Hope is Violent

Master storyteller Tim Winton on unlikely friendships, masculinity, and grace.


Life and Faith: Tim Winton

“Hope deranges us. Hope breaks things and breaks things down. In order to change, things must be broken.”

Tim Winton’s latest novel, The Shepherd’s Hut, opens with a quote from American poet Liam Rector’s “Song Years”: “Change is hard and hope is violent”.

Continuing the Winton tradition of celebrating the lives of outcasts (or, the “people with bad teeth”), the story focuses on the life of a neglected, abused teenage boy on the run. He finds himself in the unforgiving Australian wilderness, where he strikes up an unlikely and awkward friendship – with an exiled priest.

“They’re at each other, but they’re dancing around each other, they’re trying to figure each other out … they’re teaching each other, they’re educating each other, they’re unconsciously nurturing one another … they’re stuck out there together, and they realise that they need one another to stay alive.”

In this episode, we speak with Tim Winton about what draws him to these “outcast” characters, his understanding of faith, and the antidote to toxic masculinity.

“I’m interested in the way that men are blind to how rotten patriarchy and misogyny is for them as well. … You watch these lovely, tender, vulnerable, graceful boys, having all those lovely qualities – which are natural qualities in boys as much as in girls – having it shamed or beaten out of them. So they cleave to one very narrow view of masculinity, which is hard, narrow, silent, angry, and taking never giving.

It impoverishes kids, it impoverishes boys, it impoverishes their manhood, and it impoverishes and endangers everybody around them – and it’s not necessary. And I think the church has quite a bit to answer for in this regard.”