Being fully and mindfully alive

By Simon Barrow
April 6, 2011

Sometimes, as Pascale Palmer says in her moving blog article (, being caught in large chunks of the 24/7 media maelstrom for your professional life can be an enervating experience. But there are also moments of sheer gift, epiphany, revelation. One such for me was coming across this 7' 16" Twitvideo of Cornel West, philosophising grittily (and inspiringly) in the back of a New York taxi cab.

View the video clip here:

For those who don't know him, Professor Cornel West ( is many things in one: a philosopher and theologian rooted in the African-American experience, a political scientist, a cultural critic, a social activist, an organic intellectual, a music evangelist, a preacher of liberation Christianity, and an author. He has an extraordinary ability to synergise ideas, experience and inspiration - in many different (even contradictory) contexts.

For this reason - and in ways that sometimes offend against the monocultural aspirations of some in academe - he can enliven a lecture theatre, energise a TV programme, explode a pulpit... and illuminate a taxi journey. I last remembering hearing West expounding the radical meanings of the Gospel message to (relatively conservative) Black congregations in London, some years ago. The style was that of a revivalist declaimer - but the message was about dynamic movement for change and justice among people touched by the Spirit, not narrow moralism or morbid piety.

Anyway, I hope this clip brings some inspiration to you, as it did to me. The true 'life of the mind' is not inward-looking or isolationist - but alive, even (perhaps especially) in the face of decay and death.


(c) Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia.

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