Many countries have increasingly large nonaffiliate, 'subjectively secular' populations. However, in recent years, the extent to which contemporary societies are secular has come under increasing scrutiny. Dr Lois Lee is Research Fellow in Religious Studies at the University of Kent, and project lead on the Understanding Unbelief research programme. In this podcast, we discuss her book ‘Recognising the Nonreligious, Reimagining the Secular’ and discuss the relationship between existential, religious and nonreligious culture.
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For Aristotle, ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit’ and David Hume regarded habit as ‘the great guide of life’. However, for Marcel Proust, habit is problematic: he said ‘if habit is a second nature, it prevents us from knowing our first.’
What is habit? Do habits turn us into machines or free us to do more creative things? If habit is both a blessing and a curse, how can we live well in our habits?
Dr Clare Carlisle offers great depth of insight and wisdom into all of these questions. Clare is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Theology at Kings College London. She has published three books on Kierkegaard and she has written numerous articles for a general audience, including a series for The Guardian. In this podcast, we discuss her book ‘On Habit’ which raises questions surrounding freedom, identity and the good life.
Francis Spufford is a former Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year (1997) and has authored five highly praised books of non-fiction. His second book The Child That Books Built gave Neil Gaiman “the peculiar feeling that there was now a book I didn't need to write”. In 2007, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his first novel, Golden Hill, was published in 2016 and won the Costa First Novel Award. He’s also a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University, and for this podcast, I visited his office to speak about his deeply funny and profound 2012 book Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense.
Elizabeth Oldfield is Director of the think tank Theos which exists to ‘help people move beyond common misconceptions about the place of faith and religion in society.’ She appears regularly in the media, including BBC One, Sky News, and the World Service, writing in The Financial Times and delivering Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. In this podcast, Liz talks about tribalism, polarisation and the ways in which we might do civil conversations better.
Gay Watson is a writer concerned with the dialogue between Buddhist thought, psychotherapy and the Mind Sciences. She has a PhD in Religious studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies and she trained as a psychotherapist with the Karuna Institute in Core Process, a Buddhist inspired psychotherapy. In this podcast, Gay talks about her books ‘A Philosophy of Emptiness’ and ‘Attention: Beyond Mindfulness’.
"Ah, not to be cut off, not through the slightest partition shut out from the law of the stars. The inner—what is it? if not intensified sky, hurled through with birds and deep with the winds of homecoming."