Today’s guest is Erik, and Erik and I are long, long time friends.
You were five.
Like we are family. And you must have been five and a half.
Something like that.
When Erik’s family came over from England and and yeah, we’ve been friends sort of like, you know, those friends that you don’t see each other for two years and then get back together and be friends again. So we’ve talked a lot, a lot in the past, but not really recently.
Recently being the last 20 years or so.
And I wrote down that that I’m very interested in hearing Erik’s answers to these questions. And I know from Facebook that I don’t agree with all of your opinions on everything. So could be fun.
I should hope not.
So welcome Erik. It’s Good to have you here.
Thank you. It’s good to be here.
First things first. How did you become a Christian?
That’s a really good question.
When I was 3, 3ish, I used to hand out Bible colouring-in books from my pushchair. So, I’ve been a public nuisance now for quite some time, for which I mostly blame my parents. But you have to do these things. At that time, Mum and Dad ran a thing called GATE –God’s answer to emptiness – in the UK and that was kind of a club music coffee thing run by Christians where people could come and talk about stuff.
And I was very young at the time but I guess one of my earliest memories is of and I think was probably at a GATE meeting, I don’t really know. One of my earliest memories is of feeling very strongly what I now know to be the presence of God and, and wanting that.
And it was below the level of cognition, I was too little to put any kind of framework or even talk about it. But I knew that that’s what I wanted. And I think that’s for me what it’s been about. It’s visceral. It’s, you know, yes, I have an intellectual faith, but it’s not about that.
Was there a time in your adult life where you had to make a choice? This, you know, ‘crossing the line from this day forward, I’m going to be with God’ type of choice, or has it just been always?
Usually before breakfast.
I mean, yes. I mean, that’s part of growing up. And so. I don’t know how much I want to go into all of that. But I was brought up basically outside of the church and then left home at 17 and flatted, did the share-house thing at uni with people who weren’t Christians. And so, you know, I was sort of thrust out into the world very innocent and very unprepared. Without going in to too much detail. And so, yeah, I had to make some hard choices about what I was and wasn’t going to do. And, you know, I drifted along at first-year at uni for a while and God is gracious. And he allowed that drift for a period of time. And then there came a time when I got the message very clearly that I needed to make a choice.
And, you know, I guess I’m not a James Bond fan, but I do agree with 007 the world is not enough. And I sort of looked at it and it wasn’t enough for me.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s amazing. Oh, I just I don’t understand how people live without the extra layer of meaning that you get from from being with the Lord.
Well, some people don’t seem to need it. Some people are very kind of basic. And some people look for it in other places.
True. Cool. So your life has been different to the norm, I have to say, from day dot, and Erik’s written a book called Finding Home and it’s a good one and it’s a very interesting insight into [his life], so if you’re feeling like you’re not getting enough answers to these questions, and you want to know more. You can find Finding Home on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
The last time I looked it up, I got a whole list of books on how to be gay. Not judging, but I didn’t write those ones. For the record, this is a different book.
I’ll put links in the show notes. Erik with a K. Peacock.
Yes, just to confuse matters.
You were homeschooled growing up. And so can you tell us your thoughts about home education?
Home education. Well, my view on education is that there’s a toolbox. And in that toolbox, there are many things. There’s state education. There’s the Catholic system. There’s Christian schools. There’s all sorts of things, there’s Steiner, there’s Montessori.
And in there, there’s home schooling as well. And in the homeschooling compartment, there’s also a huge variety of things. There’s many excellent curriculum approaches. You know, there’s LEM, there’s classical education, there’s ACE for the Southern Baptists. There’s something for everybody in the homeschooling space. There’s free learning there’s rigid forms of learning. So everybody does home education differently. And it’s about finding an approach that works for your child or children, but also for your family system. Home Education has changed dramatically since I was doing it, or was the crash test dummy for my father’s social experiment.
People are really gonna want to read the book now.
Yeah. Yeah. Look, when we did it. I mean, we’re going back now to the early 80s, it was illegal. It was somewhat clandestine, not that we were ever that way. But we’re always public and upfront about it. It was fringe. The kind of people who did it tend to be more fringe kind of people. Some of them are great people. Some of them were frankly bonkers. And we were quite isolated. So I didn’t really have any friends till I was 14, which is not ideal. That is not the case today.
There’s over a million home schoolers in the United States. Fifty thousand in the UK, there’s thousands in Australia. There’s extensive networks, there’s heaps of opportunities for outings and social interactions and specialist learning. So people in the home education community often share their particular skills. So you can actually be taught and mentored by experts in the field, which it’s not common in school.
It’s a really positive scene and I think it’s going to increase in relevance and popularity because people well, it’s not just a feeling. The reality is that the school system, the state school system is run by people with a particular set of values and a particular agenda. And if you’re not on board with that, then you’ll be in conflict with it and you’re handing your kids over to be discipled by other people in accordance with their values. So that’s an issue. The Benedict option is a very trendy thing at the moment. I haven’t got into it myself, so if that’s your thing, then home education is certainly something you would look or consider in that context.
So you are home schooling your kids?
Yeah we’re home schooling our three kids. It wasn’t actually our first choice. We did send Jonathan to the local village school and he did alright initially. And then once he got into the grade levels, it just didn’t work for him. We tried. They tried, but it just wasn’t working. So we tried different combinations of schooling, home schooling, part time schooling. They went to Seabrook Christian School as it then was for a time and in the end, homeschooling just worked better.
And I just want to say, if you hear background noise, that’s Jonathan and Matthew in background, having fun with Hotwheel’s cars and playing Lego and yeah, that’s good. So that’s cool.
So on that, like my dad pioneered the home education movement in Australia.
Yeah, he was a massive leader.
Yeah, he was. So Dr John Barrett Peacock is his name and he did his Ph.D. In The How and Why of Home Education and I think it’s still the main reference for home education in Australia. I think it’s on the Internet somewhere.
Yeah, we can have a look for that. If I can find it, I’ll put it in the show notes. Okay. So you went to a great 11and 12 in a state school system and you were really young?
I was 14.
So this is this is the thing about homeschooling, too, that you learn a lot faster.
Yeah. Look. Yes and no. I mean, the fact of the matter is that the local state high school wasn’t an option for me because I wasn’t trained in the application of physical violence. And I was fairly bored with being at home. You know, Elizabeth College was sort of the next best option. It wouldn’t have hurt me to spend another year grounding some things like maths.
So that’s how it was. And the thing about a home education is you got the pace of the child, not at the pace of the curriculum.
Absolutely. So we had, this is one of the times when Erik and I connected more closely was during those college years and you were quite a greenie at that point in time. Greenie is probably a derogatory term sorry if I’ve offended anybody, but highly into the environment. Tree, not tree hugging, tree sitting in the top of.
No, I have hugged trees.
Not only hugging trees. Yes. And now you’ve really changed your political views. So what happened?
Well, yes and no. In some ways I’m not the one that moved.
So we (this is something I talk about in the book) we, shortly after arriving in Australia, we headed bush in a van, which people sort of did in those days. And we went out to the sort of northern highlands of Tasmania and the van sort of rattled down a hill, it didn’t have a lot of brakes at the time. And it actually jumped across the creek. And where it landed was where we lived. So we lived fairly close to nature and some people whose attitude to nature was rather different. And I guess that was quite formative.
And then when I was older, I got into bushwalking and into the environmental scene. Yeah. I think I was looking for God out there in some ways. And I think I found Him. So that was quite significant for me. And the bush was and is my safe place. It’s where I feel most connected. Most alive. In some ways closest to God. So that was important to me.
And at the time the environmental movement was really peaking. And the environmental conflict was really peaking. So we’re talking sort of. Well, late 80s and then I went to uni in the early 90s and I was at the pointy end of the forest campaigns.
And I talked about all of that in the book. So I take you on that journey if you want to know what it feels like. You may or may not agree with it, but if you want to know what it felt like to be there. I talk about it. I talk about the reasons why people did what they did. You don’t have to agree with them.
But it is actually really good to understand or to listen. You never know. You might actually find yourself agreeing in the end because you actually listen to understand.
Well, it’s interesting because at the time everybody said, you know, we need blockade and protest and all this stuff. And I said, well, actually what we need to do is get people down here, to have a look.
So a lot of what I did was run bus tours into the south west. And it’s really interesting because people would be quite anti green or or, you know, it might be oh yeah, we need jobs. All that sort of thing. And then you’d take them down there and you just stand them in the middle of a clear felled coop. And it completely changed. Like that. So there’s something about actual experience that lifts it up beyond the level of arguments.
Yeah. For sure. Yes. So from from that standpoint, now, people would look at you and say, well, hang on a second. What happened?
Yeah, what happened? Well, a few things happened.
Well, three things happened. Three things happened.
Look, part of the whole thing has to do with violence and pacifism, which is an odd thing. But the environmental movement at the time was strongly non-violent. And I actually trained as a trainer in non-violent direct action. So I actually trained under Jack Lomax, and the same kind of people in the peace movement and all that. What was the left at that time, which is not the left anymore. And my parents were peaceniks they were against the Vietnam War and all that sort of thing. And I grew up listening to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and sort of imbibed those values. I had two grandfathers. My father’s father was a Seventh Day Adventist and a pacifist, and he was in Coventry, which was pretty much bombed to the ground. And my mother’s father was Salvation Army to the extent that he was religious. And he went and fought the Germans in North Africa. So it’s always a sort of a question, who was right?
And so anyway, so moving it along. I was in Indonesia as part of a foreign affairs department exchange program and we stayed in a village in Ambon, in the Moluccas, the Spice Islands. I talk about all of this. That’s where I met my wife. Later she became my wife. She became a Christian through that experience as well in a Christian village. Ambon is the only majority Christian province in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country. And of course, after we came home, we were there sort of just before the fall of the Suharto regime. Really interesting time.
And after we came home there was basically a power vacuum in the country. And the local al-Qaida franchise moved in with the tacit support of the Indonesian military at the time. And they basically invaded the Moluccas and killed about 10,000 people. And there are lots of there was a lot of martyrdom. They did attack our village and the local university at Pattimura. People were hacked to death with machetes.
And, you know, the thing about world views is that they usually only change through some sort of confronting or traumatic experience, you don’t argue people out of their world views. Just look at social media. I’ve tried.
It’s not about that and I guess that kind of, after that, I basically made a decision that I was going to deal with the world on the basis of what it actually is, not on the basis of what I’d like it to be. And that was a fundamental shift and that essentially is the difference between conservatives and progressives. Conservatives look at the world and conservatives number one believe in truth. So there is an objective truth we all see it imperfectly and partially, but there is an objective truth. And we need to understand what that is. And we need to adapt ourselves to it. That’s a conservative worldview.
The progressive worldview is that if we try hard enough, we can fundamentally change reality according to our praxis so we can basically make anything true. And so I need to go explain that to Al-Qeada because they ain’t convinced.
And that kind of I think also that whole wilderness experience kind of. Slotted into that as well, because, you know, wilderness doesn’t care about your feelings. It doesn’t care that you’re tired that you’re cold, that you have blisters, that you’re bleeding. It doesn’t care. You have two options: you adapt yourself to reality or you die.
Progressives don’t see the world that way.
So you’re not aiming to change the world?
Yes, I am. But I’m aiming to change the world on the basis of reality, not on the basis of fantasy. And so my interest is saying, well, what? What is real? So progressives believe a number of things. And basically, I worked out what they were. I wrote them down and I asked myself the question, is this true? And none of it is. Literally none of it is. Doesn’t mean I don’t want it to be true. I think it’d be great if we could dissolve all the world’s nations live together in peace and harmony. You could have open borders. And any number of people from any number of races, cultures, religions and beliefs could all live together in one place.
But it’s not reality. If you do that, you have a bloodbath.
I can see where the backlash comes now.
And trying to understand that, you need to actually have a basic grasp of history which progressives don’t. The first genocide of the 20th century wasn’t Hitler. It was in Armenia. And it was by Muslim Turks. And they slaughtered a million Armenian Christians because they could. And given the chance they would again. Now Putin knows this. So there’s some fundamental realities that exist behind the veneer of what we’re told. We’re given a 2 percent surface skin, but there are people who actually do understand how the world works and they’re people who are running it.
Well, some of the people who are running it understand how the world works. I’m not convinced that all of the people who are running it understand how the world works. Okay. So. So lots of Christians avoid politics. Because it’s an uncomfortable space to be. You obviously don’t feel like this is an option, really?
It’s certainly an option. I mean. Depends what you mean by politics. I mean human beings are homo politicus. We are a cooporative species. And so politics is how we work and how we do things together, basically. So you can say I’m not a political person, no, you are a political person. You just may not talk to politicians much, but you talk to other people. So, you know, formal politics is just an extension of that. It’s not something that’s strange or wierd or these strange people on the television do. It’s actually very natural and we all kind of do it. And over time, we put some structures and some form around that to make it work better. And that’s what we now call politics. So what I’ve found is that a lot of people do want to have a say or they want to have some kind of influence or they have an issue that they care about and want to access that political space, but they don’t know how. It’s a black box. It’s like this wierd stuff that happens. We’re not very happy about it. We don’t know how it works. We don’t know how to access it. So I’ve decided to do something about that and I’ve developed an online training course in civics, which teaches how politics works in practice, how public decisions are actually made and how we can actually have influence on them. So I distilled what I’ve learned from 20 years in working in public service, all of my activist experience to date, and five years at university and put it into an online training course. So that’s currently www.3ptraining.com.au There’s a heap of stuff on there for free. There’s a course in international relations and there’s a course in what I call the Our Democracy course. And that looks. It starts with the origins of where our Westminster system actually comes from, which is 9th century Britain. That’s where it was basically started.
A long time ago.
But interestingly, the same basic issues.
Because people are people.
Yeah. And look, you know, Brexit. Well, you know, the British have been arguing about Europe since the 9th century. This is not a new problem. It’s not a new issue. It’s been around for a long time. And one of the great things about studying a bit of history is you get less panicked about things. Because you go oh yeah.
I have seen that before. Yeah.
Yeah. Like climate change. It’s been around for a long time.
Another thing where Erik and I don’t exactly agree.
We might agree more than you think. We need to step it out, you know, complex issues can’t be explained in a couple of sentences.
That’s exactly right.
I’m not indifferent to climate change. It is an issue. So 3Ptraining.com.au. And then I go through the development about where the Australian constitution comes from. How useless it is. And I do that because I find a lot of Christians seem to think that we have the AmErikan constitution and we have freedom of speech and all these rights, we just don’t, they’re not there. So that’s worth understanding. And then I talk about how decisions actually developed, how a public service works, how cabinet works, how the parliamentary system works, what goes on in the minds of politicians, what’s their framework for how they make decisions? What do they think about when they get up in the morning? So, yeah, I’ve talked to a lot of politicians in my time.
They’re just people. They get scared and lonely, too.
Yeah, well, I think it must be such a hard thing to be just under that amount of. Well, at the moment I just I just feel like the public is completely against you as soon as you become a politician. So it’s pretty it’s a pretty tough job from that point of view I think. I said to one Christian politician, I know, why did you get involved in politics? And she just said, well, why not? We’re Christians and we need to be in every sphere of life. And it’s made me think, yeah, yeah, you’re absolutely right. We can’t just ignore politics and hope that that does the right thing without actually actively getting involved.
And so on that point, I mean, Matthew chapter 28, the Great Commission was to disciple all nations. And I think we’ve misread that. I certainly have, you know, had this idea before they go out and make converts and disciple people and build the church. And that’s great. But Jesus actually said to disciple the nations. So how do you disciple a nation? What does it mean to disciple a nation? Well you have to fundamentally change the culture of that nation. How do you do that?
And you do that by taking ground on what’s called the Seven Mountains of Culture. There’s a few people talk about this on YouTube if you want to look it up, seven mountains of culture that the short of it is about 200 people determine the cultural climate and direction of a country.
And those 200 people are not Christians. So the church focusses on the masses. Which is honourable.
I mean, Jesus did. The Marxist left figured out how to disciple the country. They took the seven mountains, they have their people in place. And that’s why the culture is becoming fundamentally opposed to Christ.
Yeah, I think there’s a bit of both, isn’t there? There’s a bottom up and a top down approach. Both need to be taken.
Yes. So getting back to, should Christians avoid politics? Well, if you want to carry out the great commission and to disciple the nations, politics is gonna be part of that.
All right. Last couple of questions. When do you feel close to God? You’ve already said a bit about this, but you do have more for us?
When do I feel close to God?
You know, it’s a funny thing having a relationship with God because it goes two ways. So a lot of, you know most religions, you’re sort of striving to reach some higher level of enlightenment or divinity or something.
And so it’s all about you and your your effort. And then some people are very lasse faire. It’s like, well, you know, if there is a God up there or whatever, I suppose I’ll meet him someday. He can show up when he wants to. If he wants to.
But actually, you know, the Bible says draw near to me and I’ll draw near to you, says the Lord. And so Jesus took the initiative, obviously, in divinity drawing near to us. So it’s a two way thing.
God draws near to us, we draw near to him, and when both of those things are happening. I think that’s when we feel close to God.
I don’t think there’s a formula.
There’s no formula for relationships that I know of.
Yes, that’s a very good point. And finally, what’s one thing about God or Christianity that you wish everyone knew?
Well, the first thing about God is that there is one. And he’s not mysterious or indifferent or faraway. But he’s not a tame lion either. So we we don’t we come to God. We don’t dictate to God. It is that relationship thing.
About Christianity? Well, I wish people knew what it was. I mean, nobody has to be a Christian, but I think people have a right to know the foundational beliefs of their culture so they can actually decide about that.
I think I wish that people knew that Christianity was hard. Like it’s not for wimps. I mean, in this church, we had this idea everybody’s got to be a Christian and I was thinking on the way here, actually I’d advise a lot of people not to. And that’s not what you’re supposed to say as a lay preacher.
But if you’re not into personal growth, if you don’t want to deal with your personal issues, if you don’t want moral accountability, if you’re not really interested in eternity, and if your purpose in life is to get your kicks cheaply and fast, then don’t be a Christian. It’s not for you.
About God, though, I would say that that God is kind. And contrary to what some people preach, he won’t necessarily wave a magic wand and solve all the circumstances of your life.
He hasn’t done it for me.
It’s definitely not my experience.
If it’s yours that’s great.
If it’s yours, please contact me. I really want to know you.
But he will walk you through it. And I think that’s worth a lot. So I could give one example of that, if you like.
I’ll give you two, how’s that? So some time ago, I had a relationship break-up before I got married. And yeah, I was in a bad way and I went to God. I’d saved up a little bit of money and I went to God and said, you know, what do you want me to do with this money? And I thinking to travel and so on because that’s what all my friends were doing. And God said, buy a house. Which was not even within my framework. To even contemplate doing. So. To make it short. I put a deposit down.
I found a house I could afford, which was a dump. It had two alcoholic bachelors living in it. I put a deposit down. Then I was rejected by every bank in Australia. A local credit union gave me a loan, I bought the house. It was a dump.
Eighteen months later, the price of property tripled in Hobart. And I would have been priced out of the market forever. And that being able to hear from God and God caring basically set up me and my family financially for the rest of our lives. And helped some other people along the way. So God practical, it’s not just airy fairy feel good stuff. And this is my story. It’s not everyone’s. I’m not saying God is going to make you a genius at real estate. But this is just an example that God does care and is involved.
And another example was God told me to go see my brother. We hadn’t spoken for about six months. Not that we weren’t speaking. We just lived very differently, had very different lives and values. So God said I’ve got to go see my brother. And it was a really bad time for me. And I just said, I’ll do it later, I’ll do it later, I’ll do it later. No, no. You’ve got to go see him. And then it was my youngest, it was one of my kids seventh birthday on the Sunday. And God said, you’ve got to see your brother and I’ve learnt to obey that voice. So I did. I went over on the Thursday and we had a short visit and it was pleasant. And it was a short interaction. And that was all good. And he died in the early hours of the Sunday morning.
And, you know, I wasn’t sent to save him. I was sent to say goodbye.
God knew. I didn’t.
So when you say God said, was it just the impression was it a word?
It was a persistent impression. Persistent knowing.
Yeah. Yeah, I know. I feel like I hear from God in a very similar way. You learn that once you start obeying, you learn this is God. And yet when you see things like that happen. It’s powerful. It leaves an impression on you. Isn’t that lovely of him to do that?
Yeah. So my last memories of him alive were positive ones.
Cool. Thank you so much for sharing deeply with us. I’m sure it’s going to bless a lot of people.