigenous activists – will be published by UNSW Press in early 2018. She tweets at @meredithlake1