SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
John Charmley

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October 24, 2019
“Diversity” is one of the buzzwords of our age, and those of us in higher education have been vigorous in advocating it. The news that St Mary’s University, Twickenham, will be hosting the pontifical faculty which has, since 1614, been awarding pontifical degrees is a sign that diversity really does incorporate a genuine pluralism. The
August 22, 2018
Higher education is a ruthlessly competitive business, but St Mary's shows Catholicism and higher education go hand in hand
August 16, 2018
There is a heatwave, and it is clear that Victorian buildings, however beautiful, are not ideal places in which to work in such weather. The marked absence of neckwear among the senior management team suggests that even the more conservative among us have decided to accommodate ourselves to the times. If only it were that
February 01, 2018
I first encountered the name of Bishop George Bell more than 40 years ago when working on Churchill’s official papers. His stand against the area bombing of Dresden and other German cities in 1944 was a valiant example of Christian witness at a personal cost; when Archbishop Temple died, Bell was not considered for the
September 28, 2017
As I watch the new students arriving, I reflect that this is the 43rd year that I have been involved in the process. In 1974 I arrived as a fresher at Pembroke College, Oxford, one of the smaller and friendlier colleges; now I watch as pro vice-chancellor at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, one of the
July 13, 2017
The old Soviet system of over-bureaucratisation did not die with the USSR; it transmigrated into Britain’s higher education system. When I started lecturing nearly 40 years ago, universities were responsible to the University Grants Committee, a benign set of mandarins in London who exercised a hands-off supervision of British universities. Academics were largely free to
March 30, 2017
The “good clean tradition of [our] politics has been weakly surrendered to a half-breed American whose main support was that of inefficient but talkative people of a similar type”. This is not, as you might think, the reaction of a member of the Washington political establishment to President Trump, but that of a member of
March 13, 2017
Flame 2017, Britain’s leading Catholic youth event, was hardly my natural environment, but it proved a moving experience
July 28, 2016
The referendum campaign majored on the idea of “getting back control of our country”. It is quite unclear what that meant in a world where even the greatest powers accept some curbing of their sovereignty, but it clearly struck a powerful resonance in England and Wales; that was not the case in Northern Ireland and
April 07, 2016
Those of us who have long admired Bishop George Bell will welcome a new biography – the first written with access to the archives. There was much to admire about Bell, Bishop of Chichester from 1929 to 1958. He was one of the earliest churchmen to denounce Nazism as utterly incompatible with the Christian faith,
March 31, 2016
Whether it recognises it or not, Christianity has an image problem. At a recent lecture at the University of East Anglia, the former home secretary Charles Clarke spoke of how he had seen Christianity before coming into closer contact with it while in office. Like so many members of our political elite, Clarke was neither
January 28, 2016
News headlines tend to focus on the decline of religion in this country. This feeds into a hermeneutic of decline, in which the mission of the Church is to manage that process. The assumption is that mankind has evolved beyond the need for religion. As long as the Church is happy to fund its schools,