RN17

RPC.Dev

T H E M A G A Z I N E O F R E G E N T ' S P A R K C O L L E G E | 2 0 1 7

R E G E N T ' S N O W

JUBILEE EDITION

PIONEERING SPIRIT

Revd Barbara Cottrell & Revd Dr Myra Blyth reflect on the place of women at Regent's

GLOBAL FUTURE

Dr Shidong Wang introduces the Oxford Prospects and Global Development Centre

LIVABLE LIFE

Friends and colleagues remember the life and work of

Professor Pamela Sue Anderson (1955-2017)

Celebrating Sixty Years as a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford


From the Development Office

We are grateful to everyone who has contributed to

this year's anniversary edition of Regent's Now,

especially our Jubilee Photographer, Oliver

Robinson, who is responsible for the excellent

pictures, as well as Ron Ruhle and all at CDP for

printing and mailing.

CONTENTS

1

FOREWORD

Robert Ellis, Principal

Stay connected with us...

www.rpc.ox.ac.uk

groups/RPCOxford

RegentsOx

2

4

5

JCR REPORT

Ella Taylor-Fagan, JCR President

MCR REPORT

Allison D'Ambrosia, MCR President

NEWS FROM THE MINISTERIAL COMMUNITY

Esther Mason, Ministerial Association Representative

development@regents.ox.ac.uk

6

DISSENTING SPIRIT

Anthony Clarke & Paul Fiddes on their new History of

the College, 1752-2017

7

A GLOBAL FUTURE

Shidong Wang introduces The Oxford Prospects &

Global Development Centre

8

JUBILEE DEVELOPMENT REVIEW

Julie Reynolds & Matthew Mills

10

ALUMNI NEWS

Evie Ioannidi & Will Obeney

12

THE HEART OF THINGS

Molly Boot recounts a transformative journey to the

Holy Land

14

A PIONEERING SPIRIT

Barbara Cottrell & Myra Blyth reflect on the place of

women at Regent's

16

JUBILEE PERSPECTIVES

Keith Riglin, Rex Mason, John Morgan-Wynne & Tom

Weinandy

20

VULNERABILITY AND A LIVABLE LIFE

Adrian Moore, Susan Durber, Kate Kirkpatrick, Lara

Montesinos Coleman & Paul Fiddes recall the life and

work of Professor Pamela Sue Anderson


Foreword

Dr Robert Ellis

Principal

The title of a new History of the College, Dissenting Spirit,

launched at the end of November, speaks volumes about

our community. Staff, students, alumni and friends of

Regent's do things their own way; testing everything and

holding fast to what is good, as our motto instructs.

Throughout 2017, we have been celebrating sixty years in

which the dissenting spirit of Regent's has made a special

contribution to the life of the University of Oxford,

building upon earlier achievements since the eighteenth

century to which the College traces its roots. This year's

edition of Regent's Now offers a glimpse of the ways in

which our community has come together to celebrate

throughout the Jubilee, as the Development Review

elaborates. Reports from the JCR, MCR and Ministerial

bodies - not to mention one undergraduate's reflection on

an immersive trip to the Holy Land - describe the many

accomplishments of our students, who push the

boundaries of representation and inclusion, and continue

to make great strides in sport and the creative arts. In

turn, a report from the Oxford Prospects and Global

Development Centre explains how, as a small and agile

community, Regent's has been quick off the blocks to

build new and exciting links with the higher education

sector in China. Initiatives like this show Regent's to be

forward-looking and ambitious; but in looking ahead, we

are also conscious of the debt owed to those who have

helped to build the community in the past. Timely and

valuable retrospectives are offered from several

generations of alumni, and members of academic staff

from the early days; as well as a former Warden of

Greyfriars Hall, which also received a licence to

matriculate students into the University in 1957, and

from which students and alumni migrated when it closed

in 2008. Finally, articles from Barbara Cottrell and Myra

Blyth, and about the legacy of our much-loved Fellow in

Philosophy, Professor Pamela Sue Anderson

(1955-2017), mark one of the College's proudest acts of

dissent in making a place for women at the heart of

academe. As all of this shows, Regent's has many reasons

to celebrate and to look forward with confidence; I am

certainly excited for what the future holds.

The Principal addresses guests at the Jubilee Gala

Dinner in September. Below: Jubilee display cabinet.

1


JCR REPORT

Ella Taylor-Fagan (History, 2015)

JCR President

Despite the doom and gloom associated with 2016-17, for

an undergraduate at Regent’s the past year has been both

exciting and successful. It all began with the arrival of a

new cohort of first-years. The Freshers’ Week Committee

worked tirelessly to integrate thirty-six new students, with

ice-cream trips, club excursions, college-family meals, and

an ‘Alphabet’ themed bop. Before they had even finished

their first term, the freshers had produced a play, ‘Mercury

Furr’, as part of an intercollegiate drama competition,

which was a great success. The term also saw success for

the wider JCR. The men’s football team was promoted, the

pantomime showcased an array of thespian talent, and the

busy term ended in traditional OxMas style; we were

welcomed to the Principal’s Lodgings for mince pies, and

the JCR came together with the whole community to sing

carols in the quad.

Hilary term was kicktarted with the launch of a

weekly film club and the introduction of a JCR-run

Saturday morning brunch. The term was again studded

with exciting annual traditions, such as Burns’ Night, which

included a fantastic meal accompanied by a band and

ceilidh. It was also in this term that the Social Equalities

Committee was set-up, under the fantastic leadership of

Grace Barrington (English Language and Literature, 2014).

Thus, an undergraduate-led space was created for various

liberation groups to discuss and tackle issues of inequality.

The women’s rowing team managed to secure its place in

the division, whilst the men’s boat – in one of its most

successful years to date – was sadly prevented from

getting much-deserved blades due to the interruption of

the race by some evil swans. Exciting Friday night socials

burst back on to the scene, with the introduction of a

chocolate fountain which proved to be quite a hit and has

since made regular appearances.

The undergraduate community continued to

thrive into the summer months. We celebrated our

tortoise’s 114th birthday with a party in the quad in aid of

Meningitis Now, raising £1003. The College was filled with

music, a bouncy castle and many guests – human and

tortoise. Once the finalists had finished their exams, it was

time for the much-anticipated Jubilee Fling (pictured right).

Recognition goes to Amelia Williams (Classics and English,

2014) and David Marchington (English Language and

Literature, 2015) for doing a sterling job of organising the

night and turning the College into a laboratory full of

enchanting alchemy and exciting potions. Once again, we

were particularly grateful to alumnus and Treasurer, Tony

Harris (English Language and Literature, 2007), who

generously donated champagne for the evening. The few

last days of Trinity term rolled by, spent lounging on the

lawn in the quad, playing rounders against the SCR, and

reminiscing with the finalists before they departed.

The brilliance of the JCR spread its wings across

the wider university, too. Beth Davies-Kumadiro (History

and English, 2014) organised a ‘Common Ground’

symposium in order to tackle issues surrounding Oxford’s

imperial past, with Vogue magazine printing a feature about

her success. In addition, freshers Kiya Evans (History and

English, 2016) and Philippa Lawford (English Language and

Literature, 2016) produced the play ‘Blavatsky’s Tower’,

which received wonderful reviews and included many

familiar faces.

Oxford has been as beautiful and elegant as ever

in 2016/17, but the Regent’s student body has

shone even more brightly, with triumphs in sport,

the arts, democracy and diversity.

2

Twitter: @regentsjcr

Facebook: @regentsjcr

Instagram: @regentsjcr

Website: regentsparkjcr.org


MCR REPORT

Allison D'Ambrosia (MTh Applied

Theology, 2016)

MCR President

Never before has Regent’s Park College MCR been

composed of such a young, eager, and active group! As

President this past year, I was assisted by an enthusiastic

and supportive executive board of a Treasurer, Welfare

Officer, Social Secretary, Ministerial Representative, as

well as an MCR Outreach Representative. With a higher

intake and a wider range of degrees than ever, the MCR

has also become more diverse. This provides us with an

incredible opportunity to share global perspectives and

understandings, which our world could use more than ever

at the moment, and which also hold the power to influence

and change the character and culture of the College.

Because of the younger and more diverse

demographics of the MCR this year, we have worked very

closely with the JCR to utilize resources wisely and

combine social gatherings. The MCR also hosted the JCR

for a pre-Formal Hall wine reception in 6th week of

Michaelmas term, which was attended by over seventyfive

undergraduates. The MCR also planned and hosted a

Thanksgiving meal for the JCR, where the hospitality of the

MCR was widely appreciated. To end the term, the MCR

decorated the quad with twinkling fairy lights and served

mulled wine during Christmas carols, with the Salvation

Army brass band. Outside the College, the MCR has seen

five different college MCRs in exchanges since Michaelmas

2016, allowing our own community to integrate into

Oxford’s graduate student body even more.

Regent’s has developed rapidly over the last

decade and it is clear that a vibrant and flourishing

graduate community is vital to the College’s continued

success as an academic institution. In order to realize this,

significant investment by both the College and graduates

will be necessary. The current MCR executive is excited to

make its contribution, and looks forward to making a

valuable contribution to defining and realizing a new role

for the MCR within Regent’s. The MCR will continue to

collaborate with both the JCR and the SCR in order to

enrich the College as a whole.

Looking back to the academic year 2016-17, the

MCR has also contributed greatly to the wider university.

One student received a travel-study grant to do oceanic

research, whilst others have contributed to the academic

life of the University as postgraduate tutors, and many

have been active on the music scene. The College Choir

has been particularly successful under the direction of

three female MCR members, performing a gorgeous

Advent carol service at Pusey House Chapel, a Taizé prayer

service with the Christ Church Cathedral Choir, and a

performance of Fauré’s 'Requiem'. Continuing in this vein,

the academic year 2017-18 is looking incredibly exciting as

the MCR at Regent’s has the largest ever intake of students

and a more diverse range of courses, which looks to

provide the College as a whole with a glorious cornucopia

of knowledge and experience.

Website: regentsmcr.com

4


NEWS FROM THE

MINISTERIAL COMMUNITY

Esther Mason (Theology, 2015)

Ministerial Association Representative

The year began with second and thirdyear

Ministerial Students visiting

Romania for ten days; an opportunity to

experience Baptist life in a different

country and context. It was fantastic to

see some of the beauty of Romania

whilst also being given an insight into

some of the challenges that nation has

faced in recent years. Our visit is the

continuation of a long association

between Regent’s and the Baptist Union

of Romania, and our hosts, Dr Otniel

Bunaciu and Dr Sorin Badragan, were

both former students.

An additional benefit of our time

in Romania was the deepening of

friendships between Ministerial

Students and a growing sense of

community. Ministerial Students are

now in College just one day a week in

term time, so opportunities such as the

Romania visit and our residential block

weeks have become increasingly vital.

Most Ministerial Students are now

following a congregation-based course

where half their week is spent working

in their placement church and the other

half is allocated to their studies.

However, because we only spend a day a

week in College it is all too easy for

church work to fill more than three

days! Our residential weeks in College

allow time to study a topic in depth and

also give us the pleasure of feeling more

like students. Topics covered during

these weeks have included racial,

gender and disability justice, occasional

offices, and entrepreneurial mission.

It is an ongoing challenge to

ensure that Ministerial Students still

feel part of College life and we continue

to discuss, both at Joint Common Rooms

and Governing Body meetings, how this

might be achieved. A JCR challenge to

other common rooms to field a rounders

team saw a team comprising members

of the Senior and Middle Common

Rooms, including Ministerial Students.

It was an enjoyable evening, with the

provision of Pimm’s for all participants

making it easier to bear our resounding

loss! We hope to see similar events

develop which allow the whole

community to come together.

Advent carols and dinner ending

Michaelmas term, and punting on our

final day of Trinity term, were special

moments; only one tutor and one

student fell in the river this year! A

highlight of the year was a Ministerial

Gaudy held as part of the Jubilee

celebrations. Former Ministerial

Students were invited to attend. Revd

David Kerrigan, then General Director

of BMS World Mission, was an

extremely entertaining after-dinner

speaker. The Gaudy took place during

one of our residential weeks, enabling

Ministerial Students to attend and

benefit from meeting ministers who had

trained at Regent’s in the past. It would

be lovely to see a ministerial dinner

established as an annual fixture so that

those in Baptist Ministry can continue

their association with the College. It is a

privilege to train for Ministry at

Regent’s as part of a diverse learning

community. Whatever the next sixty

years of life at Regent’s bring, our hope

is that Ministerial Formation will

continue to be part of this special place.

5


Dissenting Spirit

A History of Regent's Park College

1752-2017

Did you know that the first

Principal of Stepney Academy

(the original name for

Regent’s Park College) left

under something of a cloud?

Or that the decision to move

premises from Stepney to

Regent’s Park seems to have

been made in a London Club?

Or that in March 1922 the

Committee of the College

agreed to sell the remaining

lease of the property in

Regent’s Park and move to

Cambridge?

As part of our Jubilee celebrations we

have taken the opportunity to

produce a new History of the College,

which expands and updates the

earlier work, From Stepney to St Giles,

by R. E. Cooper, and these are just

some of the little-known snippets of

information that are part and parcel

of our history. There are rich archives

in the College’s Angus Library, and we

have drawn on these throughout the

book to create as full a picture as

possible.

The new History traces the

College from the very first attempts

by Baptist churches in London to

organise and fund the education of

ministers in an ‘Education Society’,

established in 1752, through to the

opportunity of purchasing a property

to make into an Academy, funded by

the gift of William Taylor in 1810, and

the various changes and

developments since. It begins at a

time when those who were Dissenters

(not confirmed members of the

Church of England) were unable to

access university education in

England and were forced to develop

other initiatives, and ends with a

Baptist College flourishing in the

University of Oxford. The book seeks

to tell the story – such as the link with

London University, the moves to

Regent’s Park and then Oxford, and

becoming a Permanent Private Hall –

as well as to explore how the College

understood its purpose and work, and

how this has developed over the last

two hundred years.

Alongside the main text there

are also a range of appendices that

offer extracts from some of the

College documents, explain the

‘President’s Board’ in Helwys Hall,

and also offer a list of all former

students of the College arranged by

the year of their valediction. The

College is larger, more complex and

more diverse than it has ever been,

and the book charts the course it has

taken to reach this point. If you are a

former student of the College or have

been connected with it in any way,

then you are part of this story, and the

history of the College is part of your

history too.

Revd Dr Anthony J. Clarke is Tutorial

Fellow in Pastoral Studies and

Community Learning at Regent's Park

College, Oxford.

Professor Paul S. Fiddes is Professor of

Systematic Theology in the University

of Oxford, and Principal Emeritus and

Director of Research at Regent's Park

College, Oxford.

Dissenting Spirit: A History of Regent’s

Park College, 1752-2017, is available

to purchase through the Development

Office: development@regents.ox.ac.uk.

6

Anthony J. Clarke

Paul S. Fiddes


A GLOBAL FUTURE

Dr Shidong Wang, Director of OPGDC

The Oxford Prospects and Global

Development Centre (OPGDC) is an

interdisciplinary centre which aims to

promote discussion and inspire new ideas

among students, scholars, and

distinguished figures, focusing on the

development of East-West relations in the

light of present day globalization.

Universities and Industry Outreach

On 20 January, we received a delegation

from Tsinghua University led by Vice-

Provost, Professor Li Zheng, and hosted

by the Principal. Tsinghua, a prestigious

university in China, visited to explore

further collaborations with Regent’s,

based on our existing dual-direction

visiting student scheme. In November

2016, Dr Shidong Wang and Dr Lynn

Robson made the first ever college visit

to China, visiting several partner

universities, including Fudan, Shanghai

Jiaotong and Zhejiang. Received with

warm hospitality, they had very fruitful

meetings with officials and intend to

work closely on visiting student and

summer programmes. Dr Robson was

invited as the Visiting Professor at

Tongji University. The most fruitful

outcome of the trip was the signing of an

agreement with Shanghai MEC, the

umbrella office for education sectors in

Shanghai. Under the agreement,

Shanghai MEC and Regent’s will build a

stronger partnership on research and

student exchange. In April, the Principal

met Mr Shi Wang, Chairman of Vanke,

the largest real-estate enterprise in

China. Shi Wang was promoting boat

races and had a good dialogue with the

Principal on the relationship between

sport and faith.

Dialogue and Workshops

As one of the events to celebrate the

Regent’s Jubilee year, OPGDC

organized a China-UK University

President’s Round-table with the

Development Office on 9 June. The

theme of the forum was: ‘The Shaping of

World Class Universities in the 21st

Century: Challenges and

Collaborations’. Four Pro-Vice

Chancellors from other UK universities

and Oxford (Professor Nick Rawlins),

four Presidents from Chinese

universities, and the Minister

Counsellor of Education from the China

Embassy attended and had an in-depth

discussion on two panels. The Principal

gave a welcome speech to the guests

and the event concluded with Formal

Hall. This forum shows that Regent’s is

one of the most active Oxford

communities in its engagements and

influence with China as Britain begins to

negotiate a new relationship with the

rest of the world in light of Brexit.

Between the 18 and 23 June, eight

professors from Jilin University

attended a week-long Interdisciplinary

Workshop in the Humanities and Social

Sciences, and exchanged ideas on crossdisciplinary

teaching and research.

'Regent’s is one of the most

active Oxford communities in

its engagements and influence

with China as Britain begins to

negotiate a new relationship

with the rest of the world in

light of Brexit.'

Student Exchange

The Looking China Filming Project, a

fully sponsored project by Beijing

Normal University, allowed five UK

students to work on a filming project in

China. Regent’s student, Charlotte

Haley (Classics and English, 2016), was

amongst those promising young film

makers from thirty-two countries. As an

outcome of Tsinghua’s visit early this

year, Peggy Reeder (Theology and

Religion, 2016) from Regent’s was fullyfunded

to attend the Experiencing

China Tsinghua Summer Programme,

which another student, Kate Bickerton

(History, 2014), had attended the year

before. In the other direction, the

Oxford Prospects Programme’s visiting

student scheme (with the efforts of Ms

Emily Gong, PA to the Director) has

admitted fourteen students from about

eight China universities in partnership

with Regent’s and three Oxford

colleges, Mansfield, Pembroke and

Worcester. These students will study at

Oxford for the coming academic year.

7


Jubilee

Development

Review

As 2017 draws to a close, the Development team is

laying down its tools for Christmas after another year –

and what a truly amazing year it's been.

The College has celebrated its Diamond Jubilee –

sixty years as a Permanent Private Hall of the

University of Oxford – with staff, students, alumni

and friends sharing in the festivities; and there has

been something for everyone. From special lectures,

sermon series and the launch of a new College

History, to a Ministerial Gaudy, Jubilee Fling, Garden

Party and Gala Dinner, the Regent's community has

pulled together throughout the year to celebrate in

style. These are just a few of the events which have

marked the year, and we would like to take this

opportunity to extend heartfelt thanks to colleagues

and students who have made them all possible. It

would not be wise for us to recognise individual

contributions here – someone would inevitably be

missed – but we would like to extend particular

thanks to the Domestic and Catering teams of whom

so much has been demanded and whose tireless

efforts are often unsung. We would also like to thank

our Jubilee photographer, Oliver Robinson, whose

excellent reportage photography (on display here and

throughout the Magazine) will ensure that the Jubilee

is remembered for many years to come.

June 2017: London drinks for alumni, generously hosted

by Roland Rudd (Philosophy and Theology, 1981).

An even more tangible legacy has been success in

fundraising and planning for the future. We are

delighted that the Jubilee has reminded friends and

supporters that Regent’s is an exciting community,

ambitious to improve the student experience and

create the conditions for world-class academic


performance. Amongst other milestones, this has led

to a 13% increase in donations to the General Fund,

amounting to more than £100,000; a 43% increase in

donors; launch of the Oxford Prospects and Global

Development Centre, which fosters academic links

with China; a $60,000 matching fund from a longstanding

American partner; a £20,000 gift (from two

benefactors) to enable the creation of a new door

connecting Main and the Gould Quad; and a £15,000

gift in aid of student support and a Greyfriars

Postgraduate Scholarship to be launched in 2018/19.

The support of alumni and friends is always vital to

the College and we have been incredibly grateful for

these gifts, and others, received during the last

financial year, encouraged by the Jubilee.

Ms Julie Reynolds is a Fellow, and Director of

Development and Alumni Relations. Dr Matthew Mills

(Theology, 2007) is a Non-Stipendiary Lecturer and

Development Officer.

June 2017: Jubilee Lecture, 'Inclusion in the Age of

Populism and Nativism: An Optimistic Take', by Yasmin

Alibhai-Brown (Columnist of the Year, 2017).

December 2017: Advent Carol Service, held

in the beautiful Chapel of Pusey House, by

kind permission of the Principal.

9

September 2017: Jubilee Gala Dinner, attended

by over 140 alumni and staff of the College.


Evie Ioannidi (English, 2012)

Omnia probate quod bonum tenete.

'Test all things, hold fast to that

which is good.'

Nothing could describe my experience of Regent’s better

than the College motto – though I may not always have

realised at the time. It’s a cliché, but I learnt so much more

than the narrow scope of my degree. In fact, as the quiz

machine in the bar often reminded me, I probably retained

less about literature than I would have liked.

I’ve had occasion to think about my time at

Regent’s more than usual recently, as I head back to

university for a Master’s degree in Media and

Communications at the London School of Economics. To

remember what I’ve tested and what I’ve held fast to. How

strange it will be to be a student again, in London this time,

far from the beautiful red ivy that embodied the beginning

of the new year in College. I’ve been telling everyone that I

want to do ‘being a student’ properly this time (writing an

essay at 5am on the day it was due was certainly something

I ‘tested’, though I’m not sure it was ever one to be ‘held

fast’), but I’ve realised that I wouldn’t have done anything

differently. Playing First Witch in Macbeth, whilst going

for Blades in Torpids and writing my dissertation may not

sound advisable, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t

enjoyed every minute of it.

This year will be the first when I will have no

overlap with any of the current students. This means that I

probably won’t be in the JCR very often, but events like the

annual alumni drinks in London or Summer VIIIs will make

sure that I’m never too far away. The friendships I made

are still very important to me, the connections and

experiences very much part of the good I am determined to

hold. While I may, therefore, have less occasion to turn up

unexpected to bops and socials, I will certainly not be

drifting away from my alma mater. As Leavers’

Representative for my year, I’ve had the chance to stay

abreast of developments within College and find out about

current students’ achievements. This Jubilee year has been

a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with fellow students

and to take part in a celebration of Regent’s. I’m excited to

keep playing a part in College life, to follow it as it strides

into the future, and continues to go from strength to

strength.

Already, I can feel that my experience will be

different as I start this new adventure into academia. It

may just be that my commute is longer than the five

minutes it takes to get from Wheeler to the JCR, but

Regent’s community is not easily replaced or replicated.

However, one thing is the same: a Latin motto which I think

may already be influencing my time in London. LSE’s is

Rerum cognoscere causas: ‘to know the causes of things’. I

can confidently say that I know one of the causes of where I

am today, and that is Regent’s.

Rerum cognoscere causas.

‘To know the causes of things.’

A L U M N I N E W S

10


Like many recent Regent’s graduates, I now live in a

cupboard flat in London. Despite being in the same city as

friends, it takes much more planning than you would first

imagine to meet and keep in touch. It is not surprising,

then, that even after just two and a half years away from

Regent’s, I already reminiscence about a time when a drink

in the ‘Bird & Baby’ took as long to plan as it did to walk

around the library after dinner and grab some friends who

had equally lost the resolve for further study that day.

Memories of Regent’s are notable for their variety.

We got involved in all sorts of activities – sports, the arts,

student politics, journalism. To some extent, this isn’t

surprising. When you need to fill teams in rowing, football,

and darts, provide a full cast and crew for the college panto,

and the choir is getting into swing, there are only so many

volunteers to go around! But tireless students also made a

mark on the University scene. If you weren’t getting

involved yourself, you were supporting from the side-lines

(often literally). What a unique opportunity, to be able to

have fun new experiences with good friends around you.

So it was, when I stood to be the Student Union

President. Despite only deciding to stand a few weeks

before the election, the community of Regent’s banded

together and made an almighty ground force. At our peak,

we had thirty people knocking on doors from St Hugh’s to

St Hilda’s, getting out the vote. Although the efforts did

not make up for the campaign’s late start, it was humbling

to have so much support. If it had been someone else

standing, Regent’s would have banded round in the same

way. And they did. When I ran, the College had waited

forty-one years since its last Student Union President, but

it only had to wait two more years after that, as Kathryn

Cole won a high-turnout election and is now the ultimate

student representative in Oxford. Not only does this

reinforce the energy with which our College takes on the

University, it is also a measure of the impact we have. I’m

sure this spirit is also familiar to other alumni. Although my

study of economics and of critical thought in philosophy

have been very helpful for working on policy at HM

Treasury, this go-getting and inclusive spirit is just as useful

(if harder to capture on a CV!).

I now have support from my Regent’s friends in

another equally-odd choice of extra-curricular

activity…tower running. The premise is simple: you have

to run to the top of a building against the clock, and the

person with the fastest time wins. It might surprise you to

learn that this is a ‘sport’ with a worldwide following and

races up all the most famous skyscrapers. I took it up when

I remembered that at Regent’s, ‘yes, why not?’, was the

immediate answer, rather than, ‘no because…’. Although

I’m a pain when I can’t make a social event because of a

race (or even worse, I’m abstaining from drink in

preparation), Regent’s friends are still supportive, if a little

more bemused.

In order for the College to maintain its unique

offering – a particular community spirit; a vibrant oasis by

the centre of a great city – it needs to constantly adapt and

change. Whether it’s by going veggie in Hall one day a

week – something I was proud that we did during my time –

or more seismic changes, such as the broadening of the

postgraduate community to bring in new people, from new

backgrounds, studying new subjects and creating new

interdisciplinary discussions. It’s because of the

importance of constantly reacting to changing

surroundings that I have chosen to stay involved in the

College, sitting on the Council. I’m excited to see what lies

in store – what more the community will support its

students to achieve, and how many more people will be

touched by the life lessons to be found in our little spot in

the University of Oxford.

Will Obeney (PPE, 2012)


THE HEART OF THINGS:

MY JOURNEY TO THE HOLY LAND

Molly Boot (Theology, 2016)

My first year as a Ministerial student at Regent’s has brought

with it some fantastic opportunities: I’ve been taught by

some incredible scholars and have met people at the

forefront of exciting ministries in the UK and beyond, as

well as enjoying the riches of Oxford’s vibrant classical

music scene. It’s been a crash course in seizing

opportunities as they present themselves; so, when I heard

about a summer scholarship to study in Jerusalem I didn’t

hesitate in sending off my application. Within a week, I

started making plans to fundraise the remaining costs,

booking flights, and before I’d had a chance to catch my

breath at the end of Trinity term, I was on a plane to Tel

Aviv. On landing in Israel, I boarded a shuttle bus, hoping

to be able to talk the driver into taking me beyond

Jerusalem to the Tantur Ecumenical Institute, my home for

the month of July. Tantur is an incredible place to live and

study: set in the olive-laden hills lining the Hebron Road

between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, it is an oasis of peace,

promoting ecumenical, inter-religious and political

dialogue in one of the most complex and turbulent

contexts imaginable.

It was a huge privilege to share my time at Tantur

with a truly fantastic group of people. The group

represented eight nationalities, and was comprised of

ordinands, priests, pastors, and a couple of people from

other professions. Firm friendships quickly formed, given

the sheer intensity of the whole experience; the more we

discovered about the political and religious divisions on our

doorstep, the more perplexing it all seemed. As such,

regular opportunities to pray, eat and reflect together

were invaluable. Besides my programme, it just so

happened that, for the first two weeks of July, Tantur also

welcomed scholars and PhD students at the forefront of

ecumenical research and dialogue in the US, who

contributed greatly to our learning through a series of talks

and panels.

After introductions by Tantur’s staff – around half

from Notre Dame in the US, and half from Bethlehem and

surrounding villages – my programme began with lectures

from local Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars on the

theological and ecclesiological issues faced by worshipping

communities in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. What with

Tantur overlooking both places, there was ample

opportunity for investigation. To begin with, I encountered

the kaleidoscopic worship of the Greek and Armenian

Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholics, Egyptian Copts,

Syriacs and Ethiopians, all of whom inhabit the Church of

the Holy Sepulchre (below). Each day, fragrant incense and

12


eautiful chants in many languages fill this vast church,

which is believed to house both Calvary and the tomb of

Christ. Other highlights included a visit to Dome of the

Rock (below), whose serenity now seems strange in light of

the shooting and demonstrations that followed just a few

days after we met and interviewed the Director of al-Aqsa,

and a visit to the Church of the Nativity, where I joined a

choir in singing Persian carols at the birthplace of Christ.

Besides trips and lectures, there were a number of

poignant devotional opportunities. We celebrated

Communion together in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth,

and on the Sea of Galilee, and every day we each led

evening prayers in our own traditions: we experienced

everything from traditional Anglican compline to a full

service of Greek Orthodox vespers. I had the privilege of

leading a short time of Taizé prayer in the Golan Heights, at

the border with Syria. It is far easier to offer eloquent

prayers for peace from a safe distance; faced with such

violent discord, I found there to be few, if any, appropriate

words to offer.

Whilst conflict inevitably permeated much of our

Tantur experience, we turned to focus on it more intently

towards the end of the trip. I was struck by Hebron (below),

a once bustling city now bearing the ugly scars of brutal

massacres, in the form of an eerie ghost-town separating

the Israeli settlement and Palestinian marketplace, policed

by huge numbers of Israeli military personnel. On the same

day, we interviewed the Mayor of Efrat, one of many

settlements in the West Bank; there seemed to be an

insurmountable gulf between the Mayor’s stories of

peaceful collaboration with the Palestinian villages

surrounding Efrat, and the countless stories of oppression

we’d heard from our neighbours in Bethlehem. I was left

wondering how these narratives could possibly coexist, let

alone be reconciled. It was thus both a relief and an

inspiration to meet people actively seeking peace, first at

the mixed Palestinian and Israeli community at Neve

Shalom-Wahat Al-Salam, a group of contemplative

activists with a radical commitment to unity and

collaboration. The same can be said for our tour guides

from Mejdi, an organisation promoting reconciliation and

dialogue; a non-religious Israeli Jew and a Palestinian

Muslim. I hoped that their measured, empathetic approach

to each other’s stories might begin to chip away at some of

the all too prevalent animosity between their communities.

My time at Tantur (above) drew to a close far too quickly.

As I navigated the incredibly strict security at Ben Gurion

Airport, I was very aware that I was leaving having only

scraped the surface. Before my trip, when people told me

that I’d be ‘walking in the steps of Jesus’, they meant on the

Via Dolorosa, or on the shores of the Galilee. Instead, I

encountered him in guides, clergy and activists –

peacemakers, from whom I learnt so much about the

beauty, pain and volatility of this impenetrably complex

region. I am more convinced than ever that we must strive

to be people of peace wherever we may find ourselves;

those of us who are privileged enough not to face a daily

threat of expulsion, oppression, or even death have a

responsibility to our brothers and sisters the world over.

We must go on challenging injustice, speaking truth to

power and seeking freedom, that all people may have the

opportunity to thrive.

13


A PIONEERING SPIRIT

Regent's, Women, and Ordination

Revd Barbara Cottrell (Theology, 1968) and Revd Dr Myra

Blyth (Theology, 1976) reflect on life as amongst the first

women to train for Baptist Ministry at Regent's in the decades

after the College became a Permanent Private Hall of the

University of Oxford.

Revd Cottrell writes: When I arrived at

Regent’s in October 1968, I was the

third woman since the War to be

accepted for ordination. I was preceded

by Marie Isaacs, who caused something

of a stir by her arrival on a motorbike.

She was a high-flyer, spending almost

her entire career at Heythrop College as

a lecturer, I believe, in Patristics. She

was followed by Ruth Vinson, whose

father endowed the Vinson block. Ruth

married John Matthews and they served

together for some years at our Swindon

church. I came up from the University

College of North Wales, Bangor, having

obtained a Second-Class Honours

Degree in Biblical Studies. (Those who

were ordained before the War were

Gwyneth Hubble, Elsie Chapel, and

Violet Hedger.)

I had confided to my Professor at

Bangor, Bleddyn Roberts, that I wished

to enter the Baptist Ministry. As a

member of the Old Testament Society,

he knew Professor Gwynne Henton

Davies, and during a visit to give a series

of lectures at Bangor, he arranged for

Henton Davies to interview me; and

subsequently, having received a

recommendation from my home church

and Essex Baptist Association, I

appeared before the Council of Regent’s

Park College and was accepted.

My early days at the College were

fraught, whilst negotiations took place

as to my matriculation (Regent’s was

unable to do it, being a male college).

Eventually, an arrangement was

reached with Dr Kathleen Kenyon to

matriculate me via St Hugh’s, so I had a

foot in both camps. (Marie and Ruth

were also matriculated by St Hugh’s.)

My training and education were in the

hands of Regent’s and my contact with

St Hugh’s was minimal – they provided a

Moral tutor. Initially, I lodged in

Summertown but in due course, Henton

Davies arranged for me to live in College

having obtained a statute to enable me

to do so. My residence was far removed

from the male students. I lived on the

third floor of the main building, in the

room to the left of the Library, which

had a small integrated cloakroom. My

bathing and any washing I had, took

place in the Principal’s Lodgings.

My advent was not universally

approved as some took the view that

they had signed-up to a male college and

a woman was an intrusion they did not

welcome. This was rarely articulated

but was like an undercurrent. On one

occasion which was potentially

embarrassing, during Formal Hall, a

Ministerial said to me across the table,

‘So, you think you’re going to be a

woman minister?’ As quick as a flash,

and to my astonishment as I barely knew

him, our Rugby Blue came back, ‘Yes,

she is, and what are you going to do

about it?’ I was fortunate that a group of

students headed by the JCR President,

As Principal, Gwynne Henton

Davies (1958-72) championed the

admission of women to the College.

Chris Cunnigham-Burley (Theology,

1966), took me to their heart and gave

me a home.

I would not say that my time at

Regent’s was particularly happy, since it

was marked by the pressure of reading

‘Schools’ in two years (this was allowed

on the strength of my degree in Biblical

Studies) and the strain of my peculiar

situation. Nevertheless, I know that

those two years were the most

important in my life; they enabled me to

examine my faith with a rigour I could

not have imagined and articulate it with

clarity. Above all, Oxford taught me to

think – and the ability to analyse any

problem down to its constituent parts

and draw a conclusion is a gift beyond

rubies. I was ordained by Henton

Davies at St Mary’s Baptist Church,

Norwich, in September 1970, and

served there as Assistant to Revd Eric

Sharpe, MA, a member of the Psalms

and Hymns Trust, and where music was

at the heart of the worship and life of

the Church.

14


Dr Blyth (right) writes: I came to Regent’s

in 1976, straight from school at the age

of 17. At the time, I had no idea what a

privilege it was. In fact, I did not realise

until reading the new College History,

published this autumn, how unique the

moment was. No female undergraduate

had matriculated into the University

through Regent’s before that year!

Previous female Ministerial Students

(six in total) had either matriculated

through the women’s college, St Hugh’s,

or had entered as graduates.

Looking at this now I think to

myself, how did I not realise that this

was such a privilege? I guess it’s in the

nature of being young; you just think

something is natural – why wouldn’t it

be possible? For the same reason, I did

not fully appreciate what huge struggles

many women had gone through before

me to win the right to an Oxford

education, and to be trained for Ministry

at Regent’s.

In my three years at Regent’s,

there were two other women students,

one graduate from Bristol and one

doctoral student from the USA. Despite

being outnumbered 100-1, the JCR was

very welcoming and lively. Elected at

the end of my first year as Social

Secretary, my responsibility was to

organise the equivalent of the current

Friday night bops! We did not have a

bar, but we were not without liquid

refreshment, and I particularly

enjoyed arranging live music events. In

my first year, I also coxed the Men’s VIII

and we nearly got four bumps; but the

less said about that the better. In my

second year, I threw myself into

University music life and through that

met my husband, Robert, a Chemist at

Worcester. In my third year, not a lot

happened on the extra-curricular front

because I needed to catch-up on lost

time, and so spent most of the year in

the Library next to the big bay window,

which in those days permitted the wind

to howl dramatically so that late nights

and early mornings were pretty eerie!

They were good times.

Happily, the year after I

graduated, the University granted the

right to Regent’s to accept female

undergraduates in all subjects. With

each decade, more and more women

have come to Regent’s to study the full

range of options on offer and now the

majority of our undergraduates are

women. There is also an impressive

range of female alumni who have

entered many professions and made

significant marks on society. In this

anniversary year we should celebrate

that Regent’s was amongst the first of

the colleges within the University to

become co-educational, and I personally

want to say, ‘thank you’, that in 1976

Regent’s made it possible for me to

matriculate as an undergraduate female

ordinand.

‘Ever since the College had become a [Permanent Private Hall], women ministerial students could be accepted

if they were graduates, and they could matriculate in the University through an arrangement with a women's

college, St Hugh’s. In October 1968 the Principal sought consent from the University for Regent’s to

matriculate its own women ministerials, despite the general single-sex rule for the colleges. In this he was in

advance of the University, as the Vice-Chancellor wrote declining permission on the grounds that so far the

principle of co-education had only been granted to graduate colleges; in October 1970, however, the Principal

was able to report that PPHs were now permitted by the University to matriculate women students who were

candidates for ministry.’ From, Clarke & Fiddes, Dissenting Spirit: A History of Regent's Park College,

1752-2017 (Oxford, 2017), 131.

15


J U B I L E E P E

I studied at Regent’s (1980-83) in the

days when ministerial students were all

full-time and residential, and all read for

the Honour School in Theology. So for

me, as a recent graduate from London,

to have three years living and studying

in the heart of Oxford, within a diverse

and challenging college community, was

a huge privilege. I was ordained in 1983

and served for twenty-five years in

Baptist and United Reformed charges,

before receiving holy orders in the

Church of England in 2008; I now serve

as a Chaplain and Assistant Dean at

King’s College London.

Much has changed in my life since

leaving Regent’s, but it is for me (and

others) at Regent’s where I was not only

educated but formed to be and become

who I am. I attribute this to a number of

distinctly Regent’s things which I

continue to value.

First, the balance and creative

tension of locating the seminary within

the academy. Regent’s is, with the

possible exception of one Durham

college, the only place where ministers,

Baptists and others, may receive a

theological education and their

Ministerial Formation within a

community which, whilst firmly within a

Christian ethos, does not require

religious subscription of its members.

For me, this enhanced and enriched my

time, created friendships beyond the

restrictions of my subject and

profession, and marks Regent’s distinct

place in the University.

Secondly, and related to the first,

the diversity of disciplines with the JCR

and beyond, and the range of theological

opinions and styles amongst the

Ministerial Students and the University,

enabled me to work out my own

understanding of my faith and how I

should live it – to test all things and,

having tested, to hold fast to that which

is good.

Thirdly, genuine hospitality. Those

from my time will recall regular

Saturday evenings with the Dean and

his family in Headington – no student

omitted, all included. In sporting events

– I was in the First VIII (the only VIII in

those days) – Regent’s would produce a

higher percentage of its own members

cheering from the banks than any other

college. And the traditions of daily Brew

and daily chapel – feeding the body and

the soul in collegium.

Fourthly, the depth of scholarship.

I observe that too much of theological

education and Ministerial Formation

today, in all churches, can easily tend

towards mere training for a task –

echoing the utilitarian approach in other

disciplines. Regent’s, whilst immersing

us in contextual theology, certainly

never avoided the rigour of academic

study. For me this was life-changing, has

remained with me, and fires me in my

delight in continued study, research, and

academic reflection on pastoral

practice.

I am aware of changes since my

time. Ministerial Students are usually

non-residental and with a higher

element of training, the College

community is larger and even more

diverse, and the necessary emergence

of an MCR has perhaps diminished the

breadth of the JCR that I knew.

However, the values I treasure, and

which made me who I am and sustain

me, were begun and continue here. I

look forward, in confidence, as Regent’s

continues to offer balance, hospitality,

and scholarship for future generations.

Revd Dr Keith Riglin (Theology, 1980), top

left, is Deputy Chairman of the College

Council and Governing Body.

16


R S P E C T I V E S

It is a very great pleasure to be asked to

write of one’s memories of the College

after sixty years since its elevation to

the status of Permanent Private Hall of

the University. The pleasure is partly in

the kindness of the Editor in inviting me,

but also in the rather smug recollection

that, at my advanced age, I must have

some of the earliest recollections of the

College amongst those still living! I

came on to Regent’s in 1949 from

reading English at St Edmund Hall. That

I did so is a little strange, since I came

from a church (Ashurst Drive, Illford)

with very strong leanings towards

Spurgeon’s College. Indeed, a student

straight from Spurgeon’s had recently

settled as Minister and made a great

impression on me, one George Beasley-

Murray. But when I told him that I

would like to stay in Oxford he was

generosity itself, and encouraged me

warmly. Robert Child was Principal

then, a gentle bachelor living with his

sister at 55 St Giles’. He had enjoyed a

distinguished Ministry, latterly in

Bristol, but was perhaps slightly less

effective in the academic realm. The

real power behind the throne was the

Senior Tutor, one Ernest Payne. He was

a great church (particularly Baptist)

historian, and an effective teacher and

encourager. The college community was

small and we were all training for the

Baptist Ministry, although after the War

several had broad church and

theological sympathies. In those days,

relations with the college at Bristol were

close and some of their brightest came

on to do a degree; amongst them, Morris

West. I made good use of my time at

Regent’s, became engaged to my wife,

Audrey, who was at Lady Margaret Hall

– oh, and I also read some theology.

I certainly felt the advantage of

my Regent’s training during my years in

the Ministry, until George Beasley-

Murray intervened in my life again and

invited me to teach at Spurgeon’s. I was

eventually rescued in 1975 by another

Principal, Barrie White, who was

already a firm friend, who engineered

my coming to Regent’s to teach Old

Testament. It was still a small

community and the few of us on the

teaching staff became firm friends and

enjoyed a lot of laughter together.

Gradually, under Barrie’s distinguished

leadership the College began to expand,

taking undergraduates in a wider range

of subjects and taking on the teaching

staff for them; mostly, at first, by

appointing Fellows of other colleges as

'lecturers', in the Oxford terminology.

New accommodation was built and the

College became an evermore significant

force on the Oxford scene. This was

particularly so under the inspired

Principalship of Paul Fiddes; and his

great contributions to the life and

character of Regent’s have been

brilliantly carried on by Robert Ellis. Dr

Ellis has at least had the advantage that,

by his time, I had retired and left the

scene to far more able and active men

and women. And still that warm,

welcoming, sometimes hilarious spirit of

welcome and ‘family’ that characterises

Regent’s burns brightly, and makes it

always such a pleasure to visit. Floreat

Regent’s.

Dr Rex Mason (below) is Fellow Emeritus in

Old Testament Studies.

17


J U B I L E E P E

Apart from a cautious peep from outside

on the pavement in March 1953 (I was

sitting the entrance examination at

Jesus College), my first contact with

Regent’s was while reading History at

Jesus (1955-58). The Baptist Society

met in the JCR (then one long,

uncarpetted room) on Sunday

afternoons. There, I met some Regent’s

students who used to attend before

slipping out to fulfil preaching

engagements.

I came up to Oxford already

feeling called to the Ministry and I

applied to Regent’s during Hilary term

1958. I was required to sit an entrance

examination (ten days after History

‘Schools’, and I relied on my knowledge

from Sunday School and Scripture

Examinations!). The whole Council,

packed into the seminar room,

interviewed me. I was accepted to start

in October as among the first of the new

Principal, G. Henton Davies’ students.

After starting at Regent’s, I had to

‘migrate’ from Jesus to Regent’s, which

had just become a PPH.

Physically, on the north side of the

quad, there were sixteen study

bedrooms, eight to each floor, with

communal toilets and washing facilities.

On the south side, stood two old houses.

The ground floor of each was let as flats,

while the remainder provided six study

bedrooms, a guest room and a toiletbathroom.

So, Regent’s could

accommodate twenty-two students on

site (any others lived out, e.g. a Canadian

research student and a French World

Council of Churches’ scholar). Next to

these houses were a cycle shed and then

the entrance gates with the ‘Star’

straddling the two halves (last heard,

these gates were in Simpson the

builder’s yard – what happened to

them?). At the opposite end of the quad

were the houses of the Principal and

tutor. The former looked externally

rather unprepossessing, but it was

rebuilt internally in 1957-58 and the St

Giles’ frontage given a facelift.

In my first year, we were almost

exclusively a Ministerial community

(and male). Michaelmas 1959 saw the

admission of four non-theological

students (I think two read English, two

science), in accordance with Henton

Davies’ policy. As an Oxford graduate

already, I had to do Theology ‘Schools’ in

two years (including New Testament

Greek), plus Ministerial Training which

included a year’s student pastorate with

Clive Tougher at Bayworth (we cycled

out the 7.5 miles there!). This was a

very heavy programme for two years,

but I took to theology like a duck to

water. My acquaintance with the

tutorial system was a great advantage.

Compared with modern Ministerial

Training programmes, what we received

was sparse. Henton Davies lectured on

the theology of worship and the

theology of preaching, and I remain

eternally grateful for the insights and

stimulus of what he gave us. He also

agreed to change the format of sermon

class; each week a student conducted a

short service with sermon in the Chapel,

followed by the assessment by two

students, a tutor and the Principal. One

morning, Henton Davies was late for a

9am lecture. When he came in, he

apologised, saying that he didn’t often

hold a cheque for £10,000 in his hands!

It was the gift from Mr Baldwin, which

led to the erection of the Balding Block

(this, after I had left in Trinity 1960). We

were well looked after; three meals a

day except on Sunday evenings, when

those who had got back from preaching

heated up soup, and there were

sandwiches and cake. Sometimes we

discussed theological topics; other times

we just shared experiences of our visits

to the churches.

When Mr Argyle resigned in 1964,

I was then minister at Botley Baptist

Church and was approached to cover

the New Testament teaching until an

appointment could be made. Eventually,

the Council invited me to become New

Testament Tutor and I commenced full

time in September 1965. At the first

Council meeting which I attended, the

decision was taken to build the ‘South

Side’ following a generous gift from Mr

Vinson. The demolition of the two

houses and the erection of the new wing

took place from the summer of 1966

onwards. Whilst Tutor and Dean, I

witnessed also the erection of the

married students flats (where there had

been a car repair business), and then the

replacement of the St Giles’ Hotel with

College accommodation. So, I was

privileged to see the completion of the

College's buildings.

Dr John Morgan-Wynne is Fellow Emeritus

in New Testament Studies.

18


R S P E C T I V E S

I first want to congratulate Regent’s Park

on the sixtieth anniversary of it

becoming a Permanent Private Hall

within the University of Oxford. I

remember fondly my association with

Regent’s, especially my friendship with

its former Principal, Paul Fiddes.

Permanent Private Halls were

established within the University to

allow other than Anglican Christian

denominations to have a rightful place

within this august academy of higher

learning. For fifty years, Greyfriars,

sponsored by the Capuchin Franciscans,

was also a PPH. Together with Regent’s

Park, and other PPHs, the Christian

presence in Oxford increased

significantly both spiritually and

academically. On this sixtieth

anniversary of Regent’s Park, we

celebrate the continued Christian

academic life within the University of

Oxford.

But what is the Christian

academic life that Regent’s Park

continues to imbue within the

University, and so doing helps keep alive

the contribution that Greyfriars also

made? Firstly, it is a Christian

contribution in that Regent’s wishes to

live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ

within an academic setting. Regent’s

Park, and the other PPHs, do not see

Christianity as a hindrance to the

intellectual life, but rather recognise

that God, in creating humankind in his

image, has placed within the human

mind and heart a desire for the truth;

truth that can be attained through

human reason, through all of the

academic sciences, and also by means of

God’s own saving revelation, especially

In 2010, the Chancellor unveiled a shield to commemorate the migration of Greyfriars students to

Regent's Park in 2008. (L-R) FrJames Boner, Lord Patten of Barnes (Chancellor), Fr Mark Elvins

(Warden of Greyfriars, 2007-08), Revd Dr Robert Ellis (Principal of Regent's Park College).

in his Son, Jesus Christ. For Christians,

to grow in knowledge, in pursuing all

that is true, gives glory to God and

enables human beings to become more

fully human; become more fully God’s

image. Moreover, in the light of the

Holy Spirit, Christians believe that they

have the necessary help they need in

sorting out what is truly good, just and

right, the better to serve not only the

academy, but also society at large. The

Gospel for Regent’s, as it was for

Greyfriars, is the soul of its academic life

and the heart of its communal

fellowship.

Secondly, to foster a Christian

academic life demands that an

institution not simply be Christian, but

also that it be fully and truly academic.

This means that the faculty must be of

highest academic quality, performing its

tasks of teaching and research within

the academic standards that the

intellectual community rightly demands.

Something less would not only be an

embarrassment within the academy, it

would be an embarrassment to the

Gospel. Also, to be truly a Christian

academic institution means that the

faculty fosters within its students a love

for learning and the intellectual habits

needed to obtain that learning. Every

student within a Christian institution of

higher learning is to manifest that he or

she is determined, as are other students,

to know the truth that resides in every

science, and so contribute to the

advancement of knowledge.

To be then a Christian institution

of higher learning within the University

of Oxford, as is Regent’s Park and as was

Greyfriars, means to radiate a love for

learning and a desire for God, and that

they imbue this love for learning and

this desire for God in their students, and

through them, to the whole of society.

In so doing, they continue the work of

creating a Christian culture in which the

common good of all is fostered; a

common good that is founded upon

truth, goodness and justice. May the

Lord Jesus bless Regent’s Park – its

faculty and students – on this the

sixtieth anniversary of its founding, and

may it continue to give glory to God the

Father in the Spirit of love and truth.

Fr Tom Weinandy, OFM Cap., is Warden

Emeritus of Greyfriars Hall, having served

from 1993 to 2004.

19


VULNERBILITY &

A LIVABLE LIFE

Remembering Professor Pamela

Sue Anderson (1955-2017)

For the most part, 2017 has been a year of celebration,

when the College has welcomed the passage of sixty years

since it became a Permanent Private Hall of the

University of Oxford. In March, however, the year was

also tinged with sadness with the death of a much-loved

colleague, tutor and friend, Professor Pamela Sue

Anderson, after two years' living with cancer. In the

2016 edition of this magazine, Pamela wrote eloquently

about her most recent (and final) research into the

potential of choosing vulnerability in the pursuit of a fully

livable life. Whilst her article did not reflect on her final

illness, its argument that vulnerability ('openness to

affection') is something to be embraced seemed to be

imbued with a special power. Pamela spent many years

in Oxford, including as Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy at

Regent's Park from 2001, and to her colleagues and

students she embodied her own philosophy, exuding

passion, humanity, and a zest for life. This special feature,

drawing together contributions from those who knew and

worked with Pamela, celebrates her life and work, and

explains why she will be sorely missed. The first two

articles began as contributions from friends, Professor

Adrian Moore and Revd Dr Susan Durber, at Pamela's

Thanksgiving Service in the Chapel of Mansfield College

on 18 March; the third and fourth have been contributed

by colleagues who engaged with her work; and the fifth is

a reflection by the Principal who employed Pamela at

Regent's, Professor Paul Fiddes, on her contribution to

the Project for the Study of Love in Religion, of which he is

Director.

Pamela Sue's influence continues through her

Studentship for the Encouragement of the Place

of Women in Philosophy, which has been

generously supported by family, friends and

admirers, via 'www.campaign.ox.ac.uk'.

Pamela Anderson - or rather, Pamela Sue Anderson, as she

always preferred to be known (I think she was always

sensitive to how unfair the danger of confusion was on her

less illustrious and younger namesake) was a force of

nature. She was lively, funny, and intelligent. Indeed, she

was hyper-lively, hyper-funny, and hyper-intelligent: she

was hyper in every aspect of her being. It is always difficult,

when we have just lost a loved one, to believe that that

person is no longer with us. In Pam’s case, it is especially

difficult. Her very parting seems like a violation of some

natural law.

When I think of Pam, I cannot but think of her joy

of life. I literally cannot remember a single extended

conversation that we had, during the forty years or so that

we knew each other, that did not include smiles and

laughter, often raucous laughter. And I include the

conversations that we had when she was coming to terms

with the pain and sadness of the death of her partner, Paul.

For that matter, I include the conversations that we had

when she was coming to terms with the pain and sadness of

her own impending death, which she faced with

remarkable dignity and with inspiring fortitude. The last

two or three times that I talked with Pam, there were still

the same smiles; there was still that same laughter.

More often than not, when we were laughing

together, we were laughing at the silliest and most

inconsequential of things. I clearly remember one occasion

when we were travelling together on public transport and

disgraced ourselves, the tears streaming down our faces, as

we reflected on a bizarre mistake of predictive texting in a

message that she had sent to me earlier in the week. In

response to my question, whether she was able to

accompany me to some event at short notice, instead of

replying that she couldn’t because she had a graduate

student round helping her to proofread, she replied that

she couldn’t because she had a graduate student round

helping her to procreate! The hilarity, though never truly

malicious, was not always exactly kind either. Pam had an

incorrigibly sardonic view of human nature. She delighted

in people’s foibles, and could be merciless - albeit playfully

merciless - in exposing them.

But Pam was not just a delightful friend. She was of

course a significant academic, too. She had been a Fellow

of Regent’s Park College since 2001 and Professor of

Modern European Philosophy of Religion in Oxford since

2014. In 2009, she received an honorary degree from the

University of Lund in Sweden in recognition of her

outstanding work. That work ranged widely, but it always

20


confronted the great mysteries of religious experience -

whether through exegesis of other thinkers, as in her first

book, Ricoeur and Kant, and the book that she co-authored

with Jordan Bell, Kant and Theology, or through the

development of her own ideas. Not that the two were ever

clearly distinguished in Pam’s case. Her exegesis of other

thinkers was always of the best and most generous kind,

the kind that involves sympathetic reconstruction and

appropriation of her subjects’ ideas to breathe new life into

them.

Her book, A Feminist Philosophy of Religion, showed

that same creative eclecticism. One particularly striking

example of this was the way in which she combined

elements of what are standardly referred to as the

'analytic' tradition and the 'continental' tradition in

philosophy. Despite the chasm that has often seemed to

divide these, Pam was at home in both. She had a lively

sense of how each is able to benefit from the other. Her

book was enormously influential. It was the focus of

debate at a number of international conferences, and it

provided the inspiration and subject matter for much

impressive work by other people. In the philosophy of

religion in general, and in feminist philosophy of religion in

particular, Pam had become an international figure whose

work broke important new ground. It continued to do so in

the book that I myself believe to be Pam’s most significant,

Re-Visioning Gender in Philosophy of Religion. The very title

of this book, along with its subtitle 'Reason, Love and

Epistemic Locatedness', indicates the breadth of her

concerns. There are, in this book, profound intimations not

only of an advancement in our understanding of the

philosophy of religion but also of an advancement in our

understanding of what it is to be human.

In the last two years of her life, Pam was an active

participant in the Templeton research project 'Enhancing

Life'. The work that she carried out for this project had a

particular poignancy in the context of the various contours

of her own life, and indeed of the lives of those of us who

now mourn her loss. She explored the idea of vulnerability,

especially the vulnerability that is manifest in profoundly

transformative experiences such as facing critical illness or

coping with bereavement. And she argued for a positive

reappraisal of such vulnerability - so that it could come to

be seen, not just as an openness to suffering,

disempowerment, and death, but also, in Pam’s own words,

as 'an openness to mutual affection', and as 'a provocation

for enhancing life'. In all her work, Pam displayed an

unusual combination of directness and sensitivity. Over

the course of her career she developed her own highly

distinctive voice, and it is a voice to which philosophers and

theologians have paid sustained attention.

But Pam’s academic work was by no means

confined to her own writing. She was a model of what

might be called good academic citizenship. She was a

wonderfully conscientious, proactive, indefatigable

member of the Oxford philosophy community, as indeed

she was of the philosophy community more broadly. She

was particularly good at supporting and championing

younger women in the profession, partly through her work

with the UK Society for Women in Philosophy. It is

characteristic, as well as entirely fitting, that she wanted

one of her legacies to be a Studentship for the

Encouragement of the Place of Women in Philosophy.

'Pam will always be a part of our lives. Let us

rejoice in all that she has meant to us, and all

that she will continue to mean to us.'

Pam also had excellent relations with her students, to

whom she was a constant source of encouragement and

inspiration and many of whom went on to make significant

contributions of their own to the discipline - as well as

becoming close friends of hers. I cannot tell you how many

moving messages I have received since Pam died, from

former students expressing their gratitude, their

admiration, and their deep affection for her. But it was not

only her own students for whom Pam cared so

passionately. She cared passionately for all young people:

she was always ready to affirm them in whatever way she

could. She showed a keen interest in, and a great love for,

the children of her friends for example, as of course she did

her three nephews and niece - Joseph, Erik, Sarah, and

Kevin. Her family meant a huge amount to her, just as she

did to them. I used to love it when she regaled me with

stories and reminiscence of her parents, her brother Larin,

and her two sisters, Heidi and Laurie. This must be an

extraordinarily difficult time for them. They are all in our

thoughts and prayers. In losing Pam we have, between us,

lost a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a teacher, a mentor, a

colleague, and a friend. But in another sense we have not

lost anyone. Pam will always be a part of our lives. Let us

rejoice in all that she has meant to us, and all that she will

continue to mean to us.

Professor Adrian Moore is Professor of Philosophy in the

University of Oxford.

21


Pamela once said, in a sermon preached before this

University: ‘Let a unity of virtues, connected by love, shape

the stories we read and write about our lives.’ It’s a phrase

characteristic of her; beautiful, poignant, drawing

connections, not quite transparent, inviting thought.

Today, we are reading and writing Pamela’s life and our

own lives that we shared with her. We are drawing on the

best of what we know, even while we are in grief, to tell the

story truthfully and from love. We are making a unity of

her virtues, and lovingly connecting them in the work of

making sense. One of the things that so marked Pamela’s

later life was her bringing together of the different parts of

life; her longing to be honest about life and truth, about

beauty and love and sorrow and loss. Her own reflections

in the work to which she was so committed are eminent

among the things that can sustain us today and in the time

to come. She blesses us at the very point when we gather

to praise her.

Pamela had, as she herself described it, a secure

and happy childhood. She was warmly loved by her

parents, Vonne and Doug, for whom we must all feel deeply

today. And her brother and her sisters accompanied her in

these years at the beginning of her life, as well as through

her dying and her death, with such devoted and constant

affection. Pamela’s father, reflecting on her distinctive

characteristics, says that she always had, in this order:

ability, understanding, and drive. We can all recognize the

truth of those words. She was bright and brave and

determined enough to move away even from such a secure

home to find and play a part in a wider world, to learn new

patterns of thinking, to question and to search for herself.

After some time in France, she came to Oxford and

to Mansfield College, a place that shaped her in so many

ways, and the place where she wanted this service to be

held. She and I first met then, when she arrived in 1979. I

remember how impressive and attractive she was, and yet

also how vulnerable too. She lived at that stage, and for

many years, in a small room in a house in Holywell Street

where she also cared for the landlady, Tony, who was living

with disability. That relationship said much about Pamela’s

willingness and need to care for others and to love them,

while she was also working hard at forging a life of her own

and seeking independence. Pamela had her own

insecurities and anxieties then and it was far from easy to

be a young woman in Oxford, doing Continental

Philosophy, defined a great deal still by the American midwest,

longing for love, vulnerable to suffering. I think there

were some who could never have imagined that this small

woman would one day achieve her ambitions, break

through Oxford’s ceilings, and become an inspiration to so

many of us, a respected and ground-breaking philosopher.

But what Pamela did was to make what many saw as her

weaknesses shine as the strengths they truly are. Over

time, as she became more herself, she stormed into the

future crafting her work from the very texture of the

realities of her life. She was one of the most brave, honest

and faithful women I have known. She made the

connections between her child-like trust and her loving,

drew the cares that might have destroyed her into

conversation with the disciplines of thoughtful philosophy

and showed that they were not opposites at all, but

profoundly connected. And she took the bliss and the joy


of which women have learned sometimes to be ashamed

and made it brave and true, worthy of reflection.

Pamela had a year working in the University of

Delaware, before working at the University of Sunderland

and finally, returning to her beloved Oxford. She said, ‘My

heart never really left Oxford.’ I remember what a joy it

was for her, and for her friends here, when she got a post at

Regent's Park College. And Regent's was a place where

she found a congenial place to work, colleagues with whom

she could develop shared projects and passions, and a

community in which she could care for others and in which

others could care so deeply and wonderfully for her.

Pamela was such a remarkably kind person. She

loved her students and cared about the details of their

lives. She nurtured and treasured relationships and

friendships. Her arms were swift to embrace. And she

knew the cost of love too. The deaths of her landlady,

Tony, of her student and friend Hanneke, and of course of

Paul, were huge moments in her life, from which she

emerged with fresh understanding of the cost and

demands of life, but also of how we grow and develop our

capabilities as human beings. She learned and wrote and

spoke so movingly about love. She pleaded with us, and

'Regent's was...a community in which she

could care for others and in which others could

care so deeply and wonderfully for her.'

showed us, that love is about emotion becoming intelligent,

that we don’t have to choose between passion and reason,

but that each can make more beautiful the other. She

refused the idea that love is simply a mysterious ‘gift’ that

comes from somewhere outside ourselves, or that it’s

something we just ‘fall’ into. It is something we can give

and make and improve. She taught us to believe that we

can be intelligent about love, that it can be a form of

knowledge. She knew, from her own life, that our loving is

imperfect, but she believed that love can be perfected. I

heard in her an echo of the Christ who commands us to

love, who says we can choose to love by doing and

enduring, by disciplining duty with delight. While I might

be tempted to say that Pamela was saying something about

the love of God, I can hear her rebuking me, and saying that

it was her love, and that I must claim and take responsibility

for the love I feel and think and act upon too. She called us

all to cultivate love as a virtue; habitual, reliable,

consistent. It was this love that was in her heart. There are

so many ways in which to remember her. She was amused

when an Oxford philosopher once remarked about her

that, ‘She may be a feminist philosopher, but she is a very

nice person.’ And in the end, she really wanted her

students and her friends to see that she was loving more

than she wanted them to see that she was clever, though of

course she was clever. She was nice, but she could

deconstruct nice for you if you needed it.

Above all, she said, ‘I feel that philosophy must be

bound up with living, with other lives and my life’. And she

cared especially deeply that women’s lives should be

better, enhanced in every sense, that every Eve should be

credited with the search for the knowledge of good and evil

and not shamed, but valued and loved and encouraged.

She gave her energy to the task of raising a feminist voice

within philosophy of religion, so that every Eve could be

given at last, the fruit of the tree of knowledge – in justice

and in hope. She had an uneasy relationship with the

Church, as any feminist must, but her influence, her work,

her voice will go on sounding in the Church with the power

of a prophet for years to come, through her writing, her

students, her readers; as her story writes the stories of

others.

And now Pamela has come to the end of the day. I

imagine that we might want to rage at the sadness of it,

grieve at the tragedy of this loss, and also to make some

meaning of it. We can do little better than turn to Pamela’s

own words about vulnerability, loss and love. She believed

that vulnerability does not destroy life, but is its material

and its strength. We may be undone by her loss, but we are

also becoming something more. We may lose confidence,

but we shall be enhanced. We will all die, but we shall all be

transformed. We may be hit by waves of sorrow, but we

are facing the reality that there is something bigger than us

shaping the world of our desires. We are undone by the

other, but we may find that the ‘other’ is also a force for

love and that our lives can be turned again to joy. Life is

precarious, but it is also beautiful. Hasn’t Pamela shown us

this? Pamela herself has said, ‘Grieving…makes possible

the opening up new worlds; but this requires accepting the

loss of the world as it has been known’. Today, we are

facing loss. And it is real. The world we knew with her is

lost to us. But we are also promised, even by Christ

himself, the gift of new and risen life, enhanced life, joyful,

hopeful life – life ringing with the laughter of friends and

the delights and passions of love. May it be so. Amen.

Revd Dr Susan Durber is a URC Minister and Principal Emerita

of Westminster College, Cambridge.

23


Thinking with Pamela

Virtuous Dialogue and the Philosophy of

Religion. Pamela Sue Anderson is well

known for her work on the feminist

philosophy of religion; her 1997 book on

that subject being one of the first in the

discipline. In the last two years before

her death, however, her work focused

on the themes of vulnerability and love.

Drawing on Anderson’s as-yet

unpublished ‘Introduction’ to a volume

of Michèle Le Doeuff’s philosophy

(edited by Anderson and to which I

contributed as translator), I will outline

the ways in which her vision for the

philosophy of religion – and her

methodological ideals for philosophy in

general – are encapsulated by a desire

for virtuous dialogue of the kind her

most recent work discusses.

From her earliest work, Anderson

was concerned to reject a model of the

‘empirical realist philosopher of religion’

that I’d like to call by the shorthand

homo philosophicus. By this term, I mean

to denote a negative exemplar, and thus

it is important to clarify that I do not

take it in the same sense in which it has

recently been used by Quassim Cassam

– that is, as a ‘model epistemic citizen

who can discover what his beliefs and

other attitudes are by establishing what

they ought rationally to be’ (Cassam,

Self-Knowledge for Humans¸ 2015).

In the case of religion,

determining what our beliefs and

attitudes ‘ought rationally to be’ is, of

course, much disputed. But Anderson’s

work criticized homo philosophicus

precisely for the confidence he placed in

disembodied reason (or formal

rationality) to answer our questions. On

Anderson’s account, homo philosophicus

– historically male, white, and privileged

– claimed a god’s-eye view that failed to

acknowledge the experiences of less

privileged others, especially women and

the marginalized. In doing so, Anderson

argued, homo philosophicus endangered

the philosophy of religion by

downplaying the importance of ‘desire,

need, ethical truth, and justice’; and

assuming ‘the status quo of patriarchal

beliefs’ (Anderson, A Feminist Philosophy

of Religion (1997), 16). As such, one of

the aims of her work – frequently

reiterated in the decades that followed

– was to transform ‘the focus and the

conceptual scheme in contemporary

philosophy of religion’ (Anderson, in

Cornwell and McGhee, eds, Philosophers

and Gods (2009), 167).

In 2009, she argued that the

required transformation involved not

only concerning ourselves [that is,

philosophers of religion] ‘with knowing

[…], but with thinking, acting, and

making reflective judgements which

would be creative, spiritually’ (adapted

from ibid., 171). She appealed to

philosophers of religion to examine and

exhibit ‘spiritual virtues’, calling her

readers to be ‘creative’ ‘for a world in

need of love, trust, respect, and hope’

(ibid., 171). These virtues, she argued,

should become characteristic of

reflective subjects, shaping the way we

imagine and interact with the world.

This was needful, on Anderson’s view,

because ‘[i]n a time when the world is

increasingly aware of global diversity,

the tradition of philosophy of religion

seems disinclined (or, is it simply afraid?)

to scrutinize its own practices not only

for epistemic injustice, but more

positively for the passion implicit in

yearning for the virtuous life’ (ibid., 176).

She followed Robert Solomon in

claiming that the virtuous spiritual life

should be understood in terms of the

transformation of the self (see ibid.,

173). This is significant because, on

Anderson’s view, ‘the spiritual life

directs reason’ towards a telos. In a

world increasingly divided by difference,

the telos towards which the spiritual life

directs us is an exploration of ‘love’ as

openness to others, the world and our

natural being; ‘trust’ as a coming

together of uncertainty and confidence;

‘respect’ as an active responsibility to

join love and trust in attention to life;

and ‘hope’ in past, present, and future

(see ibid., 176).

Anderson is no naïve optimist

about the realization of these ends,

however. In her recent work on

vulnerability she wrote about the

human tendency to shut itself off to the

danger of being wounded – to the

possibility of pain that can ensue from

openness gone wrong. But even so,

through the practice of virtuous

dialogue, Anderson proposed that she

had ‘found a transformative strategy for

refining philosophy’s self-definition, in

order that philosophy itself becomes far

more inclusive, and not just ‘western’,

not largely elite, and not largely for

certain privileged men alone’ (Anderson,

‘Introduction’ to In Dialogue with Michèle

Le Doeuff (forthcoming), 8). Instead of

paradigms of discipleship – in which

powerful masters instruct their

disciples, inducting them into readymade

worlds of thought – Anderson’s

dialogical approach invites others –

including marginalized others – to think

with us for themselves. It is a condition

of such a method that we are vulnerable

24


to these others – that we open

ourselves up to them, and to the

possibility of being – in some respect –

challenged or even ‘undone’ by our

encounter. Because the social self is

dialogical, and unfolds in a context and

with interlocutors that are not always of

its choosing, the prospect of dialogue

can fill us with fear. As Charles Taylor

has written, ‘we define our identity

always in dialogue with, sometimes in

struggle against, the things our

significant others want to see in us’

(Taylor, Multiculturalism: Examining the

Politics of Recognition (1994), 32-33).

So, alongside this call for dialogue

Anderson’s recent work also called for ‘a

new philosophical imaginary – which

would transform the myths we live by’

(Anderson, ‘Love and Vulnerability’

(unpub.)). In particular, she wished to

transform ‘a patriarchal myth which

projects on to “vulnerability” only

negative affects’, arguing that love and

vulnerability needed to be liberated

‘from the excessive fear and violence

which has been conveyed mythically by

our (western) philosophical imaginary’.

As Anderson reconceived it,

vulnerability was a ‘capability’ that

enhanced life, enabling us to be open to

receive from others in love. As such, it

has redemptive potential for the

discipline of philosophy – and for the

dialogues in which each of us

participate.

Dr Kate Kirkpatrick, FRSA, read

Philosophy and Theology (2002) at

Regent’s Park College, Oxford.

Speaker Vulnerability and Feminist

Collectivity in Philosophy. I never quite

crossed paths with Pamela Sue

Anderson. She returned to Oxford in

2001, the year after I finished my

undergraduate studies. In February

2017, we were both invited to speak at a

British Academy conference in Durham

on 'Vulnerability and The Politics of

Care'. Anderson’s paper was read by a

friend, just weeks before her death. All

of us spoke about vulnerability, but

Anderson’s contribution stood out in

that she addressed our own

vulnerability as speakers. She began by

recounting an occasion, earlier in her

career, when her audience was unable

to receive her as an expert on feminist

philosophy. The story stayed with many

of us because it reflected the painful,

hidden histories of speakers who do not

conform to preconceptions of how a

‘knower’ ought to look, be or think.

These stories, if they are told at all, are

normally the topic of hushed and

anxious conversations, where the

speaker’s close friends and colleagues

express outrage and reassurance.

Anderson, however, put her

vulnerability on display.

Her story was about a talk (also at

Durham) on feminist philosophy. Before

she arrived, the posters announcing the

event had been defaced with the image

of another Pamela Anderson: the

Playboy model and actress who rose to

fame in the 1990s. Anderson’s talk was

particularly well attended – mostly by

male students and philosophers drawn

to it by interest in the other Pamela.

From the outset, Anderson was not

quite believed to be a philosopher

because of her name. However, she was

also accused by a prominent male

philosopher of ‘disappointing’ her

audience because the content of her

epistemology was deemed to lack the

‘particularity, concreteness and

relationality required for women, and

so, for “feminism”’.

How do we respond when an

audience is unable to recognise us as a

'knower'? Sometimes, we are silenced

because the audience refuses to listen.

Sometimes, we pre-emptively silence

ourselves, smothering our own voices

because we risk too much by expressing

those ideas, to that audience, at that

time (see Dotson, ‘Tracking Epistemic

Violence’, Hypatia, 26.2 (2011), 236-57).

Sometimes, we soldier on, knowing that

the audience will find it hard to hear us.

We hope that if we appear invulnerable,

we might be taken seriously. At the

time, trying to appear invulnerable was

Anderson’s reaction to being silenced.

'How do we respond when an

audience is unable to recognise

us as a 'knower'? Sometimes,

we are silenced because the

audience refuses to listen.

Sometimes, we pre-emptively

silence ourselves'.

I didn’t make it to hear Anderson’s paper

in February, exhausted by my own

performance as an invulnerable speaker

and needing to recover some energy

before collecting my young daughter,

but afterwards my colleague and

collaborator, Doerthe Rosenow, insisted

that I read the text: 'You would have

loved it. It resonated so much with

everything we’ve talked about.' About

the incident in Durham, Anderson said

that she came to wonder what she might

have done differently. She realised that

nothing she could have done on her own

could have made her a trustworthy

'knower' to that particular audience.

Women’s attempts to be recognised

25


are unlikely to succeed by trying to

imitate the figure of the ‘great man’.

Following feminist philosopher Michèle

Le Doeuff’s call for a collective approach

to access to philosophy, Anderson came

to advocate collectivity, not just as

groups working together, but as an

attitude geared toward ‘reciprocal

relations to the “unknown”’. Her

proposal was that such a collectivity

should be ‘modelled on our mutual

vulnerability as speakers and audiences’.

If silencing exploits speakers’

vulnerability, then might not one way to

undo this be active avowal of our

vulnerability? Indeed, the denial of our

vulnerability is no less than a ‘systemic

form of self-deception’, a ‘wilful

ignorance’ that reflects and reinforces

inequality and privilege.

Silencing is both harmful and insidious.

Any single instance is easy to explain in

another way. As a result, we can miss

the often-gendered nature of the

phenomenon. It is then easy for

institutions (such as those offering

confidence training to women) to locate

the problem with the individual, rather

than addressing the institutional and

cultural mechanisms through which

some learn that they are entitled to

speak and be heard, while the

confidence of others is insidiously but

systematically eroded. These

experiences begin early in life and are

reinforced in our educational

institutions. I doubt that, without

encouragement given by my male tutors

during my time at Oxford, I would have

had the confidence to continue in

academia; particular thanks are due to

Pamela’s predecessor at Regent’s, Dave

Leal, as well as Tim Bradshaw and Paul

Fiddes. Yet, that encouragement was

particularly needed in a context where I

was not once by taught by a woman, nor

even saw a woman give a lecture.

Through these experiences, we learn –

as one of my students put it – ‘that

knowledge has a body and that it is not

my body’. The result is what has been

called ‘a war that a woman faces nearly

every day, a war within herself too, a

belief in her superfluity, an invitation to

silence’ (Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me

(2014), 5).

In her article in the 2016 edition of

Regent’s Now, Anderson set out how the

embrace of vulnerability might provide

a means, not only of countering sexism

and epistemic violence in academia, but

also of ‘enhancing life’ in general.

Vulnerability is not just a condition of a

speaker before an audience, but a

general condition of our coexistence. As

one of the other speakers at the British

Academy conference, Judith Butler, has

famously argued, we are all dependent

upon others from the minute we enter

26


the world. Vulnerability is not just

openness to being wounded, it is also ‘a

capability for openness to affection’.

Being wounded – be it through abuse,

injury or loss – can be transformative,

personally and politically. It can open us

up to the needs of others, even those far

away. ‘In acknowledging our

vulnerability,’ Anderson wrote, ‘the

hope is that we become capable of living

(more) openly and fully for ourselves

and for others. This assumes a striving

to become what we are more “deeply”,

to employ another image, becoming in

all of our “complexity”’. Anderson’s

paper affected so many of us because

she brought her own vulnerability into

the open in order expose the practices

through which relations of

power/knowledge are maintained. As

the writer Ariel Leve put it, in

recounting her own experience of being

wounded through childhood abuse: ‘We

tell our stories in order to be heard.

Sometimes those stories free us.

Sometimes they free others. When they

are not told, they free no one.’

Dr Lara Montesinos Coleman read

Philosophy and Theology (1996) at

Regent’s Park College, Oxford.

This article is abridged from a longer

version which was published online by

the feminist philosophy blog, 'In

Parenthesis', with which Pamela was

associated: www.womeninparenthesis.

co.uk/speaker-vulnerability-andfeminist-collectivity-in-philosophy-bylara-montesinos-coleman.

Quotations from Pamela are taken from

her Durham paper, ‘Silencing and

Speaker Vulnerability: Undoing an

Oppressive form of Wilful Ignorance’, or

her article in last year’s edition of

Regent’s Now.

PAMELA ON

LOVE IN

RELIGION

Paul S. Fiddes

In the last eighteen months of her far-too-short life, Pamela

was one of the co-investigators on the Project for the

Study of Love in Religion at Regent’s Park. She interwove

her participation in this project with her engagement in an

‘Enhancing Life’ project at the University of Chicago,

enjoying the interaction between the two. Dr Minlib Dallh,

our Fellow for Love in Religion, and I deeply appreciated

her as a conversation partner, and she was typically

encouraging to the younger women scholars who became

associated with the Love Project.

The Project itself has developed from an ‘Open

Letter’ of Muslim scholars written to Christian worldleaders

in 2007, urging that Muslims and Christians should

live and work together on the common ground of love for

God and love for neighbour, as commanded by Jesus

Christ. With the collaboration of the main writer of the

Letter, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan (now an

27


Honorary Fellow of the College), the Project has drawn

together scholars of several faiths in the UK and from

'It is hard to conceive of the Project

without Pamela, who was both hopeful

and realistic'.

throughout the world to explore the nature of love as the

Ultimate Reality of the universe. Pamela was a key

member of an international colloquium held in the College

in November 2016, when philosophers, theologians,

leaders of religious communities and social scientists came

together from many countries, assisted by a grant from the

John Templeton Foundation, to debate the ‘cutting-edge

issues’ in the place of love in religious thought and

experience. A report of the conference and some of the

papers given can be found on ‘www.loveinreligion.org’.

It is hard to conceive of the Project without Pamela,

who was both hopeful and realistic about the outcome,

writing at one point that ‘it is difficult to imagine what our

contemporary global world might look like, if the

Abrahamic religions actually shared – in current practice –

the two love commandments and the one God who is love

itself.’ Two themes about love in particular absorbed

Pamela during her time with the Project, and both touched

on her wider and personal concerns as a feminist

philosopher of religion, especially concerned that young

women venturing upon their careers would be given the

respect and recognition that they deserved.

The first theme was the place of love in forgiveness,

and I well remember her making an impact on the selection

panel for her post as Fellow in May 2001, when she offered

a paper on forgiveness for a ‘demonstration’ lecture given

to staff and students. In a paper published in 2016, headed

‘When Forgiveness and Justice come apart’, she argued

that expecting forgiveness from a woman injuriously

wounded – experiencing intimate violence – can often

obstruct justice. The more, she insisted, that a woman

seeks a changed relationship with her offender, the more it

may become urgent to withhold forgiveness for a period

during a process of ethical reparation. This argument was

typical of Pamela’s bringing into a rigorous philosophical

argument a desire that women be not imposed upon and

made willing victims, so holding love and justice together.

Her second theme was more located in her own

personal situation, living with cancer with great courage.

It was to find in our very human vulnerability the seeds of

loving relationships. She observed that we often associate

vulnerability with violence in our imagination. We either

think of our ‘wound-ability’ as a state where we are simply

a hapless victim of violence or something to be avoided by

inflicting violence on others. Pamela was ambitious to

change our ‘social imaginary’, re-imagining vulnerability by

transforming ‘an exclusively dark myth of fear and

violence’, into a pattern of experience which is open to

mutual affection with others.

Just five months before her death, Pamela was able

to journey with me to a conference at the University of

Leuven on the theme of ‘Relation, Vulnerability and Love’,

where we together presented the aims of the Love Project,

and she explained her own particular track of research,

declaring that ‘Reciprocal affection in vulnerability would

aim to renew our conception of love. But this affecting

needs to be learnt by allowing ourselves to attend to each

other.’ The conference was a moment I will long

remember, when she gave her ‘attention’ to a number of

former students who were also presenting there, and

recalled with me her memories of being in and around

Leuven as a young woman scholar, when all of life was in

front of her.

In the colloquium on love in November 2016, she

said this in commenting on the Gospel passage where Jesus

sets out love for God and neighbour: ‘If we return to the

scriptural passage from Mark 12:28-31, we might find four

ingredients for true neighbour-love. First, we need to show

how love means both caring for and caring about the

wound (vulnus) which opens us up to the possibility of

mutual affection (‘your heart’). Second, we need to strive

to know a one God whose love reveals the world as it

actually is (‘your soul’). Third, we need to show that shared

or collective knowledge in religion is a knowing whom to

love as the neighbour, and how to love that person (‘your

mind’). Fourth, we need to discern how we have the

capacity for this love (‘your strength’).’ This was the

agenda for philosophical investigation that Pamela wanted

to carry through herself, but which she now leaves as a

legacy to us.

Professor Paul S. Fiddes is Principal Emeritus and Director of

Research at Regent's Park College. He is also Director of the

Project for the Study of Love in Religion.

28


STUDENT RECOGNITION

Sophie Aitmehdi (Jurisprudence, 2015)

Vice-President Elect of the University Law Society

Peter Burke-Smith (Geography, 2014)

Vice President of University Lightweight Rowing Club

Kathryn Cole (History and Economics, 2013)

Oxford Student Union President-Elect

Kiya Evans (History and English, 2016)

Producer of ‘Blavatsky's Tower’ at the Michael Pilch Studio

Savannah Fishel (Philosophy and Theology, 2015)

Social Secretary of the University LGBTQ+ Society

Theophina Gabriel (Philosophy and Theology, 2016)

Founder and Editor of Onyx magazine

Jacob Greenhouse (Philosophy and Theology, 2016)

Half Blue for Eton Rugby Fives

Laura Hamilton (Philosophy and Theology, 2014)

President of Oxford Women in Business

Ella Holden (English, 2015)

Art and Literature Editor of the Oxford Student

Thomas Jordan (English, 2015)

Editor of the ISIS Magazine

Founder of the Mental Health Support Network

Suzie King (English, 2014)

Marketing Manager for the original musical, ‘STOP’, which

appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe

Philippa Lawford (English, 2016)

Director of ‘Blavatsky's Tower’ at the Michael Pilch Studio

David Marchington (English, 2015)

Vice President of The Oxford Guild

Georgia Reddington (English, 2015)

Co-Director of ‘I Know You’ at the Burton Taylor Theatre

Executive Make-Up Artist for several University musicals

Rosie Richards (Theology and Religion, 2015)

President of the Oxford Alternotives

Producer of ‘Rewritten’ at the Michael Pilch Studio

Ellie Siora (History, 2015)

Writer and Director of ‘Rewritten’ at the Michael Pilch Studio

Hebe Westcott (English, 2014)

Committee and Blue for the University Netball Team

Ali White (History and Politics, 2015)

Co-Chair of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats

Esther-Jane White (Theology, 2014)

Member of the University Netball team

Member of the University band, Garfunkel

Hannah Wooldridge (History and Economics, 2015)

Treasurer of Oxford Women in Business

IN MEMORIAM

Regent’s Park College

Pamela Sue Anderson

Edward A. Barton

David Boone

Arthur Francis

Charles Garrett

Hal Germer

Marie Isaacs

Alan Kreider

Matthew Neale

Howard Tillotson

Ian Tomlinson

Charles Whitworth

Barrie White

Greyfriars Hall

Br Thomas Boyle

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines