Dawson Centre Colloquium, 29 June, 2019

‘Rebuilding the Walls of Sion’

On Saturday 29 June 2019 the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies will host its fifth annual colloquium in Hobart, Tasmania.   The Dawson Colloquium is a conversation, not a multi-stream conference.  There are no keynote speeches, as all are considered important to the flow of ideas; speakers are encouraged to attend all papers.  The colloquium will conclude with a panel discussion and dinner.  The guest-of-honour and speaker at dinner will be Senator the Hon. Jonathon Duniam.


The Christian Church is in catastrophic decline in Western countries.  How can Christians regain credibility and demonstrate the supreme relevance of the Faith to a thoroughly materialistic generation?

We invite submissions from persons interested in addressing any of the following topics:

  • Christian culture as the basis of a flourishing society.

  • Are there some things that need to be knocked down before we can rebuild?

  • Should we strategically withdraw in some areas so that we can focus on others?

  • How can the Church use ‘Soft Power’ to win back young people?

  • Courage in the Public Square – where are all the heroes?

Total allocation for each paper will be 45 minutes, which should include time for questions and discussion (the proportion at each presenter’s discretion).  Proceedings will be recorded and posted on the internet, and published late in 2019 or early 2020.

Proposals should be sent to Dr David Daintree, Director, Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies director@dawsoncentre.org, 0408 87 9494.

The following papers have been confirmed:

Dr Peter Cunich

Praying for the Dead: The Role of intercessory Prayer in the Construction and Maintenance of Christian Communities

The Catholic Church’s ancient doctrines concerning purgatory and the communion of the saints supported the development in medieval Europe of localised Christian communities which included in their ranks both the living and the dead, and in which the living, through their intercessory prayers, played a central role in assisting the dead to make the transition from purgatory into heaven. While praying for the dead is still a regular feature of the prayer life of Catholic parishes in the modern world, the practice has gradually been drawn into the domain of private prayer, with only limited recognition now being given to the role of the whole community of the faithful in praying for deceased members of the parish. In this paper, I will outline the medieval practices of communal prayer for the dead, and discuss some more recent examples of Catholic groups that have used prosopographical means to reconstruct and maintain a vibrant sense of community which encompasses both the living and the dead. I will ask whether these examples perhaps suggest a largely forgotten but nevertheless potent means by which every faith community within the church might strengthen their bonds of community and help to maintain a flourishing sense of Christian identity within a secularised world.

Philippa Martyr

‘Your Healing Shall Spring Up’: psychological and spiritual interventions for rebuilding a wounded Church

Contrary to popular opinion, the Church in Australia is not being persecuted. It is experiencing the inevitable consequences of decades of liturgical abuses, doctrinal dissent, and sexual revolution on the part of both clergy and laity alike. Both the people of God and its ecclesial leadership need profound spiritual healing – but where do we start? The US-based Grief to Graceprogram offers a model of healing which is working to restore wounded, abused and scandalised clergy and laity by identifying and expressing individual injuries, and then re-uniting these powerfully to the Passion of Christ.

Graham McDonald


Christianity and Jesus – an Inconvenient Truth.

The Christian church in Australia has had the incredible privilege of being legally allowed to teach about Jesus to approximately one million primary school and 800,000 secondary students in NSW.  It also has had opportunity to minister to students through school Chaplaincy and the Christian school’s movement.  However, all the above are far from being secure and new strategies must be considered so that all our students may have the opportunity to be taught about the reality of Jesus and his impact on Australia and the world.  The Australian Curriculumpresents us with such an opportunity to create a strategy whereby we teach students about our Christian Heritage.  Not from a Religious perspective but from an historical perspective. This suggested strategy may require a paradigm shift and hopefully will be embraced by parents and teachers alike.

Karl Schmude

The Qualities of Christian Civilisation: The Transcendence of Goodness, Truth and Beauty.

The secularised condition of Western civilisation has now reached an advanced stage of spiritual exhaustion and cultural disintegration. Yet this has not yet brought about a realisation of the religious foundations of our culture, and the extent to which its character was shaped by, and continues to depend upon, Christian insights and impulses.  While other elements such as Greek philosophy and Roman law and organisation were crucial, Christianity supplied the underlying inspiration and unity of Western civilisation. This paper explores the qualities of Christian civilisation through the eyes of the three transcendentals that correspond to ultimate human desires – goodness, truth and beauty.  It cites ways in which the Christian expression of these principles gave birth to distinctive moral, intellectual and artistic traditions that may inspire and inform a rebuilding of the walls of Sion.

Wanda Slowronska

Successful Orwellian manoeuvres in Confusing Times:   Titania McGrath , Paul Vitz , Jordan Peterson, et al. 

Very few see through their times as they live through them. Satirists and critics, however, sometimes manage to do it, piercing through the Zeitgest with paradox, parody, and pungent insights.   Titania McGrath and Jordan Peterson are but two figures attempting to break through the elitist, ideological bromide pervading western society at every turn through the media,  pointing out the hypocrisy and contradictions of cultural Marxism.  Their intellectual smelling salts, reason mixed with satiric humour, give proof of life that the West is still alive.  This paper will look at their successful methods of being a countercultural force in confusing times.

Registration Costs

Full Fee (including dinner) $150

Early Bird rate (to 1 June) $120

Concession (students, unwaged and pensioners) $80

Day sessions only ($50)