Can we do without organised religion? A conversation with Rupert Sheldrake

An audio version of this talk is at my podcast, Talks and Thoughts, available via podcast feeds.

Churches are in decline, certainly in the western world. People tend not to think to turn to a priest for spiritual insight or advice. But is a lived relationship with the sacred and wisdom traditions denuded as organised religion disappears?

In this Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogue, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon talk about religious institutions for good and ill. Rupert picks up on a new book by Alison Milbank, Once and Future Parish, to ask how churches can maintain connection with the seasons, place and community, and speak to the whole of our humanity in its rituals and rites of passage.

The conversation explores the wariness of organised religion, from its moralising and hierarchical manifestations, to its distorted message, inclined to treat religion more as a fearsome threat than a visionary promise. The perils of a privatised spiritual questing are set alongside the paucity of contemporary church life, though if it can be hard to live with organised religion, it seems also hard to live fully without it.

For more conversations between Rupert and Mark see and