Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • Belief in angels Jun 20, 2017 - Rupert Shedrake and I have published the latest in our Science Set Free podcasts, discussing belief in angels. Recent studies suggest that a third of people in the UK believe in guardian angels, and nearly three quarters of Americans believe in such celestial beings. So what is angel belief a belief in? We explore the modern sense of angelic presences
  • Politics is driven by feelings Jun 15, 2017 - This piece was written for The Idler. Theresa May has survived the after-blasts of her radioactive campaign like a political cockroach. Jeremy Corbyn has apparently brought back socialism from the dead like a red phoenix. We're told that everything has changed. We're back to the old days. There's one party on the right, one on the left. It's the 1970s
  • Why modern Stoicism misses the point May 30, 2017 - A piece written for The Idler. The wonderful British Library is celebrating its Greek manuscripts collection. Its copy of The Handbook (or Enchiridion) of Epictetus is a showcase piece. And I hope the online resource encourages people to read this slave-cum-scholar-cum-stoic. It will show them how etiolated modern Stoicism has become, and how challenging the way of life advocated by
  • Original participation May 8, 2017 - Rupert Shedrake and I have published the latest in our Science Set Free podcasts, discussing the notion of original participation. How do you experience the cosmos? Did people in the past experience such participation differently? Do mystics enjoy a type of participation that eludes most people? In this latest Science Set Free podcast, we discuss the notion of "original participation",
  • The road less certain May 3, 2017 - I had a tremendous time at Nomad Live. A great sense of honesty, passion and openness. The conversation is online at the Nomad Podcast. The brilliant mind map of the exchange was drawn by one kind listener.
  • 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

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