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Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • From Ulro to Eternity: William Blake’s fourfold vision May 19, 2020- This is the second half of a talk given to The Integral Stage as part of its series, The Future Faces of Spirit. The complete talk, along with links to others, is online here. What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom…
  • An introduction to Plato’s dialogues – online course May 19, 2020- An Introduction to Plato’s Dialogues with Mark Vernon and Tom Hodgkinson We’ve all heard of Plato, Socrates and the dialogues, particularly the Republic. But who exactly were these brilliant Greeks? How did they live and what did they teach? What was each dialogue about? In this thorough course, Idler editor Tom Hodgkinson quizzes Plato expert Dr Mark Vernon on each…
  • What would Plato do in a pandemic? May 19, 2020- What did he do? He'd treat it not only as a problem to solve but as an experience to understand. And what might be understood? "Modern people are attempting to live knowing only a fraction of what it is to be human." A piece at The Idler, launching our new Introduction to Plato's Dialogues. How might Plato address the pandemic…
  • Our spiritual future, a talk featuring William Blake May 18, 2020- What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? This is my contribution to a conversation hosted by The Integral Stage. My sense is that we need to feel next steps, rather than design new systems that will inevitably be limited by current perceptions, and that William Blake offers imaginative tools for discernment as we listen into…
  • How Socrates can teach us to die May 17, 2020- This article appears in the May/June 2020 edition of the Idler magazine. Order a copy or subscribe here. I’m going to talk about death. There are two reasons why you shouldn’t stop reading. First, death is the ultimate idling. “Rest in peace” we say. It’s one moment in life when we actually mean it. Second, all the great wisdom traditions…
  • Barfield, Coleridge and the Imagination May 11, 2020- On Friday 1st May, I presented at an online gathering of the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Platonism, with Douglas Hedley, Malcolm Guite, Jacob Sherman, Owen A. Barfield, Gareth Polmeer, Jacob Sherman, Maria Shaskolskaya and Jake Grefenstette. The discussion is now online.
  • Dante, Erotic Love, And The Path To God May 11, 2020- Erotic love tends to be viewed warily in monotheistic religions. They are more comfortable when love comes in other forms, like agape or friendship. Christianity provides an obvious case in point. Punitive attitudes set in from its earliest days, explains the historian of late antiquity, Kyle Harper, in his brilliant book, From Shame To Sin. For example, Saint Paul felt…
  • Sacred spaces, with Rupert Sheldrake Apr 30, 2020- Rupert Sheldrake and I have published the latest in our conversations, this time examining sacred spaces. Cathedrals are increasingly welcoming novel explorations of their tremendous interiors. They offer powerful experiences that come with feeling free in sacred spaces. The conversation looks at how to access the sense of presence they hold, from lying on the ground to sitting in silence,…
  • “Eloquent, accessible, & richly stimulating work” Apr 28, 2020- This review of my book, A Secret History of Christianity, is in the latest edition of the Journal of Inkling Studies. Huge thanks to Jacob Sherman for engaging with it so fully. And I agree: here's to Owen Barfield's vision! In ‘Philology and the Incarnation’, one his most provocative and theological essays, Owen Barfield describes the shock that a philologist…
  • Did Jesus Bungle the Resurrection? Apr 13, 2020- His re-appearances were questioned by the disciples. Only, it wasn’t about proof at all. One of the most initially perplexing moments described in the gospels comes from the morning of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene is in the garden and sees Jesus raised before he promptly says to her, “Do not hold onto me!”. It must have been almost impossibly hard…

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