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

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Faith and Freedom Number 186

Faith and Freedom (Volume 71 Part 1) Number 186, Spring and Summer 2018 is now ready and will be arriving with subscribers shortly. This issue includes the address delivered by Dávid Gyerő, deputy Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church, at the dedication of the Religious Freedom Memorial at Torda in Transylvania, Romania, on 13th January, 2018, that is the 450th anniversary of the promulgation of the Edict of Torda, one of the first expressions of religious toleration in European history. It also includes the full text of Faith Without Certainty in Uncertain Times the Keynote Address given at the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in April by Paul Rasor. This is a highly pertinent examination of the place of liberal religious thought in the current climate. Among his arguments Dr Rasor stresses reason:

 

We live in postmodern times where the idea of freedom of conscience might be twisted in a way that supports not the search for truth, but rather denies the possibility of shared truth. Have we liberals, with our emphasis on freedom of conscience, unwittingly contributed to the problem? How do we respond to this?…I think the answer lies in our emphasis on reason. Reason has always been a central feature of our liberal religious faith. At times we may have over-emphasized reason, but that doesn’t deny its importance. Historically it was the basis on which our forebears challenged outdated dogmas that did not fit with modern science, for example. Reason also plays an important role in our emphasis on the search for truth and meaning in our lives. In the post-truth society, in contrast, there is no room for reason. Instead of supporting our beliefs, reason now becomes a hindrance to them. This development is a threat not only to liberal faith, but to liberal democracy.  

 

Dr Rasor presents his suggestion of ideals and visions for religious liberals as a way towards progress in society.

 

Other articles include Helena Fyfe Thonemann’s examination of David Hume’s essay ‘Of Miracles’ and Professor James C. Coomer’s reflection on Jesus of Nazareth: A Quintessential Humanist:

 

What do we in the twenty-first century know about Jesus of Nazareth?  We only know what his friends said about him. There is no Jesus to know apart from his friends. He comes to us through his friends, or he does not come to us at all. His friends stand between us and him as barriers to the truth, or bearers of the truth… Jesus of Nazareth is quoted as having said that if one wanted to find contentment, one must look within oneself. The existential Jesus is, perhaps, the quintessential humanist.

 

Faith and Freedom is especially noted for the quality of its reviews of the latest books and this issue contains the following reviews:

Vincent Strudwick (with Jane Shaw), The Naked God: Wrestling for a grace-ful humanity.   Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, London, 2017

Rachel Mann, Fierce Imaginings: The Great War, Ritual, Memory and God,  Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, London 2017

both by Jim Corrigall.

Marianne Moyaert and Joris Geldhof, Ritual Participation and Interreligious Dialogue: Boundaries, transgressions and Innovations, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2016

by Marcus Braybrooke.

Hans le Grand and Tina Geels, It is all about your search for truth and meaning, not about our belief system: a new perspective for religious liberalism, privately published, Netherlands, 2016.

Mark D. Thompson, Colin Bale and Edward Loane, eds., Celebrating the Reformation: its legacy and continuing relevance, Apollos/Inter-Varsity Press, 2017

Wayne Facer, A Vision Splendid: the influential life of William Jellie: a British Unitarian in New Zealand , Blackstone Editions, Toronto, 2017

all by Andrew Hill

A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism, Volume 1 From the Beginning to 1899, Volume 2 From 1900 to the Present, Edited by Dan McKanan, Skinner House Books, Boston, USA, 2017

Gleanings from the Writing of Nicholas Teape, edited by June Teape, privately published, 2013

both by David Steers

For new subscribers this issue of Faith and Freedom will also be accompanied by a free copy of Unitarian Theology II, the new book containing the papers given at the Unitarian Theology Conference in Leeds in October 2017.

UT2 Cover

 

This offer will be available only while stock lasts. The book contains:

Wrestling, Resisting, Resting – different ways of responding to the Divine voice

by Ant Howe

Models of God and the Meaning of Love

by Jane Blackall

The Unchained Spirit: Kenotic Theology and the Unitarian Epic

by Lewis Connolly

Theology from Women’s Experience

By Ann Peart

Early Unitarians and Islam: revisiting a ‘primary document’

by Justin Meggitt

Dialogues of Faith: An Adamsian Approach to Unitarian Evangelism

by Stephen Lingwood

An annual subscription (two issues) costs £15.00 (postage included) and can be paid online at www.faithandfreedom.org.uk/subs.htm

If you subscribe now the latest issue of Faith and Freedom will be sent to you along with Unitarian Theology II.