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The Resurrection of Knowledge

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The Resurrection of Knowledge

Saturday 14 July 2018
9.30am - 4.45pm
Cosmic Cross, Mausoleum of Gallia Placidia, Ravenna, Italy. Photo © Fr Lawrence Lew OP
Image: Cosmic Cross, Mausoleum of Gallia Placidia, Ravenna, Italy. Photo © Fr Lawrence Lew OP

Hosted by the InSpiRe Centre for Initiatives in Spirituality and Reconciliation based at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

Location: St Mary's University, Twickenham

Our lives contain many different types of knowledge: scientific, artistic, emotional, psychological, spiritual. In the academic world these forms of knowledge are split up, often having little contact with each other: indeed, some may not be accepted as forms of knowledge at all. Yet to be whole people, we need to integrate what we know. The Resurrection of Knowledge conference combines academic rigour with a spirit of intellectual hospitality, to bring knowledge back together and explore new horizons.

This conference will conclude with Julian of Norwich Meditation.

Confirmed speakers

  • Dr Margaret Barker
  • Sr Cathy Jones RA
  • Aleksandra Svalova
  • Fr Dominic White OP


The conference cost is £35, including a sandwich lunch and refreshments.


9.30am: Arrivals, registration and coffe
10am: Welcoming Sophia
Speaker: Fr Dominic White OP

The gift of knowledge (gnosis) is strongly emphasised by the New Testament and early Christian writers. It seems to have focussed on the cosmic significance of Christ’s teachings, with strong psychological insights and a contemplative opening to science. Only Gnostic distortions of the tradition have been remembered, and today the “knowledges” of science, spirituality, psychology often coexist in tension and indeed opposition. This paper introduces the “Lost Knowledge”, argues for a culture of intellectual hospitality rooted in Christian charity as the context for receiving wisdom (Sophia), and a dialogue with more explicitly spiritual forms of philosophy such as Hermeticism.

About the speaker

Fr Dominic White was born in Guildford, Surrey, in 1973, and studied at Cambridge University (MA) and Imperial College, London (PhD). Having been organist of the Dominican church in London for three years, he entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in 2000 and is currently a chaplain to Newcastle and Northumbria universities and Arts Officer at St Dominic's Priory, Newcastle. He is the composer and founder of the Cosmos multimedia dance project and founding patron of Eliot Smith Company (contemporary dance). He is the author of The Lost Knowledge of Christ: Contemporary Spiritualities, Christian Cosmology and the Arts (Liturgical Press, 2015).

11am: Break
11.15am: Mothers of the Church: Rediscovering the Spirit
Speaker: Sr Cathy Jones RA

The Holy Spirit and Mary are both ‘Mothers of the Church’, in a historical sense, through their roles in the Incarnation and at Pentecost, and by their permanent ecclesial presence. In recent centuries Catholic doctrine and devotion have tended to displace the Holy Spirit with Mary, attributing to her Biblical pneumatological functions such as advocacy and mediation, and associating the title ‘Mother of the Church’ primarily with Mary rather than with the Holy Spirit.

Given the recent establishment of the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church on the Monday directly following Pentecost Sunday, it is an appropriate time to reflect on what this devotion expresses and to re-examine the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit. Scripture and the teaching of the Eastern Fathers reveal both the Spirit’s maternal nature and Mary as the pre-eminent bearer of the charisms of the Spirit. Reclaiming these elements of tradition enables a rediscovery of the maternal, life-giving Spirit and provides a solid foundation for authentic Marian devotion.

About the speaker

Cathy Jones is a Religious of the Assumption, currently studying for a PhD at St Mary’s University on the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit in the writings of René Laurentin. Before entering religious life she completed an MPhil at Heythrop College on the contribution of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theodramatik to contemporary Marian theology. She is also involved in youth and vocations work, building upon her previous experience as a teacher in a sixth form college and as Religious Life Promoter in the National Office for Vocation.

12pm: The Romantic Christ
Speaker: Aleksandra Svalova

This research focuses on understanding romance from theological, scientific and social perspectives. Recalling that in the Christian tradition romantic love is the reflection of God’s love for His people, the Bible on romance, marriage and chastity will be revisited. Chastity, in particular, has long been a force of friction between the religious and the secular.

However, despite often finding themselves in conflict, the two are ultimately on the hunt for life's one prize: love. We will combine different schools of thought on romance, focusing on areas of overlap. For example, current scientific research on the chemistry of love will aid understanding of the rewarding and addictive nature of the romantic encounter, much like described in the Bible. In addition, sociocultural research on romantic relationships will be considered. We will drive through a bitter dichotomy, the spiritual need for peace versus the natural desire for chemistry, only to discover complementarity.

About the speaker

Aleksandra Svalova is a PhD candidate in Newcastle University studying petroleum geoscience. Having a background in statistics, she enjoys using statistical analytical and modelling methods to obtain a better understanding of petroleum chemistry. Her interest in Christian theology and philosophy began during postgraduate studies after joining the University Catholic Society. Aleksandra became particularly interested in finding a common ground for religion and science to obtain a better insight about the workings of the universe, as well as contributing to the reconciliation of the two disciplines. She also enjoys discovering different forms of prayer, from imaginative contemplation to music and poetry.

12.45pm: Questions for speakers
1pm: Lunch
2pm: Short papers
3pm: Break
3.15pm: Where is the Wisdom we have lost in Knowledge?
Speaker: Dr Margaret Barker

There were two trees in Eden, and one, the tree of knowledge, was forbidden. When the human couple ate from it, they were driven from the Garden and their world became a place of pain and dust, thorns and thistles. The other was the tree of life, whose fruit was wisdom, but the human pair lost access to this tree. We shall explore the biblical tradition of the lost and rejected wisdom, and how it was restored. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus promised that those who conquered would eat again from the tree of life, and the tree was seen in the final vision of the servants before the throne.

About the speaker

Margaret Barker is an Old Testament scholar, a co-founder of the Temple Studies Group and a former President of the Society for Old Testament Study.

4pm: Concluding remarks
6pm: Julian of Norwich Meditation

Join us for a meditative presentation of this 14th Century mystic’s divine revelations, interpreted through music, dance narration and art.

Created and presented by the founders of The Chickenshed Theatre Company, Mary Ward and Jo Collins, with Frances Wall, Jessica Wall and Sr Jo Chambers SND.

7pm: Refreshments

Conference highlights

Click play on the video below to see the presentations. To skip forward and back between presentations click the 'next' and 'previous' buttons that show in the bottom-left corner of the video.

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Saturday 14 July 2018
9.30am - 4.45pm

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