My great-great-great grandfather, a York Quaker called Henry Isaac Rowntree (that’s him on the left), set up Rowntree’s chocolate company in York in 1862. He was an amiable young man, ‘perhaps the only Rowntree with a sense of humour’ according to one historian. He had a parrot who liked to shout obscenities from under the Read more…

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I want to explore the idea of Greek philosophy as a meeting-point between various humanisms, including Christian humanism, atheist or agnostic humanism, Islamic humanism and Jewish humanism. These days, I would describe myself as a Christian humanist. I mean ‘humanist’ in the Renaissance sense – someone who loves and wants to revive ancient philosophy and Read more…

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The Catholic church has a new pope! Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio this week became Pope Francis I, the first non-European pope. The first BRIC pope. He sounds like a man of humility and asceticism, who travels on budget airlines – Lord knows that is a trial of the flesh. While a friend to the poor, Read more…

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I’m writing this from the Hay-On-Wye book festival, where the rain is coming down piteously, maintaining a steady rhumba on the roofs of the marquees. There are actually two festivals here – the main one, sponsored by the Telegraph, which is rather blue-rinse; and How The Light Gets In, which is a philosophy festival. The Read more…

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Two news stories caught my eye this weekend. Firstly, the British government wants to launch a voucher scheme so every parent can take parenting classes from a range of providers. One of them is called the Parenting Gym, and is owned by Octavius Black, the millionaire school-chum of David Cameron’s, who made his fortune through Read more…

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