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Alan McManus, M.Theol.(hons), M.Phil, PGDE, M.Litt., Ph.D., is a freelance academic, novelist, playwright and dramaturg. His doctoral thesis, Alchemy at the Chalkface: Pirsig, Pedagogy and the Metaphysics of Quality, is on the work of the creative and contrarian American Philosopher, Dr Robert M. Pirsig and surprisingly accessible:
A very interesting read regardless of knowledge. I came into this with only a little understanding of Pirsig and was worried that it would be over my head. Even though there were many areas and references which went a bit over my head, I was still able to learn a lot thanks to the many connections made by the author and their elegant integration into the text. The writing style is very academic, but at the same time very accessible. I would recommend this to anyone ; from someone with no previous knowledge of Pirsig or metaphysics, to experts in the field. An absolute essential read though for anyone in education looking for a interesting and original perspectives at their chosen field. There is undoubtedly something for everyone. (Monkey Junk on Amazon)
Only Say The Word: Affirming Gay and Lesbian Love, published by Christian Alternative in 2013, is the first in a series of considerations of the ethical implications of his reading of Pirsigian metaphysics (ontology) and has been received warmly:
This is a very different book, its intent is to offer forward a more merciful reading of scripture and theology that affirms homosexuality rather than suffering or rejecting homosexuality. In the book we are introduced to a rainbow of churches, each church preceding a chapter that offers forward a different perspective of reception that gay or lesbian people may come across. These are all quite readily recognised positions – these short introductions to the rainbow churches are quite interesting in themselves given they are written in the first person with gentle commentary on issues that may be at heart here. From these we then move onto more considered arguments, discussions or contemplations that help to develop the feelings and understandings of those from the gay community as they endeavour to make understood the position they are often in… I'm not sure the book entirely achieved its aim of "Affirming Gay & Lesbian Love" but for me the most moving piece is the ABC of the Cloud of Witnesses we encounter in the Violet Church on page 54. This is something that for me should be read and reflected on by everyone, regardless of gender or opinion, and makes this book important because if we can't be moved by this then there is something fundamentally wrong with how we understand the command to love others as ourselves. (Melanie Carroll, The Good Bookstall, on the publisher's website)
The author accompanies the reader in a sophisticated network of reflections on homosexuality, on violence, or child abuse, through an extremely eclectic and original approach of cultural references ranging from ethics to spirituality, from philosophy to metaphysics, from philology to biblical exegesis. Creative writing is not lacking: into the nonfiction prose the author interweaves a "rainbow of churches", one for each colour of Pride, seven different denominations presented on the basis of how the gay community is welcomed inside. A book that requires careful reading and some little effort from the reader, but which at the same time offers a new way, firstly logical and rational, then spiritual, of tackling issues that, commonly regarded as taboo, are often set aside. (Luca, review on Goodreads)
His ethnographic work, Dreaming Anarchy: A Shut-Eye View of a Utopia, has also been highly praised:
In a bravura narrative of his own highly personalised odyssey through graduate studies, McManus places receptivity to learning at the centre of qualitative research. but it is a receptivity open to traditions of thought, study and self-examination often marginal to Western rationalism in even its most postmodern and ludic forms. Accessing dreams, esoteric knowledge, literature, myth, and a metaphysics, McManus seeks to raise transgression to the level of an art tempered only by the moral seriousness of the researcher-adventurer invested in the fortunes of the marginalized and the forgotten.
(Prof. Robert A. Davis, Head of School of Education, University of Glasgow, in the Introduction to the "International Handbook of Interpretation in Educational Research" 2015)
Only Say the Word is followed by Life Choice: the Ethics and Ideologies of Abortion and Trans/Substantiation: The Metaphysics of Transgender. His latest book, Silence & Dissent: Expert Doubt in the AIDS Debate, includes the Pirsigian topics of the character of scientific researchers, data selection and rhetorical strategies used to support or oppose ideas. He has also published articles on political philosophy and WW1 remembrance in the online journal, Citizenship, Social and Economics Education. Some of his non-fiction work, such as Angels with Hairy Faces: Spiritual Reflections of Dogs, has a lighter touch:
Having lived with dogs most of my life, I found this plain speaking book an insightful read. Dr McManus knows his dogs! For someone thinking of having a dog or for the new dog owner, I think it's an especially helpful book to start off with. So do buy a copy for yourself or anyone else you know in the latter position!!! It also shows us why we should appreciate sentient animals (and especially dogs) much more than we humans tend to do. (Dr. Anthony McWatt on Amazon)
Alan McManus is the founder of Tent City Theatre Company which, with a cooperative company of about fifty intelligent, creative and initially mostly un(der)employed friends, together with their sister student group, POLIS, played on SubCity Radio, Sunny Govan Radio; at Doune the Rabbithole, The Kinning Park Complex, The Pearce Institute, St Mary’s Cathedral and for Philanthrobeats at The Flying Duck – all in and around Glasgow. In doing so, they have learned new skills, honed old ones, have fun, raise their self-esteem and make theatre more popular. Mrs Atkins Remembers is his first play for radio and is preceded by Jésus de Glasgow (in homage to Jésus de Montreal) and Shock Doctrine. A graduate of the Master of Literature: Playwriting & Dramaturgy degree course at the University of Glasgow, on rejoining the community theatre company of his youth, he played several supporting roles in Anne Downie’s Parking Lot in Pitsburgh then a main role in the full-length 3-hander, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, by Frank McGuinness.