Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Into the Lions' Den?

Today in Sydney, I am presenting my paper, "The Hidden Adam Smith in his Allleged Theology" to an audience of academic economists, historians, and theologists at the Australian Catholic University.

I make no presumptions about the response of those listening and asking questions, but I am not anticipating wholesome agreement. So far, the response of colleagues - we are all students - has been mixed, varying from genuine curiousity about aspects of Smith's biography, through to utter disdain for my 'presumptions' that Adam Smith was anything less than a devout Calvinist/Deist/Providentialist/stoic or some mixture of all or several of the foregoing.

When, in private conversation with a distinguished Smithian scholar ealy in 2009, I opined that Smith's public agreement with the Calvinist Confession of Faith was tempered by his knowledge that not to do so would eliminate his candiditure for the professorship at Glasgow (1751), he reacted angrily and declared that 'dishonesty' was uterly beneath Smith and he that would "NEVER" have done "such a disgraceful thing", all said with the definite certainty that what I had suggested was at all but impossible, and therefore it was not open to discussion. Polietness and my usual deference in such company led me to desist from pursing the matter.

This afternoon, I shall probably meet similar responses, perhaps, though deference is not a quality I normally associate with Australian academics (no disrespect, but I spent my teens here).

On which topic I shall report later.


Well, the bit I knew about went down reasonably well, judging by the question-exchanges, but, Oh Dear, I was quietly informed by a participant that I made a crass error on a theological issue: the doctrine of 'atonement', exposing a very weak flank to my credibility among theologians.

Some reading required, urgently! Chastened, I resort to my long-standing belief that we learn from our errors, not from being right. Doesn't help my embarrassment though...

The Australian Catholic University has a lovely campus and the weather remains beautiful. Is it still snowing in Edinburgh?

Tomorrow to a think-tank on reconciling God and Mammon- note to self: don't mention attonment doctrine.



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