Head to Head, pts. 3 & 4: Stephen Law and John Milbank

Law vs Milbank: Belief and the Gods, pt. 3:
Stephen Law: “Are arguments in defence of religion nothing but pseudo-profundity?”

Law vs Milbank: Belief and the Gods, pt. 4:
John Milbank: “In comparing the finite and the infinite, paradox is a powerful tool.”

Previous posts in this series:

Law vs Milbank: Belief and the Gods, pt. 1:
Stephen Law: “Philosophy should side with science in the fight against religion.”

Law vs Milbank: Belief and the Gods, pt. 2:
John Milbank: “There is more to reality than can be seen from the lab and armchair.”


Lecture: Muslims in Europe – Opportunities and Challenges, by Professor Akbar Ahmed

ProfAkbarAhmedLecture: Muslims in Europe – Opportunities and Challenges

Keighton Auditorium, University Park Campus

Tuesday 24th May 2016 (19:00-20:30)

Jon Hoover
Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Nottingham

Karimia Institute
t: 0115 841 5806 or 07519 535 802

Public lecture at the UoN, Tuesday, 24 May 2016: “Muslims in Europe: Opportunities and Challenges”

Invitation-only dinner for academics, religious and civil society leaders, political figures and media representatives at the UoN, Wednesday, 25 May 2016: “The Muslim Responsibility for Trust Building in the UK”.

Postgrad research seminar, UoN School of Politics and International Relations, “Pakistan’s Evolving Strategies to Deal with the Taliban.”  Lunch, Thursday, 26 May 2016

Public lecture presented by Professor Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University, Washington DC, and former High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK.

In conjunction with the Karimia Institute’s trust building project: ‘A forum of mutual trust, peace and reconciliation in British society through better understanding of each other’.

Prof Ahmed is the former Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK and he now holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies in the School of International Service at the American University in Washington DC. His primary discipline is cultural anthropology, and his last three projects have looked at Muslims in the US, the war on terror in south Asia, and Muslims in Europe, respectively. Further biographical information and a CV are found here: http://www.american.edu/sis/faculty/akbar.cfm and here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar_S._Ahmed.

Click here for more information about this event.


New: The Heart has its Reasons: Towards a Theological Anthropology of the Heart, by Beáta Tóth

CASCADE_TemplateNewly available from Cascade: The Heart has its Reasons: Towards a Theological Anthropology of the Heart, by Beáta Tóth (Wipf & Stock/Cascade; January 2016; 268pp).

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

Book description:

This book explores a hitherto neglected area of theological anthropology: the unity of human emotionality and rationality embodied in the biblical concept of the heart. While the theological contours of human reason have for long been clearly drawn and presented as the exclusive seat of the image of God, affectivity has been relegated to a secondary position. With the reintegration of the body into recent philosophical and theological discourses, a number of questions have arisen: if the image (also) resides in the body, how does this change one’s view of the theological significance of human affectivity? In what way is our likeness to God realized in the whole of what we are? Can one overcome the traditional dissociation between intellect and aectivity by a renewed theory of love? In conversation with patristic and medieval authors (e.g., Irenaeus, Tertullian, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus, Aquinas) and in dialogue with more recent interlocutors (Pascal, Ricoeur, Marion, Milbank, John Paul II), this work pursues a novel theological vision of the essential unity of our humanity.


“This book represents an important contribution to a Christian vision of affectivity— essential for understanding the human condition and our relationship with God. Through her study of such figures as Thomas Aquinas, Paul Ricoeur, Pope John Paul II, and Jean-Luc Marion, Tóth has developed a ‘Christian logic of affectivity’ and the implications for theological anthropology. A timely study.” — DECLAN MARMION, Professor of Systematic Theology, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland

“This is a deep, rich, and surprising theological anthropology. Employing the riches of the theological tradition, Tóth overcomes the centuries-old rupture between reason and affect by retrieving the biblical concept of the heart—life’s ‘innermost core’—and the ‘median zone,’ reuniting the sensible and the spiritual. With an intensity worthy of Pascal, she thus shows how embodied human life can still be considered the image of God and of God’s immense love.” — ANTHONY J. GODZIEBA, Professor of Theology & Religious Studies, Villanova University

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]


New from Dominic Johnson: God is Watching You: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human

Out this month from Dominic Johnson: God is Watching You: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human (Oxford University Press; January 2016; 304pp).

[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

Book description:

“And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.” The Flood that God used to destroy the sinful race of man on the earth in Genesis 6:17 crystalizes―in its terrifying, dramatic, simplicity―the universally recognized concept of payback. For millennia human civilization has relied on such beliefs to create a moral order that threatens divine punishment on people who commit crimes or other bad deeds, while promising rewards-abstract or material-for those who do good. Today, while secularism and unbelief are at an all-time high, this almost superstitious willingness to believe in karma persists. We find ourselves imagining what our parents, spouse, or boss would think of our thoughts and actions, even if they are miles away and will never find out. We often feel that we are being monitored. We talk of eyes burning into the backs of our heads, the walls listening, a sense that someone or something is out there, observing our every move, aware of our thoughts and intentions.

God Is Watching You is an exploration of this belief as it has developed over time and how it has shaped the course of human evolution. Dominic Johnson explores questions such as: How has a concern for supernatural consequences affected the way human society has changed, how we live today, and how we will live in the future? Does it expand or limit the potential for local, regional and global cooperation today? How will the current decline in religious belief (at least in many western countries) affect selfishness and society in the future? And what, if anything, is replacing our ancient concerns for supernatural punishment as the means to temper self-interest and promote cooperation? In short, do we still need God?

Drawing on new research from anthropology, evolutionary biology, experimental psychology, and neuroscience, Johnson presents a new theory of supernatural punishment that offers fresh insight on the origins and evolution of not only religion, but human cooperation and society. He shows that belief in supernatural reward and punishment is no quirk of western or Christian culture, but a ubiquitous part of human nature that spans geographical regions, cultures, and human history.


“In a world where creationists deny evolution and atheists decry belief in God, Dominic Johnson provides a lot of answers by explaining belief in gods as an evolutionary adaptation.” —David Sloan Wilson, author of Darwin’s Cathedral and Does Altruism Exist?

“Think God is good? Think again. In his stunning new book, God Is Watching You, Johnson pulls back the curtain on tens of thousands of years of human evolution to reveal how religion’s enduring success lies almost entirely in our belief in divine wrath and an unforgiving universe. And before you say, ‘speak for yourself,’ read this book. As it turns out, even atheists aren’t immune.” —Jesse Bering, author of The Belief Instinct

“According to Dominic Johnson, religion comes naturally to us because it is a biological adaptation. But if so, could we—and should we—seek to replace religion with secular institutions that serve similar functions? This lucid and highly entertaining book offers some surprising answers that will stimulate debate for years to come.” —Harvey Whitehouse, author of Modes of Religiosity

“God Is Watching You is a remarkable book. Dominic Johnson brings his unique multidisciplinary expertise to every page and I simply marvel at the breadth, clarity, and acuity of his exposition. Johnson not only offers a novel and strongly supported explanation of how religion evolved, but crucially, he astutely explores the important implications of this evolutionary legacy for our world today.” —Richard Sosis, James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology, University of Connecticut

[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]


Head to Head: Stephen Law and John Milbank

Law vs Milbank: Belief and the Gods, pt. 1:
“Philosophy should side with science in the fight against religion.”

Law vs Milbank: Belief and the Gods, pt. 2:
“There is more to reality than can be seen from the lab and armchair.”


The Institut Saint-Serge: Celebrating 90 Years of Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue

AnglicanOrthodoxDialogue-ConferencePosterTo mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute, Paris, and the publication of the first Agreed Statement of the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue: ‘In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology’, a special conference has been organised:

‘The Institut Saint-Serge:
Celebrating 90 Years of Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue’

This conference will take place on Saturday 13th February 2016 in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre, Trinity College, Cambridge and will be followed by a drinks reception. This conference will explore the history and present state of the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue and the role of the Institut Saint-Serge within that exchange, while also considering the continued importance of the thought of Saint-Serge in contemporary Anglican and Orthodox theology.

Speakers include:

  • Dr. Antoine Arjakovsky (College des Bernadins, Paris)
  • Dr. Brandon Gallaher (University of Exeter)
  • Professor John Milbank (University of Nottingham)
  • Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia

Registration Fee: £20

For the full programme and details of how to register, visit:

Download and distribute the conference flyer here.


Updates to event: Radical Orthodoxy and Protestantism

Please see the updated details for this event below:


Although The Cambridge Movement, or Radical Orthodoxy (RO), emerged from a group of Anglo-Catholics and Catholics, it has developed as a uniquely ecumenical theology, attracting the interest of both Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians.

Despite criticising the Reformation for its lack of a ‘theology of participation’, RO blames this upon late-medieval Catholic thought rather than the Reformers themselves. But how far did the Reformers recognise and try to compensate for this lack? And if Protestants recognize it today, can the Reformation legacy be successfully rethought?  Does it actually offer unique elements to the RO vision?

The day will run from 10.30am to approx. 6pm and the cost is £20 per person including lunch, refreshments and an evening drinks reception.

Update: We are delight to have Andrew Davison presenting on RO and Anglicanism, and Justin Roberts on RO and Bonhoeffer in our programme.


  • Nathan Barczi: Radical Orthodoxy and Barth
  • Silvianne Bürki: Peter Martyr and the Metaphysics of Causality in the Reformation
  • Andrew Davison: Radical Orthodoxy and Anglicanism
  • Sven Grosse: Critique of Radical Orthodoxy’s Readings of Luther
  • Boris Gunjevic: Radical Orthodoxy and Scripture
  • James Orr: Protestantism, Radical Orthodoxy and Kant
  • Justin Roberts: Radical Orthodoxy and Bonhoeffer
  • Adrian Pabst: Respondent

Book your place online.


Now available: The Political Dialogue of Nature and Grace, by Caitlin Smith Gilson

Gilson, Caitlin Smith - Political Dialogue of Nature and GraceNow available: The Political Dialogue of Nature and Grace: Toward a Phenomenology of Chaste Anarchism, by Caitlin Smith Gilson (Bloomsbury Academic; September 2015; 328pp+).

[Purchase: Bloomsbury | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

[Download flyer with publisher discount of 35% off here (PDF)]


The discourse between nature and grace finds its linguistic and existential podium in the political condition of human beings. As Caitlin Smith Gilson shows, it is in this arena that the perennial territorial struggle of faith and reason, God and man, man and state, take place; and it is here that the understanding of the personal-as-political, as well as the political-as-personal, finds its meaning. And it is here, too, that the divine finds or is refused a home.

Any discussion of “post-secular society” has its origins in this political dialogue between nature and grace, the resolution of which might determine not only a future post-secular society but one in which awe is re-united to affection, solidarity and fraternity. Smith Gilson questions whether the idea of pure nature antecedently disregards the fact that grace enters existence and that this accomplishes a conversion in the metaphysical/existential region of man’s action and being. This conversion alters how man acts as an affective, moral, intellectual, social, political and spiritual being. State of nature theories, transformed yet retained in the broader metaphysical and existential implications of the Hegelian Weltgeist, are shown to be indebted to the ideological restrictedness of pure nature (natura pura) as providing the foremost adversary to any meaningful type of divine presence within the polis, as well as inhibiting the phenomenological facticity of man as an open nature.


“In this intriguingly diverse reflection Caitlin Smith Gilson ably grasps the new spaces in which all serious and viable theology now operates and has always covertly operated: the space ‘between’ nature and grace, and the space ‘between’ the metaphysical concerned with being, and the metapolitical concerned with cosmic order and morality. She also realizes how it is often literary drama which has been able, as with Calderon, to ‘stage’ these tensions, or a poetic thought like that of Leon Shestov which has been able to insist (beyond ‘philosophy’) on both the unfathomability of nature and upon its ultimate ethical bearing. In order to witness at once to the structure of reality and yet to the good, revelation as truth requires to be ‘staged’ in a Christian polity of ‘chaste anarchy’ that is at once required and yet seemingly ‘impossible.’ Thus, as for both the Russian and the Atlantic margins of Europe, the question of an eschatological Rome is finally, as Gilson so insightfully realizes in the wake of Shestov, precisely what links the seemingly different questions posed by Athens and Jerusalem. Outside this question, given the instance of Christian revelation, there can be no serious pondering of either given reality or divine imperative, and because it lacks this pondering, which discloses the hidden co-composition of ontology with political practice, secularity is unable to recognize itself. Gilson thereby points us towards the only viable future theological agenda, in contrast to any sterile and now faintly ridiculous pursuit of either ‘pure’ doctrine, or the ‘pure’ philosophy of religion.” — John Milbank, Research Professor of Religion, Politics and Ethics and Director of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy, University of Nottingham, UK

“This is a singular book whose author has an insightful philosophical voice and an engaging theological voice. Caitlin Smith Gilson is intellectually passionate and existentially engaged with themes that spill over the normal academic divisions between theology, politics, philosophy and poetics. It is written with nice touches of irony and humor, and is marked by a very apt sense for citation. More than just a scholarly report on research done by others, it a serious first-order engagement with the matter itself. There is something poetic, rhapsodic, inspired even about this work. At times it communicates to one as something like a song of mindfulness, in both the philosophical and theological registers. Caitlin Smith Gilson’s voice should be heard. Warmly recommended.” — William Desmond, Professor of Philosophy, KU Leuven, Belgium, and David Cook Chair in Philosophy, Villanova University, USA

[Purchase: Bloomsbury | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

Download flyer from publisher here [PDF], which contains a special promotional discount of 35% off.


Now available in English: Incarnation, by Michel Henry, trans. Karl Hefty

Henry_IncarnationThe last book that Michel Henry published during his lifetime is now available in English translation: Incarnation, the middle work of Henry’s final trilogy, translated by Karl Hefty (Northwestern University Press; 30 July 2015; 312pp+). In his lifetime, the order in which he wrote these final books were I Am the TruthIncarnation, and Words of Christ, although the publication of these works in French and English do not quite correspond with the order in which he wrote them.

[Purchase: Northwestern University PressAmazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

Michel Henry defends the illuminating thesis that Incarnation is not existence in a body, but existence in the flesh. It is not in a body that flesh appears originally, but being in the flesh that comes first. For only in flesh can one see or touch, feel joy or sorrow, hunger or thirst—and undergo each of these impressions as one’s own. But how does flesh come into this condition? How is life given to it so that it can feel itself, or anything else, in this way? Christianity’s fundamental thesis, on which its fate plays out in every generation, is that “the Word was made flesh.” Henry then asks what revelation must be for it to be accomplished as flesh, and what flesh must be to be revelation. He pursues such questions with lucidity and rigor in this astonishing meditation on the human condition.

Previous books in this ‘trilogy’ by Michel Henry:

Henry_WordsOfChristWords of Christ, translated by Christina M. Gschwandtner, with a foreword by Jean-Yves Lacoste and an introduction by Karl Hefty, published in the Interventions series (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; 2011; 152pp+).

[Purchase: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

In Words of Christ (Paroles du Christ)—here translated into English for the first time—Michel Henry asks how Christ can be both human and divine. He considers, further, how we as humans can experience Christ’s humanity and divinity through his words. Are we able to recognize this speech as divine, and if so, then how? What can testify to the divine nature of these words? What makes them intelligible? Startling possibilities—and further questions—emerge as Henry systematically explores these enigmas. For example, how does the phenomenology of life bring to light the God of which scripture speaks? Might this new region of phenomenality broaden or transform the discipline of phenomenology itself, or theology?

Henry approaches these questions starting from the angle of material phenomenology, but his study has far-reaching implications for other disciplines too. Intended for a wide audience, his work is a uniquely philosophical approach to the question of Christ and to the place of this question in human experience. This highly original, interdisciplinary perspective on Christ’s words was Henry’s last work, published shortly after his death in 2002.

Henry_IAmTheTruthI Am the Truth: Toward a Philosophy of Christianity, translated by Susan Emanuel (Stanford University Press; 2002; 296pp+).

[Purchase: Stanford University Press | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

A part of the “return to religion” now evident in European philosophy, this book represents the culmination of the career of a leading phenomenological thinker whose earlier works trace a trajectory from Marx through a genealogy of psychoanalysis that interprets Descartes’s “I think, I am” as “I feel myself thinking, I am.”

In this book, Henry does not ask whether Christianity is “true” or “false.” Rather, what is in question here is what Christianity considers as truth, what kind of truth it offers to people, what it endeavors to communicate to them, not as a theoretical and indifferent truth, but as the essential truth that by some mysterious affinity is suitable for them, to the point that it alone is capable of ensuring them salvation. In the process, Henry inevitably argues against the concept of truth that dominates modern thought and determines, in its multiple implications, the world in which we live.

Henry argues that Christ undoes “the truth of the world,” that He is an access to the infinity of self-love, to a radical subjectivity that admits no outside, to the immanence of affective life found beyond the despair fatally attached to all objectifying thought. The Kingdom of God accomplishes itself in the here and now through the love of Christ in what Henry calls “the auto-affection of Life.” In this condition, he argues, all problems of lack, ambivalence, and false projection are resolved.


New: Sacred Rhetoric: Dietrich Bonhoeffer & the Participatory Tradition, by Justin Mandela Roberts

PrintPublished just last month: Sacred Rhetoric: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Participatory Tradition, by Justin Mandela Roberts (Wipf & Stock; Sept. 17, 2015; 140pp+).

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a celebrated and enigmatic figure in theology. Though he is known for advocating a concrete and worldly Christianity, Justin Mandela Roberts argues that his theology is in continuity with a participatory ontology, especially as seen in the ressourcement movement and Radical Orthodoxy. While critical of such “metaphysical speculation,” Bonhoeffer displays similar inclinations that situate Truth, Goodness, and Beauty as transcendental aspects of divine being. His theology affirms the pervasive “rhetoric” of doxology, details the economy of reciprocal gift-giving, and celebrates the sacramentality of creation. Sacred Rhetoric contributes to the ongoing discussion of metaphysics, and also serves as a supplement to the debate between Karl Barth and Erich Przywara.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Justin Roberts’ Sacred Rhetoric offers a reading of one of the twentieth century’s more enigmatic theologians, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, within the context of contemporary retrievals of the metaphysics of participation and the gift. This is an imaginative interpretation of Bonhoeffer’s work for our own time.” — Simon Oliver, Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology, University of Nottingham

“In this important and beautifully written contribution to Bonhoeffer studies and modern theology, Roberts demonstrates that Bonhoeffer can and should be read in continuity with the participatory theological tradition from patristic to medieval and modern theology. Bonhoeffer’s life and work thus appear in fresh perspective, as representing the ‘doxological modality’ of the Christian life that engages the world out of union with God; a sacramental, sacred rhetoric that is most clearly expressed as worship.” — Jens Zimmermann, Author, Professor of Humanities and Canada Research Chair in Interpretation, Religion, and Culture, Trinity Western University

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]


Now available: Interstitial Soundings: Philosophical Reflections on Improvisation, Practice, and Self-Making, by Cynthia Nielsen

CASCADE_TemplateNow out from Cascade Books is Cynthia R. Nielsen’s Interstitial Soundings: Philosophical Reflections on Improvisation, Practice, and Self-Making.

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock]

In Interstitial Soundings, Cynthia R. Nielsen brings music and philosophy into a fruitful and mutually illuminating dialogue. Topics discussed include the following: music’s dynamic ontology, performers and improvisers as co-composers, the communal character of music, jazz as hybrid and socially constructed, the sociopolitical import of bebop, Afro-modernism and its strategic deployments, jazz and racialized practices, continuities between Michel Foucault’s discussion of self-making and creating one’s musical voice, Alasdair MacIntyre on practice, and how one might harmonize MacIntyre’s notion of virtue development with Foucauldian resistance strategies.

Endorsements & Reviews:

“The nature and boundaries of music are continuously being reshaped by musicians and audiences alike. In this book, Nielsen nimbly articulates this inherently dynamic ontology, using it to bring the compositional structures of both self and society to center stage. Through careful and incisive readings, she harmonizes aesthetic and race theory with Foucauldian genealogy and MacIntyrean virtue ethics to produce an excellent synthetic work that will be of interest to readers across multiple disciplines.” — Michael Barnes Norton, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

“In her exciting and important text, Nielsen employs jazz theory to make multiple, complex schools of thought simultaneously accessible and challenging. . . . By applying a thorough and engaging application of jazz improvisation, Nielsen succeeds to do what so few have: to make Foucault’s work on epistemology clear while adding to our understanding of his contributions.” — E. Simon Ruchti, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, and Women’s and Gender Studies, West Chester University

“What is so great about this book is that Cynthia Nielson performs for us the very thing she is writing about–hybridity, creativity, improvisation, and above all, the fearless practice of thinking along the edges of thought. . . . She shows us in this book how to make thinking an art.” — Peter Kline, artist

“Nielsen wedges herself between the pillars of Kant, Nietzsche, and Foucault, and as a jazz musician herself, performs a piece of writing which preserves and expresses her own original thoughts. Her understanding of performance art and the nature of interpretation and improvisation is as substantially profound as it is personal.” — Zenos Frudakis, sculptor

[Purchase: Wipf & Stock]


Now available: Radical Orthodoxy: Theology, Philosophy, Politics (Vol. 3, no. 1)

ROTPP3.1-CoverRadical Orthodoxy:
Theology, Philosophy, Politics
Vol. 3, Number 1. September 2015


“God, Creation, and Evil: The Moral Meaning of creatio ex nihilo”
David Bentley Hart

“Laughter and the Between: G. K. Chesterton and the Reconciliation of Theology and Hilarity”
Duncan Bruce Reyburn

“A Supernatural Nowhere: How Radical Orthodoxy and Lonergan Studies have Failed to Get Along (And Why they Should)”
Jonathan Robert Heaps

Review Essays

“A Very Critical Response to Karen Kilby: On Failing to See the Form”
D. C. Schindler

“Hillbillies at the Gates: Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt’s Thomas Aquinas: Faith, Reason, and Following Christ”
Brendan Thomas Sammon

“Theocracy and Apocalypse: Political Theology of Artur Mrówczyński-Van Allen”
Paweł Rojek

Read the current issue here.

Previous issues:

  • RO:TPP Vol. 2, no. 3 — Featuring contributions from: Michael D. Stark, Peter John McGregor, Dotan Leshem, Pierre-Yves Fioraso, Orion Edgar, Conor Thomas Sweeney, and Simone Kotva
  • RO:TPP Vol. 2, no. 2 — Featuring contributions from: Ian Clausen, Mika Tapio Luoma-aho, Joseph M Spencer, Kyle Gingerich Hiebert, Ruth Elizabeth Jackson, and Simone Kotva
  • RO:TPP Vol. 2, no. 1 — Featuring contributions from: Cynthia R. Nielsen, Peter John McGregor, Nathan Jennings, Paul Tyson, David Wilmington, Maurice Glasman, and Chris Hackett
  • RO:TPP Vol. 1, No. 3 — Featuring contributions from: Cyril O’Regan, David L Schindler, Alessandra Gerolin, Christopher Ben Simpson, Matyas Szalay, Ben Schewel, Enda McCaffrey, Robert Don Adams, Steven Knepper, William Christian Hackett, and Paul Tyson.
  • RO:TPP Vol. 1, Nos. 1 & 2 — “What is Life? A Double Special Issue” — Featuring contributions from: Tracey Rowland, Alessandra Gerolin, Graham Ward, Louis Dupré, Beáta Tóth, John Milbank, Adrian J Walker, Agata Bielik-Robson, William Christian Hackett, Evandro Botto, Marcia Pally, Lorenzo Ornaghi, Adrian Pabst, David C Schindler, Paul Tyson, Ian Warlick, Stratford Caldecott, Neil Turnbull, William Desmond, and Christopher Ben Simpson.

A Theological Symposium: Thomism and Predestination


Dear Friends of the Thomistic Institute,

We are pleased to announce an upcoming theological symposium co-sponsored by the Aquinas Center (Ave Maria University) and the Thomistic Institute, titled “Thomism and Predestination” on January 25-27, 2016 at Ave Maria University.

Please see the attached poster for the list of speakers.

For registration and general inquiries, please see avemaria.edu/predestinationconference and aquinas.center@avemaria.edu.

For more information and to stay updated with Thomistic Institute happenings, please visit our website and “Like” us on Facebook.

With thanks,
Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP


The Beacon Project

See below for information on The Beacon Project:

From Angela Knobel:

The “Beacon Project” is an interdisciplinary project funded by a 3.9 million dollar grant from the Templeton World Charity foundation.  Our project hypothesizes that that a full understanding of morality and virtue can be achieved only by examining the morally excellent.  As part of our project, we are offering a number of research grants to psychologists, philosophers and theologians.

Executive Summary

We believe that a full understanding of morality and virtue can be achieved only by examining the morally excellent, for example, those who risked their lives saving others during the Holocaust (Monroe, 2006), or members of the Amish community who demonstrated forgiveness following the slaughter of 10 Amish schoolgirls in 2006 (Dreher, 2006). Just as much attention has been paid to how geniuses and high-performing businesses function and thrive, the morally exceptional represent a form of “genius” that deserves such attention.


  • Researchers and scholars in three disciplines.

  • The Wake Forest interdisciplinary and student communities.

  • Individuals wishing to cultivate their own morality.

  • Parents and educators wishing to cultivate children’s morality.

We believe:

This project is the seed needed to realize a long-term, broadly rooted dedication to the study of the morally exceptional.

For more information, including details on the project team, forthcoming events and conferences, as well as various Request for Proposals in the areas of Psychology, Philosophy, and Theology, please see The Beacon Project Website.


New and forthcoming in the Veritas series

We have three books to announce in the Veritas series: one just published, and two forthcoming edited collections. The first is: Facing the Other: John Paul II, Levinas, and the Body, by Nigel Zimmermann, with a foreword by Brice de Malherbe. Download a promotional flyer for this book here [PDF].

[Purchase from: Wipf & Stock | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

Publication description:

What is the significance of the body? What might phenomenology contribute to a theological account of the body? And what is gained by prolonging the overlooked dialogue between St. John Paul II and Emmanuel Levinas? Nigel Zimmermann answers these questions through the agreements and the tensions between two of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. John Paul II, the Polish pope, philosopher, and theologian, and Emmanuel Levinas, the French-Jewish philosopher of Lithuanian heritage, were provocative thinkers who courageously faced and challenged the assumptions of their age. Both held the human person in high regard and did their thinking with constant reference to God and to theological language. Zimmermann does not shirk from the challenges of each thinker and does not hide their differences. However, he shows how they bequeath a legacy regarding the body that we would overlook at significant ethical peril. We are called, Zimmermann argues, to face the other. In this moment God refuses a banal marginalization and our call to responsibility for the other person is issued in their disarming vulnerability. In the body, philosophy, theology, and ethics converge to call us to glory, even in the paradox of lowly suffering.


“Zimmermann’s work uncovers and articulately discloses moments of sincere dialogue between two influential figures of twentieth-century philosophical thought: John Paul II and Emmanuel Levinas. These moments are exploited for what they give to a contemporary theology of the body, without in any way ignoring points of significant difference.” — Michael Purcell, (1956-2013), Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology, University of Edinburgh

“Karol Wojtyla and Emmanuel Levinas, obviously two of the great thinkers of the twentieth century, each profoundly original and deeply immersed in his own distinctive tradition, were yet able to meet in fruitful conversation on central questions about human nature and destiny, as Nigel Zimmermann shows in this lucidly and elegantly argued account.” — Fergus Kerr, Honorary Fellow, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

“Facing the Other . . . draws out the significance of the difference between a religious tradition whose God is wholly other, and the Christian claim that God became incarnate. Along the way, Zimmermann offers the reader a ‘theology of the body for grown-ups’ as he explains the centrality of the nuptial mystery and its Trinitarian foundations in the thought of Wojtyła/John Paul II. The work is beautifully crafted.” — Tracey Rowland, Dean and Permanent Fellow in Political Philosophy and Continental Theology, John Paul II Institute, Melbourne, Australia

Download a promotional flyer of Facing the Other here [PDF].

Also now available:

The Role of Death in Life: A Multidisciplinary Examination of the Relationship between Life and Death, edited by John Behr and Conor Cunningham.

[Purchase from: Wipf & Stock | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

Book description:

The relation between life and death is a subject of perennial relevance for all human beings, and indeed, the whole world and the entire universe, in as much as, according to the saying of ancient Greek philosophy, all things that come into being pass away. Yet it is also a topic of increasing complexity, for life and death now appear to be more intertwined than previously or commonly thought. Moreover the relation between life and death is also one of increasing urgency, as through the twin phenomena of an increase in longevity unprecedented in human history and the rendering of death, dying, and the dead person all but invisible, people living in the industrialized and post-industrialized Western world of today have lost touch with the reality of death. This radically new situation, and predicament, has implications—medical, ethical, economic, philosophical, and, not least, theological—that have barely begun to be addressed. This volume gathers together essays by a distinguished and diverse group of scientists, theologians, philosophers, and health practitioners, originally presented in a symposium sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation.


I: Perspectives from Astronomy, Chemistry, and Biology
1: Made of Star-stuff: The Origin of the Chemical Elements in Life
—Alex Filippenko
2: A Biochemical Perspective on the Origin of Life and Death
—Luc Jaeger
II: Perspective from Anthropology
3: Immortality
—Douglas Davies
III: Perspectives from Philosophy
4: Suffering Death
—Emmanuel Falque
5: How Do We Become Fully Alive? The Role of Death in Henry’s Phenomenology of Life
—Christina Gschwandtner
IV: Perspectives from Theology
6: Life and Death in an Age of Martyrdom
—John Behr
7: New Life as Life out of Death: Sharing in the “Exchange of Natures” in the Person of Christ
—Henry Novello
8: Is There Life before Death?
—Conor Cunningham
V: Perspectives from Medicine and Bioethics
9: The Kenosis of the Dying: An Invitation to Healing
—Daniel Hinshaw
10: On Medical Corpses and Resurrected Bodies
—Jeffrey Bishop


“In this book, the mutual implication of death and life is demonstrated from an astronomical level, in the emergence of human life from the death of stars, to the molecular level where death enables the emergence of cellular life, through anthropological, philosophical, and theological insights, to the realm of medical care for the dying, where it is claimed that ‘only theology can save medicine.’ A profound and challenging book.” — Andrew Louth, Professor Emeritus of Patristic and Byzantine Studies, Durham University, United Kingdom

“How can Christians defend the place of natural death and the death consequent upon sin, whilst continuing to insist upon the undying character of true life as such and so the reality of resurrection? These penetrating essays by several of the leading theological thinkers of our times will powerfully help the reader to ponder these crucial matters of our contemporary mortality.” — John Milbank, Research Professor and Director of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy University of Nottingham

“For once, it is not a polite exaggeration to say this is a ‘unique’ book. The breadth of disciplines represented and the originality of the analysis offered make it an exceptional contribution to current debates. Anyone who thinks the dialogue between theology and the natural sciences is, at best, an exchange of uncomprehending platitudes, will have to think again in the face of these expert, challenging essays, which show that an orthodox theology of our embodied condition can be culturally transformative.” — Rowan Williams,Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge

“A substantive, important, and provocative volume. The insights of the essays it encompasses will richly reward the reader.” — H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr., Professor of Philosophy, Rice University, Professor Emeritus, Baylor College of Medicine

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Forthcoming in the Veritas series:

The Resounding Soul: Reflections on the Metaphysics and Vivacity of the Human Person, edited by Eric Austin Lee and Samuel Kimbriel.


It is surely not coincidental that the term “soul” should mean not only the center of a creature’s life and consciousness but also a thing or action characterized by intense vivacity (“that bike’s got soul!”). It also seems far from coincidental that the same contemporary academic discussions that have largely cast aside the language of “soul” in their quest to define the character of human mental life should themselves be so—how to say it?—bloodless, so lacking in soul. This volume arises from the opposite premise, namely that the task of understanding human nature is bound up with and in important respects dependent upon the more critical task of learning to be fully human, of learning to have soul. The papers collected here are derived from a Summer 2013 conference in Oxford (itself a vivacious event) sponsored by the Centre of Theology and Philosophy and together explore the often surprising landscape that emerges when human consciousness is approached from this angle. Drawing upon literary, philosophical, theological, historical, and even musical modes of analysis, the essays of this volume vividly remind the reader of the power of the ancient language of soul over against contemporary impulses to reduce, fragment, and overly determine human selfhood.

[Endorsements, cover image, and order information forthcoming.]


Now available: The Great Grace: Receiving Vatican II Today

Zimmermann-AGreatGraceNow available: The Great Grace: Receiving Vatican II Today, edited by Nigel Zimmermann (Bloomsbury Publishing; 160pp+).

[Purchase: Bloomsbury | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

Publication description:

Nigel Zimmermann presents critical reflections from leading Catholic prelates and scholars on the significance of the Second Vatican Council fifty years after it began. These include two senior Cardinals, one of whom is the head of the Congregation of Bishops and the other a member of Pope Francis’ new advisory body on reforming the Roman Curia, as well as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

Together with thinkers from North America, the UK, Rome and Australia, they take up key themes from the Conciliar documents and assess the reception of the Council half a century on from its inception. In doing so, they open up new avenues for thinking through the authentic witness and teaching of the most important ecclesiastical event of the twentieth century. These avenues include discussion of themes such as the liturgy, communio, the Council in its historical context, the role of the laity, communicating the Council in a social media world, and the task of mission in the future. This volume marks a turning point in the Council’s reception in the wider Church.


“Ecumenical Councils have typically begun in controversy, have been conducted in further controversy, and have always been followed by yet more controversy. Little wonder, then that there have been only twenty-one of them, by Catholic reckoning, in over two millennia of Christian history. The Great Grace is an important contribution from Down Under to the ongoing interpretation, reception, and implementation of the Second Vatican Council. All those committed to the real Vatican II, as distinguished from the Rorschach Blot Vatican II, are in debt to this book’s distinguished authors for their insights and for their passion for authentic Catholic renewal.” –  George Weigel, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington DC, USA

Table of Contents:

Nigel Zimmermann, University of Notre Dame Australia

1. Yesterday’s Council for Tomorrow’s World
George Cardinal Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy

2. Communio: The Key to Vatican II’s Ecclesiology
Marc Cardinal Ouellet PSS, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

3. A Council for the Laity? The Vision of Vatican II in Empowering the Lay Faithful
Anne Hunt, Australian Catholic University, Australia

4. From Correlationism to Trinitarian Christocentrism: Receiving the Council in the Church in Australia
Tracey Rowland, Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, Australia

5. Vatican II: Spirit and Letter
Anthony Kelly CSsR, Australian Catholic University, Australia

6. Mission to the Media: Lessons from Catholic Voices
Austen Ivereigh and Jack Valero, Catholic Voices, UK

7. To Awaken the Spirit: Proposing a Vatican II Faith to a Secular World
Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, Australia

8. Conclusion
Peter Comensoli, Bishop of Broken Bay, Australia

[Purchase: Bloomsbury | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk]

A special discount for Australian residents may be downloaded here [PDF].


Day Colloquium: Radical Orthodoxy and Protestantism

Wither, Mind EmblemCentre of Theology and Philosophy

Radical Orthodoxy and Protestantism

Day Colloquium

Highfield House, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD
21st November 2015 10.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.


  • Nathan Barczi: RO and Barth
  • Silvianne Bürki: Peter Martyr and Metaphysics of Causality in the Reformation
  • Sven Grosse: Critique of RO Readings of Luther
  • Boris Gunjevic: RO and Scripture
  • James Orr: Protestantism, RO and Kant
  • Adrian Pabst: respondent

Although The Cambridge Movement, or Radical Orthodoxy, emerged from a group of Anglo-Catholics and Catholics, it has since developed as a uniquely ecumenical theology, attracting the interest also of Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians. Even though RO has criticized the Reformation for its lack of a theology of participation, it blames this lack upon late-medieval Catholic thought rather than upon the Reformers themselves. But how far did the Reformers in fact recognize and try to compensate for this lack? And if Protestants recognize it today, can the Reformation legacy be rethought successfully? Does it, indeed, offer unique and indispensable elements to the RO vision?

Day tickets to include coffee, lunch, tea and cakes with drinks reception: £20.

Download and distribute the flyer here [PDF].


Philosophy Seminar: Jacques Maritain and England

MaritainEnglandQuarr Abbey
19th-20th September 2015
Philosophy Seminar


In 1914, Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) was the first guest welcomed in their new guest house by the community of Solesmes exiled at Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight. One century on, the seminar will reflect on the links between Jacques Maritain and England, and endeavour to investigate some aspects of the life and thought of Jacques and Raïssa Maritain which may prove of special relevance to contemporary English culture.

This seminar is organised by the Benedictine Community of Quarr Abbey,
under the patronage of Mgr Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth,
and with the support of Mr John Hewitt.

The Seminar is open to all interested.
Please contact: prior@quarr.org
Registration fee: £10 (including refreshments).

For more information including a full schedule of speakers, please click here [PDF] to download the philosophy seminar flyer.


Paul Tyson on the financial power and politics of Greek economic crisis

Oxi and Nai. What the Greek crisis tells us about financial power and politics, by Paul Tyson.

On the referendum of July 5, the Greek polity was asked whether they were prepared to surrender the anti-austerity policy agenda of their Syriza led government in order to get more loans. The Greeks answered this question with an emphatic OXI (NO). Prior to the referendum Yanis Varoufakis, then the Minister for Finance, argued that the stronger the NO vote, the more bargaining power the Greek government would have with her creditors to seek a viable re-structure of Greece’s debt. Surely, Mr Varoufakis seemed to believe, the Eurogroup would not shamelessly ride rough shod over a decisive expression of the political voice of a sovereign European state. Mr Varoufakis also claimed that the refusal of Eurozone financial institutions to extend normal operational terms to the Greek banks for the week prior to the referendum was an overt act of national intimidation, intending to influence the outcome of the referendum towards a YES vote. Mr Varoufakis implied that the anything but subtle subtext of this actions was ‘play by our rules or else we will kill your banks, and then what will you do?’ Before the referendum Alexis Tsipras also urged the Greek people to vote NO as a display of national pride in the face of the creditors demands for humiliating and damaging austerity terms.


Click here to read the rest.


Now available to order: Music and Transcendence

Music_and_TranscendenceMusic and Transcendence
Edited by Férdia J. Stone-Davis
August 2015
272 pages

This collection of essays explores the ways in which music relates to transcendence by bringing together the disciplines of musicology, philosophy and theology. Music has the capacity to take one outside of oneself and place one in relation to that which is ‘other’. This ‘other’ can be conceived in an ‘absolute’ sense, insofar as music can be thought to place the self in relation to a divine ‘other’ or can equally well be conceived in an ‘immanent’ (or secular) sense. Contributors examine how music has not only played a role in many philosophical and theological accounts of the nature of existence and the self, but also provides a valuable resource for the creation of meaning on a day-to-day basis.


Férdia J. Stone-Davis

Part I Music and Absolute Transcendence:

Music and the beyond in the later Middle Ages
Christopher Page

Hearing the transcendental place: sound, spirituality and sensuality in the musical practices of an
Indian devotional order
Sukanya Sarbadhikary

‘Sonorous air’: the transcendent in Ferruccio Busoni’s aesthetics of music
John Habron

Creatio ex improvisatione: Chrétien on the call
Bruce Ellis Benson

Unwritten theology. Notes towards a natural theology of music
Russell Re Manning

Music and the transcendental
Roger Scruton

Theomusical subjectivity: Schleiermacher and the transcendence of immediacy
Jonas Lundblad

Negotiating musical transcendence
Jeremy S. Begbie

Part II Music and Immanent Transcendence:

C.P.E. Bach’s Heilig and ‘the Holy’ of Rudolf Otto: an 18th-century experience of the Mysterium Tremendum
Joshua A. Waggener

Music and world-making: Haydn’s String Quartet in E-flat major (op. 33 no. 2)
Férdia J. Stone-Davis

Music and Immanence: the 1902 ‘Klinger: Beethoven Exhibition’ and the Vienna Secession
Diane V. Silverthorne

‘Where nature will speak to them in sacred sounds’: music and transcendence in Hoffmann’s Kreisleriana
Thomas J. Mulherin

Religious music as child’s play: Gadamer’s hermeneutics and instrumental music
Oane Reitsma

Immanence, transcendence and political song
Christopher Norris

Music, transcendence, and philosophy
Andrew Bowie

Purchase through Ashgate.com. Order online to receive a 10% discount from Ashgate.

Download and distribute the flyer for Music and Transcendence here [PDF].



(Show Centre’s Description)

‘Every doctrine which does not reach the one thing necessary, every separated philosophy, will remain deceived by false appearances. It will be a doctrine, it will not be Philosophy’, (Maurice Blondel, 1861-1949)

The Centre of Theology and Philosophy is a research-led institution organised at the interstices of theology and philosophy. It is founded on the conviction that these two disciplines cannot be adequately understood or further developed, save with reference to each other. This is true in historical terms, since we cannot comprehend our Western cultural legacy, unless we acknowledge the interaction of the Hebraic and Hellenic traditions. It is also true conceptually, since reasoning is not fully separable from faith and hope, or conceptual reflection from revelatory disclosure. The reverse also holds, in either case.

The Centre is concerned with:

  • The historical interaction between theology and philosophy.
  • The current relation between the two disciplines
  • Attempts to overcome the analytic/ Continental divide in philosophy
  • The question of the status of ‘metaphysics’. Is the term used equivocally? Is it now at an end? Or have 20th Century attempts to have a post-metaphysical philosophy themselves come to an end?
  • The construction of a rich Catholic humanism

The Theology Department of the University of Nottingham, within which the COTP is situated, was awarded the top 5* A grade in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2001). Nottingham was one of only two theology Departments who submitted all its staff and was rated 5* A.

For all enquiries, please email Conor Cunningham:

To return to the Nottingham Theology Department:


Humanities Building, home of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Centre of Theology and Philosophy

Recent Posts

Lecture: Muslims in Europe – Opportunities and Challenges, by Professor Akbar Ahmed
February 2, 2016
New: The Heart has its Reasons: Towards a Theological Anthropology of the Heart, by Beáta Tóth
January 31, 2016
New from Dominic Johnson: God is Watching You: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human
January 29, 2016
Head to Head: Stephen Law and John Milbank
January 22, 2016
The Institut Saint-Serge: Celebrating 90 Years of Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue
January 13, 2016
Updates to event: Radical Orthodoxy and Protestantism
November 12, 2015
Now available: The Political Dialogue of Nature and Grace, by Caitlin Smith Gilson
November 1, 2015
Now available in English: Incarnation, by Michel Henry, trans. Karl Hefty
October 12, 2015
New: Sacred Rhetoric: Dietrich Bonhoeffer & the Participatory Tradition, by Justin Mandela Roberts
October 9, 2015
Now available: Interstitial Soundings: Philosophical Reflections on Improvisation, Practice, and Self-Making, by Cynthia Nielsen
October 6, 2015

(Sculpture by Sara Cunningham-Bell)

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