On this day December 17: David Marr, The High Price of Heaven

david marr high price of heaven

On December 17 1999, the Australian Jewish News published a review of The High Price of Heaven: A book about the enemies of pleasure and freedom by David Marr.

In The High Price of Heaven, David Marr addressed the politics of salvation.

Earlier that year, he gave the third annual Freilich Lecture on Tolerance and Bigotry at the Australian National University. He spoke then of his upcoming book. The Australian Jewish News reported that he attacked ‘vengeful Christianity’. He condemned the cruel bigotry of churches that perpetuated the nonsense that homosexuals could revert ‘back’ to heterosexuality.

And he accused the churches of promoting hatred of homosexuals in the misguided belief they were doing good.

David Marr

David Marr was a barrister before he was a journalist. After turning to journalism in 1972, he earned renown as one of Australia’s most insightful and consequential writers. Before The High Price of Heaven, he authored a biography of politician and judge Sir Garfield Barwick. A study of gay Nobel prize-winner Patrick White followed. His future work would include Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd, Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott, and The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell.

David Marr’s great talent is cutting through the bullshit and shining a light on what’s really going on. In The High Price of Heaven, he demonstrated that churches use their outsize influence to lobby for policy outcomes reflecting religious belief, not the public good.

The author later told a meeting of MAG Sydney that the attacks from the churches would get worse.

“This is because, for the first time, there is a public debate on the nature of homosexuality.

“Over the last two thousand years, the issue has been presented in a one-sided way without effective opposition. But this is no longer the case.”

The religious discrimination bill

Recently, David Marr returned to the topic with an explosive article in The Guardian. He nailed the religious discrimination bill to a cross and poked it in the gut with a spear.

“The church has always been in the business of shame – now it wants a law to protect its nastiness.

“This religious discrimination bill is designed to let the churches be nasty: nasty to children, to employees of the faiths and nasty in the pulpit.”

In his review in the Australian Jewish News, Dr Ben Haneman described The High Price of Heaven as a ‘blistering attack on sections of the Christian Church’. He also quoted David Marr on how the author lost his own faith.

“All those years ago when my faith in an all-good and all-powerful God suddenly collapsed at university, I had yet to discover the best evidence of all for His non-existence: that bully churches survive and bigots flourish”.

Read more: December 16 <— On this day —> December 18

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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  1. Michael Barnett
    17 December 2021

    Minor correction:

    The Australian Jewish News published this review on December 3 1999 in Sydney [1] and December 10 1999 in Melbourne [2].

    [1] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/29246937
    [2] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/29146715

    • 17 December 2021

      Hi Michael,


      I didn’t know of Dr Haneman before. What a wonderful Aussie.

  2. Michael Barnett
    17 December 2021

    Ah, I see there was the original review on December 3 1999 [1] and then the follow-up article mentioned here on December 17 1999 [2]:

    [1] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/29246937
    [2] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/29247042

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