The Rev. Dr. Barry Marshall predicted in the 1960s that if the church did not lose its complacency it would be irrelevant in a generation. 'The Armour of Light' is about a truly remarkable Australian man who was described by some as a saint and whose church rattling and lampooning of his opposition challenged others.
Annual Barry Marshall Memorial Lectures are held at Trinity College at The University of Melbourne to commemorate Barry Marshall’s life, but despite a wealth of archival material and the powerful oral testimony of those who knew him, a biography has not until now been written.
Barry Marshall was probably the most well known priest in Australia at the time of his tragic death in 1970. His total dedication to priestly life, his work as a Bush Brother in outback Australia, and his mixture of erudition, playfulness and lampooning of those who didn’t share his views were legendary. Australian newspapers and the then-new television frequently featured his perceptive and witty comments. Responsible for introducing revitalising Vatican Two reforms into the Anglican Church in Australia, to the consternation of his bishops, Barry also campaigned against infant baptism. He maintained it was a socially accepted practice rather than a serious commitment to Christianity and as such was a harbinger of the demise of the church. Just weeks before his investiture as the first Australian Principal of Pusey House, an influential Anglican centre at Oxford University, he died from a fall while changing a light globe.
Fifty years later the influence of the Christian church as an institution has indeed greatly diminished in western society. However despite enormous technological and other forms of progress our society harbours high levels of depression and suicide and many are looking for meaning in their lives. Barry Marshall’s view of such things and his prophetic foresight are of interest. His story enriches the history of Australian spirituality.
The Australian Theological Research Foundation and Trinity College at the University of Melbourne (where Barry was chaplain in the 1960s ) have supported the development and publication of this biography. Historian, Emeritus Professor John Poynter AO, OBE, who was Acting Warden of Trinity College with Barry Marshall in 1964, is contributing the preface. Dr. Nola Firth, the biographer, met Barry Marshall when she was a student at the University of Melbourne.
About the author, Nola Firth
Nola Firth is a writer and academic. Her work has been published nationally and internationally in literary and academic journals, books, anthologies and in the media. She has won or been a finalist in several national poetry prizes and her first poetry chapbook, Even if the Sun, was published in 2013. She is also lead author of the book Success and Dyslexia published by the Australian Council of Educational Research. Nola holds a PhD, is a Churchill Fellow, and an Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne and at The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.