4 October, 2018


Since my last newsletter Prof Jim Franklin reminds me of the decision ‘stitched up’ in the last days of the Abbott government with Archbishop Fisher to admit 12,000 Syrian refugees from ‘persecuted minorities’ (presumably Christians, for the most part, with some schismatic Muslims as a gesture towards diversity). It is fair that this be mentioned, but it was widely criticized at the time and is unlikely to be repeated. It is also uncertain whether the goal has ever been reached.

The fact remains that Christians are particularly subject to persecution worldwide.  All but one or two Muslim countries impose civil disabilities on Christians with varying degrees of energy.  Unless you were on diplomatic territory you would not want to attend Church in, for example, Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh (even if you could find one), and then it would be safe to do so only if you were a foreigner.  Immigrant Christian workers in Saudi Arabia (there are large numbers of Filipinos) cannot practice their faith, and of course proselytization is a capital offence. The situation in China appears to be worsening for Christians.

That said, it is also true that Muslims suffer persecution, especially in the former Soviet republics. I know from personal experience that Muslim school children in Tajikstan can be expelled if they are discovered to have attended Friday prayers in the mosque.  Repressive secular governments in several of the ‘Stans’ make life very difficult for devout Muslims and the radicalization of young people is sometimes a consequence.

Many people agree that our intake of refugees of all kinds should be higher though the issue has become a political football in a rather disingenuous way.  If we were to open our borders completely, and facilitate the entry of refugees without restriction, many millions would want to come here.  No government of any colour would allow that, least of all any on the green spectrum: several years ago a prediction that the Australian population would reach 50 million by 2040 elicited the loudest protests from the radical conservation lobby.

I suppose if we were good Christians (or Muslims or Jews) we would concede that ‘the Earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof’, and let all come who want to, even if it means accepting a drastic decline in our own living standards and a terrible overloading of our material and social resources. Perhaps we are called to endure that. Perhaps the Loaves and Fishes would multiply abundantly in response to an act of generous trust. But we should also look for more effective ways to employ our resources, ways that will have lasting and positive effect in the long term rather than lead to the ruination of nations, by dealing with the problems at their source and eliminating the factors that drive people away from their homes.


There was standing room only on 25 September for Prof Black’s superb lecture. He focused on a ‘wrong turning’ in philosophy, by William of Ockham, Duns Scotus and others, whose outcomes radically effect us to this day, and which powerfully illustrates the notion that ‘Ideas have Consequences’. Whet your appetite? I have had many requests for the full text of the talk and/or a recording, and will seek his permission when he returns from leave.


‘The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual.’ C S Lewis (submitted by Daniel Hill)


‘The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgement and can correctly evaluate the arguments. For me an unforgettable experience was the Bach concert that Leonard Bernstein conducted in Munich after the sudden death of Karl Richter. I was sitting next to the Lutheran Bishop Hanselmann. When the last note of one of the great Thomas-Kantor-Cantatas triumphantly faded away, we looked at each other spontaneously and right then we said: “Anyone who has heard this, knows that the faith is true.” The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness, but could only have come to be through the power of the Truth that became real in the composer’s inspiration.’  Joseph Ratzinger (offered by Stephen McInerney)


Dr Bella d’Abrera,

‘National curriculum and  the rapid un-education of Australian children’

Hobart, Parliament House

6.00 pm

Thursday 1 November 2018

Dr Bella d’Abrera is the Director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.

TO BE FOLLOWED BY A SUBSCRIPTION DINNER – ALL WELCOME. The talk is free of charge, but the dinner will be $65 per person. No notice required for the former, but please advise me at director@dawsoncentre.org if you wish to attend the dinner.

LATIN SUMMER SCHOOL, 14-18 January 2019, Hobart.

The emphasis is on reading Medieval and Ecclesiastical Latin, including patristics and poetry, but religious and secular. Some prior experience highly recommended.

GREEK SUMMER SCHOOL, 21-25 January 2019, Hobart.

Continuing the work of the past two summers, we shall read excerpts from one of the Gospels and one of the Epistles of St Paul. Beginners willing to work hard on basic grammar between now and January could join the course. 


A ‘boot camp’ for beginners and a rich reading party for the more advanced, but with free interchange between the two streams. 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 reads 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.

Any proceeds from these schools will go towards the work of the Dawson Centre.