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Sixth Form & Angels

Raphael's_Angels

Sixth Form & Angels!? Not words you would usually associate together! Yesterday the Sixth Form welcomed Professor David Jones speaking to the Ficino Society on the topic of Angels.

Jonathan Wood, Year 12, comments:

“Dr Jones, a professor of bioethics came to talk to us on Tuesday the 29th of September about Angels. Although this isn’t a topic that he teaches, it is a topic close to his heart and that he has great interest in. He began by showing us two clips from a German film called ‘Wings of angels’. In the first scene the angels describe, with wonder, the simple things that we take for granted which here at St.James we are encouraged to appreciate. The second clip was in a library where the angels could listen to the thoughts of the people. The thoughts created a kind of music in the film and he said that the setting of the library was ironic because the loudness of the thoughts contrasted with the usual quiet of a library.

He then began to describe to us the story of Jacob and the Angel which although I didn’t know, was very interesting. He also picked out various lines from the film that referred to certain famous stories or quotes from religious books. It was amazing to see how much meaning and thought the script writer had put into the film and how much someone with little knowledge of angels could miss. One phrase in particular that kept coming up was: ‘In pretence’. This phrase was repeated again and again by the angels as they described how they could pretend to be human very convincingly but it would always be ‘in pretence’ and how they wanted to experience things as human beings did. This again reminded everyone of the idea of not taking things for granted.

He went on to describe how angels aren’t limited to Christian texts and in fact appear in many other religions, particularly Judaism as it is one of the older religions closely linked with Christianity. All these texts describe how these spiritual beings although immortal are jealous of humanity and this again reminded us to appreciate that. This reminded me of the multicultural life at St.James and how we could all see angels as part of our faith even if we weren’t a particular religion.

Dr. Jones has recently written a book on his thoughts and findings about angels and we hope to see him again at school to share that with us and perhaps sign a few copies.”

Professor David Albert Jones is Director of the Centre for Bioethics and Emerging Technologies and Programme Director of the MA in Bioethics and of the Foundation Degree in Healthcare Chaplaincy at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham. He teaches on the BA in Philosophy and also supervises a number of PhDs in the area of bioethics. Professor Jones read Natural Sciences and Philosophy at Cambridge (1984-1987) and Theology at Oxford (1992-2000). His doctorate was published as Approaching the End: a theological exploration of death and dying (Oxford University Press 2007). His book The Soul of the Embryo: An enquiry into the status of the human embryo in the Christian tradition (Continuum 2004) was positively reviewed by Sir Anthony Kenny in the Times Literary Supplement and Baroness Julia Neuberger in The Lancet and was short-listed for the Michael Ramsey Prize 2007. Professor Jones has presented oral or written evidence on bioethical questions to a variety of government and nongovernment bodies: to the Department of Health; to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority; to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee; to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence; to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics; and to the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research. He is currently on a working party of the General Medical Council and is a member of the National Reference Group for the Liverpool Care Pathway. He is also Vice-Chairman of  the Ministry of Defence Research Ethics Committee.

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