Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Monday, September 18, 2006

Boreham and His Theology of Inclusivity

F W Boreham’s call to inclusivity through recognizing the value of children, the disabled, women and the racially oppressed was predominantly sounded through stories of audacious men and women who struggled against great odds and challenged the dehumanizing forces in society.

Later, comparing those in the foremost positions in society with those less advanced, Boreham said, “The religion that has nothing to say to the hindmost is no religion for a world like this”.[1] While Boreham called for specific social, political and educational measures, this call was a whisper compared with the voice of many of the lives he extolled. The courage of Jane Austen or the tenacity of Mahatma Gandhi did not translate into the same intensity in the writings of Boreham.

His editorials about Australian aborigines revealed an unconscious racism as he did not convey the uniqueness, the value and the potential towards them that his more general statements exhibited. For one who was a student and advocate of history, Boreham’s silence on the atrocities committed towards aborigines illustrate that like most Australians he was part of the “history of forgetting, a tradition of disremembering, an affliction of collective amnesia”.[2]

Boreham’s theological convictions about the human uniqueness and the worth of an individual took on a national dimension when he urged his readers to recognise the uniqueness of Australia. Boreham’s call to Australia to celebrate its achievements, find its voice and exploit its resources were aspects of the corporate responsibility of its citizens or, as expressed by Vance Palmer, “To discover ourselves—our character, the character of our country and the particular kind of society that has developed here”.[3] The theological foundations of these convictions were not always visible and his views also seemed to have been inspired by what Boreham had learned about national identity from the lessons of history.

Geoff Pound

Image: ‘to discover the character of our country…’

[1] Boreham, Mercury, 17 January 1948.
[2] Ken S Inglis, Observing Australia: 1959 to 1999 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1999), 155.
[3] Vance Palmer, ‘Future of Australian literature’, Age, 9 February 1935.