We are gradually building a collection of brief reminiscences from Members of the Association. To submit your own reminiscence, please go to the Reminiscence Submission page.
MA in Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue
2002 – 2005
MA in Philosophy and Religion
2005 – 2007
In 1999 aged just 51 there came a moment in my life when I needed the challenge of academia to give me a necessary focus. I could have taken any course, perhaps plumbing, but I was drawn first to the Birkbeck College Diploma in Theology. Three years later my Diploma achieved and having got firmly into religious studies, I wanted the challenge of taking this a stage further by way of postgraduate study. My application to study Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue at Heythrop College, University of London was approved. Read More
My impression on leaving college after the first lecture was that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I was probably the only lay person in the class with most being Anglican clergy, including a Canon from St Alban’s Cathedral. However, I persevered and ultimately graduated. I amazed even myself. Not satisfied with one MA I embarked on a further course of study in Philosophy and Religion at Heythrop.
Was this a sign of madness? Who knows?
Modern global communications has meant that peoples from all manner of religious backgrounds now meetdaily in commerce and at work. Understanding the religious “other” is a key element in co-existence. This, I think, is paramount and the encounter with other religions is a vital part of an understanding of the motivations of diverse peoples. I was introduced to the ideas of John Hick and his understanding of Theocentrism.
By the time I embarked on my second MA I was used to the drill, as it were, and my new studies allowed me to embrace an understanding of ethics and contemporary religious thought broadening my knowledge in key areas of how we conduct our lives. The module on Twentieth Century Religious Thought brought me into contact with the theology of Barth, Moltmann, and Balthasar from the Christian side and introduced some of the ideas of Levinas and Buber from the Jewish side, which even now elude my understanding.
Needless to say that studying religion and philosophy at Heythrop has increased one’s knowledge by a considerable degree and in the course of my work at the time it was gratifying that people acknowledged the importance of theological study in the modern world.
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. Read More
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.
Philosophy and Theology BA
I arrived at Heythrop having gone though clearing in the Summer of 1989. I was sad that I had been diverted from my main love of history, but I compensated for this by discovering the exciting world of Applied Ethics, which was taught by Alan Carter. I also made a good friend from Dorset who was a refreshing change from the rather staid Conservative background I had come from. I later studied political philosophy under the same teacher which was enjoyable.Read More
I am also interested in politics and this was a turbulent time in Europe, with the fall of Communism and the events in Eastern Europe. I had friends at the School of Slavonic studies who were studying Contemporary East European Studies. This was criticised by some as a “mickey mouse course.” These cynics were soon proved wrong as the academics found that events were changing at brake- neck speed and the course was more relevant than ever. In my second year I got on to Greek Philosophy–Plato and Aristotle. Plato was manageable but some parts of Aristotle were not at all easy. Thanks to Gerry Hughes SJ, however, I was able to make sense of the course.
I am also interested in politics and this was a turbulent time in Europe, with the fall of Communism and the events in Eastern Europe. I had friends at the School of Slavonic studies who were studying Contemporary East European Studies. This was criticised by some as a “mickey mouse course.” These cynics were soon proved wrong as the academics found that events were changing at brake- neck speed and the course was more relevant than ever.
In my second year I got on to Greek Philosophy–Plato and Aristotle. Plato was manageable but some parts of Aristotle were not at all easy. Thanks to Gerry Hughes SJ, however, I was able to make sense of the course.