It’s time again for a deep conversation on the things that really matter as we gather around a pub meal and have a chat, seeking wisdom so we can make a difference.

Yes that’s right, it’s time for:

Cafe Conversations

DATE: October 14th, 2013

TIME: 6.30pm for tea and then 7.00 start

VENUE: Hotel Sophia, cnr. King and Lt. Lonsdale, Melbourne

TOPIC: Beyond the Game: Exploring Australian Democracy Today

Sophia Think Tank has been involved in some research this past year exploring people’s attitudes to democracy. Three of the major themes out of all that work are:

1. We need to de-professionalize politics so that more rank and file people can get involved

2. We need to be a whole lot better at training leaders

3. We need to have a national vision based on the common good.

We will discuss these themes together as there is much wisdom we can gather from our various perspectives that will help us to learn and grow….. and then do something!

I look forward to meeting with you at our next Cafe Conversations.




The next Urban Conversations will be on the topic of ‘Environmental Responsibilty: Who Cares?’.  It will be lead by Byron Smith, a PhD Candidate in Environmental Studies and we will have ample time for a conversation around the issues raised.  Different perspectives are more than welcome and will be listened to and learned from, as usual for an Urban Conversation event.

The Details:

October 13 at 6pm

Café Hamodava, Westwood Place, Melbourne (off Bourke St)

No Charge for entry; Gold coin donation for coffee and cake

Please RSVP to




Urban Conversations (Melbourne) this coming Sunday is a conversation with Roy Williams around his latest book ‘In God They Trust?’.  This book looks at the place of religion in the life of Australia’s Prime Ministers from Barton to Gillard.  Roy Williams will give some input that will help us look ahead in the light of his research and then we will have some hearty conversation on what this means for all of us as Australian citizens, no matter which way we voted.

Sophia Think Tank will also take the opportunity to share some of the findings from their research into Democracy in Australia Today.

It will be good to see you there.  The details:

September 22, 6pm

Cafe Hamodava, Westwood Place, Melbourne (off Bourke St)

No Charge



This week’s Food for Thought looks at the question ‘How should we then live?’ in the light of last weekend’s election….



September 22 at 6pm

Café Hamodava, Westwood Place, Melbourne

‘Federal Elections Done and Dusted: Now What?’

Keynote:  Roy Williams, author of the newly released ‘In God They Trust?’, a book about the place of religion in the life of Australia’s Prime Ministers from Barton to Gillard.  Conversation will be invited around the theme of ‘where to from here’ in the wake of the Federal elections.

Sophia Think Tank will use the opportunity to share some of the findings from its research on Democracy ‘Beyond the Game’.


October 13 at 6pm

Café Hamodava, Westwood Place, Melbourne

‘Environmental Responsibility: Who Cares?

Keynote: Byron Smith, a PhD Candidate in Environmental studies speaking on a theological understanding of environmental responsibility and what that means for us in our everyday lives.

Panel: A group of respondents from different perspectives will help us get the conversation rolling.


November 21 at 6pm

Venue: City Library, Flinders Lane, Melbourne

 ‘C.S. Lewis 50 Years on’

Keynote: Dr Greg Clarke, who holds a PhD in Literature and is an expert on

 ‘all things Lewis’

Panel: A group of respondents from different perspectives will help us get the conversation rolling.

Co-sponsored with City of Melbourne Library Services

More details to follow.


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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in News From The Tank, Public Theology




The next Cafe Conversations is to be held on August 19 at Hotel Sophia, starting at 6.30 for a counter meal and then 7pm for the conversation proper.

So, the details:

Café Conversations

Hotel Sophia

Little Lonsdale and King St. corner, Melbourne

August 19th

6.30 for a counter tea

7.00 for the conversation proper

 We will be continuing our conversation from last time on what is wisdom, where do we find it, how do we know when we’ve got it and what do we do with it then?

For a summary of what we talked about last time go to our Café Conversations blog site and feel free to join in the conversation through that site.

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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Cafe Conversations, General




First published in Eternity Newspaper On-Line July 8 2013

FOOD FOR THOUGHT | David Wilson                        

Talking to a friend last week, she told me about some bullying she was receiving in the workplace. She got a very threatening email from someone she works with and it was pretty hard to take.

On the way into the office this morning, there was a cement truck (much bigger than my car) and a cement truck driver (much bigger than me), who thought that the part of the road I was on belonged to him. With some rather bully-like tactics, he let me know that part of the road was his and he took it. I was very happy to let him have it, taking into consideration all of the factors, but I felt bullied. Not a nice feeling.

Over the weekend there was an article in the press about domestic violence and the terrible effects it can have on the whole family. It is heart wrenching stuff to read and so obviously a serious case of bullying. In the article, journalist Jill Stark tells the story of one abused family and the impact the father’s bullying had on the children in particular. The story has a positive ending, but the pathway through abuse and finally to wellbeing is hard to read without becoming angry that such abuse can go on in our communities.

Stark correctly points out that the child is at an ‘increased risk of mental and physical health problems and cognitive impairment in adulthood’ which leads to the ‘trans-generational consequences of family violence, abuse, neglect, economic hardship and parental mental illness and drug and alcohol problems’ compounding over time. She quotes from Joe Tucci, chief executive of the Australian Childhood Foundation: ‘So in the future what we’re going to see when these kids are adults is a lot more anti-social behaviour, a lot more violence and aggression and social problems. We’re going to have to deal with the cost to the community of that increased level of violence that arises from children who haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to regulate their emotions’.

The message is clear when it comes to family violence as illustrated in Stark’s column. When a child is exposed to a parental figure that doesn’t control emotional outbursts, that child doesn’t learn to control his or her emotions. And what about other contexts where the child is exposed to uncontrolled emotions? What about movies, xbox, social media, parliament? If a child or young person experiences uncontrolled emotions in varying contexts of life then bullying is reinforced as a way of life. The victim becomes the abuser!

In one of the research projects that Sophia Think Tank is currently running, the topic of youth suicide has been prevalent. We’ve found that bullying on Facebook and other forms of social media has had a major part to play in suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviour. The consequences of bullying can be horrendous.

We are all subjected to bullying in our communities and across the various contexts of our daily lives. Some instances are pretty easy to take for most of us—like my ‘friendly’ cement truck driver this morning. Some are much harder—like my friend’s email at work. Others are terrible, with lifelong consequences such as the family abuse Jill Stark talks of.

At the root of all bullying is an abuse of power. We see this in the playgrounds of our schools, on the late night streets of our major cities, along the roads in our communities, and in the abuses of social media and family violence. What wisdom from the Bible can be seen to be addressing this problem?

The Prophet Micah from Moresheth (near Jerusalem), in the 8th Century BC, proclaimed this: ‘Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud people of their homes, they rob them of their inheritance’ (Micah 2:1-2).

Micah is condemning people who lie awake at night plotting how they can use their power for their own benefit (bullying) and then wake up and do it, because they can. Micah says God is very angry about abuse of power and that judgement is coming against such bullying behaviour. But, as always, the Prophet has a message of hope for the community. They are horrified at the prospect of judgement and so they ask Micah what they can do about it. They come up with some of their own ideas such as more sacrifices or more costly sacrifices (Micah 6:6-7). They think that by becoming even more religious they will overcome the problem.

Micah’s answer is to remind them of what God sees as good: Justice (doing what is right), mercy (unconditional kindness), and humility. Herein lies the hope: that a nation committed to these qualities will experience wellbeing. Bullying, and the abuse of power that lies beneath it, seems to be the antipathy of these three qualities for in bullying there is no justice, no mercy and no humility.

What if our nation, at all levels and through all of its sectors, was to prize justice, mercy, and humility? What if we loudly applauded all expressions of these qualities and refused to excuse and/or affirm in any way, shape, or form the abuse of power. This would include the refusal to excuse the family abuse as ‘just another argument’ or the racial tirade as ‘freedom of speech’ or the vitriolic email as ‘letting off steam’. Let’s do it. Let’s decide as a nation that we’ll no longer put up with bullying. Let’s call it what it is and thus expose it for what it is. And let’s, as a nation, commit ourselves to, and hold our leaders accountable to, seeking justice, mercy, and humility as the Australian way. Come on, let’s do it!

Food for thought.

Dr David R Wilson is Director of Sophia Think Tank, a Bible Society Australia project.

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