Back to school 1 – Mark Vernon

Stumbled upon this blog. CopyAndPasted some info on his author and by him to remind me to go back to his virtual place when I feel like.

Enjoy it yourself too!

The “About” section on his site:


Mark Vernon

Mark Vernon used to be a priest in the Church of England and is now a writer, pursuing the ancient philosophers’ great question, how to live? His books cover subjects from friendship and belief, to wellbeing and meaning, and he edits two series from Acumen, The Art of Living and Heretics.

He also writes as a journalist, his work appearing regularly in the Guardian, TLS, Evening Standard and on the BBC. He is a keen blogger, and has also appeared on a wide range of platforms including at the Hay, Edinburgh International, Oxford and Dartington book festivals. His books have appeared in translation around the world.

His studies began with a degree in physics, before two degrees in theology, followed by a PhD in philosophy – an academic journey that took him from the universities of Durham and Oxford to Warwick.


Fragments from the article titled “The mind of a fundamentalist“:


“… Scott Appleby told of a Jewish writer who observed that the practice of his religion has shifted from being mimetic – learnt from his family with the air he breathed – to being performative, essentially a case of doing right by a rule book…”


A similar pattern is seen with tokens, those moral issues – abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia – that are not about what you do, because the fundamentalist/conservative is not going to admit those themselves, but rather about what you believe. (Incidentally, it seemed pretty clear to me that scientistic conservatism has its own tokens too, in its loathing for beliefs like creationism. No doubt, there are ‘liberalist’ tokens as well – the absolutisation of rights, perhaps.)

Such tokens represent deep concerns that the believer has about the way things are in the world, what the Pope calls the culture of death, for example. At an existential level, they become so inflated because objection to them is also a way of saying ‘you are not hearing me’ or ‘I fear for my place in the world’. Nothing less than the whole person feels under threat….”

Straight to the point, right in the heart of the matter I’d say, quietly minding not to seem to enthusiastic.


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One Response to Back to school 1 – Mark Vernon

  1. Thanks for this; I’ve bookmarked his blog and will work my way through it. Interested in his ideas about the inherently self centered focus of Buddhism. I’d had some embryonic thought on this myself, but obviously he makes a much better job of it that I would have!

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