Faith and Culture: The Politics of Belief
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Over four days, our 20 plus speakers – philosophers and theologians, historians and writers, believers and non-believers – will consider what it means to be religious, and what role the voice of faith may legitimately have in the conversations of citizens in a multicultural, democratic state and the community of nations.
Our Friday night keynote address presents the man Time magazine nominated as ‘America’s Best Theologian’. Stanley Hauerwas has been described as ‘contemporary theology’s foremost intellectual provocateur. His depth charges are just as frequently aimed within that world as outside it.’
Whether he is writing about war and peace, medical ethics or the care of the mentally ill, Hauerwas combines unnerving intensity and plain speaking with intellectual subtlety and moral and religious depth.
Following his keynote lecture on ‘The Voice of Faith in the Conversation of Citizens’, Hauerwas will be joined by Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier, Kristina Keneally, to challenge and examine his conclusions and assumptions, with Morag Fraser as participating chair.
For the full text of this lecture plus transcripts and recordings of the series, visit our Faith and Culture archive.
The Hon Kristina Keneally MP is the Member for Heffron in the New South Wales Parliament. Kristina served as the 42nd Premier of New South Wales and the first woman Premier in the state from 2009 to 2011. She holds a BA in Political Science (Hons) and a MA in Religious Studies from the University of Dayton.
Dr Philip Freier became Archbishop of Melbourne in December 2006, following seven and a half years as Bishop of the Northern Territory. Previously he was in ministry in Queensland, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in north Queensland, and then in Brisbane.
Time magazine nominated Stanley Hauerwas as ‘America’s Best Theologian’. He has been described as ‘contemporary theology’s foremost intellectual provocateur. His depth charges are just as frequently aimed within that world as outside it.’
Morag Fraser is a writer, newspaper columnist, and one of Australia’s most experienced literary commentators. From 1991–2003 she was the editor of Eureka Street magazine, and from 2003-2009 adjunct professor in Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University.
For full transcripts of all lectures plus audio and video of the events, visit our series archive.
A four-day lecture series from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 June at BMW Edge, Federation Square.
A day or so after September 11, graffiti appeared on a wall in New York: ‘Dear God, save us from those who believe in you’. Despite the many-layered irony, the message is clear: temptation to murderous fanaticism may be intrinsic to religious belief. Since at least September 11, 2001, hostility to religious voices in politics has been an important reason why so many people throughout the world have embraced ‘the new atheism’. The words of the graffitist could serve as a rallying cry for its militant wing.
People who belong to the faiths most often under attack – Christians, Muslims and Jews – often do not recognise themselves in in the portraits that inform the hostility and condescension towards them. With the support of the Sidney Myer Fund, the Wheeler Centre is proud to present Melbourne’s first Faith and Culture Lecture Series.
Over four days this June, our speakers – philosophers and theologians, historians and writers, believers and non-believers – will consider what it can mean to be religious, and what role the voice of faith may legitimately have in the conversations of citizens in a multicultural, democratic state and in the community of nations.
Curated by celebrated moral philosopher and author Raimond Gaita, the Faith and Culture lectures will aim to do justice to the depth and difficulty of the issues under discussion. Seldom are the sources of our deepest moral, political, and spiritual commitments clear to us. They are mediated by historically deep traditions in which science, art, philosophy and theology have played large, sometimes cooperative, sometimes contesting, roles. Simplifying or edifying polemic will have no place in these lectures and the panel discussions that follow them. We are set on understanding and are confident that our attempts to achieve it will interest atheists, agnostics, people of faith and the many people whose lives have been enriched by religious traditions and art, but who are not believers.
In his letter of invitation to speakers, Gaita wrote: ‘I have chosen people whose authority to speak on these matters strikes me as undeniable. Their authority lies not only in the fact that they “know their subject”, but also in the seriousness and authenticity of their engagement with it.’
Programme hashtag: #FaithAndCulture
Watch Raimond Gaita’s introduction to the series:
This series was presented with the support of the Sidney Myer Fund.