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Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • Icons, religious and secular Jan 19, 2019 - I hugely enjoyed this conversation on Radio 3's, Free Thinking, particularly picking up the parallels between religious and secular icons with my fellow interlocutors. Much can be explained by remembering how religious icons exceed themselves - they're material objects speaking of immaterial reality; in time conveying the eternal; seen but somehow seeing - and so how secular iconic figures are
  • Smile at New Year resolution slips Jan 4, 2019 - Failing already at your New Year resolutions? I've a piece published here on why that could be a blessing. In short: willpower is a trap. It perpetuates the fight between the parts of you at odds with one another. But compassion and self-acceptance offer a more radical move, opening a path to transformation and liberty. It's a truth discovered by
  • Of caves, consciousness, Christmas and light Dec 22, 2018 - Imagine Christmas with Jesus born not in a stable but a cave. There are no angels and shepherds, kings and gifts, but instead the sheep in the fields, the birds in the air, and the clouds in the sky stand still, astonished. In fact, the whole earth is seen to pause for a moment. A midwife descends from a mountain.
  • Angels and subtle bodies Dec 20, 2018 - Angels Angelic beings seem to appear in liminal times and places, when individuals are in crisis or at the turn of the year and Christmas. In this talk, I explore how we might be more aware than we usually think of what our forebears routinely called angels. Think of Socrates, who was well known to have been accompanied by an
  • Imagination and truth Dec 7, 2018 - I have a series of talks on inner life and seeing with the eye of the soul called How To See Spiritually. Previous talks have looked at why spirituality is important, soul, wonder, interiority, scepticism, parables, ego, psi and virtues. Now I turn to imagination. Since the modern enlightenment, imagination has been downgraded to “mere fancy”. Though, as William Blake
  • On Philip Pullman and Owen Barfield Dec 4, 2018 - A conversation about Philip Pullman's brilliant His Dark Materials story in the light of Owen Barfield's genius account of the evolution of consciousness. I talk with Wesley Schantz, who hosts the Bookwarm Games podcast, about the significance of daemons, dust and witches, about the links to developmental psychology and human experience, and about the divine that lies beyond the Ancient
  • The church and God as father Nov 25, 2018 - A talk given this morning on Weekend, BBC World Service. Do have a listen, or read. The Christian image of God as a male heavenly father runs deep. It dominates the way the church relates to God, which is why it's not very convincing when bishops and archbishops tell us that they don't really believe God is a bearded man
  • The value of virtues Nov 7, 2018 - I've begun a new series of talks on inner life and seeing with the eye of the soul called How To See Spiritually. Previous talks have looked at why spirituality is important, soul, wonder, interiority, scepticism, parables, ego and psi. Now I turn to virtues. Spiritual perception can be defined as the ability to resonate more fully with reality, and
  • What is hell? Nov 3, 2018 - Some preachers threaten hellfire, whilst others quench the flames with divine love. In our latest Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogue, following a suggestion of a regular listener, Rupert Sheldrake and I ask what sense can, today, be made of hell. Is it primarily a psychological state, in which people are locked up by distress? Is it a region of reality that some people,
  • A discussion of The Book by Alan Watts Oct 30, 2018 - The Book On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are is arguably Alan Watts’s most brilliantly written book and one of his most challenging. The TV producer and writer, John Lloyd, called it “The best book I’ve ever read on the nature of what actually is, what the world is about, and how you should behave.” In this extended discussion

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