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Sunday, February 05, 2017

Australian Traditionalism: James McAuley

A new article by Jean Page explains the conversion to Catholicism and subsequent political activities of the Australian Traditionalist James McAuley (1917-76). McAuley (pictured right) is best known for his part in the 1944 Ern Malley hoax, discussed in Peter Kelly's Buddha in a Bookshop (2007), reviewed on this blog. But he was also one of Australia's leading readers and exponents of Guénon and the other Traditionalists.

McAuley's search for tradition led him to one of the most traditional (in certain senses) of all societies: New Guinea, which he first visited in 1944. It was not, however, the Papuan and Austronesian inhabitants who ended his search, but a group of French Catholic missionaries at Kubuna. After long conversations in 1951 with the aged Archbishop Alain Marie Guynot de Boismenu (1870-1953), which included discussion of Traditionalism, McAuley joined the Roman Catholic Church.

After this conversion, McAuley remained a "soft" Traditionalist. He wrote articles with titles like "Tradition, Society and the Arts" (1952), and in 1954 objected to the plan to "develop" traditional communities, much as the soft Traditionalist E. F. Schumacher did, writing that "the world of industrial progress is a world of disinherited beings, cut off from the deepest sources of human satisfaction, restless and jangled, driven by unstilled cravings through a course of life without meaning or direction." He joined B. A. Santamaria (1915-98) in working against the influence of Communism in Australia.

The article, "Land of Apocalypse: James McAuley’s Encounter with the Spirit: the French Catholic Missions of the Sacred Heart, Kubuna and Yule Island, New Guinea," Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 37 no. 1 (2016), pp. 18-31, is available online.

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