Lecturer: Emeritus Prof. David Tacey

UD undergraduate unit code: DS3035W
UD postgraduate unit code: DS9035W

This unit will examine the ways in which spiritual yearning manifests itself in contemporary Australian culture. There will be particular focus upon signs of spirituality as they are revealed in the arts, Indigenous culture, volunteerism and the interpretations of religious experience in daily life. Students will examine the ways in which spirituality finds expression in a multicultural, multi-faith context. The unit will also examine some of the reasons for the decline in formal religious life whilst grappling with the reasons why spirituality is largely ignored by the secular mainstream.

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Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and role of spirituality in Australian society;
  • Identify and analyse the role and nature of spirituality in Indigenous Australian cultures;
  • Critically reflect on the tension between indigenous cultures and non-indigenous cultures, based on sacred and secular assumptions and values;
  • Critically consider the process and history of secularisation in Australia and its impact on Christianity and other religions;
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the inter-relationship between emerging spiritualities and the multicultural and multi-faith complexity of Australian society.

Reading List

Note: writings on Australian spirituality are few and far between, and rapidly go out of print or become unavailable. So, one has to search various websites and find out what texts are available, new or used. They are not in bookstores.

For essential reading texts, see if any of these can be purchased:

  • Makarand Paranjape, ed., Sacred Australia: Post-Secular Considerations (Melbourne: Clouds of Magellan, 2009).
  • David Tacey, Edge of the Sacred: Jung, Psyche, Earth (Einsiedeln, Switzerland: Daimon, 2009).
  • David Tacey, Re-Enchantment: The New Australian Spirituality (Sydney: Harper Collins, 2000).
  • Eugene Stockton, The Aboriginal Gift: Spirituality for a Nation (1995; Sydney: Blue Mountain Education and Research Trust, 2015).

Most of the following recommended reading texts should be available:

  • Gary Bouma, Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • Vicki Grieves, Aboriginal Spirituality: Aboriginal Philosophy: The Basis of Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing (Darwin: Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health, 2009) PDF download; search the internet.
  • Wayne Hudson, Australian Religious Thought (Melbourne: Monash University Publishing, 2016).
  • Amanda Lohrey, A Short History of Richard Kline (Melbourne: Black Inc., 2016)
  • Hugh Mackay, Beyond Belief: How we find meaning, with or without religion. (Sydney: MacMillan Press, 2016)
  • Les Murray, ‘Some Religious Stuff I Know About Australia’, Persistence in Folly (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1984); also found in in The Shape of Belief, Christianity in Australia Today, eds., Dorothy Harris, Douglas Hynd, David Millikan (Lancer Books, 1982).
  • Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr, ‘Dadirri: Inner Deep Listening’, PDF download.
  • George Rosendale, ‘Aboriginal Traditional Spirituality’, PDF download.
  • E. H. Stanner, ed. Robert Manne, The Dreaming and Other Essays (Melbourne: Black Inc, 2009).

Dates for 2020

Enrolments for this unit have now closed. This is being held as a Supervised Reading Unit.