Reviewing The Beautiful Mind

Rob and I have for a long time been musing the theological foundations as well as psychological structures of the human mind. It seemed compelling to us that any response to psychological suffering would be incomplete without a broader comprehension of God’s perspective of the mind that he created. The collaboration between St Mellitus and Mind and Soul in ‘The Beautiful Mind Conference,’ seemed to us to be the perfect synergy between these two fields.

Having studied under Graham Tomlin at Oxford I have always been impressed by his ability to make complex theology accessible for simpler minds like my own. His work, ‘The Provocative Church,’ reflected perfectly his passion to see society impacted by the transforming power of Christ and his church. As we explored the possibilities for a shared conference in a coffee shop by St Paul’s Cathedral, I felt in little doubt about the value of a gathering of people who shared a heart to encounter this power in the field of mental health.

It is one thing talking theoretically about the number of people affected by emotional and mental health issues. It is a completely different thing actually opening bookings to a conference. We were delighted that the 900 available places were sold out three weeks before the conference began but I am sure this says a lot more about the level need than the attractiveness of our publicity. The programme was our most ambitious of the three previous National Mind and Soul conferences and with speakers representing both Mind and Soul and St Mellitus the day was dense to say the least.

There were too many highlights to list here but the main stage talks by Joanna Collicutt McGrath was one of the most beautiful embodiments of both brilliant psychology and academic theology you could squeeze inside 40 minutes. Rob Waller was on usual sparkling form. There was however, a lot more going on here than what was said on the stage or in the seminar streams. A huge and diverse crowd of pastors, mental health professionals, carers, theologians and people suffering with emotion health issues were standing together in Jesus name. This always has been and always will be our greatest aim and highest objective.

Who stole the day for me? Well it was a very small Spanish Psychiatrist called Pablo Martinez. A man who embodies chronic suffering alongside contagious levels of hope and joy. His seminar and published work ‘A Thorn in the flesh,’ was a so Tomlinesque, brilliant theology, practically applied!

Download Talks, Slides, etc here

Rev Will Van Der Hart
Director Mind and Soul
Will Van Der Hart, 17/09/2010