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Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • Psychedelics: Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogue 46 Mar 23, 2019 - Rupert Sheldrake and I have published the latest in our discussions, on psychedelics. Many people today seek an expansion of mind with them. So what other worlds, intelligences and entities are being encountered and sought in such experiences? We focus on psychedelics and spiritual paths, and why they are of such interest now. We explore the effects they have and
  • BBC Radio 4 Lent Talk Mar 12, 2019 - "I feel nervous if I'm called a Christian. It feels like being boxed in. But I can also see that buried within Christianity lies a transformative wisdom. But what is it, and how might it work? Well, take the figure of Thomas." My Lent Talk on BBC Radio 4, The Uncertainty of Thomas, is broadcast on Wednesday 12th March, and
  • The presence of angels Mar 6, 2019 - This article was written for Christian Today in response to the publication of Angels: A Visible and Invisible History by Peter Stanford. Angels are popular. Many people believe in them and, for a supposedly secular age, a surprising number of individuals have seen them. They’re even present to about seven per cent of those who don’t believe in God, according
  • Pilgrimage – a discussion Feb 13, 2019 - Rupert Sheldrake and I have published the latest in our dialogues, on pilgrimage. Millions of people around the world make pilgrimages. In a supposedly secular Europe, the spiritual practice is booming too. We discuss the revelatory experiences that people have when engaging with shrines and megaliths, temples and springs in this way, and talk about the evolutionary origins of pilgrimage
  • Owen Barfield – new FAQ intro Feb 5, 2019 - I've put together an introduction to Owen Barfield's life and ideas, from the soul of words to the evolution of consciousness, running through these questions: Who was the last Inkling, Owen Barfield? Why did C.S. Lewis call Barfield his “anti-self”? So Barfield began to think that words have soul? What did he mean that words are “fossils of consciousness”? Why
  • Romantic Philosophy – new online course Jan 30, 2019 - The Idler Guide to Romantic Philosophy with Mark Vernon explores a way of engaging with life that is often eclipsed in a world of utility, science and the rational. The Romantics were convinced that feeling opens reality to us and reconnects us with soul. Find out how the immersion in nature and life’s vitality that the Romantics advocated was in
  • 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

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