Monday, 30 April 2012

'Brain Dead' Man is now Trainee Accountant

An article published by The Christian Institute highlights the case of Steven Thorpe who was declared 'brain dead' by doctors and his family advised to switch off his life support machine. Doctors said he would never recover from his injuries sustained in a car crash aged 17.

They chose to get a second opinion. Steven, now 21, said:

“I think the doctors wanted to give me three days on the life support machine and the following day they said they wanted to turn it off. The words they used to my parents were ‘you need to start thinking about organ donations’. I think that’s what gave my dad energy, he thought ‘no way’."

Steven is currently training to be an accountant. He has had four operations to reconstruct his face so far since leaving hospital.

The University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said:

“The injury to Steven’s brain was extremely critical and several CT scans of the head showed almost irreversible damage. It is extremely rare that a patient having suffered such extensive trauma to the brain should survive.”

This raises lots of questions about the switching off of life support machines. Often families are reluctant to 'let go' of loved ones, and often claim to see flickers of life. Sometimes these are genuine, other times wishful thinking. Steven's family had to go private for a second opinion, should this be standard on the NHS? Just because a recovery is 'rare' and damage is 'almost irreversible' should families be given 3 days?

The article links to other stories of 'miralce' recoveries:

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Catholic school teaching Catholic ideas?!?

Stop the press! Catholic schools teach Catholic ideas about gay marriage!  

There has been much in the press over the last week about how Catholic schools are wrong in their promotion of the conventional and traditional form of marriage. Some schools have taken up the Bishops' request to promote a petition against the change in law that would allow same-sex couples to call their legal union a 'marraige'. This issue has been discussed on TalkingDonkeyRE before, here and here.

However this weekend, the Daily Telegraph published a blog which got a lot of online interest. It basically said, in a slightly tongue-in-cheek fashion:

"What is the world coming to when, in the 21st century, in daylight hours, in an educational institution, the offspring of Catholics can openly be taught Catholic values? This madness must end!"

It goes on to urge a sense of calm, and non-sensationalism... is this really a surprise to the general public?

"This open-mouthed alarm at Catholic schools for promoting the virtues of traditional marriage is a bit like being shocked to discover that a Friends of the Earth summer camp teaches children BS about the eco-End of Days or that a Jewish school says the Torah is a good read."

However the section which got a lot of criticism, particularly from the secular and atheist readers was this one:

"Catholic schools have a certain amount of leeway to teach the Catholic view on life, sex and relationships. If they didn't, then they wouldn't be "Catholic schools" – they'd just be "schools". Maybe that's what the Catholic-bashing set wants – the evacuation of every smidgen of Catholic ideology from Catholic schools, so that they end up being indistinguishable from your average state school, and so that Catholic parents are denied the fundamental liberty to send their children to a school that embodies their values."

Many would like to see the closure of Catholic schools, in fact all faith-based schools. They perhaps forget that it was Christians who first started free schooling for the British population, or that over the last 150 years Christians have built schools, funded schools, supported schools... They also forget that it would be impossible to purchase all the land, buildings etc that Christians have donated for the use of education. Never mind fund the 10% of budgets that faith-based schools have to pay themselves.

There was also great issue with the fact that this 'fundamental liberty' of parents, is in fact some kind of abuse of parents to their children. I'd suggest that students of faith-schools get a wide ranging education of their parents' faith and can then decide whether or not they choose to believe. A reader that comments that in France, faith-schools are illegal and that this is a better way. France a country that continues to have rising tensions, particularly in ethnically diverse and economically poor areas.

It concludes by highlighting the irony of the secularists:

The irony is that while secularists accuse Catholic schools of "politically indoctrinating" their pupils, the real political indoctrination taking place here is the never ending attempt to prevent Catholic schools from imparting their values to their pupils. It is this intolerant desire to force Catholic schools to bend their knee to every mainstream political idea – whether it's on "safe sex" or "same-sex marriage" – which smacks of indoctrination, of attempting to cleanse institutions of the "wrong" way of thinking and make them repeat chattering-class catechisms.

As discussed on here before, I'm still undecided on the campaign against same-sex marriage. However, one thing I am sure of , is that Catholic schools increasingly need to fight for their identify under increasing pressure.

Is it really that shocking that Catholic schools are teaching Catholic ideas? Do you think Catholic schools should be reduced to just schools? Is Gove right to start investigating?

Read original article:
Read subsequent story:

Friday, 27 April 2012

Y9 Assessment 3: Life After Death

“If the Church believes in life after death, surely a funeral should be a joyful occasion.” Discuss this statement.

Mr Lewis' Essay Plan:
1. Introduction
–What do Christians believe?
–What happens at a funeral?
2. Agree – Some people would agree with this statement (funerals should be joyful) because…
3. Disagree – Some people would disagree with this statement (funerals should NOT be joyful)because…
4. Conclusion – After careful reflection, I think…

Download a copy of the Green instruction sheet <here>

Useful Links:

If you find any other good links, please add them in the comments box!

PowerPoint Slides:

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

#YOLO: A Christian Outlook?

Having heard students use the phrase #YOLO, I noticed a Catholic blog writing about the phrase. It raised the questions:
  • What kinds of things would this life philosophy encourage?
  • What kinds of choices are made by those who really do plan on living only once?
Does it mean we should live in a wasteful, reckless way? If we live as if everyday could be our last, that would determine a lot of our lifestyle choices. Indeed, why bother turning up for school this morning?

The author of the blog post suggests that actually, for those who have no belief in the Resurrection, no Christian faith, life becomes restless and individuals try to find meaning in meaningless things. He says:

"A man who doesn’t believe that he has anything to look forward to or that he’ll ever have to pay his debts – either because he doesn’t believe in an afterlife or because he isn’t mindful of it – is a fool at best and a danger to himself and others at worst."

He then goes on to quote St Augustine who before becoming a committed Christian lived a 'wasteful' life, gives a contrast of the YOLO philosophy to the life of a Christian:

"Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee; even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace." – St. Augustine, Confessions, Book 10, Chapter 27

The blogger does conclude, that despite his seeming rejection of the YOLO philosophy, there can be a Christian version. One that links to the ideas of St Francis, who encouraged total commitment to God: ”Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves so that He Who gives Himself totally to you may receive you totally.”

This, it is suggested, that maybe Christians need to just 'add' a bit to YOLO.

Have a visit to his site - - and you can vote in the poll...

What do you think? Can we live life as #YOLO if we are Christian? Do you use YOLO and mean it? How does it effect your life?

AS Philosophy Revision Sites
This site hopes to get people interested in Philosophy. Unfortuantely they seemed to loose interest themselves a few years back. However there are some excellent resources available online still:
Learn - - including PowerPoints on design and cosmological arguements

Campbell College:
Another school site that has collected lots of great links:

AS/A2 Revision Games

To improve your knowledge (AO1) there are some useful online games to help!

Arnewood School Site:
These are largely ethics based -
Guess the Philsopher -

Philosophers Net:
There is a vareity of philosophy and ethics based games here -
Ones that I think are interesting are
Do you know any more good games websites?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?

In January, Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and Director of the Origins Institute at Arizona State University, published A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing, a book that, as its title suggests, purports to explain how something---and not just any something, but the entire universe---could have emerged from nothing, the kind of nothing implicated by quantum field theory.

This article contains an interview with Krauss who seemingly blows apart the theory that there needs to be a 'first cause' to the universe and that that cause needs to be God, as put forward by countless theists.

He caused controversy when he claimed that, unlike science, philosophy "hasn't progressed in two thousand years.". However when challenged on this in the interview claimed that "To me what philosophy does best is reflect on knowledge that's generated in other areas." and he categorises different parts of philosophy into other disciplines, effectively reducing the subject to maths, literature, history, political science etc.

He later claims that "scientists are really happy when they get it wrong, because it means that there's more to learn", but doesn't clarify if this means he thinks philosophers, and potentially theists, don't like it when they get something wrong. Indeed will philosophers or theists actually admit to getting things wrong? Perhaps not.

When asked about the religious nature of his work he says:

"The religious question "why is there something rather than nothing," has been around since people have been around, and now we're actually reaching a point where science is beginning to address that question...  I didn't write the book to attack religion, per se. The purpose of the book is to point out all of these amazing things that we now know about the universe. Reading some of the reactions to the book, it seems like you automatically become strident the minute you try to explain something naturally."

Richard Dawkins wrote the afterword for the book and claimed that this book was on a par with "The Origin of Species", although Krauss pushes away such claims.

When challenged on the actual claims of his work, he states:  "I don't think I argued that physics has definitively shown how something could come from nothing; physics has shown how plausible physical mechanisms might cause this to happen."

The articles then goes on to discuss some of the more scientific aspects of his work and how 'something' could be 'created' out of nothing.

Potentially this kind of science could provide big question marks to Aquinas' first three 'Ways'. There could indeed be an uncaused cause, and that it may not be God.

The article begins, "Science is meant to make people uncomfortable." - yet in many ways this is exactly the same as philosophy. Certainly Krauss is raising many philosophical questions and states he is always focused on the 'why'. Maybe he was right when he said these disciplines are linked? Maybe his love for philosophy has lead him to question whether something can be created out of nothing, although at this stage it is still largely hypothetical...

Donate someones' organs for them?

"Think about all the lives you could save by volunteering your friends organs..."

A blog entry on the Journal of Medical Ethics has highlighted the fact that it is very easy to sign up other people to the Donor Register. You can sign up in many different places, but now it is possible online with just a name and date of birth, both easily accessible pieces of information.

"There is considerable debate about whether we ought to have an opt in or opt out system of organ donation – this appears to be a new option “an others opt you in system…” And there doesn’t seem to be any way to change your mind and opt out using the online system."

Organ donation does seem to continue to be a point of debate, especially the opt-in or opt-out system, however, this presents a whole new moral dilemma, can you save lives by signing up your friends?

Read full article here:

Friday, 20 April 2012

CAFOD visit Y10 #SHOM

Have Y10 students seen this?

Spread the word!

CS Lewis on Love

Best know for writing the Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis is also well known as a Christian writier. His wisdom and reflection on the Christian messages are often inspirational, paticually those on love.

"In a world of smart phones, text messages, Facebook, and e-dating, many are creating virtual relationships which mask a person’s true identity in an attempt to protect themselves from the reality of real relationship.

They want to avoid the possible heartache and pain that can occur when love is not reciprocated. Others fill their lives with work, recreation or entertainment in an attempt to avoid deep relationships. And yet, as we attempt to protect ourselves, we become less human, and wander farther from the Creator’s purpose for our lives which is to love both God and neighbor as ourselves."

In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God’s will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness. It is like hiding the talent in a napkin and for much the same reason ‘I knew thee that thou wert a hard man.’ Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness. If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly beloveds whom he has seen, he is none the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not. We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.
"As we look at the relationships in our own lives we might ask the following questions. Am I holding back my love toward God and others out of the fear of being wounded in the fray? If so, am I willing to begin to trust God with my life and open up the gateways to my heart so that I can both give and receive love as God intended me to do?"

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.

Article orginally found here:

Do you agree with CS Lewis' view on love? Does allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and open to hurt make us closer to God?

1 John 4:18-19

Virtual Stations of the Cross

Busted Halo is one of the internet's largest and most popular youth ministry sites. It contains a wealth of information and reflection for young people, and those who work with young people. Addtionally, it embraces new media and produces many videos, podcasts etc. Here we share their Stations of the Cross:

The Stations of the Cross is a devotion following the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion. Prayers accompanying it allow time to reflect on the mystery of his death. Originally the Stations of the Cross was an actual physical journey in and around Jerusalem. Later the series was symbolized in outdoor shrines, and today many parishes display artistic representations in their sanctuaries. The Stations of the Cross may be done at any time, but is commonly a part of Lenten spiritual practice, specifically on Good Friday.

This year, Busted Halo® has created a series of virtual stations designed for personal devotion. These stations relate to Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of God and the reason his vision of this Kingdom led to his death. Find a quiet place to watch these stations, and as you do the devotions be open to how God is speaking to you through the Stations of the Cross.

Videos orginally found here:

Station One: Jesus Is Condemned to Death

Station Two: Jesus Carries His Cross

Station Three: Jesus Falls for the First Time

Station Four: Jesus Meets His Mother

Station Five: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

Station Six: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

Station Seven: Jesus Falls for the Second Time

Station Eight: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Station Nine: Jesus Falls for the Third Time

Station Ten: Jesus Is Stripped of His Clothes

Station Eleven: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross

Station Twelve: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Station Thirteen: Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross

Station Fourteen: Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Y8: Salvation Assessment Resources

These websites and videos may be of some use:

Modern Good Samaritan (one of my favouite Lego animations!):

WWJD? A school project (could you make a video like this?) reflection on our Christian responsiblities to others:

WWJD Info -

Mr Lewis' tips for writing:

1) Title: Jesus Saviour of the World
2) Write out story – first person, eye witness… be creative!
3) What does this story show? What does it mean?
4) How can this inspire Christians today? Detail! Think about who would be an equivalent of the person in the story.
5) Give examples of how it inspires people, are there any jobs or voluntary work that Christians do that link to this story? One World Week?
6) How could it make a difference to your life? This needs to be a detailed reflection.

AS Philosophy Revision Videos

These 10min revision videos are hosted on
Cosmological -
Telelogical/Design -
Evil & Suffering -

Perhaps take a pen and paper and make as many notes as you can during the video!

Suggested by Y12 SHoM students:

What is Classical Theism? -
Causation and Infinite Regress -

GCSE Revision


This site looks quite basic, but contains lots of really useful short activities you can do online as part of your revision:
Unit 3:
Believing in God –
Matters of Life and Death –
Marriage and the Family –
Religion and Community Cohesion –

Unit 10 (but labled as old Section J):
Beliefs and Values –
Community and Tradition –
Worship and Celebration – &
Living the Christian Life –

This blog may also be of use to you, it has lots of questions from the old specification, but are still of use. There are some really good mindmaps too to help with your revision:


Key Words Unit 3

Key Words Unit 10

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Selfless Love of Essex Priest on Titanic

A stained glass window in a small Essex church, commemorates a heroic young priest who refused to leave passengers on the Titanic. Fr Thomas Byles, rector of St Helen's Church in Chipping Ongar, was travelling to New York to officiate at his brother's wedding. His parish had organised a special collection to fund the trip.

Eyewitness reports say Father Byles had said Mass for second-class passengers on the morning of the disaster. When the ship hit the iceberg and begun to sink, Fr Byles was offered a lifeboat place several times but he refused, staying on to help others, hear confessions and pray with those still on board. In the ship's final moments Father Byles prayed with the 100 plus passengers trapped at the stern. Protestants, Catholics and Jews knelt in the rising waters as he gave absolution to all. His body was never recovered.

Later Fr Byles family had an audience with Pope Pius X, who described him as a 'martyr'.

Father Byles, was originally from Staffordshire. The son of an Anglican vicar, he converted to Catholicism. He was ordained as a priest in 1902 and came to the Essex parish in 1905.

A plaque at his old school in Lancashire reads: 'Pray for Rev Thomas Byles for eight years rector of this mission. In hisheroic death in the disaster SS Titanic April 15 1912 he earnestly devoted his last moments to the religious consolation of his fellow passengers'.
Original article here:

Having been described as a 'matryr' do you think he really did give up his life? Did he just allow God to choose his fate? Do you think he was right to refuse lifeboat places?

It has similarities to Fr Kolbe ( who gave up his life for a stranger in Auschwitz. The selfless love shown by their priests can be seen as a model for all Christians, as Jesus says: ‘If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget self, carry his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it; but whoever wants to lose his life for me and for the Gospel will save it. Does a person gain anything if he wins the whole world but loses his life? Of course not.’ (Mark 8:34–36)

The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage

"Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million. The majority of young adults in their 20s will live with a romantic partner at least once, and more than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation. This shift has been attributed to the sexual revolution and the availability of birth control, and in our current economy, sharing the bills makes cohabiting appealing."

When questioned, "nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce."

Why does experience contradict this viewpoint? Why isn't cohabitation a good trial for marriage? As someone once said to me, "you wouldn't buy a car without a test drive!".

According to the article, couples who cohabit are more often unsatisfied with their marriage, and are more likely to resort to divorce. Many couples say that cohabitation 'just happened', the idea of "sliding rather than deciding". Circumstances of one or both of the couple, perhaps financial or convenience, push towards cohabitation before the couple actually decide it is the commitment they are both ready to make.

Do couples need to talk about why they are moving in together? Do they need to work out what it will mean for them individually and as a couple?

Surely if you slide in, it is easy to "slide out"? Often this is not the case, and people end up in complex situations whereby it is very hard to get out. This can lead to unhappiness on both sides as financial ties are often hard to break.

The question of commitment also comes up, how committed is someone who you 'just' live with? The article suggests that one woman felt like she was on a rolling-contract, needing to re-audition on a regular basis! People also feel due to cohabiting, they find it harder to get out and waste time on a relationship that would have been over had they not lived together and had all the ties and difficulty that that involves. However, is it better to waste time in a relationship or to get instantly married, find out it is a waste of time and get divroced?

A 2010 survey suggested that two-thirds of Americans now see cohabitation as a step towards marriage, does this make cohabitation a more stable option? Is the commitment needed for marriage required for cohabitation in more cases?

The Catholic Church is very clear that cohabitation is to be avoided, and connects this to pre-marital sex. When living together, it is harder to resist the urges to engage in sexual activity, something that should be saved for marriage.

The author concludes: "I am not for or against living together, but I am for young adults knowing that, far from safeguarding against divorce and unhappiness, moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake — or of spending too much time on a mistake. A mentor of mine used to say, “The best time to work on someone’s marriage is before he or she has one,” and in our era, that may mean before cohabitation."

Do you think cohabitation is acceptable? Do you see any other problems? Do you think the Catholic Church is correct in its view?

Read the full article:

Thanks to @mrhig for corrections.