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St Mary’s Inaugural Lecture Reawakens Passion for Pastoral Theology

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On Monday 20th October, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, hosted the inaugural lecture of Prof Peter Tyler, ‘Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rabindranath Tagore and the Mystical Turn’. Prof Tyler, who is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spirituality and Director for St Mary’s Centre for Initiatives in Spirituality and Reconciliation (InSpiRe), drew on his Wittgensteinian methodology to suggest that all theology, whether mystical, pastoral or systematic, ultimately leads to action. He suggested that theology is at heart a ‘transformational art’, not a ‘pseudo-science or aesthetic adventure’, rather its aim is to establish the conditions, intellectually and affectively, for the Holy Spirit to act upon the soul. Prof Tyler said, “We must constantly challenge the discursive intellect and seek out the ways of self-deception especially in our desire to make idols of the ‘deus’. I was recently asked in America, what is ‘enlightenment’ in the Christian tradition? The only way I could answer was by showing a picture of the famous Rublev ikon of the Trinity and suggest that the aim of Christian life is to take up the invitation by the Holy Trinity (represented by Rublev with the Three Angels) to take our place at the empty seat on the table. “True Theology prepares us to hear that invitation when it must inevitably come, and hopefully to give us the wherewithal to make our way, tentatively and falteringly, to the eternal messaienic banquet to which we are all invited.” Prof Tyler is a leading academic in the areas of Christian Mysticism, Psychology and Spirituality, and Pastoral Theology. He has authored and co-authored seven books (including four monographs) and contributed to more than 20 articles and book chapters since 2010 including Picturing the Soul: Revisioning Psychotherapy and Spiritual Direction (Dharmaram 2014), Teresa of Avila: Doctor of the Soul (Bloomsbury 2013) and The Bloomsbury Guide to Christian Spirituality (Bloomsbury 2012, co-edited with Prof Richard Woods). As a registered psychotherapist, Prof Tyler regularly contributes to the dialogue between spirituality and psychotherapy, which is also reflected in his work directing InSpiRe, which he helped establish. Delivering the opening introduction on the evening, St Mary’s Vice-Chancellor Francis Campbell said, “Peter integrates a fine intellect with humility, humour and lightness of touch. He puts people at ease and brings passion to his job. He has a love of the University and its mission, and his authenticity speaks out across all that he does and to all whom he encounters, colleagues, students and visitors alike.” You can see photos of the event on the St Mary's Facebook page.  
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