In a time when, sadly, we see too much of a polemical approach to Christianity on both sides of the argument, it is easy to forget its central place in the history of England, and indeed of Europe and of large parts of the world. The Newman Lectures, which first took place in the spring semester of 2014, are designed to remind us of this fact, and call us away from the polemical to the subject matter of history. It is easy enough to write about the history of the Church as an institution, and to examine the controversies in which it and its members found themselves involved, as well as to trace its effects on the course of history; much more difficult is it to deal with the interiority of Faith – that is what men and women believed and how it effects their behaviour. Here the historian needs to call into aid other forms of evidence: autobiographical, poetic, architectural and artistic. History is always a magpie of a discipline, calling in aid whatever it is it needs to go about the task of illuminating the past; and when it is the individual with whom we deal, formal written or institutional records will but rarely take us very far in exploring belief and its effects. Easy, and indeed tempting, as it is in our secular society, to see religion as either the ‘opiate of the masses’ or a form of ‘social control’, it is good to resist it. The Newman lectures, which focus upon Christianity in its Catholic tradition, take faith seriously in its own right.
The lectures are called after the greatest of English converts, the Blessed John Henry Newman, an historian, novelist, poet, theologian and thinker who wrote some of the finest prose in the language. They have been sponsored by the Diocese of East Anglia, whose Bishop, Alan Hopes, attended the inaugural lecture by the Rev. Professor John Morrill, who, as well as being one of our foremost historians of early modern England, is a deacon in the Church.
This website curates the lecture series, and provides extracts from Newman's own writings as a guide for those interested in this greatest of modern English Catholic thinkers and writers.
- THE NEWMAN LECTURES TEAM
A number of people have been involved in helping us to shape this project, over the years. We'd like to thank the following for their kindness, support, and hard work.
Rt Revd Bishop Alan Hopes
Professor Edward Acton
Professor John Charmley
Professor Lee Marsden
Very Rvd Provost David Paul
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