Faith and Freedom, Spring and Summer 2020

The Spring and Summer issue 2020 of Faith and Freedom, (Volume 73, Part 1) issue 190 is now available.

Articles include:

Sacred Stories by MARGOT STEVENSON

In Sacred Stories Margot Stevenson explores the intersection between individual stories of the sacred and the canonical stories of religious traditions. Building on six real-life stories she examines how religious convictions, spiritual experiences cannot be reduced to formulas or dogmatic positions. Unpacking the story of Pentecost in the book of Acts she shows how rather than being a foundation story for a rigid hierarchical understanding of a monolithic church it has often been an inspiration for movements for individual freedom and social equality in widely different settings. Using this as a basis she argues for democratic model of spiritual engagement.

Civility in Public Life – can it be restored? by Rabbi Baroness JULIA NEUBERGER

Rabbi Julia Neuberger delivered the Vincent Strudwick lecture on Religion in Public Life in Oxford in November 2019, just before the British general election. In it she tackles the timely question – which dominated public life just a few short months ago – of whether civility in public life could be restored. With lockdown and the coronavirus this issue has slipped off the national radar for the time being but there is no doubt that once we return to some semblance of normality it will return to the fore. Rabbi Neuberger counters the coarsening of public debate and the frequent abuse and threat of violence that many in the public eye face with the Jewish tradition of Derech Eretz, ‘the way of the earth’, following ways of courtesy rooted in but not dependent on religious practice.

The Sovereignty of Good and the Kingdom of God – a view from the hospital waiting-room by FRANK WALKER

In the Sovereignty of Good and the Kingdom of God – a view from the hospital waiting-room the Rev Frank Walker gives a very personal and moving account of his response to his late wife’s cancer diagnosis and ties that in to the care given by John Bayley to his wife Iris Murdoch who wrote ‘The Sovereignty of Good’ and suffered severely with Alzheimer’s disease towards the end of her life. In such human responses to tragedy Frank finds ‘the Good’, something not far from the Kingdom of God.

Spiritual modelling with the Findhorn Foundation by RALPH CATTS

Ralph Catts considers spirituality as the means of making meaning in life and providing the framework for social action and finds synergy within the practices of the Findhorn Foundation and Unitarian communities. Working from the experiences of groups of Unitarians who participated in the communal spiritual life of the Findhorn Foundation in 2018 he examines whether this has influenced their spirituality as part of Unitarian communities and finds that Findhorn Unitarian Experience Week allows for spiritual modelling within a permanent spiritual community while being enriched by input from a sympathetic although distinct spiritual tradition.

Images of Gertrude von Petzold by DAVID STEERS

The editor looks at images of the Rev Gertrude von Petzold, the first woman minister of an organised denomination in Britain who began her ministry in Leicester in 1904. Her entry into the ministry created an opportunity for photographers to do something that had never been done before – to photograph a woman minister. One particular photograph gained great fame and was widely used (see above) but other representations were also considered which are discussed in this short article, complete with illustrations, including the striking cover of this issue.

This article – complete with additional illustrations – can also be read online on this blog. Click here to read it.

 

Books reviewed:

Both Here, and Beyond

Stephen Lingwood, Seeking Paradise: A Unitarian Mission For Our Times, Lindsey Press, London 2020, pp 142, ISBN 978-085319-094-3. £10.00 pbk.

Reviewed by JIM CORRIGALL. [The full text of Jim’s article can be read on the Faith and Freedom website here]

‘THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK OF UNITARIAN THEOLOGY IN BRITAIN FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS’ – Jim Corrigall

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The fountain of sweet and bitter water

Ann Peart (ed.), Unitarian Women. A Legacy of Dissent, Lindsey Press, London, 2019, pp 241. ISBN number is: 978-0-85319-092-9. £10 pbk.

Reviewed by MÁRIA PAP.

Unitarian Women

 

‘A time when new life will break through’

Marjorie Dobson, Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell, London, 2019, pp 165. ISBN 978-0-85249-959-7. £15.95 ppk.

Reviewed by STEPHANIE BISBY.

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The Dean of the Interfaith Movement

Helen Hobbin, Afternoon Tea with Mary and Marcus, Braybrooke Press, Abingdon, OX14 3EN,  2019, pp 154, ISBN 978-0-244-96888-5, £12.95.

Reviewed by PETER B. GODFREY.

Mary and Marcus cover

 

The Gospels, spirituality and photography

Peter Brain, The Knowable God, Circle Books, Alresford, 2019, pp 143. ISBN 978 1 78904 £12.99 pbk.

Reviewed by LENA COCKROFT.

N. Micklem, On the Lookout, Matador, Kibworth Beauchamp, 2019 (9, Priory Business Park, Wistow Road, Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicestershire LE8 0RX), pp.45. ISBN. 978 1789017 519. £7.99.

Reviewed by LENA COCKROFT.

Philip J. Richter, Spirituality in Photography, Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 2017, pp. 120. ISBN 978-0-232-53293-7. £9.99 pbk.

Reviewed by LENA COCKROFT.

 

Christianismi Restitutio

L. Goldstone, N. Goldstone, Out of the flames, Broadway Books, New York, 2002, pp 368. ISBN: 978–0-7679–0837–5. $24.95.

Reviewed by BARRIE NEEDHAM.

 

Interfaith worship and prayer

Christopher Lewis and Dan Cohn-Sherbok (eds.), Interfaith Worship and Prayer. We Must Pray Together. With a Foreword by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London and Philadelphia, 2019, pp.296. ISBN 978 1 78592 120 9. £19.99 pbk.

Reviewed by DAVID STEERS.

Interfaith

 

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Faith and Freedom Number 187

The latest issue of Faith and Freedom (Autumn and Winter 2018, Volume 71 Part 2,  Number 187) is now available.

The front cover has a self-portrait of Edward Lear as the ‘Archbishoprick of Canterbury’ with his cat Foss which relates to Howard Oliver’s article Beyond the Nonsense: Edward Lear and his Writings on Religion and Faith, a rare examination of the religious thought of this unique artist. Other articles include Barrie Needham’s exploration of language, reason and faith in Mysteries Too Deep for Words; Dan C. West’s For Fear of the New, Missing the God of Surprises looks at how we respond religiously to the destructive contemporary challenges that are emerging in society on both sides of the Atlantic; Frank Walker makes a distinction between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ Christianity in What has Christianity ever done for us?; and Peter B. Godfrey recounts his experiences and memories of A Theological Student at Oxford 1953 to 1956.

As always the journal is richly supplied with reviews, including two review articles:

Alastair McIntosh, Poacher’s Pilgrimage – An Island Journey, Birlinn, Edinburgh, March 2018, pp 285, ISBN 9781780274683.  £9.99 Pbk. Reviewed by Jim Corrigall. An insightful evaluation of this book informed by an interview Jim conducted with the author.

Unitarian Theology II. Papers given at the Unitarian Theology Conference, Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds October 2017. Edited by David Steers. (Faith and Freedom, 2018). ISSN 0014-701X. Reviewed by Bob Janis-Dillon who gives a close examination of the supplement which accompanied the Number 186 of Faith and Freedom.

Other books reviewed are:

Derek Guiton A Man that Looks on Glass: Standing up for God in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FeedARead Publishing, 2015, pp 266. ISBN: 978-1-78610-232-4. Reviewed by Stephen Lingwood.

Rachel Hewitt, A Revolution of Feeling: The Decade that Forged the Modern Mind, Granta, 2017, pp 560. ISBN 978 1 84708 573 3. Hbk £25. Reviewed by Ernest Baker.

Jane Shaw, Pioneers of Modern Spirituality: The Neglected Anglican Innovators of a ‘Spiritual but not Religious’ Age,  Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2018, pp 117, ISBN 978-0232053286-9. £12.99 pbk. Reviewed by Jim Corrigall.

Mike Aquilina and Grace Aquilina, A History of the Church in 100 Objects, Ave Maria Press/Alban Books. Notre Dame/Edinburgh, 2017, pp 424. ISBN 9781594717505. £20.99 pbk. Reviewed by David Steers.

Simenon Honoré, Education for Humanity, Spirit of the Rainbow, Suite 70, 2, Mount Sion, , Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1UE, pp88, ISBN 978-0-9566767-5-7, PB £5, plus £2 p&p. Reviewed by Peter B. Godfrey.

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Faith and Freedom: Autumn and Winter 2017

 

Faith and Freedom

Autumn and Winter issue 2017

Volume 70 Part 2. Number 185.

In the latest issue of Faith and Freedom Professor Emily Klenin breaks new ground with an exploration of the writings of David Delta Evans, the Flintshire-born son of a miner who went on to become a Unitarian minister, printer, editor of the Christian Life, novelist and poet in English and Welsh. Emily looks in detail at his 1913 novel Daniel Evelyn, Heretic, which is both a fictionalized account of his childhood and youth and a confession of faith. She draws out the importance of this long-forgotten novel in the religious and social landscape of England and Wales at the time. It’s a fascinating account of a remarkable man who has been long neglected.

Stephen Lingwood develops ‘A Unitarian Theology of Tradition’. He asks “in what sense do we claim religious continuity in a non-creedal tradition that allows the freedom of religious evolution? In what sense is the Unitarianism of the past the same thing as the Unitarianism of the present?” These are important questions for Unitarians to grapple with and drawing on sources such as James Luther Adams, Susan B. Anthony, George Lindbeck and Alasdair MacIntyre and taking scientific method as an analogy he gives a compelling explanation of the way Unitarians can understand their own tradition.

In ‘Manchester College Oxford Old Students Association – The Early Years’ Alan Ruston uncovers the early history of the OSA and describes its birth pangs and early development, concluding with its creation of Faith and Freedom and the encouraging observation: “F&F has proved to be a successful long-lasting journal of mainly intellectual content representing the Unitarian position, which is now in its seventieth year. Its creation can be considered the single most important initiative to have been undertaken by MOSA.”

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Our review section is extensive and wide-ranging. Graham Murphy reviews Diarmaid MacCulloch’s All Things Made, New Writings on the Reformation (Allen Lane/Penguin). It’s an excellent review of a timely and important book, Graham writes: “MacCulloch guides us around rooms of the past, noting progress, noting dystopia, and here and there a glimmer of light: ‘a Declaration in the parish church of a town called Torda, a place which should be more of a centre of pilgrimage than it is’ – Toleration.”

Stephen Lingwood’s incisive review of Frederic Muir’s edited collection Turning Point: essays on a new Unitarian Universalism (Skinner House) draws out the ‘trinity of errors’ identified there, including exceptionalism, an aversion to authority and, especially, individualism. This latter tendency is the root of the philosophy of Samuel Smiles and in his fascinating review of John Hunter’s The Spirit of Self-Help. A Life of Samuel Smiles (Shepheard-Walwyn) Bob Janis-Dillon shows how the sometime attender at Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds adapted Emersonian individualism to his ‘Self-Help’ idea, “a mode of thinking we need to challenge if we are to advance as a species”.

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, joint president of the World Congress of Faiths, looks at three books that inform on the place of Islam in modern Britain (James Ferguson, Al-Britainnia, My Country: A Journey Through Muslim Britain, Bantam Press; Richard Sudworth, Encountering Islam: Christian Muslim Relations in the Public Square, SCM Press; Rahim Snow, Remember Who You Are, 28 Spiritual Verses from the Holy Quran, Remembrance Studio), an essential starting point for those who wish to open up dialogue and debate in this area. Marcus also provides two reviews of works that deal with Jewish–Christian relations and pluralism – Tony Bayfield (ed.), Deep Calls to Deep: Transforming Conversations between Jews and Christians (SCM Press) and Hans Ucko (ed.), Thanking Together: On Pluralism, Violence, and the Other (Journal of Ecumenical Studies).

In his review of what may be Don Cupitt’s “last and most important book” (Ethics in the Last Days of Humanity, Polebridge Press) Frank Walker lifts about fifteen random insights from the book. These all bear careful reflection. One takes up the theme of Muslim relations (“Western scholars should publish fully critical studies of the origins and the developing theology of the Qur’an and of the hadith”). In another Don Cupitt asserts: “Ordinary people will need a religious discipline like that of the Buddhist sangha to help people to calm their violent passions and to think rationally about how best to live.” It’s difficult not reflect on the plight of Muslims in Myanmar on reading this. But it is an important book concerned, as Frank says, “in the most down-to-earth way” with the end-times.

Faith, hope and healing are the themes of three reviews. Pat Frankish reviews The Enduring Melody (Darton, Longman Todd) by Michael Mayne about one man’s struggle with cancer, “a powerful and painful book, with a thread of reality and hope”. Christian Wiman’s book My bright abyss: meditations of a modern believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is similarly a tale of a struggle with cancer, in this case that of a poet who tries to make sense of religion and God through his suffering. It is reviewed by Barrie Needham who draws out many profound insights from it. Barrie writes: “Faith which is self-centred does not, according to Wiman, recognise God impinging on this world through love. ‘The only way to ascertain the truth of religious experience: it propels you back towards the world and other people, and not simply more deeply within yourself’.” Andrew Hill also reviews a new book of hymns: Hymns of Hope and Healing: words and music to refresh the church’s ministry of healing (Stainer & Bell), a modern, progressive collection of hymns which covers a subject index of more than 250 topics. Andrew mentions some of them but those listed alphabetically from A to D give an idea of the books radical emphases: “ageing, balance, birth, carers, dementia, DNA, drugs…”

So many of the reviews are about finding and connecting with the divine in one way or another and Jim Corrigall reviews Lorraine Cavanagh’s new book Waiting on the Word: Preaching Sermons that connect people with God (Darton, Longman and Todd). Jim quotes the author “Sermon preparation is a matter of waiting in the pain of others, rather than worrying what we are going to say.” Finally Peter Godfrey reviews Crocodiles do not swim here (Avian House) by John Smith Wilkinson who looks at doctrine, Biblical interpretation and religious understanding from fresh angles.

If you would like to take out an annual subscription to Faith and Freedom you can do so online at http://www.faithandfreedom.org.uk/subs.htm or by sending a cheque for £15 to the Business Manager, Nigel Clarke., 16 Fairfields, Kirton in Lindsey, Gainsborough, Lincs, DN21 4GA.