In his new book, Haunted by Christ, Richard Harries explores the role of faith in the lives of twenty novelists and poets. Non-believers like Samuel Beckett and Philip Pullman as well as believers like T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden all struggled with faith.
At a time when religions language is meaningless or feels stale for many, we can rediscover its freshness and force in the works of novelists and poets.
Lord Harries will be in conversation with Alec Ryrie, the new Gresham Professor of Divinity.
Professor the Rt Revd Lord Harries was the Bishop of Oxford from 1987 to 2006. He was previously the Dean of King's College London, where he is now a Fellow and an Honorary Professor of Theology. He is an Honorary Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge and of St Anne's College, Oxford. He also holds a number of other prestigious positions in other top British Universities. In 2006 he was made a Life Peer as Lord Harries of Pentregarth of Ceinewydd in the County of Dyfed and sits on the crossbenches.
Professor Harries is greatly concerned with social, political and inter-faith issues. As Bishop of Oxford, he was the Chairman of the Church of England Board for Social Responsibility between 1996 and 2001, and the Chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews between 1992 and 2001. He chaired the House of Bishops' Working Parties on issues surrounding Sexuality and Terrorism. He has been a board member of Christian Aid, a member of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords (The Wakeman Commission), and a founder member of the Abrahamic Group in Oxford.
One of the many interests of Professor Harries is the question of medical ethics - an area in which he has published numerous articles and held a number of top positions. He chaired the Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research, was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2008 and he chairs the Ethics and Law Advisory Group of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Professor Harries has published 26 books and numerous articles, covering a wide range of interests, most recently, Faith in Politics? Rediscovering the Christian roots of our political values and Issues of Life and Death: Christian faith and medical intervention. His other books include: Art and the Beauty of God (Mowbrays, 1993), Christianity and War in the Nuclear Age (Mowbrays, 1986), Is there a Gospel for the Rich? (Mowbrays, 1992), After the Evil: Christianity and Judaism after the Holocaust (OUP, 2003), C. S. Lewis: The Man and his God (Collins, 1987), and a collection of his contributions to 'Thought for the Day' on Radio 4's Today Programme to which he has been a regular contributor since 1972, In Gladness of Today (Harper Collins, 1999).
For all of Lord Harries' previous lectures at Gresham College, please click here.
Alec Ryrie is Gresham Professor of Divinity. He is also Professor of the History of Christianity at Durham University, President-elect of the Ecclesiastical History Society for 2019-20 and Co-Editor of the Journal of Ecclesiastical History. From 2015-17 he was Visiting Professor in the History of Religion at Gresham College and gave two series of lectures on the history of Protestant Christianity.
He studied History as an undergraduate, at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, before completing a Master's in Reformation Studies at St. Andrews and a D.Phil. in Theology at St. Cross College, Oxford. From 1999-2006 he taught at the University of Birmingham, moving to Durham in 2007. Having been Head of the Department of Theology and Religion from 2012-15, he is currently completing a three-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2015-18). He is on the editorial boards of St Andrews Studies in Reformation History (Ashgate) and the Royal Historical Society's Studies in History and New Historical Perspectives. Since 1997 he has been a Reader in the Church of England, and he is licenced to the parish of Shotley St. John (diocese of Newcastle).
Professor Ryrie is a historian of the Reformation era and of Protestantism more widely, with a particular focus on England and Scotland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He is an expert on the emergence and development of Protestant and radical beliefs, identities and spiritualities, and on the history of Protestant missions and missionaries. He has written several prize-winning books and his 2017 book Protestants: The Radicals Who Made the Modern World gives an overview of the history of Protestantism from Luther to the present. Much of the book was prefigured in his lectures at Gresham College in 2015-17. You can watch the lectures in full here.
His current research is on the early history of doubt, scepticism and 'atheism' before such things became intellectually respectable. His book on this subject, Unbelievers: The Religious Quest to Abolish God, will be published in 2019. Many of the book’s themes will be explored in his first series of lectures as Gresham Professor of Divinity on The Origins of Atheism.