Creation and Creativity

October 2019

Our seventh Young Scholar’s Day took place at the Robinson College chapel in Cambridge, under its famous stained glass window by John Piper, below.

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The Keynote Talks:

Valentin Gerlier; Blake, Vision and the Digital Age

Dr Simone Kotva; Magic and Ecology

Dr Ankur Barua; Friendship with and in God: Hindu Visions of the Intimate Stranger

The Young Scholar Papers:

Tristan Leicester; Key Ideas and Techniques in Traditional Stained Glass, and exhibition of his own work

Andrew Brookman; ‘Milking it’ with Dante and Milton 

Esme Partridge; Creativity and Imagination in the Islamic Mystical Tradition

“Knowledge is not by deduction, but Immediate by Perception or Sense at once. Christ addresses himself to the Man, not to his Reason.”

– William Blake (Marginal Note to Berkely)

     In the ideal setting of this chapel, with its beautiful stained glass windows, Tristan presented his own work in this medium to the Temenos Young Scholars.  He gave an introductory talk highlighting the key ideas and techniques behind the works on display.  The need to recover our relationship with physical light as numinous – as being within itself the glimpse of a spiritual kernel – was an idea inspired by a talk given at the Temenos Academy in November 2017, by Dr Jeremy Naydler. It was entitled The Metaphysics of Light in the Age of Electricity.  Tristan suggested that the stained glass of Chartres cathedral and the sepia ink drawings of Samuel Palmer could be contemplated as aids to this recovery.  In so doing he brought to light an understanding of art which challenges contemporary relativist views, and reflected briefly on his efforts to integrate this understanding with his own practice.

     Known to many of the Young Scholars, Valentin Gerlier is tutor and lecturer at the Temenos Academy and a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge (at the time of this Y.S. Day). His interests include Shakespeare, Blake, poetics and metaphysics. His talk consisted of reflections on acts of creation as articulated by William Blake, and commented on the ‘too much-ness of things’ as an imaginative characteristic of the digital age.

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     Dr Simone Kotva is Research Fellow in theology at Emmanuel College and affiliated lecturer at the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge. Her research interests include philosophy of religion and environmental ethics.

     Dr Ankur Barua researches motifs in Hindu theology, Christian doctrine, and comparative philosophy of religion at the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge. An ‘integral part of his academic research is the comparative study of religions: in particular, the question of whether Christian terms such as ‘grace’, ‘creation’ and ‘God’ have any Hindu analogues, and Hindu terms such as dharmakarma  and samsara have any Christian equivalents’.


Religious Thought in Today’s World

     In May 2018, the Temenos Academy joined the Saint Damien Community in Leuven, Belgium, for a weekend on Religious Thought in Today’s World. The conference brought together interdisciplinary approaches from theology and philosophy to reflect on the place of religious thought in an increasingly secular world. From mysticism to ethics, sacred poetry to metaphysics, the overarching aim of the conference was to present a vision that affirms the unique contribution of sacred thought to the world.

     The Keynote lectures were:


 Prof. William Desmond; Superiority beyond Interiority: Augustinian Thoughts on Default Atheism and the Intimate Universal

Prof. John Alonso Dick; Made in America Christian Fundamentalism

Dr. Joseph Milne; Society and the Desire for the Good

Valentin Gerlier; Language, Wonder and Adoration

     Moderated panel sessions, given by students of the Saint Damien Community and the Temenos Academy took place during each afternoon:


Panel discussions

Metaphysics of Tradition – Jonathan Culbreath

Normalising Maori Spirituality in New Zealand – Jack Goldingham Newson

Re-Grounding the Modern Soul in Poetry – Adele Guyton

Fear and Wonder: Narrative and Religious Mediations – James Gayaldo

Film Seeking Undersanding: Can Film Elicit Religious Experience – Sebastian Temlett

‘What is it that I love when I love my God?’ (conf. 10.6): Love of God, Love of Self, and the Saeculum in Augustine and Bernard – Pablo Irizar

Mother of Love: Deification as Motherhood in the Writing of Hadewijch – Lydia Shahan

The Bérullian Jesuit: Henri de Lubac – Rick Perry

What is Prophecy? – Alex Ferrant

Can Husserl find Truth in Today’s World? – Eli Hage

Lonergan’s Fidelity to Aquinas’ Metaphysics: A Comparison of Lonergans’s Notion of ‘Body’ and Aquinas’ Notion of ‘Essence.’ – Kyle Norris