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    Part 3 of 8 in our 'Humanity Matters: Re-enchanting Homo Sapiens' series of webinars.


    The sheer range of human capacities is astonishing, even awe-inspiring. How do we account for them all? Today, we are used to explaining human talents reductively, boiling them down quickly to something more basic. This session will beat a path towards an understanding of our humanity which elevates us, even as it grounds us in created reality.


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September 2020

As part of our Cambridge Characters series, Joshua Kellard introduces Beilby Porteus, sometime bishop of London, and vociferous opponent of the Slave Trade. The youngest but one of 19 children, Beilby Porteus grew up in relative wealth and privilege. His parents were natives of the colony of Virginia, and owned a vast tobacco-growing plantation, worked by African slaves. By the time Beilby was born, the family had relocated to York. In those days, Cambridge had something of a reputation for drawing scholars from the northern counties and, aged 17, Beilby was admitted as a sizar (i.e. a student who worked in order to pay tuition fees) of Christ’s College. The 17th Century was marked by intellectual rebellion against Christianity. As the breakers of the European Enlightenment pounded on English shores, and the tide of unbelief swept into the universities, many students found it difficult to stay afloat. Porteus, however, emerged from his studies strong in conviction, was ordained to the ministry, and proceeded to a string of fulfilling church appointments, including Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, bishop of Chester and bishop of London.  Two aspects of his ministry as bishop deserve special mention: his pioneering involvement in the movement to abolish...

Ian Cooper recounts a lunch table conversation at the Round Church on Identity Politics.  We have had identity politics before when conflicts in the past have centred on religion, class and nation. Yet there seems to be a renewed obsession with identity today, especially in relation to gender and race. To discuss this trend we used Douglas Murray’s book, The Madness of Crowds. Murray, a journalist and writer, is particularly interesting, as he understands the importance of religion, is gay, and also conservative. In the book he describes how civil discourse has been poisoned, with identity weaponised in an attempt not just to get attention, but also to gain power. All opponents of the ‘correct view’ become hate-filled bigots of one kind and another: sexists, racists, homophobes, transphobes or all at the same time, while the complainants engage in a kind of grievance culture. Mob shaming takes place on social media and jobs and careers are placed at risk. Murray is appalled at how toxic it has all become, especially when he points out how much progress there has been on all the issues involved. Society today is more liberal. He fears for people’s mental health and even worries about a backlash....

Barbarism rarely reveals a bare face. It finds room in our hearts under the generous cover of  ‘modern values’, it spreads with the aid of euphemisms and half-truths, and it covers its tracks with the conscience-numbing virtue of non-judgementalism. But barbarism is with us: quiet, determined, and just occasionally splashed across the opinion pages of national newspapers.   I’m referring here to Rebecca Reid’s defence of the killing of unborn children for any reason whatsoever in the Telegraph last month. The background was the UK Government’s unprecedented move to allow women to obtain pills which would kill their unborn child without the need for an in-person medical consultation. The ‘pills-by-post’ scheme enables women to obtain mifepristone and misoprostol, the two chemical agents used in so-called medical abortions, and to self-administer them at home if they are less than 10 weeks pregnant.  In her article, Reid responded to news that Christian Concern had hired actors to make ‘mystery shopper’ type calls to abortion providers Marie Stopes and Bpas in order to gauge the kinds of reasons for which women were being sent the means to abort. The callers used false names, dates of birth and gestational periods and were, without exception, able to obtain...