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DIRECTOR’S NEWSLETTER

10 May, 2019

Dear Reader,

MAKING FRIENDS WITH ISLAM

Amidst all the anger over ISIS we should constantly bear in mind that there are some very fine Muslims in our world. A lot of commentary nowadays speaks of ‘their’ violence, intolerance and ruthless cruelty. But I have visited several Muslim countries and met people who seemed to me to be humane, kind and prayerful, who also were appalled by the behaviour of radicals within their own Faith. I’ve met many such people in or own country too.

But Muslims want to convert the whole world, we’re told. Well yes, actually they do. But wait – isn’t that also the ambition of Christianity? The third of the great Christian statements of belief, the Athanasian Creed, opens with the words ‘Whosover will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith…’ The decree of Innocent III (‘the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside which we believe that no one is saved’) has never to my knowledge been rescinded. And didn’t St Augustine say, ‘compel them to come in’? Our ambitions overlap and clash. No wonder we’re wary of each other!

And Christians, too, occasionally turn to violence, especially when they achieve majority. Dissenters in Calvin’s Geneva, the Papal States or Puritan Massachusetts often had good cause to recognize that Christianity had muscles. General Dyer was voted a purse by a newspaper in England after the 1919 massacre in Amritsar. Abortionists have been murdered. In rightly condemning Islamic violence, let’s not forget that other Gospel teaching about casting the first stone.

The truth is that there are adherents of all religions (and semi-religions such as Marxism) who prefer the path of violence. Our Lord’s teaching about weeds sown among the wheat couldn’t be plainer: not all of those who cry ‘Lord, Lord’ will inherit the Kingdom. Those who prefer to live by the sword do well to contemplate their own eventual end.

There have been times and places when ‘the Peoples of the Book’ have lived together in harmony. I once shared a hospital ward with a Coptic who fondly remembered growing up in Alexandria, Egypt, when Muslims and Christians were good friends and neighbours. Alas no more. Mutual suspicion, fuelled by overlapping agendas and historical grudges, brought that truce to an end.

Can we recover some of that fellowship? It would be tragic not to try. If you believe that the kind of radical social engineering currently driving so much of our political agenda is wrong, look to your Muslim neighbours (and Buddhists and Hindus too) to find your best allies.

UPCOMING EVENTS

ANNUAL CHRISTOPHER 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.  The colloquium will conclude with a panel discussion and a closing dinner in the evening.  The venue is the Frances Parsons Building, Jane Franklin Hall, 6 Elboden Street, South Hobart

The guest-of-honour and speaker at the Colloquium Dinner will be Senator the Honourable Jonathon Duniam.

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)

ROME SUMMER SCHOOL IN LATIN 7-20 JULY

The goal is to examine two millennia of Roman and Italian culture – art as well as literature – through the medium of the Latin Language which is common to the whole tradition.  We shall read pieces by the major writers of the Classical Canon and by their successors in Medieval and Renaissance times.  Genres will include Epic Poetry, Oratory, Philosophy and History, Scripture and Liturgy.  More details here.

MEDIEVAL LATIN SUMMER SCHOOL 

13-17 JANUARY 2020

Latin is arguably the mother tongue of Europe. Its literature is immensely rich. This course will offer a general introduction to post-classical Latin, poetry and prose, sacred and secular.  We shall also look at passages of older material that remained highly influential in the later period (e.g. Scripture, Virgil).  There will be an introduction to palaeography, including an opportunity to handle original manuscripts.

NEW TESTAMENT GREEK SUMMER SCHOOL 

20-24 JANUARY 2020

An intensive course in the koineGreek of the New Testament. It will be a continuation of last summer’s course, but is also suitable for virtual beginners who are willing to undertake some serious preliminary work on the Greek alphabet.  We shall read passages from the Epistles and Gospels, as well as the Septuagint and Christian literature of the apostolic age. 

The January Summer Schools will be held at Jane Franklin Hall (a college of the University of Tasmania), 6 Elboden Street, South Hobart.  Write to me directly for further information.

With best wishes to all,

David Daintree