'Take ethics out of the classroom and you just make robots for the production line.'

Peter Vardy is a theologian and perhaps the leading Religious Studies teacher in the country. After teaching theology at Heythrop College and writing several best-selling books on ethics and religious philosophy, he and his wife Charlotte - also a theologian - set up Candle Conferences, which runs huge events for RS students around the country.

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The School of Athens 2.0

At the beginning of Philosophy for Life, I talk about Raphael's famous mural of the School of Athens, and imagine getting a free ticket to study there. Well, this week, I got to join the school! The Idler Academy arranged a photo shoot on the steps of St Paul's, with various British thinkers and philosophers.

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The rise and rise of contemplative studies

This weekend, I was at a conference in Boston called the International Symposium on Contemplative Studies. I know  - sounds pretty niche, maybe two monks, a chakra healer and a shaman with maracas?  Well, it was enormous - 1600 people, 300 presentations, including ones by some of the leading psychologists in the world, and the Dalai Lama.

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ISIS don't dance

It’s Monday evening, I’m tired after a boozy weekend, it’s dark, cold, and pouring with rain. I do not feel like dancing ecstatically. And yet that is precisely where I am headed: to an ecstatic dance session in a town hall in Islington (where else).

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David Lynch and the art of trance

I was obsessed with Twin Peaks when it was first shown in 1990. We all were. Every Sunday after lunch at boarding school, we piled in to the TV room, pushed in the VHS cassette of that week’s episode, waited for the first note of Angelo Badalamenti’s tremolo guitar to sound next to the opening shot of the wren, and that was it, we were in heaven.

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What's wrong with the Perennial Philosophy?

In my review of Sam Harris’ Waking Up two weeks ago, I wrote this sentence: "Spiritual experiences tell us something about the cosmos,...the experience of infinite loving-consciousness is a glimpse of the very ground of being, also sometimes called God, Brahman, Allah, the Logos, the Tao, the Buddha-realm."

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Finding a good therapist

I broke up with my therapist yesterday. Actually, it was the first time we’d met - a first date, if you will - but it rapidly turned into an argument. This is the latest in a series of failed attempts to find a therapist. I struggle with therapeutic relationships. I should get some therapy for it.

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Crowley's Children

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog-post analysing the video for Blondie’s Rapture, and pointing out the voodoo, occult and mystic symbolism in it. I wondered if Blondie were into that sort of thing, or perhaps I was seeing things. It turned out they were, and one of them - the bassist Gary Lachman - had even become a historian of the occult. He was kind enough to give me his time for an interview.

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