Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • Barfield, incarnation and the evolution of consciousness Apr 28, 2017 - This piece was published in the Church Times a month ago, and so can now peak from behind the paywall. It is also the last piece of mine edited by Rachel Boulding. She much improved many of my efforts. Jesus can be understood in numerous ways. His first followers, still Jews, reinterpreted the Messiah traditions to see Jesus as a
  • Who was Jesus? Apr 14, 2017 - Rupert Shedrake and I have published the latest in our Science Set Free podcasts, discussing who Jesus was. Jesus saves, it is often said. But what does that mean? Is it an objectionable notion, implying a bloodthirsty God? We explore ways in which the significance of Jesus has been interpreted and ask whether the incarnation is a more important notion,
  • The personality of rivers Apr 2, 2017 - The Whanganui river in New Zealand now has the same rights as a person. It's considered to be an ancestor by the Whanganui iwi people. Theirs is the old view. Ancient cultures tended not to imagine their rivers as geographical features found in certain places. Instead, they related to them, often as gods. You can catch an echo of the
  • The marriage of souls Mar 26, 2017 - Why we now need a renewed conjugal theology Equality is politically effective. Its message is immediate and, in a mature democracy, one that most understand. But it is also a blunt tool, riding roughshod over some crucial, subtle issues about what it is to be human. Now that the Church of England bishops appear genuinely to have offered us a
  • Choosing my religion Jan 15, 2017 - A piece published in the Guardian, reflecting on the Southbank Centre’s Belief and Beyond Belief festival. Past civilisations are much celebrated for their religious and philosophical diversity. Ancient Athens gave rise to the varied experiments in good living known as Platonism, stoicism, Epicureanism, scepticism and cynicism. And Ashoka’s rule in third century BC India – characterised by his respect for
  • Was there really a star of Bethlehem? Yes Dec 21, 2016 - A Christmas piece, originally published by The Idler. It’s the time of year when newspapers ask whether there really was a star of Bethlehem. “We have seen his star in the East”, the wise men report in the Bible. So is the event historically accurate? The wise men were astrologers, which makes the incident a double target for the debunkers
  • This is not a Christmas sermon Dec 18, 2016 - A piece from the Idler... Do you think you might venture to church this Christmas, for a midnight mass or Christingle? Many will, the otherwise secular folk who traverse the lychgate to sing a carol. It’s the vicar’s “busy period”, though in my experience vicars are busy most of the time. I advise the trip. At worse, it’s a pause;
  • New! A History of Christianity in Eleven Short Chapters Dec 12, 2016 - Embedded Video Player For good and ill, Christianity has profoundly shaped western civilisation, our lives, and even the workings of our minds. You don’t have to believe for that to be so. Even in post-Christian times, the preaching of Jesus and Paul, the struggles of Augustine and Luther, the convictions of Lydia and Newton are in the air we breath.
  • Time for death Nov 30, 2016 - It feels as if death is being discussed all over the place right now, what with Oliver Burkeman, Joan Bakewell and Advent. Made me want to think about how death is realised as a gateway to life, in religious and philosophical traditions... It can come as something of a surprise to learn that western religions were originally in favour of
  • So what if we're all self-obsessed? Nov 23, 2016 - I've written a new BBC iWonder guide, online here.

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