Friday 9 December 2016


We look forward to this first event of 2017. There is much of interest 
on Dr Mark Vernon's website:

Friday 28 October 2016



In the 2012 Preface to his book The Shape of Living, Regius Professor of Divinity David F Ford comments that 'it was liberating to be thinking as directly as possible about what matters most in life, and to reach out to a wide audience'. Mark Oakley, whose wonderful book The Splash of Words finally saw the light of day this year and has already reached a wide and appreciative audience, has this to say towards the end of a chapter on R S Thomas' poem Raptor:
We are far from being an atheist culture: indeed, there is a hunger for the sacred that persists, even intensifies, in an era when knowledge is exploding. This hunger I believe is rooted in something more fundamental than intellectual confusion. Regardless of religious orthodoxies, it seems that people cannot brush aside the sense that there are things that matter and that this mattering is not a mere question of knowledge or social convention. It implies an orientation of one's life towards what lies outside it, a recognition of values that transcend the individual and even the culture ... 

Heart and hospitality: shadows of the stricken

Earlier this year we saw in Ford's Chapter 1 (Shaping a Heart) that the degree to which our 'community of the heart' is hospitable towards those who differ most from us is the best test of its quality'.  Writing (the original edition) in 1997, Ford's words, picking up a phrase of Micheal O'Siadhail about relationships and hospitality across personal boundaries, are weirdly prescient of our continent and country in 2016, where intruders threaten to disrupt 'normal' life:
The boundaries of our being continue to shift as each of us introduces new faces and voices, and the scope for border disputes is endless.  ... We constantly meet with faces and voices which appeal to us to help, to have compassion, or to take some practical responsibility that goes beyond what our commitments or inclinations oblige us to do. 
He quotes from a poem by O'Siadhail called 'Intrusion':  'But what if between our gazes/ shadows of the stricken fall,/ the stares we seem to veil/ keep on commanding us?'  And the last stanza asks: 'Is love a threadbare blindfold?/ 'Yes,' say our shadows, 'unless/ you turn to face the faceless.'/ Who'll re-envisage the world?'  Tempted to shield our comfort and security, we 'recognise the hard heart, the cold heart, the closed heart, the paralysed heart, even the dead heart'.

In a world of good and bad 'overwhelmings', Ford asks us what could convince us one way or the other. In his own testimony to the possibility that love might be the ultimate reality, O'Siadhail in his poems, The Other Voice and Out of the Blue, superficially about romantic love, seems to be reaching towards something universal.
My love is your freedom.  Do or die or downfall,/  it's all or nothing and I have chosen all. 

The most intimate aspects of our self which we call our soul

In chapters 3 and 4, he turns to The Shaping of Character, with discussions of power, virtue and wisdom, and Soul-Shaping, with explorations of the 'secrets' and 'disciplines of intimacy' - including a poem where St Francis addresses St Clare - and 'practices of excess', which includes a paean to the fruitfulness of silence as 'the perfection of secrecy and of discipline together'. Quite a recipe. But as Ford says:
Dealing with secrets shapes the most intimate aspects of our self which we call our soul. And as modern psychology and psychoanalysis have stressed, many of our life-shaping secrets are ones we are not even conscious of - they are repressed, forgotten, denied or deposited in our unconscious.  Our disciplines of living must take account of these depths too. 

Divine Comedy - a story of multiple overwhelmings

Jumping ahead to the final chapter, we find the subheadings 'Joy', 'Feasting', and ... 'The Hospitality of God'.  Ford introduces us to the Greek term Perichoresis, which describes the circling and interweaving of a dance. 'It was daringly taken up by the early Church to suggest what goes on in the very life of God,' he says. 'It is worth trying to understand why ...'  We then get quotations from Dante, Ezekiel and O'Siadhail. No wonder that last chapter is titled Kaleidoscope.

Join us, however much - or little - of the book you have managed to read, at Wychwood Library on Sunday, November 6th at 7pm.  The circle will be open, intimate and informal. 

Saturday 1 October 2016


"Ultimate curiosity, the impulse to see beyond the rim of the physical world, becomes ... a continuous driver for new discoveries within the physical world."
As Andrew Briggs and Roger Wagner seek to show in their massive history of human inquiry, the 'integrative struggle to unite our internal mental world' has led directly and indirectly to the ceaseless struggle to understand the whole physical world and the universe and our place within it. 

They quote someone called Qoholeth (or 'the teacher') in the Hebrew bible who says of what he sees as the God-given reach and the limitations of the human condition:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
For many Christian churches we are now in the period of 'Creationtide'.  This is a time of celebration (eg Harvest Festival) and gratitude and maybe just a few thoughts about climate change and treasuring the earth's resources.  Over much of human history, Creation, or the natural world, has sparked intense interest, from cavemen to fifth-century Greek philosophers to astronomers, cosmologists and scientists, from Aristotle to Galileo and from Darwin to our own day.  One might also say from Athens to Alexandria and from Baghdad to the CERN collider in Switzerland.  

The views of all these thinkers and scientists on religion and faith are inevitably intertwined with their researches and beliefs and influenced by their environment and life experiences.  As Briggs and Wagner pause for breath at the end of Part IX of their book, they anticipate chapter 45 and two Oxford buildings of the mid-19th century which beckon from that next chapter as they 'stand at the threshold of the modern scientific world': 
"The idea of Creation as a framing hypothesis, a rubric written over the whole physical universe, has been a thread which (though frequently becoming snagged on literalistic interpretations of Scripture and coercive attempts to police religious thinking) has run through Jewish, Islamic, and Christian thought for roughly two thousand years.  
...[I]t might come as a surprise to discover the extent to which a strong slipstream of religious motivation was responsible for pulling individuals, professions, and even whole universities over that threshold." 
Wychwood Circle events are always open to anyone who has an interest in our varied topics. They usually happen on the first Sunday evening of the month. A retiring collection enables us to cover our costs. 

Thursday 18 August 2016



Wychwood Circle seems to have got entangled with science in recent months, with the science of climate change as a background to considering the ethics, and with cosmology and the new physics getting us onto even larger questions of the universe (s).

An article in this month’s Prospect magazine is entitled The science of the inconceivable and for a discussion group like ours which often comes up against mystery, limits of knowledge, science and religion and so on, that title is a natural draw.  With a professor of nanomaterials on our guest list for 2016-17 it also seems appropriate that we move our attention from cosmology to the opposite extreme, quantum theory – which this article is all about, starting from an experiment in 2015 that links back to Einstein in 1905.

The first paragraph by Philip Ball ('Science Commentator of the Year') is worth quoting in full:

‘Late last year, an experiment carried out by scientists at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands appeared to demonstrate that one object can affect another from afar without any physical interaction between the two. The finding confirmed an idea so extraordinary that, nearly a century ago, Albert Einstein had rejected it with the dismissive phrase “spooky action at a distance”.  In quantum theory this phenomenon is known as “entanglement”, and many physicists now regard it as the most profound and important characteristic of the physical world at the smallest scales, which quantum theory describes.’

In case we might think that this is some abstruse and ignorable bit of theorising by mad scientists, Ball assures us that ‘entanglement is arguably the central mystery of quantum theory … an idea that now stands at the very limits of our ability to understand the physical world.’  There follows a 4-page article which is at the very limits of the ability of a non-scientist to follow, but the conclusion is perhaps also worth quoting:

 ‘The much vaunted “spooky action at a distance”, is, then, neither spooky nor action.  Instead, it’s one of the strangest characteristics of the physical world – and may yet turn out to be one of the most revelatory.’

This may just be good summer journalism but to a WyC mind it rings all sorts of bells of recognition and curiosity.  In an age when ‘science’ is treated by some as almost a god (the name for the associated religion is ‘scientism’), It reminds us just how much ‘science’ in fact covers a vast multitude of disciplines (rather like ‘humanities’), and maybe suggests that any one science cannot begin to explain the world we live in, that a so-called ‘theory of everything’ is probably beyond any one mind, etc.  (It might remind, let’s say for the sake of argument, outspoken biologists that realism, let alone, humility would recognise quantum physicists (for example) and maybe even philosophers, poets, artists and theologians as having some useful and unignorable contributions to make to the biggest issues of all!)

Given the magnitude of the issues we can be grateful at Wychwood Circle that a fascinating duo of scientist and artist have not only written a book, The Penultimate Curiosity, combining the history of science and metaphysics, but also agreed to come to the Wychwoods to present their thesis, which is that ‘science swims in the slipstream of ultimate questions’.   According to the FT reviewer John Cornwell those ultimate questions are (and always were) ‘spiritual, aesthetic and philosophical in nature’.  Commending the book he concludes, somewhat acidly:
‘Without espousing a particular faith or denomination, the authors have provided a much-needed antidote to the New Atheists’ promotion of science at the expense of spirituality, a campaign that has done much to coarsen and misinform public understanding of both.’

A different approach clearly informs Richard Joyner’s review in the Times Higher Education: he puts the book in the context of ‘the race for dominance between science and religion’ and though critical of their premise and their conclusion says the book is ‘well worth reading’: ‘their narrative is fascinating and this is a beautiful volume…’, he says, though he thinks their quest for meaningful answers ‘may be long and unrewarding’.

While Andrew Briggs is professor of nanomaterials at Oxford, Roger Wagner is a painter and art historian and their presentation to us – like the beautifully produced book – will be fully illustrated and we will benefit from the excellent equipment at the Village Hall in Milton under Wychwood.  The book is available from various sellers and there are also two copies at Wychwood Library: the authors have invited us to read at least some of it in advance of their visit.

Join us if you can on Sunday, October 2nd at 7pm in Miton under Wychwood Village Hall (to be confirmed) on Shipton Road, or if not in the Library (High Street, OX7 6LD).  

Saturday 2 July 2016



Thus Fred Hoyle in the 1950s, as quoted below.  As we prepare for our Cosmology and Religion event on July 3rd, here are some extracts from authors who have pondered the subject professionally.   

KEITH WARD (God, Chance & Necessity, 1996):

When one considers all the elements involved in the Big Bang, it begins to look like an extremely complex event, and not a simple elementary fact at all.  So it [still] seems to stand in need of explanation.  To say that such a very complex and well-ordered universe comes into being without any cause or reason is equivalent to throwing one’s hands up in the air and just saying that anything at all might happen, that it is hardly worth bothering to look for reasons at all.  And that is the death of science.
[from ch 1 where he considers whether the universe came into being by chance, or by necessity or for a particular purpose]

PAUL DAVIES (The Goldilocks Enigma, 2006):

[So] let’s take a look at the hypothesis that the appearance of design in the universe is the result of a designer/creator.  Although by definition this is not a scientific explanation (since it appeals to a supernatural cause), it is still a rational explanation. …
Intelligent design of the laws [of nature] does not conflict with science, because it accepts that the whole universe runs itself according to physical laws, and that everything that happens in the universe has a natural explanation.  … You don’t even need a miracle to bring the universe into existence in the first place, because the big bang may be brought within the scope of physical laws too, either by using quantum cosmology … or by assuming something like eternal inflation. …
The central objection to invoking such a being to account for the ingenious form of the universe is the completely ad hoc nature of the explanation.  Unless there is already some other reason to believe in the existence of the Great Designer, then merely declaring ‘God did it!’ tells us nothing at all.
[ch 9 in a section entitled: Laws by design versus anthropic selection in a multiverse]

Although a strong motivation for introducing the multiverse concept is to get rid of the need for design, this is bid is only partially successful.  … The popular multiverse models shift the problem elsewhere – up a level from universe to multiverse.  To appreciate this, one only has to list the many assumption that underpin the multiverse theory.
[ch 9: Who designed the multiverse? ]

ANGELA TILBY (Soul: God, Self and the New Cosmology, 1992):

The weak anthropic principle
The weakest statement of the anthropic principle starts from the realisation that it is becoming harder and harder to believe that we can observe the universe from a truly neutral position.  In 1974 Brandon Carter, a former research student of Stephen Hawking’s, made the suggestion in a journal of the Royal Society that our location in the universe is necessarily privileged to the extent of being compatible with our existence as observers. …
The weak anthropic principle … states clearly that the universe does not revolve around us.  What it does say is that our universe, of necessity, has to take account of our presence.  …
But the consequences of the anthropic principle are more far-reaching than this.  In classical and quantum physics, as we have seen, life is something of an anomaly…  What has been surprising to physicists is to discover that in purely physical terms life is not as anomalous to the basic structure of the universe as they once assumed.  In fact the conditions for life seem to have been woven into the fabric of things from the very beginning. …
Fred Hoyle …  was so struck by the scale and number of coincidences which allowed for the balance of elements necessary for life that he remarked, ‘A superintendent has monkeyed with the physics.’

The strong anthropic principle
… claimed that the universe must be such as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage.
…  It says that, given the way the universe is, carbon-based intelligent observers have to come into existence at some stage in its evolution. This would seem to introduce an element of deliberate design … We are meant to be here … ‘The universe knew we were coming.’
There are three possible interpretations of the strong anthropic principle.  …
[1] There is only one possible universe, which has been designed with the goal of bringing conscious observers into existence.
[2] Our universe depends on the existence of many other different universes.
[3] The universe requires conscious observers in order to bring itself into being.

Spirituality and participation
…Our existence is a miracle, but it is a miracle with meanings we are yet to discover. Looking at the world as an interconnected web, a web which seems to require conscious observers to make it more and more fully real, suggests that the maker of this world may be difficult to discern not because God is hidden, but because God is so enormous and all-encompassing that we cannot see God as being separate from the wholeness of things. …

[ch 8 The Anthropic Universe]

Tuesday 14 June 2016



We've been spoiled with several high-profile speakers over recent months.  In July we are back in the intimacy of the library in Milton-u-Wychwood's High Street and discussing another eternal topic, that of the universe.  Or should that be universes?  In a book written some time ago (1992) on the 'new cosmology', Angela Tilby (as it happens, a recent guest of ours) takes the layman through the science and relates how ever more discoveries have broadened, deepened, and widened physicists' understanding of, and speculation about, the universe (s) out there - beyond our little planet and our insignificant galaxy. 

From Newton through Einstein to Stephen Hawking, from steady state to big bang, and from black holes and dark matter to quantum mechanics and chaos theory, there is an awful lot for the non-specialist to absorb.  But it is riveting stuff.  And if you are struggling by the time you reach the different versions of the Anthropic Principle (chapter 8) you can always skip to a subsequent section, helpfully divided and headed by descriptive titles. After all there is not going to be a tidy conclusion to this story, however carefully you read it. 

In passing you will also come across Augustine, Aquinas, Teilhard de Chardin and Paul Davies. Once you are in this territory there is no limit to what one can speculate on: just look at the titles of books on this subject, like The Goldilocks Principle (Paul Davies). Gone are the days of cosy chats - or even fierce arguments - about evolutionary biology or intelligent design. Suddenly it seems that scientists and theologians would do well to listen to each other since both are on the very edge of their respective subject matter.  It is what we are particularly good at in our Wychwood Circle discussions, with or without an expert present. 

Ted Harrison, former BBC Religious Affairs Correspondent, has commented:
The physicist, mathematician, and philosopher of science Sir Roger Penrose has cautioned against "fashion, faith and fantasy in the new physics of the universe". Nevertheless, the willingness in the world of theoretical physics to think the amazing and the seemingly absurd is, in many research institutes, unrestrained. 
Join us if you can - no specialist knowledge required! - on Sunday July 3rd at 7pm in Wychwood Library.  Who knows, we too might even 'think the amazing and the seemingly absurd'... 

Monday 9 May 2016



We have covered many topics at Wychwood Circle, from atheism to antropology, from compassion to cosmology, and from poetry to politics, but it wouldn’t do for an outward-looking group like ours, open to discussing almost anything with anybody, to neglect one of the biggest issues of our time.  With the promising Paris talks on climate change in December and almost monthly reports of record temperatures or unprecedented weather conditions, it was high time to turn to the big one: what is our responsibility to our environment, both as individuals and as citizens? In other words, just what are the Ethics of Climate Change? 

We are fortunate indeed to have Professor John Broome join us on June 5th.  Until last year he was White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford and he wrote a fascinating if disturbing article in the faculty magazine (Oxford Philosophy 2014 - scroll to pp 8-11).  John Broome spent several years as Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and in this piece – entitled CLIMATE CHANGE IS A MORAL PROBLEM – he recounts in detail the long process of producing an internationally acceptable Assessment Report for the UN.  It soon becomes clear that climate change is a political and diplomatic problem too. 
You cannot of course avoid the economics of climate change – what a boon for the PPE-ers of this world! – and John Broome knows all about that too.  In his very readable 2012 book,  CLIMATE MATTERS: ETHICS IN A WARMING WORLD there is a chapter on Economics (externalities, inefficiency, waste) as well as one on Justice and Fairness and – beware of being challenged about your lifestyle and not just your politics! – one on Private Morality.  The Amazon blurb reads as follows:

Esteemed philosopher John Broome avoids the familiar ideological stances on climate change policy and examines the issue through an invigorating new lens. As he considers the moral dimensions of climate change, he reasons clearly through what universal standards of goodness and justice require of us, both as citizens and as governments. His conclusions-some as demanding as they are logical-will challenge and enlighten. Eco-conscious readers may be surprised to hear they have a duty to offset all their carbon emissions, while policy makers will grapple with Broome's analysis of what if anything is owed to future generations. From the science of greenhouse gases to the intricate logic of cap and trade, Broome reveals how the principles that underlie everyday decision making also provide simple and effective ideas for confronting climate change. Climate Matters is an essential contribution to one of the paramount issues of our time.

Most of our events at Wychwood Circle this season have had at least some reference to faith – even on Mindfulness someone wondered if Jesus was ‘mindful’ – and it would be hard to uncouple belief in our environment from a spiritual outlook, if not a religious one.  However, it is worth saying that we have invited Professor Broome with no idea whatsoever of his faith position, if any.  Climate matters: John Broome wrote the book.  He’s an Oxford philosopher, a world authority, and was good enough to accept our invitation.  We look forward to being stimulated by his talk. 

Sunday 1 May 2016



The article below was written by Angela Tilby in her regular column in the Church Times on April 22nd 2016.  It is reproduced here by kind permission of the Church Times (  

Deadly twin of avarice

DEADLY sins go in and out of fashion, as recent news events demonstrate. Gluttony is serious — see the obesity epidemic. Lust is apparently no longer much of a problem — the Culture Secretary’s liaison with a dominatrix produced sniggers rather than censure.
Avarice, however, is another matter. The Panama Papers, the agonised revelations of the Prime Minister’s tax arrangements, the spotlight on Tony Blair’s carefully accumulated millions — all have sparked a sense of outrage. The line has been eroded between tax avoidance, once regarded as no more than careful money-management, and the crime of tax evasion. The secretive rich are simply loathed and hated.
One of the early Christian commentators on avarice, the fourth-century hermit Evagrius, was not sure whether avarice was, like lust and gluttony, a sin of the appetites, or more a sin of misdirected enthusiasm. On the whole, he treats it as sin of the appetites, and links it to anxiety and personal insecurity.
The avaricious person is not necessarily a wicked hoarder whose sole aim is to grind the face of the poor, but, rather, a brooding control freak, anxious about the future and obsessed with the issue whether there will be “enough” to deal with what might happen, and, in particular, with the indignities of old age.
Christians are meant to be free of financial anxiety, living in the moment, and not planning for the future, which is in God’s hands. The avarice that is so condemned in today’s society is often closer to the supposed virtues of thrift and prudence than we might imagine.
At the Reformation, a different theology of wealth emerged. While love of money for its own sake was still regarded as evil, Christians were urged to see wealth as creative rather than destructive. Improving one’s talents was part of Christian stewardship, and that could include the pursuit of profits for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
John Wesley urged his followers to earn all they could, save all they could, and give away all they could. Thus money was kept in circulation for the benefit of all. Capitalism and its fruits have indeed lifted millions out of poverty, while the philanthropic work of people such as Bill Gates have shown how the rich can make a real difference.
The depressing thing today is not so much that the rich are rich, as that so many of them seem so selfish: slaves not only to their own appetites, but to narcissistic vanity and pride — sins more deadly than avarice. And the rest of us are not let off the hook. Envy is the twin of avarice, and just as deadly.

Thursday 14 April 2016


ANGELA TILBY writes a regular column for the Church Times and recently (April 2nd) tackled the related theme of wealth, avarice and envy.  The article is reproduced in the next post on this site (May 1st) by kind permission of the Church Times ( 'DEADLY TWIN OF AVARICE'

Angela Tilby at Wychwood Circle - May 15th 2016

Wednesday 9 March 2016


This article appeared in the bimonthly The Wychwood magazine in February/March 2016. Website views have since reached 18,000... 

2016 will see the Wychwood Circle entering its fifth year as our own home-grown discussion group, based in Milton’s library but drawing participants from around the Cotswolds - from Bourton to Enstone.  This year we are booking the village hall for our more well-known and sought-after visiting speakers, starting on March 6th with a talk on Mindfulness – a practice which has become ubiquitous from classrooms to Parliament – by Professor Mark Williams, best-known for his much-read guide subtitled ‘Seeking Peace in a Frantic World’.  

The bigger picture
Not for the first time Wychwood Circle has poached ideas from BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day: in April we welcome John Bell of the Iona Community and in May Angela Tilby from Christ Church Oxford.  Back in the more intimate setting of the library we turn on July 3rd to the most horizon-widening topic of all with a discussion of Cosmology and Religion:  the ‘new physics’ of parallel universes and multiple big bangs challenges the boundaries of both science and theology.  Come and help us think this through.
From Paris to the Wychwoods
As we assess the success of the Paris climate talks last December we look forward to a challenging discussion in June introduced by the recently retired White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford.  In addition to his academic career John Broome has worked for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and so is something of an expert on both the ethics and the practical politics of climate change agreements.

Thought for the Day
At Wychwood Circle we discuss a range of serious topics about how we see the world and how we choose to live.  Maybe our defining characteristic, given that we are open to all comers and most topics, is that we are not afraid, in Alastair Campbell’s terms, to ‘do God’.  People come with or without faith and with many different worldviews and experiences.  Discussions, both philosophical and ethical, may be explicitly religious (eg ‘The Faces of God’ – April 10th) or secular (eg ‘The Ethics of Climate Change’ – June 5th).  

Our events always appear on the village website, and our own website keeps the wider world involved in our current topics, attracting to date some 12000 views, from Alaska to Japan.  You can keep up to date with our events and reflections and add your own comments.  Or come along in person any time.


Saturday 16 January 2016


THE SHAPE OF LIVING: Spiritual Directions for Everyday Life has, according to its own blurb, become ‘a spiritual classic’.  Written in 1997 by David F Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge and Director of the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme, it was reissued in 2012 with a new preface.  He quotes liberally from the contemporary poet, Michael O’Siadhail (as well as the Bible).  As he says in the preface:
Poetry,with its potential for combining head and heart, density of meaning with musicality, is for me the core form of human language’.  

Of his subject matter Ford says it was ‘liberating to be thinking as directly as possible about what matters most in life’.  He admits his debt to, amongst others, a psychotherapist at Broadmoor and a priest and theologian whose enthusiasms were Thomas Traherne and the L’Arche communities for people with learning disabilities. 

No surprise then that the book’s Introduction is about ‘coping with being overwhelmed’.  Those ‘overwhelmings’ both shape and distort our lives and he is keen to recognise and confront them.  Whoever we are, we often ‘fail to cope, at least by the standards set by us or by our families or by others’.  His way of coping is to ‘answer the big questions of life, death, purpose, good and evil’, and his main task ‘to stretch our minds, hearts and imaginations in trying to find and invent shapes of living’.

Thus Chapter 1 is about people and how they shape our identity: Who are the faces and voices that concern us daily? Who are the people from the past and from the present who are always in our hearts even when we are not thinking of them?  Before whom do we live?  Who is welcome and who is shut out? Whom do we try to please? Whom do we fear? 

Chapter 2 is about desires; chapter 3 about virtue and character; chapter 4 about ‘secrets and disciplines’; and so on.

When he asks in the Introduction what are the resources for answering his questions, the answer is the religions – to which 4 billion people around the world subscribe, sometimes (as he well knows and as befits something – ‘like families, the single biggest arena of conflict’ – which goes so deep) with violent consequences.  And which religion? The religion of many in our society could be described as ‘a form of polytheism’, he says, with ‘many shifting objects of esteem and desire’. And since the great questions about life ‘do not allow for neutral statements’ -– ‘Everybody stands somewhere!’ he says -- Ford unapologetically uses his own religion (Christianity) to explain where he is coming from and to offer some shape to the discussion.

 At Wychwood Circle we have always been open to all views and all faiths (and none) – so we will trade on the fact that Ford’s discussion is also open to the less (or the not) ostensibly religious. (In chapter one, despite his introductory warning, there is no reference to God until page 19!)  And at Wychwood Circle we would no more dismiss the Bible than we would reject Shakespeare, or for that matter Michael O’Siadhail’s poetry. 

The Shape of Living (Introduction and Chapter 1) will be our theme for the first meeting of 2016, beginning at 7pm on February 7th at Wychwood Library and ending no later than 9pm.   The question, How are our lives shaped, seems a good starting point for 2016 and we will decide after this initial discussion whether we want to return to all or any of the remaining chapters later in the year.