The 'Awakening the Sacred' Conference at the Australian Catholic University’s Strathfield Campus is the fifth in the series connecting the Sacred with Literature and the Arts (SLA). The focus of this fifth conference is praxis, the links between academic and artistic reflections and the embodiment of these in sacred practice. For this event we have the profound good fortune of having been able to bring Laurence Freeman OSB to our conference as both speaker and facilitator.
Father Laurence is the head of the World Christian Meditation Community, but he is also a literature scholar from Oxford University. He has been asked to both reflect on the art of meditation and bring its practical fruits to the attention of the conference audience. He has also been asked to speak on the impact of literature on his own spiritual awakening.
Other key speakers at this conference have also been selected for their focus on praxis and experience. Professor Sasha Grishin, Art Historian from the Australian National University will address the conference on the ways in which Russian and Byzantine icons provide a gateway into practice. His talk will be accompanied by an art exhibition at the McGlade Gallery at ACU’s Strathfield Campus focusing on icons and other sacred art.
Professor David Tacey, will speak on the ways in which James Turrell’s art has the power to awaken the sacred in participants. Turrell’s art is on permanent display outside the National Gallery in Canberra.
ABC’s Rachael Kohn will speak of her years of evoking and awakening the sacred through her radio program “The Spirit of Things”. Dr Maeve Heaney and the ACU Choir will create and reflect on the power of music in awakening the sacred. Imam Afroz Ali will reflect on the Art of Islamic prayer and A. Prof Michael Griffith will draw the conference to a close with reflections on how Australian poetry and art can be agents in awakening the sacred.
But the most important component of this wonderful event will be the presence of Dr Miriam-Rose Ungenmerr, celebrated indigenous elder who will engage with Father Laurence Freeman OSB in a three hour exchange on the relationship between Christian Meditation and Dadirri (Inner Deep Listening and Quiet Still Awareness).
This exchange has been made possible through ACU’s linkage with the Australian Christian Meditation Community who will be holding this MEDITATIO event within the framework of the Awakening the Sacred conference. Dr Miriam-Rose Ungenmerr, whose paintings will also be on show at the McGlade gallery, will also be speaking about her work as a visual artist. The integrity of the previous SLA conference (Grounding the Sacred) in 2015 has now been acknowledged by the publication of Oxford University’s Special Australian Edition of Literature and Theology edited by Michael Griffith and Elaine Lindsay. The papers for this issue were specially commissioned by Michael and Elaine to feature key academics and interdisciplinary connections within ACU. The issue can be seen at: https://academic-oup-com.ezproxy1.acu.edu.au/litthe/issue/31/2