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Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • William Blake’s therapy for the soul Sep 10, 2019- This article was written for The Idler. The new William Blake exhibition at Tate Britain is tremendous. It features three hundred of his works, any of which on their own would command a room. Together they present an extraordinary energy. It’s a rare chance to be immersed in the images of the prophet and poet, and could hardly be more…
  • BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief on God Sep 3, 2019- I was a panelist for the latest edition of the long-standing BBC Radio 4 religious discussion programme, Beyond Belief. We discussed the nature of God. "God is a presence that runs in and through all things that's quite quiet and still but there's something very powerful and strong in that presence and stillness." "You can wake up to the inside…
  • Talk at Watkins Books online Sep 2, 2019- What is the meaning of the disenchantment of our age? Is the ego a clue to a way forward, not a hindrance? What might the next steps in the evolution of human consciousness look like? These questions, and more, were explored by Owen Barfield. He was a member of the famous Oxford literary group, the Inklings, and the one whom…
  • A Secret History of Christianity out today! Aug 30, 2019- A Secret History of Christianity seems to have had a good first day in the world. I hope it opens up the genius insights of Owen Barfield for readers. I've also written an article published in The Tablet outlining his take on Christianity. And there's a discussion with Jules Evans on the Church Times podcast about the need to rediscover…
  • Big histories and the new need for meaning Aug 27, 2019- In this new episode of The Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake and I discuss Big Histories - the books that present long range narratives of cosmic and human evolution. They are big sellers. Noah Yuval Harari, David Christian and Felipe Fernández-Armesto are among the authors attempting to tell a deep story of the universe and humanity. Rupert and I ask how…
  • “Beautifully written and artfully constructed” Aug 20, 2019- Nicholas Colloff reviews A Secret History of Christianity at Golgonooza. "Mark Vernon, in this beautifully written and artfully constructed book, uses Barfield’s key insights and amplifying historical and literary scholarship, to trace the development of Christianity’s two founding traditions – Athens and Jerusalem – articulating how they embarked on similar journeys from original participation to an individualizing break to a…
  • From postmodernity to final participation: talking Owen Barfield Aug 13, 2019- Michael Leighty asks me, Mark Vernon, a range of questions from Barfield's attitudes towards postmodernism to his understanding of the power of story. We explore how language is an embodied activity and what Barfield meant by final participation. We ask what he has to say to readers of Plato and what he has to say to people seeking new grounds…
  • The faith of the Inklings, with Malcolm Guite Aug 10, 2019- Malcolm Guite and I join Justin Brierley on Justin's Unbelievable radio show to talk about how the Inklings, the group of Oxford intellectuals including CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Owen Barfield, made sense of Christian faith. Mark Vernon shares how he draws on Barfield’s approach in his new book ‘A secret history of Christianity’. Theologian-poet Malcolm Guite responds.
  • Human evolution and soul Aug 8, 2019- "Without soul, there would be no tools," I write at the Perspectiva blog. "The human niche is one marked by an openness to the transcendent." Narrative accounts of human evolution are big right now. You may well have read Noah Yuval Harari’s Sapiens and its follow up, Homo Deus. And there are others, such as the “big history” of David…
  • Was Pascal right about belief? Jul 30, 2019- This piece was published at Christian Today. Pascal’s Wager has become a notorious reason to believe in God. The French mathematician and philosopher proposed that it’s rational to believe in God because if you’re wrong it won’t make any difference, but if you’re right it might make every difference as to where you spend eternity. It’s as if he was…

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