Addresses and Statements


07 Mar 2019

Scholarship at the Cathedral Series, St. Mary’s Cathedral Crypt

My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for an ordeal.
Be sincere of heart, be steadfast,
and do not be alarmed when disaster comes.
Cling to Him and do not leave Him,
so that you may be honoured at the end of your days.
Whatever happens to you, accept it,
and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient,
since gold is tested in the fire,
and the chosen in the furnace of humiliation. [i]

So began the first reading for Mass on the day the news broke of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction. While I must leave commenting on that matter until after the appeal process is complete, the media storm around the case was read by commentators on both ‘sides’ as further evidence that Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, are now ‘on the nose’ in our comunity. The Church is now routinely portrayed as dangerous, its faith as benighted, its ministers as monsters. Some say Christians will for the foreseeable future be a persecuted minority in our community, if possibly a ‘creative‘ minority also.

In keeping with this, my previous lecture in this series suggested that Australia is, in important respects, a ‘post-Christian’ or secular society, like much of the contemporary West. However, I also argued that we must nuance this claim. Three strands of religiosity can be traced through Australian history and modern culture: post-Christian, Christian and pre-Christian. Those three ‘faiths’ have, in fact, long co-existed here, whether as strangers, rivals or allies, each contributing something to the evolution of the Australian community. Only by doing justice to all three can we understand Australia’s spiritual-cultural history and present spiritual crisis and opportunity. It is the second of these – Australia as a Christian country – that I will examine tonight.

Of course, defining a national identity is an inherently complex project. As Foucault famously observed with respect to personal identity, such questions are always fraught because we are constructed from diverse, sometimes conflicting, sources.[2] If that is true of personal identity, it is all the truer of a nation made of people of many backgrounds and beliefs, a culture through which new ideas and emotions sweep with great power and regularity. The Australian social researcher, Hugh Mackay, has tracked Australian beliefs since his best-seller Reinventing Australia back in 1993, via his Advance Australia Where? (2008) and Beyond Belief (2016), to his latest work Australia Reimagined (2018). He has documented many changes, as well as continuities, in Australian self-understandings.[3]

Nevertheless, we can speak with some confidence about some aspects of Australian identity. Our nation began with the great migration of the ancestors of today’s Aborigines some 60,000 years ago. The penal colony planted in 1788 marked the beginning of a second great influx, mostly though by no means only from the British Isles. After the Second World War came a third wave, with more than seven million entering this land. Now more than 250 languages are spoken in this city. Diverse as our origins are, we are remarkably united. Though there’s been colonialism, dispossession and racism in our history, all sorts now call Australia home and we are inclined to celebrate our particularities rather than denying or homogenising them. So what holds us together? A complex of economic, politico-legal and socio-cultural factors, no doubt; but certain shall-we-call-them Anglo-American cultural assumptions are crucial. And as the word ‘crucial’ (which comes from the word for cross) intimates, Christianity has been the glue for what we call modern Australia.

2. Christian Australia

Older members of our audience may recall a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian in which John Cleese plays Reg, a member of the People’s Liberation Front of Judea. He asks: what have the Romans ever done for us? To his frustration his fellows respond to his rhetorical question with example after example of the benefits of Roman civilization. “All right… all right,” Reg concedes, “but apart from sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a freshwater system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”[4] Something similar might be said about the indebtedness of Australian civilisation to Christianity, and about the denial of history and plain ingratitude of some contemporary secularisms.

“All right, all right, but apart from the sanity that sanctity brings to a world of sin; or the invention and maintenance of hospitals, hospices and leprosaria; or the invention of the university and provision of the most comprehensive primary, second and tertiary school system in the world; or the endowment and staffing of orphanages, aged care facilities, feeding for the indigent, and other welfare services; or the many supports of marriage, family and local neighbourhood; or the ending of human sacrifice, cannibalism, slavery, infanticide and a chattel conception of women and children; or the explication of a sublime moral code and vision of the virtuous person that still inspires so many; or the promotion of literacy, libraries and printing; or the advent of the scientific method and much subsequent science, medicine and technology; or the heritage of Christian art, music, literature and architecture (including this great cathedral); or the corpus of Western theological and philosophical thought that has provided the metaphysical grounding for our politics and so much else… apart from all that, my antagonist asks, what have the Roman Catholics (and other Christians) ever done for us?” Tonight let me examine three areas of our lives which Christianity has ‘done something for us’: in court, in conversation, and in culture.

3. Christianity in Court

In the annual Warrane lecture in the University of New South Wales last year,[5] I noted that the distinction between Church and State and the very idea of separating them has its origins in Christianity. Most previous or parallel civilisations put sacred and profane power in the hands of the same people or caste, and identified their interests; one way or another, religious leaders and texts controlled much of civil law and policy. And while it is undeniable that Christianity at various times and places has been tempted or forced into similar arrangements, it has retained a strong sense that there are some things we should render unto Caesar and some unto God, as Jesus famously put it,[6] or that there is a city of God and a city of man, as Augustine said[7] – even if the two overlap and interpenetrate in various ways, even if they often collaborate to their mutual benefit, and even if we rightly bring one well-formed conscience to an integrated life in the two domains. In this (and so many other) ways, liberal democracies, with their sense of independence and interdependence of Church and State, bi-products of Christianity.

But more than this, our Australian legal system, rooted in English common law, assumes a Christian foundation. When I was a law student at the University of Sydney, I was also learning how to pray the Divine Office, including Psalm 24 that asks: “Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord, or stand in His holy place? The man with clean hands and a pure heart, who desires not worthless things, and has not sworn so as to deceive his neighbour.” Then, in Equity class I learnt the maxim “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands”. The clean hands doctrine was said to protect the integrity of the court – as a ‘holy place’ – so that the court would not allow itself to be used by malefactors. I realised immediately that this was a Christian inheritance, and indeed many of the principles of equity, trusts and succession came from the ecclesiastical courts. So, too, the emphasis on intention in our criminal law, or on promise-keeping in contract law, or on human rights in international law, and so on. Indeed, Augusto Zimmerman, Chair in Legal Theory and Constitutional Law at Monash University, suggests it is “not possible to grasp the full development of the common law without first exploring its profound religious dimensions, its motivating faith.”[8] Christianity brought to the law ideas such as the dignity of the human person, the neighbour for whom we have some responsibility, mercy or epikeia ameliorating fixed law, and appeals to a higher, more ‘spiritual’ authority to act as the ‘conscience’ of the law.[9]

A surprising case of the Church’s influence on our legal system is in corporations law. The Chief Justice of New South Wales, Hon. Tom Bathurst, observes that one of the earliest forms of corporation was found in ecclesiastical law, regarding bishoprics: in order to distinguish between that which was administered privately, and that which was administered qua Church official, ecclesiastical law held that “a series of successive people in a particular church position constituted an artificial legal person”.[10] The power of such ‘incorporation’ – giving ‘body’ or artificial personhood to an office or operation – rested with both Pope and Crown.[11] The influence of Canon Law’s treatment of ‘Juridic Persons’ – Canons 113-123 of the current Code for those who are interested – is obvious in the invention of commercial and semi-government corporations.

A full discussion of all the ways Christianity still underpins our legal system would fill a book, and so my discussion tonight is merely a taster. But as John Wu put it, “while the Roman law was a deathbed convert to Christianity, the common law was a cradle Christian.”[12] If no-one is beyond the law in this country, even our most prominent Christian leaders, it is because of a range of background assumptions about law inherited from Christianity.

4. Christianity in Conversation

In recent years we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible – the English translation sponsored and ‘authorized’ by James I. The product of impressive scholarship, it was destined to have an enormous impact upon our language and psyche. While its initial reception was mixed,[13] by the 18th century in which Australia was colonised, Jonathan Swift was able to praise it not only for its beauty, but as the measure of our language, as Cicero was for the Latins.[14]

In many ways he was right. Mediaeval words such as ‘heritage’, ‘warfare’ and ‘unwittingly’, to name a few, went out of fashion for a time but survived into modernity because they were in the KJV.[15] Mark Knoll observes that:

Many well-known words and phrases from the KJV still sound ‘biblical’: ‘Alpha and Omega’, ‘Ancient of Days’, ‘graven image’, ‘not live by bread alone’, and ‘seventy times seven’ to name a few.

A second level of vocabulary contains expressions that came into common usage because of the KJV, but whose biblical origin is now obscured: ‘apple of his eye’, ‘city set on a hill’, ‘a house divided’, ‘propitiation’, ‘the quick and the dead’, ‘reap the whirlwind’, ‘scapegoat’, and ‘two-edged sword’.

A third level includes words and phrases that most would be surprised to learn were fixed in our language because of the KJV – words as common as adoption, advertise, beautiful, feel, fishermen, glory, horror, housetop, mortgaged, mystery, nurse (as a verb), scrape and suburbs.[16]

The most printed book in English and most disseminated book in Australia, it’s no surprise the Bible had such influence upon our culture.[17] Its ideals and cadences were heard in the high rhetoric of Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the First Australians, and in the music of Nick Cave; its phrases seen in the novels of Tim Winton and Helen Garner, the poetry of James McAuley and Les Murray, or tattooed on the bodies of bikies and surfers. In her book, The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History, historian Meredith Lake last year explored how in the hands of Bible-bashers, migrants, suffragists, unionists, writers, artists and Indigenous Australians, Scripture has played a defining, if contested, role in this country.[18] She acknowledges its quasi-military part in planting the British empire here; its cultural position in promoting certain concepts of justice and right living; and its spiritual role, inspiring millions, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.[19]

Were there more time I could point to many more influences of Bible stories and sayings, of Christian creeds and commandments, liturgy and hymnody upon Australian language and thought patterns. The scholastic Christian inheritance regarding the nature and import of argument, evidence and dialogue is also still powerful. One way or another, we are still Christian in much of our conversation.

5. Christianity in Culture

The French anthropologist, René Girard, spent many years arguing that religion is essentially cathartic in nature: it is a means by which communities constrain and purge themselves of violent anger.[20] All groups are held together by identification and differentiation. But as communal fault lines develop and the desire for vengeance increases, societies look for a scapegoat – someone marginal and expendable – upon whom to focus their wrath. Once made scapegoat, the victim (though still judged guilty) may enter into religious mythology.[21]

Turning to Judaism and Christianity, however, Girard was unsettled to find so much of the Bible written from the perspective of the victims: of Job who lost everything or Rachel weeping for her children, of Jonah tossed into the sea or the ‘Suffering Servant’ in Isaiah. Something even stranger occurs in the story of Christ: the humanisation and divinisation of the scapegoat and the transfer of spiritual power from the mob to the Victim.[22] As Christ voluntarily assumes the role of scapegoat for all humanity, His innocence and sacrifice are laid bare for all to see.[23] The humanity of the crucified One demands that we identify both with Him and with His accusers, while His divinity redeems our identification with violence.

There is much more to Girard’s influential exploration of redemption, some of it dubious, but he makes an important point about the unique contribution of Christianity: its challenge to allow Christ’s suffering to redeem us all, and be the model for how we treat others. By seeing the face of God in all humanity, especially the most vulnerable, Christians must appraise others as intrinsically valuable, inviolable, indispensable.

Now, there are many Christian accounts of the dignity of the human person and the rights and responsibilities that follow. Some will have heard me previously appealling to the Thomist reading of the imago Dei in Genesis and of the restoration of that image in the Gospels through the incarnation-redemption event. In other contexts I’ve drawn upon the natural law idea – also evolved in Catholic tradition – about human nature and worth, the logic of human choice, and the demands of the human flourishing and the common good. There are other Christian accounts available too. But without some Christian account, how can we justify the preference for the poor which is the foundational assumption of our welfare system in Australia? Or Aussie values such as giving others ‘a fair go’ and being ‘fair dinkum’? How can we propound reverence for and tolerance of every person, including freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, creed, sex or sexuality, if we do not first recognise our common nature, interests, and fundamental if imperfect goodness?[24] How else will we achieve a sane balance between the individual and the community, and between economic and non-economic goods? How can we defend virtues and values of fairness and self-sacrifice, compassion and care, without recourse to the eternal Goodness embodied in that Innocent One who laid down His life for all? How else will we renew our social and spiritual capital in areas such as public morality, local community, education and care for the vulnerable, without the Gospel

6. Continuing role in liberal modernity

Even the American Pragmatist philosopher, Richard Rorty, who had little time for religion, concluded that without religion we have no basis for believing in human dignity and equality; he suggested that liberal societies must simply act as if these ideas were true.[25] Indeed, Rorty thought that the New Testament had a continuing role to play as the guiding document for liberal democracies, and that Christianity was essential as a school of respect, empathy and hope.[26] So, too, for many social justice projects, including the trade union movement, which Rorty claimed, “has turned out to be the most inspiring embodiment of the Christian virtues of self-sacrifice and of fraternal agape in recorded history.”[27]

The Canadian political philosopher, Charles Taylor, whose famous work on the secular[28] I examined in my previous lecture, noted that there are various secularities, many of which can co-exist more or less comfortably with faith and public religion; only a totalising secularism seeks to banish faith (especially Christianity) from the public square to a smaller and smaller private sphere, and thereafter stamp it out. The more compatibilist secularities may not only co-exist beside but even co-operate with religious people and institutions, and gain from that relationship inspiration and energy. People in liberal societies may go to Church less, but many will continue to insist that they are ‘spiritual’, will connect with formal religion from time to time, and will engage in kinds of prayer and meditation, works of mercy, study groups and pilgrimages.[29] They will allow each other room for different values, support each other’s ordinary human flourishing, and be open to a rich variety of paths to God.[30]

Australian moral theologian, Robert Gascoigne, has also reflected upon the challenging but fruitful relationship between Christianity and secularity.[31] He argues that liberal societies like Australia’s have two stories to tell. The positive story is of freedom, equality and the ‘givenness’ of certain rights and values that allow individuals to flourish in community. The negative story is one of so eschewing ‘comprehensive’ accounts of the good that liberal societies lack vision or ‘meta-narrative’: they know what they want freedom from but not what freedom is for; personal and communal identity are weak and prone to dissolution.[32] Within such a liberal society, then, the Church has an important role to play “principally through affirmation of the positive story of liberal society, and in defence of humanity against what is truly its negative story”.[33]

As liberal secularist polities mature, the accounts of Girard, Rorty, Taylor and Gasgoine all suggest that the need for Christian inspiration grows rather than declines. This might help explain why, as I argued in my earlier lecture, the inevitability thesis regarding secularisation-in-modernity has proven false. Secular culture is not only parasitic upon religious (especially Christian) culture, as I suggested in part 1; it is symbiotic with it: it needs Christian culture to survive because it has found no other suitable host. And so, however weakened are some Christian institutions and practices, Christian culture will continue to have much to offer. What’s more, so much of our social and spiritual capital is of the ‘What have the Roman Catholics ever done for us?’ kind: real, enduring, beneficial not just for Catholics but for the whole community and, dare I say, graced by God, even if under-appreciated. If most Australians even in this most secular age and despite the manifest failures of the churches, are still willing to call themselves Christians, Christianity’s positive influence on our culture and polity is likely to be sustained well into the future.

7. Doubts about Christian Australia

I have outlined tonight some reasons for thinking that Australia is still a Christian country, even if it is post-Christian and pre-Christian also. Let me now raise some doubts about its Christian credentials. The Scottish moral-political philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre, famously suggested in After Virtue that modernity is like the world of the late Roman empire, living on fragments of past practices and ideas that only made sense within a context now largely lost.[34] He was far from optimistic about how Christian coherence and continuity might be regained. Christian institutions, such as parishes, schools, hospitals and welfare agencies, might continue to operate and, judged by the worldly standard of balance sheets, number of employees, enrolees or contracts, and political influence, might seem quite healthy. Yet they can be hollowed out, losing all sense of their founding inspiration and continuing mission. They become Christian ‘zombies’.

What’s more, if Christians can be proud of all they offer the community, we should be aware that it is not always welcome. Parish attendance is declining by about 1% p.a., and Christian wedding and funeral numbers are in free-fall. A quarter of Australia’s families entrust their children to Catholic schools – a staggering 760,000 of them – but enrolments are declining and there are pressures to defund our schools and remove any religious liberty protections. Millions are still assisted by Christian hospitals and welfare services in this country every year. Yet instead of Christian orphanages, modernity wants secular abortuaries; instead of Christian hospices, secular euthanasia clinics; instead of SRE in state schools, secular ‘ethics’ classes… And in my first lecture I considered the staggering rise in Australia of the ‘nones’ – not women religious, but people declaring they have no religion, especially those in their 20s and 30s. Despite the various qualifications I offered there to an apparently bleak picture, it seems likely that Christian institutions will not be as popular or even as readily permitted in the years ahead.

As for the Christian contribution to the arts… As a young man backpacking around Europe while deciding my vocation, I spent a fortnight in Florence. Two young guys from Seattle WA, arrived at the Youth Hostel with little more than a day to waste in Florence. They asked me if there was much to see! Though no expert I offered to give them a tour the next day. In the Uffizi Gallery one of them turned to me and said “Now explain to me again: who is the woman with the baby in so many of the pictures?” I was so shocked that the incident has remained with me ever since. I’d assumed growing up in a Christian culture like America even non-Christians would know who Mary was. Now, this was back in 1984; 35 years later the young men (and women) of Seattle probably know even less about Christian language and ideas, let alone faith and morals. Young Sydney is no better: teachers confirm for me that much Christian baggage is now mysterious even to those who still identify as Christian.

I gave as evidence tonight of Christian Australia, not just the sheer numbers of Christians or contributions of their institutions and works, but also the continuing influence of Christianity in court, conversation and culture. But I wonder… Much that influences our law and polity is more pre-Christian Graeco-Roman[35] or post-Christian Enlightenment in origin. How would Thomas Aquinas’ account of law begin to make sense of bubble zones around abortion clinics and same-sex marriages? The political influence of Church leaders is waning. And if our legal systems are as pre- and post-Christian as they are Christian, our contemporary language and thought patterns draw upon many non-Christian sources. If much of our language is still KJV, even more is Latin, and we don’t think of ourselves a Roman culture; if much of our democratic idealism comes from Christian Westminster, it is also indebted to ancient Greece and the French revolution, but we don’t identify ourselves with those worlds. We might still talk of people ‘holding on by the skin of their teeth’, but who knows this is from Job 19:20 and who cares? Hugh Mackay’s Australia keeps being reimagined and each time it is a little less overtly Christian than it was before…

8. Living in the Religious Blind Spot

A study of the first century of Nobel Laureates – 1901 to 2000 – found that two thirds identified as Christian.[36] Yet as University of Melbourne political scientist, Denis Dragovic, recently noted in the Age,[37] no-one will get a prize for researching the positive effects of religion upon individuals and society. Among the demonstrated benefits, he notes, are higher mental well-being, lower substance abuse, better academic results, greater generosity with time and money, more concern for the public order, more Nobel prizes, and so on.[38] In God is Good for You, journalist Greg Sheridan argues that Christian tradition has not only underpinned Western civilisation and much of Australia’ social capital; it remains crucial for well-being and inspiration.[39] He highlights studies demonstrating the social benefits of religion, including organised giving, community building, social justice activity, greater household income, lower welfare participation, lower family breakdown, higher rates of reported happiness.[40]

Such research is little known. Instead, religion is regularly demeaned by the cognoscenti as the principal cause of social tension and exclusion. As Dragovic points out, “we live in a time when religion is seen as bad, being religious as showing poor judgement, and practising religion as deserving of contempt”. Rupert Shortt, Religion Editor for the Times Literary Supplement, notes that though there are numerous well-reasoned defences of a belief in the transcendent,[41] the new atheists rarely bother to engage with these texts or arguments.[42] Instead, they construct straw gods to knock down with mockery more than argument; because no one in their circles takes religion seriously anymore, they don’t think it warrants serious engagement.

There is, then, a ‘religious blind spot’ in contemporary culture, or an ‘anti-religious confirmation bias’, which refuses to see any good in religious faith and institutions. Growing religious disaffiliation, especially in the school-aged and post-school cohorts, may feed on this dismissal of all religion as benighted and hostile to science, progress, and individual happiness. The remaining believers may increasingly see themselves, in Stanley Hauerwas’ memorable phrase, as “resident aliens”.[43]

Yet here we come up against the paradox at the heart of Christianity: that it is only by dying that each of us individually and the Church as a whole rises to new life; only by taking up the cross and following Christ’s Lenten way that we can be true disciples; only by pruning that new life will emerge on this old vine. God has been proclaimed dead and the Church doomed many times before in history; for those who endured through those hard times it must have been very hard indeed; yet little did they know that there was a springtime for the Church just around the corner, with new saints, movements, understandings. The Church in Australia may have fallen to her knees but she is not out for the count.


Following the Royal Commission and Pell trial many Catholics are traumatised, have lost confidence in the institution of the Church and even their faith, and so are more vulnerable to the “What have the Roman [Catholics] ever done for us?” view of the new atheism and the new sectarianism. As we heard at the beginning of this lecture, Ben Sirach predicted an ordeal for those who serve the Lord, disaster for those who are steadfast, humiliation for those who are chosen; Jesus made similar prophecies.[44] In the meantime, Sirach said, practice resignation, humility, patience, trust.[45] But he went on:

You who fear the Lord, trust Him,
and you will not lose your reward.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
for mercy and everlasting happiness will be yours.
Consider the generations of old and see:
whoever trusted in the Lord and was abandoned to shame?
Or whoever, steadfastly fearing Him, was left forsaken?
Or whoever called to Him, and was ignored?
For the Lord is compassionate and merciful,
He forgives sins and saves in days of distress.[46]      Sir 2:7-11.

There are still many of what Ben Sirach called god-fearing people, who trust in the Lord and consider the wisdom from of old. Many remain committed to Christ and His teachings, whatever their misgivings about some of His ministers. They continue to be persuaded by His transcendent claims, inspired by His pattern of life, nourished by His word and sacraments, supported by His community of faith. And they still give themselves energetically to making the Church and the world better places.

In this lecture I have continued to make my case that Australian spiritual history and contemporary culture are woven from post-Christian, Christian and pre-Christian threads; that the three siblings have many similarities if also rivalries; and that they have co-existed, competed and co-operated in various times and ways. Christianity continues to make a ubiquitous and arguably still dominant contribution to the language, institutions, morality and other assumptions of our community. However fragmentary that Christian contribution may be, no alternative worldview and practices have so far been found that could ensure individual and social cohesion going forward.

Yet if it’ i too simple to label Australia a post-Christian or secular country, it is too simple to label it a Christian one also. Many, perhaps most, Australians, even if they still identify as Christian for certain purposes or are attached to fragments of the Christian thing, live day-to-day as practical agnostics, such that God and the things of God have little purchase on their lives. Such a country is not godless, but it is at best only very imperfectly Christian. I leave it to my final lecture to attempt to reconcile these negations…

[1]     Sir 2:1-5; first reading for Mass of Tuesday of Week 7 in Ordinary Time I.

[2]     Michel Foucault, “Techniques of the Self” in Essential Works of Foucault, Vol. 1. Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth (London: Penguin Books, 1997)

[3]     Hugh Mackay, Reinventing Australia: The Mind and Mood of Australia in the 90s (Angus & Robertson, 1993); Turning Point: Australians Choosing Their Future (Pan Macmillan, 1999); Advance Australia… where? (Hachette Livre Australia, 2008); Beyond Belief: How We Find Meaning, with or without Religion (Pan Macmillan, 2016); and  Australia Reimagined: Towards a More Compassionate, Less Anxious Society (Pan Macmillan Australia, 2018).


[5]     Anthony Fisher OP, “In Sæcula Sæculorum: Secularism and Religion Today,” Annual Warrane Lecture, Warrane College, University of New South Wales, 15 August 2018.

[6]     Mt 22:21.

[7]     St Augustine, De civitate Deo contra paganos; there are many contemporary editions.

[8]     Augusto Zimmerman, “Christianity and the common law: Rediscovering the Christian roots of the English legal system”, UNDA Law Rev, 16 (2014), p. 145; Christian Foundations of the Common Law, vol. 3: Australlia (Connor Court, 2019) .

[9]     Zimmerman, “Christianity and the common law”, p. 160.  Cf. also Harold Berman, Law and Revolution: The Foundation of the Western Legal System (Harvard University Press, 1983), p. 435; Nicholas Aroney, “Law, revolution, and religion”, Journal of Markets & Morality 8 (2005), 355-63; Peter Hoffer, The Law’s Conscience: Equitable Constitutionalism in America (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1990).

[10]    Tom Bathurst, “The Historical Development of Corporations Law” presented at Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal Theory, 3 September 2013, p. 2 .

[11]    P. L. Davies, Gower’s Principles of Modern Company Law, 6th ed., (Sweet & Maxwell, 1997), p. 18.

[12]    John Wu, Foundations of Justice: A Study in Natural Law (Sheed & Ward, 1955), p. 65.

[13]    Lenn Goodman, “The King James Bible at 401”, Culture and Society, 50 (2013), at p. 79 points out that Protestants thought it was too Episcopalian in its assumptions and included the ‘Apocryphal’ books from the Catholic canon; while Catholics grumbled that the marginal notes, which gave alternate translations of difficult words and passages, suggested uncertainty about God’s word.

[14]    Jonathan Swift, A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue, (1712).

[15]    David Norton, “The KJV at 400: Assessing its Genius as Bible Translation anf Its Literary Influence”, in Burke, David G., Kutsko, John F., & Philip, H. (eds.),   The King James Version at 400, (Society of Biblical Literature, 2013), p. 21.

[16]    Mark Noll, “A world without the KJV”, Christianity Today (May 2011), 30-37 at pp. 31-32.

[17]   See The Bible in Australia, special number of St Mark’s Review (Oct 2017).

[18]   Meredith Lake, The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History (New South Books, 2018). See also ABC Religion and Ethics Report, 19 December 2018,

[19]  Michael McGirr, “The Bible in Australia review”, Sydney Morning Herald 18 May 2018.

[20]    See René Girard, The Scapegoat, trans. Yvonne Frecero (John Hopkins University Press, 1986).

[21]    Girard, The Scapegoat, p. 44; René Girard, Battling to the End: Conversations with Benoit Chantre, trans. Mary Baker (Michigan State University Press, 2009), p. xvii; cf. Marie Cabaud Meaney, “Simone Weil and René Girard: Violence and thee Sacred”, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly,  84(3) (2010), 565-87 at p. 577.

[22]    Meaney, “Simone Weil and René Girard”, at p. 577: “In contrast to myth, it is not the mob that divinizes Christ and proclaims his resurrection; rather, those who believed him to be Messiah all along, still do so. Furthermore, in myths the mob thinks that the scapegoat is guilty before and even after divinizing him; however, in the Gospels the apostles never believe that Christ is culpable.”

[23]    René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, trans. James C. Williams (Orbis, 2001), p. 127: “In revealing the self-deception of those who engage in violence,” Girard writes, “the New Testament dispels the lie at the heart of their violence. It spells out everything we need to reject our own mythic view of ourselves: our belief in our own innocence.” Cf. also Paul Gifford, “Girard, the Gospels, and the symmetrical inversion of the founding murder”, in P. Antonello and P. Gifford (eds.), Can We Survive Our Origins? Readings in René Girard’s Theory of Violence and the Sacred (Michigan State UP, 2015), 115-141.

[24]   See Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (Harvard UP, 2014).

[25]    Cf. Richard Rorty, Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers, Vol. 1 (Cambridge UP, 1991)

[26]    Richard Rorty, “Failed prophecies, glorious hopes”, Constellations 6(2) (1999), 216-21. Likewise Marcello Pera on the religious roots of free societies in Why We Should Call Ourselves Christian (2008).

[27]    Rorty, “Failed prophecies, glorious hopes”, p. 220.

[28]   Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Harvard UP, 2007). There is an enormous associated literature.

[29]   Taylor, A Secular Age, pp. 515-8.

[30]   Taylor, A Secular Age, pp. 551-772.

[31]    Robert Gascoigne, The Church and Secularity: Two Stories of Liberal Society (Georgetown University Press, 2009.

[32]    Gascoigne, The Church and Secularity, pp. 3-4 etc. This ‘crisis of identity’ is echoed also in Patrick McArdle, “Catholic identity”, in Abe Ata (ed.), Catholics and Catholicism in Contemporary Australia: Challenges and Achievements (David Lovell Publishing, 2012), pp. 108-14.

[33]    Gascoigne, The Church and Secularity, p. 152

[34]   Alasdair MacInrtyre, After Virtue (University of Notre Dame Press, 1981; 3rd edn. 2007); Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (University of Notre Dame Press, 1988); Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry (University of Notre Dame Press, 1990).

[35]    See for example Peter Stein, Paul Vinogradoff, George Mousourakis and others on the Roman law underpinning much of the common law.

[36]  Baruch Shalev, 100 Years of Nobel Prizes (Atlantic punishers, 2003).

[37]    Denis Dragovic, “Religion is good for you and for your community”, The Age, 11 October 2018, p. 18

[38]    See also: Pew Research Center, Religion’s Relationship to Happiness, Civic Engagement and Health Around the World, 31 January 2019; Samuel Frederickson, “How does religion benefit health and well-being? Are positive emotions active ingredient?”, Psychological Inquiry, 13(3 (2002), 209-13;  Frank Cranmer, “Religion and public benefit”, Ecclesiastical Law Journal, 11(2) (2009), 203-5; Patricia Casey, The Psycho-Social Benefits of Religious Practice (Iona Institute, 2009); Byron Johnson, More God, Less Crime (2011) etc.

[39]   Greg Sheridan, God is Good For You: A Defence of Christianity in Troubled Times (2018).

[40]   Sheridan, God is Good For You, pp. 26-32.

[41]   Such as: Francis Collins, The Language of God (2006); William Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (3rd edn., 2008); Thomas Crean, God is No Delusion (2007); Edward Fesser, The Last Superstition (2008); Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker, Answering the New Atheism (2008); David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions (2009); John Haught, God and the New Atheism (2008) Peter Hitchens, Rage Against God (2010); Trent Horn, Answering Atheism (2013); Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (2008);John Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (2009) and Gunning for God (2011); David Marshall, The Truth Behind the New Atheism (2007); Alister McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion? (2007) and several other works; Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist New Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False (2012); John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest of Truth (2001); etc.

[42]    Rupert Shortt, Christianophobia: A Faith under Attack (2013); God is No Thing (Bell and Bain, 2016), p. 6

[43]   Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, Resident Aliens (2014); see also Ropd Dreher, The Benedict Option (2017).

[44]   E.g. Mt 5:10-12; 10:23; 24:9 etc.

[45]   Sir 2:1-6.

[46]   Sir 2:7-11.