Edict of Torda anniversary

prior to service torda

Inside the Catholic Church in Torda immediately prior to the service to mark the 450th anniversary of the Edict of Torda, much of which was simultaneously translated into English for visitors

Last year I was very pleased and honoured to be present in Torda, Transylvania, to attend the celebrations to mark the 450th anniversary of the Edict of Torda. I blogged about my experiences there and in Transylvania at the time and the blog can be read here:

Edict of Torda 450

In April 2018 I addressed the annual meeting of the Unitarian Historical Society at their meeting at Staverton near Daventry, Northamptonshire. The talk and illustrations were filmed by the Society and subsequently uploaded to YouTube in slightly edited form. But as this week just passed marks the 451st anniversary of the Edict of Torda on 13th January 2019 I thought I would add a link to it for anyone who has not seen it:

 

Another location for theological controversies in Transylvania in the sixteenth century was the cathedral of Gyulafehérvár, for a long time the centre of royal power in Transylvania and the resting place of the only Unitarian king in history. It is a very impressive late Romanesque building as these images which I took last year show:

gyulafehervar cathedral pews

gyulafehervar cathedral pillars

gyulafehervar cathedral pulpit

We were given a fascinating introduction to the cathedral and its history by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Gyulafehérvár who very graciously took us on an extensive guided tour. I was also pleased to get my photograph taken with both the Roman Catholic Archbishop and the Unitarian Bishop. Since I was also the Moderator of the Presbytery of Antrim at the time I thought that this made for an interesting trinity.

gyulafehervar 02

David Steers; György Jakubinyi, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Gyulafehérvár; Ferenc Bálint Benczédi, Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church, at the cathedral, Gyulafehérvár

unveiling the monument at torda

Unveiling the new monument to religious freedom at Torda – ‘Ad Astra’, the work of Liviu Mocan, a Romanian artist 

 

Please note that this blog now has its own domain name:

velvethummingbee.com

and I am pleased to say that it is also now ad-free.

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

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.

Unitarian College Cluj/Kolozsvár

College LS 05

Kolozsvar Unitarian HQ 01

Recently I have published a couple of ‘then and now’ shots featuring Edwardian postcards and contemporary photographs on this blog. One featured a view of a street in Toxteth and one some of the churches in Banbridge. This is another ‘then and now’ view but, in this case, it is taken from a glass lantern slide of the Unitarian College building in Cluj/Kolozsvár.

I have an interesting set of magic lantern slides depicting notable sites in Hungary and Transylvania, some of them showing groups of people at what must be some sort of gathering, possibly international. The purpose of the collection, which is in a poor state and which is probably not complete, is to illustrate something about the Unitarian history and life of that region. They are not easy to date exactly but this slide helps enormously.

The Unitarian College was built in 1901, then a very modern, state of the art building which is still impressive and giving excellent service as headquarters, College as well as senior and junior schools.

It is right next door to the First Unitarian Church which can just be seen on the left of the photograph. This helps us date the slides since the College was built in 1901 and the church had the top of its tower replaced in 1908. In that year Lajos Pákey, the city architect who was educated at the Unitarian College and was also responsible for many of the prominent buildings and monuments in the town, redesigned the tower in its present baroque form. I had always assumed that this feature dated to the 1790s when the church was built and had never seen a picture of the original tower before finding this slide.

By chance I took a picture in January 2018 from the same place as the photographer of 1901-1908, not surprising since there are not so many vantage points for such a large building. But here we have the same view, separated by about 110 years.

As time and circumstance permit I will try and digitise the glass lantern slides and post them on here.