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Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • Regaining our spiritual commons Feb 25, 2020- This thought piece was written for Perspectiva. Here’s a pub quiz question. Which piece of British legislation was on the statute books longer than any other? Answer: The Charter of the Forest. It was signed in 1217 and lasted 754 years. The follow-up question is, do you know what it secured? And the answer to that is: The Commons. The…
  • The Divine Comedy at 700 Feb 18, 2020- This piece was written for The Idler. To join me on the journey through the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso click here. The first group of the damned that Dante meets upon entering hell are running en masse “as an interminable train”. They can’t stop scampering and press together as an aimless collective. Dante looks closer and sees that they’re following…
  • Spiritual Evolution: Where we have come from and where we are going Feb 16, 2020- Pt1 Pt2 Pt3 To download Pt1, Pt2, Pt3 click on the link. This is a recording of my conversation with Rupert Sheldrake at Alternatives, which meets at St James Piccadilly, London, on Monday 10th February 2020. We use the evolutionary ideas of Owen Barfield to talk about our times of spiritual experimentation. People are exploring an enormous range of powerful…
  • Eco-confession – talk with Rupert Sheldrake Feb 4, 2020- Climate change has become the climate crisis, even climate emergency. In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon dialogues, Rupert Sheldrake begins with an observation. He’s noticed how people are increasingly feeling the need to confess their carbon use and he wonders what that means. The thought develops into a conversation about living with the anxiety of our times where we can’t…
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy 2020 Jan 25, 2020- This year, 2020, marks the 700th anniversary of the completion of the great Divine Comedy. I invite you to experience the odyssey, too, by accompanying me as I discuss each canto. Dante begins his journey by waking up in a dark wood. The air tastes bitter. He becomes fearful. Truth is out of reach. But his crisis is a turning…
  • AI and forgetting being human Jan 20, 2020- This is a review of Human Compatible by Stuart Russell first published in the Church Times. If you seek a book that explains why artificial intelligence (AI) will shape and change the future, this is the book to choose. It is clearly written by a recognised expert in the field, and offers novel suggestions that will leave general readers and…
  • Developing through difficulty – talk on Donald Winnicott Jan 18, 2020- The British psychotherapist, Donald Winnicott, has many key ideas that are useful when thinking about how we develop and connect with the wider world particularly in times of difficulty. His genius, in part, is also to take and on develop ideas of Freud as well as make connections with ideas of Jung. In this talk, I explore the way in…
  • The Netflix Messiah Jan 10, 2020- This piece has been published at Christian Today. Messiah is the new Netflix series. It features the appearance in the Middle East of a Christ-like character who, following an apparently spectacular miracle, gains a following. (I’m now entering into spoiler territory, though my thoughts below don’t reveal plot specifics.) As the episodes unfold, particular individuals and various government agencies have…
  • David Bohm and Owen Barfield: a conversation Jan 5, 2020- This is a summary of an exchange between the physicist David Bohm and the philologist Owen Barfield, and others, that took place on 1st and 2nd May 1982 at the Kettering Foundation. The occasionally broken transcript was given to me by Rob Lehman of the Fetzer Institute who facilitated the meeting. The exchange ranges over issues from insight and imagination,…
  • Imagination and unfolding reality Dec 30, 2019- Many today struggle to perceive spiritual reality. But might we be passing through a stage in the evolution of human awareness? In this dialogue, Rupert Sheldrake and I discuss a recent conference that addressed this question. It was inspired by the ideas of Owen Barfield, whom I've written about in my new book, A Secret History of Christianity. Barfield argued…

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