Monday, 20 February 2012

Freed to Love One's Neighbour - Who is Anyone and Everyone

Today was John Hick's funeral. At lunch at Queen's, in the announcements, our Principal David Hewlett referred to this and my colleague John Hull a long standing friend of Hick  attended his funeral this afternoon. I wrote my Master of Theology dissertation on Hick back in 1996 critically comparing his Philosophy of Religious Pluralism to Raimundo Panikkar's.

As David said at lunchtime whilst many in the Christian theological world may have disagreed with Hick, the truth is that he was a truly remarkable human being.

It is perhaps fitting on this day of his funeral to quote the following passage from one of his later books The Fifth Dimension : An Exploration of the Spritual Realm.

The world religions all report that, as it affects humanity, the Real or Ultimate is benign and that we live in what is finally, from our point of view, a serendipitous universe. To become conscious in some degree of the eternally Real, through one of its humanly experiencable manifestations, is in that degree to be liberated from the anxious, grasping ego, and freed to love one's neighbour, who is anyone and everyone. We see something of the extraordinary possibilities of our own nature, when it becomes open to the Transcendent, in the lives of the saints or mahatmas of every tradition.....

The metaphysical dogmas about which the different religions differ so strongly, and sometimes violently, are legitimate speculations, but should not be absolutised, as infallible dogmas. In each religious and non - religious worldview, in so far as it is in alignment with the Real, we live within a true myth - a cosmic story which is not literally true but which nevertheless evokes an appropriate life response to the Real.

Because we experience the Real in benign forms we can be confident that the human potential is destined to be fulfilled and that this present life is therefore an episode within a much longer process. A series of further finite lives awaits us in which our deeper self, living through a series of concious egos, is formed in response to the contingencies of finite existence. In all that we do we are affecting, positively or negatively, our own future selves. Perhaps ultimately, with the fulfilment of the creative process, finite personality will have served its purpose and become one with eternal Reality, but we do not at present need to know the final future.

What we do need to know is how to live now. This is the way of love, witnessed to by the saints and mystics of all the great traditions.
John Hick The Fifth Dimension : An Exploration of the Spritual Realm (One World 2004) p 260

Undertsanding Islam: Love of God and Humanity - An Event for Islam Awareness Week

I blogged a few days ago about Islam Awareness Week next month. One particular event that may be of special interest to Christians is one organised by Ruth Tetlow of The Faith Encounter Programme. The event involves Muslims talking about their understanding of 'The Love of God and Humanity' with a response by a Christian. The details are in the poster above.  Ruth says of the event 'Do come and contribute your thoughts and experience'

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Addition to Resources for Reflecting Upon 'Justice for Palestine and Israel' Report

I have added a recent interview with Norman Finkelstein that has caused a bit of a stir in the BDS movement to the Debating Boycotts section of my post RESOURCES FOR REFLECTING UPON 'JUSTICE FOR PALESTINE & ISRAEL' REPORT & INTER FAITH RELATIONS

A good summary of the argument with some sensible commentary can be found at Judaism Without Borders

UPDATE More interesting perhaps is this video, a few days before where he argues fully and presents what might be seen from a 'pro Palestinian' perspective as a reasoned, principled and moral case for a two state solution based on 67 borders. If you don't have time to listen to the whole thing start about an hour in that's when he really gets going.

Norman Finkelstein in Edinburgh from Stuart Platt on Vimeo.

Islam Awareness Week March 12th -18th 2012

Coming up soon is this years' Islam Awareness Week. This year the theme is LOVE, a theme that will interest Christians no doubt. The official IAW website states

Every year, during Islam Awareness Week, we take the opportunity to try to bring to light various aspects of Islam that are misunderstood or unknown to most people. In the times that we live, we often find ourselves explaining that Islam is a religion of justice and peace. Many are increasingly curious about what Muslims stand for and what is important to them. The theme of IAW in 2012 is one that is perhaps overlooked by many, it is the concept of Love.

More on the theme can be read here

There is an interesting array of events in Birmingham  details of which can be found here

Monday, 13 February 2012

One Voice Visit to Birmingham

Last month I was involved in hosting a meeting at Queen's with two speakers from the OneVoice Movement to End the Israeli/Palestinian conflict - Daniel Moran from OneVoice Israel and Mohammad Asideh from OneVoice Palestine. The meeting at Queens was part of a wider tour that included meetings with interfaith groups, youth groups and schools, as well as with groups from Churches, Mosques and Synagogues. Daniel and Mohammad met with Muslim and Christian youth at The Feast project in Springfield and with older Christian activists at the Friends of Sabeel prayer group in Moseley. They met with  a Jewish youth group at the  Progressive Synagogue and school groups in Handsworth and elsewhere in the city.

Sharon Alsoodani of OneVoice Europe has written a report of the whole visit to Birmingham and Manchester including the meeting at Queens which can be viewed and downloaded here

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Faith, Hope & Love - A Sermon

This coming Lent I am running a course at Selly Oak Methodist Church called 'Walking God's Paths' looking particularly at Christian - Jewish Relations. As a preliminary to the course I am preaching twice at Selly Oak in February. Last Sunday was the first sermon on Faith Hope & Love looking generally at Christianity and Inter Faith relations. They record the sermons at Selly Oak and if you want to hear it you can download all 30 minutes!!! here. I am again Preaching at the 10.30 service on  Sunday 26th February

Friday, 10 February 2012

JOHN HICK (1922-2012)

Perhaps one of the greatest Philosophers of Religion of the late 20th Century John Hick died yesterday. Probably best known for his controversial Philosophy of Religious Pluralism his work covered many other areas of philosophy and theology from Theodicy to Christology. This interview with his personal friend and theological adversary Gavin D'Costa, given at a recent event celebrating Hick's work at Birmingham University summarises his contribution well.
UPDATE an interesting and friendly reflection on John Hick from an Evangelical perspective here