Dr. Elaine Storkey is a prolific thinker, writer and broadcaster as well as being involved with multiple NGOs and advocacy groups, especially ones pertaining to poverty in the global south. She has written extensively about feminism and sexual violence against women, as well as about climate change, art and technology. Here, she shares about her upbringing and faith-development, about her book, “Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women,” about what difference Christianity makes to feminism and to art, and about being called to a life of witness in whatever contexts we’re in.
Dr. Mirjam Schilling is a virologist at the University of Oxford and a Dphil student in theology, in the Science and Religion stream, studying the theological aspects of viruses under Alister McGrath. Here she discusses what viruses are from a scientific viewpoint, as well as how to make sense of them theologically, touching on such questions as the problem of evil. She explicates the resources available to Christians to be able to think about and respond well to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Christian thinking about original sin and sexual difference have been entangled since the earliest attempts of Augustine of Hippo to articulate a doctrine of original sin. Despite significant efforts on the part of theologians in recent decades to integrate the doctrine of original sin with developments in evolutionary biology, there has been comparatively little effort devoted to rethinking the gendered contours of traditional expressions of the doctrine in conversation with up-to-date information about the biology of sexual difference. In this talk, I will share some of the insights from my D.Phil thesis, which has sought to fill this gap in the theological literature.
The psychology of religion: Experimenting with gods
Wk 3 MT: 22/10/2018
I’ll be speaking about how scientists study religion. I’ll give a quick history of the psychology of religion from the turn of the 20th century until the present day, and then turn my attention to the current major research programme that applies cognitive and evolutionary theories to explain religion. Then I’ll end by saying something about whether it’s possible to be religious and work on this stuff.
Living differently as a postgrad: Lessons from the Beatitudes
Wk 2 MT: 15/10/2018
How can we be entirely faithful to Christ and entirely involved in the places where God has placed us? How can we be in the world of the university, but not of it? The Beatitudes help us to navigate this tightrope and know how to live differently in order to make a difference for the sake of Christ.
Weakness of will : Some philosophical reflections on St. Paul’s body of death
Wk 8 TT: 11/06/2018
I will offer some philosophical reflections on Romans 7, in which St Paul explains that he doesn’t do the good thing he wants to do and instead does the bad thing he doesn’t want to do. Philosophers discussing the problem of weakness of will often refer to this passage for a classic articulation of the experience of what people take to be weakness of will—classic philosophical discussion often focuses on whether weakness of will is possible in the first place and if so, how.
Here I assume that weakness of will is possible. I will suggest that there are several ways in which this weakness might manifest itself—there are at least several ways the will might be weak. I will also suggest that there is a certain pattern of progression these weaknesses might follow, or a way that one weakness tends to lead to another in a progressively vicious (& progressively difficult to detect) process of habituation. I will refer to these several weaknesses, respectively, as straightforward weakness of will, indirect weakness of will, & insidious intellectual error. I will develop my reflections on the basis of accounts from Socrates, Aristotle, & R.M. Hare.
My intention is to provide a more open-ended and somewhat creative, philosophical reading of the text, after the style of someone like Joseph Butler (in his sermons). In keeping with the more personal & formational nature of this forum, I’ll conclude with some brief pastoral reflections on this passage.
The purposes of Old Testament law that are often neglected
Wk 7 TT: 04/06/2018
In the New testament, certain misuses of the Old testament law required correction. But, unfortunately, discussions of the purposes for which God gave laws to the people of Israel often stop with those corrections.
I want to provide a broader understanding of the laws of the Hebrew scriptures to help us appreciate not only their meaning for the ancient Jews but also their relevance for people today.
What is the point of Romans? – An unraveled translation of Paul’s letter
Wk 3 TT: 07/05/2018
An ‘unraveled translation’ translates Romans in a way that brings out the logical progression of thought, and shows the whole to be one compelling piece.
Leslie Marsh read history at Cambridge before doing a degree in theology at Bristol, and prior to being engaged on an unraveled translation of Romans he had published “Jesus Decoded: a historical translation of Luke’s Gospel”, and “Revelation Unpacked: an unpacked translation of Revelation”.
Alicia Smith is a 2nd year DPhil at Queen’s. She works on medieval texts for solitary religious recluses, though she claims, “I’m not one myself quite yet!”. Her project aims to describe the ideals and practices that these recluses used to structure their very disciplined and rich prayer lives, and to consider how these practices draw on the felt reality of the Church universal across time.
A scholarly view: How ancient Christian practices can help us live better in technological culture – Dr. Michael Burdett
Wk 6 HT 19/02/2018
Mills Davis has said that “Attention is the limited resource on the internet – not disk capacity, processor speed or bandwidth.” This presentation will diagnose one particular component of technological culture, our online practices, and evaluate how our usage of the internet at present has truncated our attention both in cyberspace and when not online. Utilising the philosophical and social scientific work of Nicholas Carr, Hubert Dreyfus and Sherry Turkle it will be asserted that many experts have found that focus and attention have degraded in the age of the Internet. We “bounce” from one webpage to another and our devices support and valorize increasing multitasking and shallow interaction with the information presented to us and indeed those we meet online. How can we combat this inattention so indicative of our online lives and transform these virtual spaces so that they help support deeper interaction so needed for a meaningful Christian life? I argue that a deeper infusion of contemplative practices, at the core of the Christian spiritual tradition, can help reinvigorate a destitute online presence. Spiritual practices such as fasting, lectio divina and silence can all help provide a counter-praxis to our cyber-habits. Virtual spaces are, in fact, being used in entirely productive ways towards these ends in certain quarters of the Internet. Indeed, more meditative and attention-rich resources are being utilised through such media as the Jesuit’s “Pray-As-You-Go” podcast and the online resource “The Work of the People.” I argue that rather than solely demonizing our present interaction on the Internet as an essential aspect of internet living, Christians can and ought to employ and transform the medium.’