John Carroll | Searching for Meaning in an Age of Unbelief

Jun 14, 2023 | Announcements, News & Media

Sydney, Wednesday, 14 June 2023: If the modern West is both statistically and culturally no longer Christian, who will save us now? What remains? Are we still searching for meaning in an age of unbelief?

To help explore the psyche of the post-Christian West, the Ramsay Centre is pleased to announce that acclaimed sociologist and author John Carroll, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at La Trobe University, will deliver our sixth Ramsay Lecture for 2023.

In his lecture, entitled Who Will Save Us Now? Searching for Meaning in an Age of Unbelief, Professor Carroll will argue that while we are no longer a predominantly Christian society, much of that legacy remains.

People in the Western tradition are, by their nature, saviour seeking, Professor Carroll argues, and this ‘saviour syndrome’ impels us to find someone, or some equivalent, to show the way to a better life, and counter the quintessentially modern ordeal of unbelief.

Drawing on literature, history and popular culture, Professor Carroll will argue that people in the West are constantly investing those around them with exemplary or transcendent qualities. For many, Christ may be obsolete (though of course far from it for many more), but the archetype he founded continues to resonate.

Professor John Carroll is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, and a Senior Fellow of Yale University. He has degrees in mathematics, economics, and sociology from the universities of Melbourne and Cambridge. His work focuses on culture, and its crucial role in the human search for meaning, with particular reference to modern Western society.

A frequent writer of essays and newspaper articles, he also delivered one of the Alfred Deakin Federation Lectures in 2001—a reflection on Australian culture titled ‘The Blessed Country’ and chaired the Panel reviewing the National Museum of Australia in 2003.

His books include The Western Dreaming (2001), The Wreck of Western Culture—Humanism Revisited (2004), The Existential Jesus (2007), Ego and Soul—the Modern West in Search of Meaning (2008), Greek Pilgrimage—In Search of the Foundations of the West (2010), Land of the Golden Cities, Australia’s Exceptional Prosperity & the Culture that Made It (2017), and On Guilt, the Force Shaping Character, History, and Culture (2020).

This upcoming Ramsay Lecture will draw heavily on Professor Carroll’s most recent title, published in May this year, The Saviour Syndrome, Searching for Hope and Meaning in an Age of Unbelief (Sutherland House).

This is the second lecture Professor Carroll has delivered for the Ramsay Centre. In August 2018 he spoke on The politicisation of the Western Canon for the Ramsay Lecture series.

***This will be a live in-person Ramsay Lecture, held at The Gold Melting Room at The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street Sydney on Wednesday 21 June 2023 from 5:30pm-7:30pm.

To attend register your interest at:

Media contact: Sarah Switzer0407 816 098/