Taking conscience seriously

In an essay published as part of the Academy of Ideas’ Letters for Liberty series, I write that we must not simply defend conscience from overt censorship, but champion it as a bulwark against groupthink and moral conformism.

Letters on Liberty: Taking conscience seriously

From debates about abortion to Black Lives Matter, Brexit to gay cakes, there is little belief that some deeper questions are best given space away from the hurly-burly of politics – even if that’s never easy in practice. Conscience is not an alternative to public debate, but an invaluable supplement to it, and one we should cherish – not even when it challenges a moral and political consensus, but especially when it does.

Read Taking Conscience Seriously.

Taking Dante’s Hell seriously

Seven-hundred years on, the first part of the Divine Comedy continues to express a very human sense of justice.

Why we still take Dante’s Hell seriously

Imagine Hell were real, and you were condemned to suffer eternity there. Just for the sake of argument, where exactly do you think you would end up? We’ll assume you haven’t done anything truly monstrous. Not yet. So would you join the lustful? The gluttonous? If you feel strongly about the non-existence of Hell and turn out to be badly mistaken, maybe you’ll burn with the other heretics. Or is it something worse than that? Are you capable of complicity in unspeakable horrors? Could you betray a sacred trust?…

Continue reading “Taking Dante’s Hell seriously”

The Reformation: a secular enchantment

If you ask most people with only a passing knowledge of Christianity to explain the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, they’ll probably mention communion. Catholics believe the bread and wine literally turn into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, while for Protestants the ritual is merely symbolic. Something like that? Martin Luther would have been horrified.

Continue reading “The Reformation: a secular enchantment”