Category Archives: P&W Seminars

The Cannibalistic News Hounds

In Flat Earth News Nick Davies has written a great book, one that every responsible literate person should read, and then read again. And Davies has certainly got people’s attention. I saw him talk at a media worker’s conference in December and the case he made was compelling, his book deepened this sense, and I found myself equally transfixed by a subsequent talk he gave. (If you get the chance go and see him talk—I hope some people unlike us have the wit to record him.)

For me, the most surprising attempt to turn Davies’s book into dog food was made by the Media Lens hounds, given their commitment to ‘correcting the distorted vision of the corporate media’.

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Day Retreat: Studies in Peace and Wisdom

Part of the Studies in Peace and Wisdom seminar series.

Led by Chris Dornan, Saturday 16th February, 10am-5pm, Bodhi Garden.

The civilized self-image of the West is based in the 18th century Enlightenment and the 17th century Scientific Revolution. We are more liberal, egalitarian, independent and knowledgeable than any of our forbears or any of our contemporaries outside of the first world. Yet we are also one of the most martial people in history, seemingly perpetually at war, and our collective spending on ‘defence’ today dwarfs that of the rest of the world.

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1: The Politics of Peace

Part of the Studies in Peace and Wisdom seminar series.

Chris Dornan, Tuesday 26th February, 7-9pm, Bodhi Garden.

Warning: this talk is intended to be (constructively) provocative.

If I were to buy a tub of ice cream and wanted to keep it for later I would put it into the freezer, not take a blow torch to it. It is a simple case of cause-and-effect, with the freezer option leading to the desired outcome. However, many peace and justice movements seem to take blow torches to their ice cream—at least from a Buddhist perspective (and it is doubtful that Buddhism is unique or even unusual in this).

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2: Flat Earth News

Part of the Studies in Peace and Wisdom seminar series.

Nick Davies, Tuesday 4th March, 7-9pm, Bodhi Garden.

‘Finally I was forced to admit that I work in a corrupted profession.’

As part of our process of becoming collectively enlightened in the 18th century urbanisation accelerated, so giving rise to mass literacy, the mass media and the development of journalism, thereby opening the door for powerful interests and deep pockets to shape the orthodox, received narratives for consumers of mass media (i.e., almost everyone today). From a Buddhist perspective, it is unhealthy to inhabit fantasy worlds as they promote violent strategies to maintain the fantasy, and Nick Davies’ research raises some disturbing questions about our attempts to live in such a collective fantasy. In this talk Nick Davies will talk about his recent book, Flat earth News, that shows this process accelerating along with the dynamics that have been driving it.

[Nick Davies writes investigative stories for the Guardian, and has been named Journalist of the Year, Reporter of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year in British press awards. Apart from his work on newspapers, he also makes television documentaries and he has written four books, including White Lies, which uncovered a racist miscarriage of justice in Texas; Murder on Ward Four, which examined the collapse of the NHS through the murder of children by Nurse Beverly Allitt; and Dark Heart, a journey through the wasteland of British poverty. He has three children and lives in Sussex.]

Flat Earth News is published on the 7th February.

3 Our Virtue: The Neoconservatives and the Power of Nightmares

Part of the Studies in Peace and Wisdom seminar series.

Chris Dornan, Tuesday 11th March, 7-9pm, Bodhi Garden, Bodhi Garden.

Is Neoconservativism an Enlightened philosophy?

Leo Strauss (1899-73), classical scholar and intellectual father of Neoconservatism, was concerned that liberal democracy contained the seeds of its own destruction in individualism through a liberal philosophy where nothing is true and everything permitted. He taught that the great philosophers had two messages: an exoteric message accessible to everyone, but also to those who how able to decode it, an esoteric philosophy that couldn’t be more widely disseminated without destabilising the social order. Strauss believed that the intellectuals of the ruling class had to perpetuate ‘noble lies’ and ‘pious frauds’, unifying myths, such as religion and the divine purpose of the nation to fight evil and establish good in the world, so maintaining social cohesion and reversing the decay of liberalism.

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4: Pride and Prejudice: The Enlightenment and the Virtue of the Other

Part of the Studies in Peace and Wisdom seminar series.

Chris Dornan, Tuesday 11th March, 7-9pm, Bodhi Garden

This talk will look at 18th century Enlightenment philosophy and Jane Austen’s alternative.

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5: Why are we such a violent nation?

Part of the Studies in Peace and Wisdom seminar series.

Christopher Titmuss, Tuesday 25th March, 7-9pm, Bodhi Garden.

Is there a connection between what we are doing in the world and our state of mind?

According to a Russian sociologist, England has been at war in the past 900 years more than any other nation on Earth – around 56 years out of every hundred. The United States, its closest ally, has invade 19 countries since 1950. It doesn’t end there. There is violence on our streets, domestic violence, child abuse, alcohol fuelled violence, drug fuelled violence, football violence and verbal and physical abuse upon ethnic communities. Our prisons are desperately overcrowded with prison sentences lengthening. What is it about our psyche? Why don’t we make the connection between war on other nations and the violence on our streets? Is there an appalling spiritual and philosophical vacuum at the heart of our lives? Do we obscure this violence behind the language of being a civilised people with the world’s longest democracy?