“Ethics Matters” ideal text book to complement Year 11&12 Study of Religion

Filed in Latest News by on January 14, 2014

Book Review from the Catholic Leader (Brisbane, Australia)

Ethics Matters” by Peter and Charlotte Vardy (SCM Press, 2012)

51C4jgmw8NL._One of the formative forces in Australian Catholic education, over the last twenty years has been an English academic, Peter Vardy. He is a mixture of philosopher, theologian, author and public speaker. It is as the latter that thousands of secondary school students best know him as he tours the world explaining the intricacies of Catholic morality in an entertaining yet scrupulously honest manner. I remember, going back about six years, tutoring a senior student from one of our most prestigious girls’ schools. When I arrived at her house after her day in class, her usual, tired, anxious manner was replaced by a vibrancy I had not seen from her before. She told me of a school visit by a speaker who had brightened not only her day, but her whole attitude to life. She identified this wonder man as Peter Vardy. Having already being familiar with his work, her words only confirmed my own experience; but it was even more significant that this accolade came from a worldly teen who, until that moment, showed minimum interest in any kind of study, let alone matters of the spirit.

“Ethics Matters” is a valuable guide to the Queensland Studies Authority’s Study of Religion syllabus. Parts one and two relate to the theoretical details that underpin the systematic study of morality. Basic terms, concepts and principles are explained and the moral laws that govern our actions are analysed. In part three, theory becomes practice as it is applied to all the contemporary problems with which our youth are confronted. Abortion, Embryonic- Stem Cell research, euthanasia, the environment, war, and business ethics are comprehensively analysed. The striking aspect of this content is its integrity. Again let me use an anecdote as evidence. In July of last year I had the pleasure of attending one of Peter’s conferences delivered to an auditorium of our secondary school students. As is always the case, the speaker had them magnetised by his ideas and his delightful manner. After a particularly lucid explanation of the intellectual basis for Catholic thinking on abortion, one of the young people asked if there was compelling evidence to prove that life begins at conception. Dr Vardy’s answer was an overwhelming, ”No.” I was impressed that the response was so direct and so honest. Later, as the students and teachers reflected over lunch, I heard several comment on the speaker’s honesty which they found as impressive as his expertise.

This is written in conjunction with Mrs Vardy. It would be an ideal text book to complement the QSA course in Year 11 and 12 Study of Religion. Peter will be visiting again this year. Any Catholic school will be enriched by his presence or by attending any of his presentations.

Terry Oberg. 14 January, 2014.

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