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Faculty of Arts Academic Features in ABC Online Forum
They say the two touchiest subjects to be avoided in social situations are religion and politics.
But Associate Professor Barry Spurr from the University of Sydney is eagerly detonating both debates in a new international collaborative project on the ABCâ€™s Religion and Ethics website.
In conjunction with the release of his eagerly awaited new book, â€œAnglo-Catholic in Religionâ€: T.S. Eliot and Christianity (Lutterworth, 2010), Assoc. Professor Spurr will contribute a series of 1000-word essays on topics emerging from his work on theology and literature to the interactive religion forum.
Launched on August 3, Spurrâ€™s featured essays will form part of a body of commentary from some of the worldâ€™s most prominent thinkers in religion and ethics.
Featured over several weeks, the essays are expected to receive worldwide recognition through commissioned short reviews and discussions by leading experts in the field on the web portal discussion.
Among the exciting participants set to respond is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Professor Rowan Williams, an internationally recognised religious writer and former academic theologian.
Also joining the debate is Professor of Religion, Politics and Ethics at the University of Nottingham, Professor John Millbank, a principal figure in the Cambridge-based Radical Orthodoxy group.
Associate Professor Spurr believes his essays will address a fundamental lapse in scholarship around Eliot.
â€œEliot is now seen as one of the greatest and most influential poets and thinkers of the Twentieth Century, but his Christianity has never been satisfactorily exploredâ€.
â€œThis is an extraordinary opportunity for my research and published scholarship to reach a global audience,â€ he said.
The new ABC Religion and Ethics website (www.abc.net.au/religion) is an online forum stimulating â€œcyber-roundtableâ€ style debates on the great tradition of world religions, belief in the modern world, and religionâ€™s place in shaping the ethical and political landscape in an increasingly complex society.
The site, launched on July 12th this year, has enjoyed an international audience of over 1.5 million visitors in only one month. The BBC are planning to appropriate the extraordinary success of this online forum on its own website in the near future.
The first of at least four featured essays, entitled â€œT.S. Eliotâ€™s Extraordinary Journey of Faithâ€, traces the legendary Modernist poetâ€™s arrival at Anglo-Catholicism (a doctrine propounding a belief in the Catholic faith in its Anglican form) after a decade-long exploration of various religious dogmas.
From an upbringing in his familyâ€™s nineteenth-century Bostonian Unitarianism, through to expressions of the nihilism of his age in The Waste Land (1922), Eliotâ€™s religious propensities are the subject of much interest and debate in the series.
â€œYou cannot fully appreciate Eliot's poetry without a knowledge of his religious and ethical ideas,â€ Assoc. Professor Spurr says.
â€œThis is why my book is making both an original contribution to the study of Eliot and to the wider matter of the interrelationship of literature and religion.â€
Barry Spurr is Associate Professor in the Art Facultyâ€™s Department of English, specialising in Renaissance and Modernist poetry, religious literature and liturgical language.
His seminal book, â€œAnglo-Catholic in Religionâ€: T.S. Eliot and Christianity, has been touted as the first detailed investigation into the unique influence of Anglo-Catholicism on the life and work of the poet.
Article written by Emily Jones