the grace of god

Three of the four men who wrote the psalms that were part of the collection of Hold This Space liturgies published by Proost are back in prison, after short periods on the outside. The men were part of the Marlborough Unit at Port Phillip Prison, the unit which houses those who are intellectually disabled or have acute psych conditions.

I was walking next to someone today on the way into work who looked like he was only just holding his demons at bay, talking himself back into sanity with muttered entreaties. That could so easily be me, i thought, aware again that i felt i had much more in common with him than with the other professionals walking around us. i thought again about how much i dislike the phrase ‘except for the grace of god’, which i always think comes awfully close to being another version of prosperity gospel… i know i’ve not unravelled because i’ve had the money to get help when things could have gone either way; because i’ve had education and jobs that have given me confidence, resilience and options; because i’ve got people around me who are honest about their own fragility and who give me courage to understand my own… to say i have those things by the grace of god places the blame back on god for those who don’t.

If you get the link in all of this, the Port Phillip West Communal Justice Network is next meeting this friday morning at the Judy Lazarus Transition Centre. This meeting is to discuss with staff at the centre how we can work together to offer practical help and advocacy to prisoners in transition, and to begin formulating proposals for conversations with Corrections Victoria. Email if you want to know more.


  1. Hi Cheryl, thanks for this post. For exposing the shallowness of the phrase. It is a phrase I have used in the past, felt awkward about it, and should have thought more about what I was saying and why.

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