Stephen Balogh

MA in Christian Theology
2013 – 2015

For me, arrival at Kensington Square for the post-grad induction day in 2013 represented the convergence of several threads in my life: the desire to return to higher education after a 25-year business career; to study Theology; to follow in my beloved Godmother’s footsteps as a Heythrop graduate herself; as a constructive act of partial catharsis after being widowed the year before.

In entering the building, I experienced a curious sense of deja vu as I had often visited Kensington Square in the days before its occupation by Heythrop to accompany this same Godmother, who in the 1970s was based there with a diocesan educational team , the layout and well-worn feel of the building seemingly unchanged right down to which stairs were squeaky.

The tone was well set in the first term by the weekly performance from Augustinian impressario Professor Richard Price who seemed to specialise in the controlled release of theological fireworks, lighting the blue touch paper with a seemingly inoccuous question and mild smile and then sitting back to view the result, having undoubtedly pulled the same trick many times before. Each successive lecturer of my selected modules imbued their teaching with both personality and deep learning: Dr Martin Poulsom managing to impose a structured, coherent progression from Anselm to Bultmann and many points in between; Dr Michael Kirwan with his urbane exposition of Rene Girard’s gory predeliction for scapegoating and sacrifice; Dr. Elizabeth Burns and her patient outlining of philosophical approaches to religion to a raucously sceptical audience.

There followed for me in the balmy summer of 2015 many hours in both the library and gardens attempting to articulate echoes I thought I was picking up between Sigmund Freud and Paul the Apostle, supervised under the watchful gaze of Dr. Jonathan Loose. I remain convinced Freud was in the process of reinventing a form of Christianity ab initio, albeit with novel propositions.

Sadly, of course, talk of closure was already in the air during my time there and it is such a regret that Heythrop College is now in the past.

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