My name is Simeon Burke and I live and work in the UK. Welcome to my blog; thank you for reading. Allow me to introduce myself and this website.
Who am I?
I was born in Wales, raised in Northern Ireland, Fiji and Chicago (USA). The question of belonging, identity and rootedness is an important one to me and one that I will explore in this blog. I feel a deep affinity to each part of the British Isles. I am “pan-British”, having lived in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and, more recently, England.
I recently completed my doctorate at the University of Edinburgh in early Christianity. My thesis told the story of how and why two early Christians—Tertullian and Origen—went about reading Jesus’s words in context. Before that, I studied history and New Testament at the University of St Andrews and Christ’s College, University of Cambridge.
My second love is politics and culture, particularly where this intersects with faith. I first became interested in the relationship between politics and religion at an early age. Having grown up in Northern Ireland, Fiji and the US—all countries in which politics and religion have interacted in rather explosive ways—I was acutely aware of the potential perils of mentioning God and Caesar in the same breath. I simultaneously became interested in exploring more impactful, constructive and effective ways of engaging in these conversations. These early, formative experiences ignited my interest and continue to drive my quest to write and think about the place of faith in the public square. I put these passions into action as a voluntary case worker at Scottish parliament (2016) and then as Research Assistant at Theos think tank (March-Sept 2019).
Folks will often feel it is foolish to lay one’s cards on the table but there’s nothing I find more interesting than talking about what makes people tick.
I try and write first and foremost with an eye to the Christian tradition. My own part of the woods is Protestant, though broadly so (I have worshipped in Methodist, Church of Ireland and Baptist churches, was baptised in the Church of Scotland and currently worship in the Church of England, where my wife is a curate). I’d broadly describe myself as Reformed in the Cranmerian sense—I find great comfort, encouragement and challenge in the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer (I really buy into James KA Smith’s insight that we are liturgical creatures and that carefully developed and crafted liturgy shapes our habits, words and postures as disciples of Christ). I have a great interest in the world of the early Christians and the lives and thought of the Church Fathers and Mothers of the first three centuries, and beyond.
Politically, I would broadly describe myself as post-liberal with a soft-spot for small c-conservatism. Post-liberalism, which moves left on economy, right on culture and looks to the local and particular in governance, seems to offer a good analysis of the Western plight—rampant autonomy and individualism—and, especially when it draws on religious traditions, offers a way out of our current malaise. In MT Steiner’s useful typology, I’d probably most identify with centrist post-liberals in the Blue Labour and Red Tory tradition. Particularly influential on my thinking have been Giles Fraser, Mary Harrington and Jonathan Sacks, as well as David Goodhart and Roger Scruton.
Why am I writing?
This blog is an attempt to record, develop and test my thoughts which mainly cluster around the two big things that animate my life: (1) Christianity and the church (2) politics and culture.
As an historian by training, my skills and interests lie in the ways that past thinkers have discussed and continue to talk about religion, politics and the good life. More specifically, I am passionate about the role history might play in raising fresh questions about our current political moment and enlivening and resourcing contemporary debates surrounding the place of religion in society.
Twitter: I tweet at @simeonrburke
All views expressed are my own. I welcome engagement from all. I only ask that you show me the same courtesy which I have shown you by naming yourself.