Faith and Freedom – latest issue

Faith and Freedom

Volume 75, Part 1, Spring and Summer 2022, Number 194

The latest issue is now ready.

Professor John Tyndall lecturing at the Royal Institution, 1870

Our lead article is Howard Oliver’s examination of the remarkable career of John Tyndall and his influence on the relationship between science and religion. An outstanding physicist and an excellent lecturer he was also a glaciologist and an experienced mountaineer. Howard Oliver shows that by the 1840s he was a religious freethinker who had explored the role of faith in society in some depth. In 1847 his address in Belfast as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science caused a furore and opened up the debate about the relationship between religion and science, especially in the light of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Our cover picture depicts his portrait from the cover of Vanity Fair in 1872.

We are delighted too to be able include articles by:

Paul Richards, on the spiritual dimension of the works of Richard Wagner which looks at Wagner and anti-Semitism, myth and religious symbolism, Tristran & Isolde, the Ring Cycle, and Parsifal.

Ann Peart, on the response of Unitarians to ministering during the pandemic, an examination of the imaginative and creative ways in which Unitarian ministers have developed new forms of worship and activity during the Covid-19 crisis.

Feargus O’Connor, on the Unitarian contribution to Animal Welfare, by a well-known advocate for human rights who leads the only annual interfaith celebration of animals in the UK.

And Robert Oulton, on the theology and works of Cynthia Bourgeault, an intriguing Episcopalian theologian and priest who is also an expert in mysticism.

We continue to carry some fine reviews including:

Religious Experience – its nature, validity, forms and problems by Principal J. Ernest Davey MA DD, with a Foreword by John, Lord Alderdice

Author and playwright Philip Orr on a new book of writings by Principal J. Ernest Davey (the leading Irish Presbyterian scholar of the twentieth century, Principal of the main Irish Presbyterian theological college, who was accused of heresy) edited by Lord Alderdice, now Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College.

Mona Siddiqui, Human Struggle: Christian and Muslim Perspectives

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, one of the leaders of the inter-faith movement in Britain, on Human Struggle: Christian and Muslim Perspectives, the 2016 Gifford Lectures by Mona Siddiqui published last year.

Steven Pinker, Rationality: what it is, why it seems scarce, why it matters

Professor David Williams on the place of rationality in human life according to Steven Pinker’s new book.

Daniel Costley, Life’s Journey Creating Unitarian Rites of Passage

The editor’s discussion of Daniel Costley’s Lindsey Press book on constructing special services.

Cover of the issue

Subscription Details

An annual subscription for each volume (two issues) costs £16.00 (postage included) in the United Kingdom. Single copies can be ordered at a cost of £8.00 each (postage included). Cheques should be made out to Faith and Freedom and sent to the business manager:

Nigel Clarke,
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DN21 4GA.

It is also possible to pay online. For more details see our website: https://www.faithandfreedom.org.uk/subs.htm

Rev William Hamilton Drummond

Today’s worship, from Ballee, incorporates the second in our series that looks at significant Non-Subscribing Presbyterians in history. Today’s subject is William Hamilton Drummond who was born in Larne in 1778 and died in Dublin in 1865.

Drummond had a long and multi-faceted career. As a young man he supported the 1798 Rebellion and as a student at Glasgow University first turned his hand to verse, producing poems that supported the aims of the United Irishman. Leaving Glasgow without a degree he nevertheless progressed towards the ministry and was called to Belfast’s Second Congregation (see picture above) in 1800. In Belfast, as a minister, he was at the heart of the city’s educational, commercial, cultural and religious life. He produced a number of epic poems. Many of these now extolled the virtues of the Union of 1801 with Great Britain whilst the most famous of all was The Giant’s Causeway, published in 1811.

William Hamilton Drummond

In 1815 he was a candidate for the Chair of Logic and Belles Lettres at the Belfast Academical Institution. When he was unsuccessful, because so many of the electors were members of his own congregation who did not wish to see him leave, he left Belfast for Dublin instead, where he commenced a ministry of fifty years in which he achieved further notability as a theological controversialist, a biographer and a supporter of the rights of animals.

Sunday Worship, Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. Click on the video above after 9.45 am on Sunday, 13th June 2021

The service comes from Ballee. The reading is from Psalm 8 and is given by Mary Stewart at Downpatrick. Church organist John Strain plays the hymns Come sing praises to the Lord (Irish Presbyterian Hymnbook 113), Lord the light of your love is shining (Irish Presbyterian Hymnbook 621). Also played is Father I place into your hands.

The Rights of Animals. Published in London 1838.

Flow, LAGAN flow – though close thy banks of green,

Though in the picture of the world unseen…

Flow on fair stream – thy gathering waves expand,

And greet with joy the Athens of the land;

Through groves of masts thick crowding o’er thy tide,

A new Ilissus, roll in classic pride.

From The Giant’s Causeway, A Poem 1811

Worshipping Together, Sunday, 7th June

 

“There is nothing in all the world so like God as stillness”

Meister Eckhart

Banbridge front

This Sunday’s service comes from Banbridge and a big thank you goes to Ruby Bushby of Banbridge, who did the reading (1 Kings ch.19 v.4-13), John Strain, who played the organ (at Ballee), and Robert and Laura Neill who played the duet ‘Work for the Night is Coming’ on the bagpipes, being filmed overlooking the dramatic coastline of Lecale.

The theme of the service is silence and includes the following quotation from James Martineau:

Silence is in truth the attribute of God; and those who seek him from that side invariably learn that meditation is not the dream but the reality of life; not its illusion but its truth; not its weakness but its strength. .. All great things are born of silence. .. all beneficent and creative power gathers itself together in silence, ere it issues out in might. .. Silence came before creation, and the heavens were spread without a word. Christ was born at dead of night; and though there has been no power like his, ‘He did not strive nor cry, neither was his voice heard in the streets.’ Nowhere can you find any beautiful work, any noble design, any durable endeavour, that was not matured in long and patient silence, ere it spake out in its accomplishment.

And in the Psalms we read:

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honour;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

(Psalm 62 v.5-8.)

We uploaded two additional videos in the last week both of which deal with animals and the animal kingdom. The first one will definitely appeal to cat-lovers:

This is the story of Faith the Cat, a stray cat that found its way into a church in London during the Second World War. Faith survived a bomb that destroyed the church and rescued her kitten, later being awarded a silver medal. The story also includes two cat poems.

The second video, was uploaded on World Environment Day and features a prayer for the animal kingdom alongside a reading from Matthew ch.6 v.25-33 which accompany some of the marvellous wildlife photographs taken by Graham Bonham. Graham is a keen amateur photographer, some of his pictures have been used in Faith and Freedom Calendars, and these depict a wide variety of animals including a Great Crested Grebe (above), a red panda and a mouse in his conservatory.

Banbridge with Methodist church second

First Presbyterian (NS) Church, Banbridge. Next door is the Methodist Church.

Faith and Freedom 2019 Calendar

The Faith and Freedom Calendar for 2019 is now winging its way to all individual subscribers around the world. Additional copies can be had for a suggested donation of £5 (all of which goes to the Send a Child to Hucklow Fund). Email Nigel Clarke at faithandfreedom@btinternet.com if you would like to order one.

The Calendar is full of fantastic images celebrating the world of faith and the natural world, each month carrying a large illustration from around the world including Derbyshire Peak District, Northern Ireland (Armagh and Down), Malta (St John’s Co-Cathedral Valletta), Transylvania (Torockó and Bölön), and Macedonia (Lake Ohrid) as well as Graham Bonham’s brilliantly detailed pictures of plants and birds.

There is a scan of the cover at the top of this page, and of the back cover at the bottom and here are some of Graham’s images:

Flower Graham Bonham

March
Gerbera is a member of the daisy family and was named after Dr Trugott Gerber, an eighteenth-century German botanist and friend of Carl Linnaeus. The plant is native to the tropics and is commonly known as the African daisy. A perennial, it is attractive to insects and birds but resistant to deer. The picture was constructed by combining multiple images focused at different points into a single composite image.

 

blackbird

April
The common blackbird is a species of true thrush. RS Thomas’ poem ‘A Blackbird Singing’ cites “a suggestion of dark Places about it.” However it is not normally seen as a symbol of bad luck. In medieval times the trick of placing live birds under a pie crust just before serving may have been the origin of the nursery rhyme. A blackbird also featured on the UK 4d stamp in 1966.

 

Seeds Graham Bonham

September
The image of the dandelion seed head can be interpreted in many ways, explains Graham Bonham who created the focus-stacked composite image. “It could symbolize transience – the temporariness of existence: there one moment and blown away the next. Alternatively, it could represent fecundity – one bloom produces hundreds of potential new lives – or be about underappreciated beauty: even pesky ‘weeds’, which many people use ‘chemical weapons’ against (to the detriment of the environment), have beautiful aspects.”

 

Cover scan back 2019

Sefton Park Heron

In Liverpool recently I was pleased to get these pictures of the heron in Sefton Park. The heron seemed quite unperturbed by my presence and that of many other people quite nearby as he watched the lake for signs of a potential meal.

Sefton Park Heron 02

Sefton Park Heron 04

Sefton Park Heron 05

Sefton Park Heron 06

Sefton Park Heron 07

 

Animals and Faith and Freedom

In the latest issue of Faith and Freedom Clair Linzey contributes ‘Animal theology: a view from the periphery’. Clair is the Deputy Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and the article is based on a sermon she delivered in the Chapel of Harris Manchester College. In it she takes her lead from Jesus’s concern for the poor and Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff’s theology of liberation which extends concern for the poor and marginalised to the planet itself and its non-human inhabitants. She makes a case for concern for animal welfare to be moved from the margins of our thought and discourse to a more central place in our consideration for the sake of our own spiritual and personal well-being. It is well worth reading.

Those who attended the Old Students Association at Harris Manchester College in June will also have seen Nigel Clarke’s excellent presentation on the journal over the past twelve months. This included our own modest foray into animal matters with the appointment last year of Billy as the custodian of the Faith and Freedom archive.

Billy and the journals
Billy and the journals

Billy had initially done an excellent job in minding the archive and expressed evident delight at being appointed to such an illustrious role.

All safely gathered in
All safely gathered in

However, in more recent times he seems to have grown bored with this position and hints of dissatisfaction, indolence even, have crept into his demeanour as this candid picture illustrates: Billy02

This has led to calls for the position to be offered to Caspian, the cat. Caspian, however, indicated that he had other things to consider and was not at all minded to be tied down to such a position. His friend Rosie, however, has given it consideration and seems at home in a bookish world.

Rosie01

Time will tell if Rosie will prove suitable for this job. Caspian, however, declined to be photographed for this report and appears only in silhouette. Caspian shadow 01