The Christopher Dawson Society launches new book

25 Feb 2021

By Theresia Titus

Editors Thomas Gourlay and Daniel Matthys at the book sale table.
Editors Thomas Gourlay and Daniel Matthys. Photo: Michelle Tan.

The Christopher Dawson Society for Philosophy and Culture has launched its newly published book titled 1968: Culture and Counterculture – A Catholic Critique on 23 February at The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle.

Launched by the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA) Vice-Chancellor Professor Francis Campbell, the book – published by Wipf & Stock – is a collection of papers presented at The Dawson Society’s “1968: Five Decades On” conference held in July 2018.

Speaking at the launch, editors Thomas Gourlay and Daniel Matthys shared The Dawson Society’s beginning and how the book came about.

“In 2012, Daniel and I were celebrating Daniel’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the first session of the Second Vatican Council,” Mr Gourlay said.

“Daniel and I were deeply engrossed in a conversation around faith and culture. Both of us, deeply concerned with the intersection of our faith in the person of Jesus Christ, and the Church which He founded, and the culture more broadly.

“It was then that we scratched out the aims and goals of what was to be ‘The Christopher Dawson Society for Philosophy & Culture’,” he added.

University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA) Vice-Chancellor Professor Francis Campbell. Photo: Michelle Tan.

The Dawson Society began to hold a series of public events in 2013, which led to its conference in 2018.

“Daniel and I decided that we should scale up our operations somewhat. Our reading and general concerns regarding the movements of culture and history were such that we could see that the events of 1968 were seismic for contemporary culture. As we approached the 50-year mark since that fateful year, we were looking to help people think through that year and the 1960s more broadly in a critical manner,” Mr Gourlay explained.

“[We] were deeply gratified by the response to the call for papers, and we were, but the papers presented and the culture of the conference itself were really beyond our expectations.

“The conversation that spilled out of the sessions was electric, which continued beyond the few days of the conference itself, such that we were approached by not a few people, who were eager to get their hands on many of the papers presented. It was easy then for us to decide to proceed with the decision to publish the volume we are launching here tonight,” he continued.

One of the author of the paper included in the book, Archdiocesan Centre for Faith Enrichment Director Dr Marco Ceccarelli. Photo: Michelle Tan.

Mr Gourlay hopes that the book can be “a guide” for the readers through both the historical and new cultural challenges that the general society still has to live with amid the uncertainty during the “global pandemic and political and social unrest”.

At the end of his speech, Mr Gourlay expressed his gratitude for the contributions made by The Knights of the Southern Cross, UNDA, and authors of the papers, who gave their ideas and thoughts.

“This book is something that we are proud of, and we hope that it contributes in a meaningful way to the intellectual life of the faithful not only here in Perth but throughout the country and even further afield. Thank you,” he concluded.