Dr. Mike Newby studied religion, philosophy and education at London University, taught in schools and lectured at Kingston University before retiring to become a chauffeur, estate manager and, latterly, founder of communal garden plots in Dorset. He finds pleasure in travel, gardening, collecting, model making and painting, but especially in his grandchildren, for whom his latest book is initially intended. Mike has to date, seven grandchildren, three being in England, one in Queensland and three in Melbourne. He writes:
“ I have written two books on the most important issues of human life, namely `what is human well-being?` and `what is human maturity?` There is a philosopher in us all, deeply concerned to think and act for the best in our short lives. These works represent a rare genre, sharing a digest of the work of great people, both widely and hardly known, who embody the profound attitudes and values we all need.
Only since my retirement on health grounds have I had time and space to express a powerful and conciliatory view on human fulfilment and human maturity of living. For this I have drawn on my own life of faith, education, loss and personal revival. I want to remain scholarly without becoming obscure in my works. I write because I cannot imagine not doing so: the message is a heartfelt expression of love to family, friends and the wider society in a world where the landscape of true maturity is fast being obliterated. My hope is that a few might read and love this writing.”
Newby`s books are fully informed, with strong bibliographies, and apply important philosophical ideas to the serious business of living effective lives. His examples and illustrations enhance the attractiveness of his current book, `On Maturity`, which develops and applies the groundwork in`Eudaimonia`. It has enhanced readability, with picture-and-text boxes and includes 30 illustrations! Everywhere we are not growing up as we might, though we live longer than ever before! Newby dares go beyond de Botton towards a visionary account of human inner growth in the global age. Warning: These topics are the most serious you`ll ever consider – that`s why they will never become popular!
My journey begins knowing that we can be physically mature yet behave like children. Conversely, we can be physically immature, very young or physically stunted, yet be mature in manner of life. What might this mean and how can upbringing and education enable us and our progeny to live more grown-up lives? What is maturity? Is it but rarely attained in the developed world? Is it specific to each cultural tradition, or are there shared features indicating its meaning for the global world of today and tomorrow? I would not profess to have all the answers. On the other hand, to have none, even to dismiss the question as itself immature, is no option. There seems little point in lamenting human immaturity if we don`t see ways to transcend it, and to contrast maturity with popular cultures which, at least in the `developed` world, so pervasively harm people`s lives.
Ill-thought-out, popularly assumed ideas of mature living abound in the so-called `developed` world. Indeed, in many ways the rich world has reversed its own growth through greed, self-adulation and complacency. We appear not prepared to moderate, let alone sacrifice, a lifestyle built upon possessions, rivalry, celebrity, and various means of instant gratification. Remove the presence of threat from our daily lives and we are tempted to cease contemplation altogether: so ubiquitous yet unperceived are the forces of mis-education that threaten our present and our children`s future. Refusal to think critically and imaginatively lies at the heart of all this.
This work comes from a life of earnest inner journeying. Whether I like it or not, without facing certain questions and pursuing ways of answering them, I am hardly on the path to maturity. If I ask myself `How am I doing?` the answer will often be found easily. I examine the task and apply its criteria of success, thus arriving at a conclusion. This helps me know how to improve my performance. By contrast, there are questions about how I am doing as a human being in a most general sense. `What`, for example, `is my life doing for the world and its future?` `How shall I be remembered by my loved ones?` `What have I shown others by my life?` `What and who did I love?` `Did I know how to love at all?` `What were the qualities I possessed?` `Was I really a person who gave others joy?`
The other day I walked through the forest in Queensland with daughter and grandson. We reached a giant tree, a strangling fig. It had begun as a small creeper, and grown slowly, leaning upon and feeding from its host tree. After many years the host died and rotted, the fig now totally self-supporting with a void where once its victim lived. Something similar is happening in human culture today, as we are losing our maturity to forces which, mercifully, it still remains in our power to overcome.
This work is a development arising from my `Eudaimonia: Happiness is not Enough`, published in October 2011 by Troubadour/Matador, which was produced in some haste, as I was becoming incapacitated with a recurring heart condition. I am now privileged to have received an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, and so the work proceeds with less haste! My lasting thanks go to the team at Dorset County Hospital for giving me new life! I hope the only sign of decrepitude to be found is my use of two acronyms – LEAs and LDAs, for Life Enhancing and Life Diminishing Activities.
I remain forever indebted to those daughters, friends and strangers who have drawn attention to the qualities, errors and ambiguities in `Eudaimonia…`, who have reduced any lingering vestiges of self-importance and who have encouraged me. I also thank Hilary Power for the cover photo and Meg Breckon for permission to include an image of her late husband Don`s painting. I thank Dr. Stephan Kemperdick of the Staatliche Museum of Berlin for permission to include van der Weyden`s 1435 portrait, and the National Gallery of America for the artist`s 1460 portrait. (These really must be viewed in full colour on the Web).
I am also highly indebted to Richard and James Fitt and staff of Authors Online for their hard work and patient good humour in delivering this offspring of mine. Should it `fall stillborn from the press` it would not be down to them.
My books simply had to be written as the climax of a life dominated by the unseen struggle to make sense of it all. Authoring these leaves me open to foolish accusations of arrogance and vanity, all of which I would reject. These are the contribution of one who has a desire to share his treasures with others. I now feel life`s struggle has led to a place of joy and inner peace, not needing hope beyond the grave.
`How mature is the one`, you might well ask, `who dares to write this stuff?` I have learned from a story I first heard on the BBC Home Service in the early nineteen fifties, when I was a mere lad. An old Rabbi was addressing the young at a bar mitzvah. `When I was young,` he said, `I determined that one day I would convert the whole world to the faith. But when I was older, I hoped that I might at least convert some people. Now I am an old man, I have but one aim - to convert myself.`
If you know me, you`ll know that this remains `work in progress`, but there is a vision here that has to be shared.
Dorchester, England 2013
(Troubadour/Matador Oct.2011 ISBN 978-1848767-508) £12.99 from bookshops, Amazon and less on Ebay. Not a Kindle book. Net receipts all to Orbis UK, flying hospital, healing blindness across the world.
..a book to inform, inspire, cheer-up and challenge. It unravels the tangle of confused ideas that deters us from bothering to find a way through to what we want our lives to be about.
No subject could be more important, and few modern works deal with it that are not religious, dogmatic or furtively proselytizing, ....written because few have done so in a readable, critical and practical manner.
“We are beyond the age of belief and unbelief, the old religiosity is fast dying, and a new, world-centred spirituality is dawning.”
('Authors Online', April.2014 ISBN 978-0-7552-0737-4) Price £9.99. Also available as e-book on Kindle. All royalties to WaterAid UK.
A book to revive and enrich our lives! Whether we're tired of failure or bored with success we need a regular spring-clean in our inner life. We all need to grow up! "What is human maturity for this global age?" has to be just about the most vital and neglected question for today.
Clear, simple and above all, practical answers abound. This unique, but meaty and highly readable, work brings key ideas to non-specialist readers. It includes over 30 illustrations and exciting text-boxes and has a valuable bibliography. Ideal for the student teacher, carer or counsellor!
Here the author develops his previous work and focuses upon upbringing and lifelong education, from nursery to old age. He claims that the very idea of education, as the development of mind, is being undermined by political interference which erodes the love of learning in favour of far less worthy aims in life. He calls upon an array of the greatest minds of past and present to express clearly the highest human values that transcend the harmful ambitions that so readily engulf our being.. Our lives grow through contemplative activity that is at the heart of true education from infancy to old age.
Maturity is the development of virtues to be established through good parental nurture and schooling. The shared aim is to learn to understand and love ourselves, our folk, our community and the living world. This is clouded and lost thanks to the alien forces that have come to dominate homes, schools and the workplace. We need to put our quest for wealth, success, freedom, and status, important though they may be, on the back burner and travel inwardly for a change.. A revolutionary understanding of tradition, religious and secular, is seen to be crucial to re-learning qualities of reverence, penitence, forgiveness and sacrifice, all of which must shrug off the dead orthodoxy of past ages. Texts from ancient past to the ever-changing present take on new power as life-giving fiction, challenging how we live and what for. Here is radical understanding that can enable the wisdom of ages to be a saving force for us today.
NOTE: the Kindle version of On Maturity has crazy text font and size changes, which make it much less meaningful, and all references are placed at the end of each chapter, rather than the bottom of the page, making reading harder than the printed copy.
Reading On Maturity is giving me a lot of pleasure, peace, arguments with myself and society, memories of my own childhood, experience as a parent, my philosophy classes at the lycée ... and is putting everything back into perspective. This is not a book you tick as "read", you keep it within reach...
This book has kept me really interested throughout. Through reading it, my thoughts have been taken back to my childhood, family experiences, education etc. and in due course to answering the question posed in the latter stages of the book. So many of the author's comments chimed with my feelings of humankind at the moment and I would like to encourage as many readers as possible to make the time to read it...
You can contact the author on Facebook or via the form on this page. He can supply a limited number of 'Eudaimonia..' at £5.99 plus £2.00 postage. Use Paypal if possible. If you have any questions please use this form.