Monday, 12th November 2018Seminar Thursday 22 November 2018:
The Rainbow Bridge: Intimations of Immortality

This seminar took place on Thursday 22 November 2018, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room C
(D/TH107, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Revd Dr Susan Gabriel Talbot, Writer, worker for the Gettalife Project charity, Spiritual Director and Anglican sister (profilewebsite)

To watch the Lecture, please click on the video below:


This seminar will cover a consideration of aspects of human experience that are suggestive of the possibility of a transcendent realm; centring on visionary dream or altered states of consciousness that church history and historical theology might term as prophetic, i.e. a ‘living, numinous ‘word’ for the moment of particular significance to the individual or community. From the case-histories collected or studied, emerge powerful, evocative material suggestive of a many-layered world in which there are, as Peter Berger might affirm, ‘signals of transcendence’. These experiences of a numinous intensity and quality are also indicative of interconnections across time and space between human beings linked by kinship, compassion and at times a profound desire for wisdom and truth.

Of the contemporary accounts, some core material was drawn from primary data research collected in the first instance for a stand-alone documentary for a BBC radio 4 programme and was later added to in a doctoral research initiative at Manchester University. The Doctoral programme research drew material from qualitative ‘face to face’ interviews with a hidden population of those who had experienced such phenomena. They describe experiences felt by most interviewees to be an encounter with the numinous. These were not only visionary-dreams but included other modes of consciousness linked to prophecy, visionary dream and healing-in the spiritual sense- as well as some occasions of being shown or ‘called’ to a particular life. This core material has been added to as and when appropriate. Qualitative Interviews were also conducted with Vocations Advisors and Spiritual Directors. The final strand was a quantitative survey of the theological colleges within the UK, asking how they felt they had dealt with and were dealing with such material.


Revd. Dr Susan Gabriel Talbot, after a portfolio career, spanning the different but related disciplines of teaching, BBC radio 4 research and presentation for Woman’s Hour and the Religious Department as well as research at Manchester Victoria University in religion, ethnicity and Education, became one of the first tranche of women to become priested in the Anglican Church in 1994.

Her professional involvement within the Anglican Church included Parish Ministry in a the large Housing Estate as well pioneering, unexpectedly, a major renewal project in one of the most deprived areas of the inner city in Manchester. Later, in the Chester Diocese, she was asked to be Healing advisor for a period, as well leading a Supervision Group for those working in Spiritual Direction in the Chester Diocese.

Sue Talbot is Chair of Trustees and field-worker of the Gettalife project as well as being a writer and Spiritual Director. Sue trained in Spiritual Direction through the Loyola Hall Jesuit Retreat House and the Spidir system at Manchester Cathedral.

The work of which this presentation is a part, was granted a bursary by Gladstone’s library to enable the primary data from the doctoral research and material from other sources to be transmuted into book-form prior to the next step of moving it into the public realm, hopefully, via an intrigued Agent or publisher!