The man who was Smart

February 14, 2008

I read with alarm the criticisms aimed at the late Ninian Smart ("Losing our religion", 31 January). I was one of the first students to join the Smart revolution at Lancaster in 1967, and during the three years I was in his department I don't recall his ever missing one lecture or one tutorial. He was an inspirational teacher and well ahead of his time.

He also designed and implemented the only departmental model of religious and theological studies that is compatible with the aims and objectives of a modern European university. Gavin D'Costa's claim that Smart "proposed a method that definitely and distinctively should not and could not involve faith as its starting point" is ridiculous. In seminars and tutorials led by Smart I sat beside believers, including fundamentalist believers, of most of the world religions. As an Irish Anglican from Belfast, it set me up for life, both professionally and personally.

In 40 years of academia, I have never met a more inspirational and enlightened teacher than Ninian Smart. I remember him most fondly.

David Green, Athens, Greece

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