In the buzz and busyness of life, it is important to make choices for ourselves and for those we love (especially our children!) to slow down, to carve out spaces for connection and healthy interactions, and foster a safe environment in which we can explore life's greatest questions, encounter dragons and villains, and develop a taste for goodness, beauty and truth.
Francis Schaeffer was a Christian apologist whose remarkable breadth of cultural interest and penetrating insights into modern life, led many to a profound spiritual reality. Hans Rookmaaker was an art historian whose Christian insights in art, music and culture had widespread influence. Both had vibrant personalities, striking charisma, and focused on how to engage with reality while creatively living out a relationship with God.
For further reading:
William Edgar, Schaeffer on the Christian Life
Bryan A. Follis, Truth with Love: The Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer
Colin Duriez, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life
Linette Martin, Hans Rookmaaker: A Biography
Laurel Gasque, Art and the Christian Mind: The Life and Work of H.R.Rookmaaker
The aim of this lecture is to present a panorama of a movement born in our era called “transhumanism”. From computer scientists and tech experts to philosophers and theologians, transhumanist thinking has been spreading quickly as a belief system to various areas of life. My goal is to analyse their concept of singularity and its centrality as a driving force for their enterprise, offering a Christian response to the main themes developed by transhumanists.
Many traditional accounts of ethics focus on the concept of virtue, the cultivation of the self towards an elevating telos by shared practices in community. Since the advent of social media, there has been a remarkable transformation in our relationships and in the realities that lie at the heart of such ethics: self, character, community, and shared practices. Understanding how we are being changed will equip us to act more prudently.
This lecture will outline the principles and findings of the Integrated Character Project: a programme of psychological studies, biblical and theological reflection, and practical application. We will address the implications for Christian living, education, work life, and mental health.
Peter Merz offers an in-depth analysis of Homer's Odyssey as an invitation to explore the classics in general and discover their beauty and wisdom which has stood the test of time.
Interpersonal conflict is painful and yet confrontation is necessary if we are to have more than superficial relationships. What issues have to be addressed if we are to negotiate the minefield and a way that is profitable for them (and not necessarily for us).
Dorothy Sayers, a contemporary of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and an unofficial "female Inkling," the literary coterie that gave birth to The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. In this lecture, Dawn Merz explores her life, letters, and powerful, but often overlooked, contribution to Christian literature and thought.
Christian artists often struggle to integrate their faith with their artwork and end up with a sacred-secular split. We will look at an array of artworks to help us see what it looks like when we try to shut Christ out of a big part of our lives. This false dichotomy splits our hearts, and this problem is in no way limited to artists. Isaiah 29 and Colossians 2 will help us think about what it would look like for us to recapture the wonder of Christ working in our hearts with “wonder upon wonder” (Isaiah 29:14).
Our capacity to pay attention is central to human flourishing. A whole influential industry—powered by modern technology and our proximity to our smartphones—has been targeting our ability to attend in order to keep us hooked to their products and invest our time in a way that is profitable for them (and not necessarily for us). In this lecture, we will look at how the Attention Economy works, how it influences our lives, and how we can respond to it in a healthy way.
The Protestant Reformation’s 500-year anniversary and recent calls to reform the religion of Islam prompt the question of what reformation might entail for Muslims. What has and what will reformation look like in Islam? Keefer considers this question by exploring the history of the religion and its theological tenets.
Andrew Fellows interacts with Abraham Heschel's book "The Sabbath" and builds a theology of rest by looking at how we interact with space and time.
Taking inspiration from Romans 12:2 about being transformed by renewing our minds, this lecture looks at the cult of busyness. Are Christians too busy? How do we cope in a world where we will never finish everything we have to do? How did Jesus manage all the demands on his time?
Black Tea for H. R. Rookmaaker: Contextualising Dr. Rookmaaker’s Work for the 21st Century (Peter S. Smith)
Prompted by recent interest in Dr. Rookmaaker’s work, Peter Smith reflects on the decade-long relationship he had with the art historian. Through personal meetings and letters from 1967 to 1977, what kind of influence did Rookmaaker have on a young painter and printmaker? How do we understand his legacy in today’s context? Did he open doors that we have yet to walk through?
In this lecture, Pat Harvey leads a whistle-stop tour of 20th-century French chanson. She surveys notable singers from the niche genre and introduces a few of their most well-known songs.
Andrew Fellows, former L'Abri worker, walks us through the development of modernity and proposes life in community as a buffer against the more negative aspects of modern life.
Many today feel uncertain about how to respond to a changing technological landscape. Having previously outlined a few rules for what technology is and how it behaves, this lecture explores what we should do about it and proposes a response that avoids the double dangers of fear and utopianism.
For further reading:
Many today feel uncertain about how to respond to a changing technological landscape. If neither technophobia nor technophoria are adequate responses, can we chart a middle way? This lecture outlines a few rules for what technology is, how it behaves, what we should do about it, and proposes a response that avoids the double dangers of fear and utopianism.
For further reading:
- What Technology Wants (Kevin Kelly)
- Understanding Media (Marshall McLuhan)
- Technopoly (Neil Postman)
- The Technological Society (Jacques Ellul)
- The Singularity Is Near (Ray Kurzweil)
When asked what happened when Jesus was crucified, many Christians can give little more than short, pithy summaries: 'He was dying for our sins' or 'He was taking our punishment' or 'He was showing how much God loved us.' The Bible has more to say. As preparation for Good Friday, this lecture explores the deep terror and unspeakable comfort of the brutal execution at the heart of Christian faith.
For further exploration:
- Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Christopher J.H. Wright)
- The New Testament and the People of God (N.T. Wright)
- The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ (Fleming Rutledge)
The culture is polarised—not just left and right but the centre and the periphery, the cosmopolitans and the provincials. This lecture will sketch some trajectories for where this might lead and consider what we should do about it.
Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974) are widely regarded as two of the greatest films of the twentieth century. The Godfather: Part III (1990) is often dismissed as a pale failure. This lecture explores how the trilogy as a whole reflects the work of a specifically Catholic imagination where the moral universe is viewed through the sacraments of the Church.
A lecture given by Andrew Jones (Vicar of Grace Church Hackney, London) at English L'Abri on 9th March, 2018. For more information, visit labri.org/england and for more L'Abri lectures, visit the L'Abri Ideas Library.
This talk explains what other-centred love looks like and how ‘the inferno of self-love’ works against it. We consider how Christ alone is the reference point for understanding the greatness of the highest love.
A lecture given by Andrew Fellows at English L'Abri on 24th February, 2018. Andrew is director of Christian Heritage, a study centre community serving Cambridge. Andrew was the former chairman of L'Abri International Fellowship and director of English L'Abri from 1995-2015.
For further study:
- Radical Alterity (Jean Baudrillard)
- In the Self's Place: The Approach of Saint Augustine (Jean-Luc Marion)
- The Agony of Eros (Byung-Chul Han)
In a time of busy, workaholic, multitasking, tired people, is there a space for rest? This lecture looks at reasons why rest has become such a distant concept and explores its powerful and transformative offer to our lives.
This lecture articulates a theological and philosophical definition of thankfulness, trying to find broader categories to think about a common concept in a more comprehensive way.
There is a renewed recognition in education, politics and business that character is crucial for the future of society and human flourishing. But what is character? Can it be educated into children? And what about us? This lecture will consider these questions with a look back to ancient wisdom and forward to the latest psychological research.
A lecture given by Tom Smiley (Clinical Psychologist) at English L'Abri on 2nd February, 2018. For more information, visit labri.org/england and for more L'Abri lectures, visit the L'Abri Ideas Library.
For further study:
- Virtue Reborn (Tom Wright)
- The Science of Virtue: Why Positive Psychology Matters for the Church (Mark McMinn)
- The Psychology of Christian Character Formation (Joanna Collicutt)
- Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman)
How to Read the Story of Jesus in Every Part of the Bible: An Introduction to Biblical Theology (Andy Patton)
From Genesis to Revelation, God uses many threads—themes, narratives, characters, and symbols—to weave a single story. This lecture introduces ‘Biblical theology,’ a way of reading the Bible that seeks to trace each thread as it develops throughout scripture to better understand God's work in Jesus, the one to whom all the threads lead.
For further study:
- Videos and resources from The Bible Project
- Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (G.K. Beale)
- Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (Richard Hays)
Transgender rights have gone from a minor issue to becoming the cultural battlefield of the past few years, with major gains made by the transgender lobby in terms of law, educational policy, media coverage and celebrity endorsement. How has the transgender lobby been so successful in changing public opinion and the voices against transgenderism so unsuccessful in holding back this cultural change?
For further study:
- "The Gender Equality Paradox" (from NRK 1's Hjernevask series)
- "Susie Orbach on women’s bodies and why the panic about gender is disturbing" (Janice Turner, The Times, 11 January 2018)
- Roots of Western Culture (Herman Dooyeweerd)
Worldviews influence and shape our beliefs and the way we see the world, but what influences these worldviews themselves? This lecture will explore how deeper engagement with low-level creeds—our deeply held, often repeated, mantra-like confessions or beliefs—should be considered part of our worldview discussions.
A lecture given by Tom Price (Senior Tutor at The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics) at English L'Abri on 1st December, 2017. For more information, visit labri.org/england and for more L'Abri lectures, visit the L'Abri Ideas Library.
Many Christians live with a hard divide between the sacred and the secular, a type of imaginational segregation that isolates Christianity from the rest of human experience. As a pastor’s kid who always loved fairy tales and fantasy novels, Andrew shares how story, art, and music were the breadcrumbs that led him to faith in Christ and to a sacramental view of a world ‘charged with the grandeur of God’ (G.M. Hopkins).
A lecture given by Andrew Peterson at English L'Abri on 17 November, 2017. Andrew Peterson is a songwriter, author, and founder of The Rabbit Room, a community of songwriters, authors, and artists interested in storytelling, faith, and fellowship.