After a successful launch last month, the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies hosted our first public seminar on Tuesday May 20 at Jane Franklin Hall, a college of the University of Tasmania, South Hobart. An appreciative group was privileged to hear Dr Conor Sweeney, lecturer in Sacramental Theology and Postmodern Philosophy at Melbourne’s John Paul II Institute. The seminar was held in the Frances Parsons Building at Jane Franklin Hall in South Hobart. Dr Sweeney remarked that the panoramic view of the city reminded him of his hometown in Vancouver Canada. His talked focused on the link between the Catholic culture and Baptism.  He referenced the thought of Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), Christopher Dawson, Heidegger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Blaise Pascal and even Friedrich Nietzsche. Dr Sweeney agree with Ratzinger’s claim that there is no such thing as pure reason. “Before faith can be an idea or an encounter” he said, “it must be a practice.” Baptism is a washing away of the old person, someone who is alienated and cannot see reality as it truly is. That self dies in the waters of Baptism and a new self is born. It is this new self that discovers the Father and enters the Trinitarian world where God and humanity can touch in a filial adoption. Dr Sweeney acknowledged the eschatological nature of our baptism – the tension of there, but not there – which means we continually pick ourselves up again and again as we fall back into the dark waters of sin. We are given both grace and a challenge to live our lives as a Christ to others. Dr Sweeney spoke of his personal journey, having been born to a Catholic father and a Protestant mother. He said his upbringing was not within a liturgical environment, but he travelled through a metaphysical search for the universal back to the particulars of faith. Now, as he said: “My sense of reality is utterly influenced by my faith.”Dr David Daintree, Director of the Centre and the host for the evening, thanked Dr Sweeney for his ‘lucid and charming talk”. The future of the Centre looks very promising after such a thought provoking evening. By Mary-Anne Johnson