“I immediately realised that mine was just one narrative; a very linear one at that. And in order to really understand the conflict it was necessary to discard all caricatures and prejudices that I was coming with, to live and listen in the moment, to try to understand on the most basic of human levels what people longed for in their hearts, what parents prayed for their children and only then did I appreciate how relatable everybody’s struggles were to one another.” (Male, Muslim)
In January of this year the Faith Centre took a group of 18 LSE students of different religions and none to Israel/Palestine for just over a week.
Our aim was to learn more about the complexities of the Israel/Palestine conflict, especially its religious dimensions, which are often neglected in political scientific analysis. We also wanted to carefully consider how our own religious commitments, drawn into dialogue with those of different traditions, may be a resource for peacemaking and conflict resolution in the future.
Soozy Nesom, LSE Undergraduate Student, reviews her experience being filmed by Songs of Praise on an interfaith baking workshop.
“Over the past 50 years, Sunday late afternoon British TV has aired Songs of Praise. This show broadcasts contemporary religious events while a congregation sings hymns or more contemporary worship songs. On Sunday 22nd November, a team of four Christian students from the LSE, along with the Revd. Dr. James Walters participated in interfaith week on the show. We engaged in inter-faith dialogue whilst cooking food for a local homeless shelter.
On Thursday of reading week, we headed to the new JW3 center on Finchley road to participate in the Jewish community’s Mitzvah day. This day happens every year, when a range of volunteers undertake projects for those in need in their local community. As part of this event they invited us, as Christians, to talk about our faiths whilst cooking faiths from both religions. This is because in all faiths, food represents an important symbol of hospitality. We cooked apple strudel (Jewish dish) mince pies (Christian dish), and a vegetable soup for a local homeless center at Kings Cross Methodist church. Continue reading
Janis Wong, President of LSE Women Leaders of Tomorrow Society, offers her views on the Women’s Interfaith Panel discussion about Religion and Female Leadership, hosted by the LSE Faith Centre as part of Interfaith Week.
From Left to Right: Sana Musharraf, Fabiana Barticioti, Nava Ashraf, Rebecca Hardie, Lindsay Simmonds, Mandy Ford, Navpreet Atwal.
Last week, as part of LSESU Interfaith Week, the LSESU Jewish Society, in association with LSESU Women Leaders of Tomorrow Society, organised a Women’s Interfaith Panel. Exploring what gender and faith meant to them, the speakers provided a great amount of insight not only in regards to their personal relationship with faith, but also how their beliefs provide the foundation to the work which they do.
From an academic perspective, Lindsay Simmonds, a graduate of the LSJS Susi Bradfield Women Educators’ Fellowships and PhD candidate at the LSE, discussed her work with the Cambridge Co-Exist Leadership Programme. Having explored a wide range of religions during her upbringing, much of her work today focuses on promoting respectful, deep and long-lasting friendship and collegiality between religious leaders, regardless of their faith community. Starting from the bottom-up, Lindsay emphasised the importance of education to encourage acceptance and understanding the ever-evolving meaning of individual faiths. Continue reading
As part of Interfaith Week, The Faith Centre brought LSE students of different faiths together to give Primary School Assemblies. They each showed an item that helps them to pray and reflected upon how their beliefs encourage them to respond to challenges and conflicts in the world today. George Fattal, an undergraduate Government student at LSE, shares his experience of presenting in assemblies.
“As a first year, I had experience of using the Faith Centre at LSE to help me practice my faith. However, until this week I had never used it to help give back to the local community.
On Tuesday, three of us from different faiths went to a primary school in King’s Cross. As well as myself (a member of the Jewish Society) there was a member of the Muslim society and the Protestant Society. Unlike many interfaith activities that I had participated in before the aim was not to enrich our own understanding but to help spread the importance of interfaith activities to others. Continue reading
The Faith Centre took a group of LSE students to hear Paul Mason, Economics Editor for Channel 4 News, discuss his new book “PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future” at St Paul’s Institute.
Anton Jarrod, LSE postgraduate student in Social Policy, shares his thoughts on a panel discussion between Paul Mason, Ann Pettifor (Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics) and Phillip Blond (Director of ResPublica), chaired by Elizabeth Oldfield (Director of Theos).
“What will come after capitalism? Such a brave person, the one who would attempt to answer it. There are, I think, so many views about it and certainly here at LSE you hear quite a few of them and from across the political spectrum.
So I was glad to get a ticket through the Faith Centre to attend a talk on this subject led by Paul Mason under the dome of St Paul’s cathedral, with contributions from Ann Pettifor, Phillip Blond and Elizabeth Oldfield. In a place that has been witness to many kinds of change over many centuries, and has seen political ideologies come and go, it was interesting to consider here what shape future changes to western capitalism could consist of. Continue reading
David Shaw, a Postgraduate Student of LSE, reviews a dialogue between Charles Taylor and Craig Calhoun on The Future of Faith, chaired by Rev James Walters.
Charles Taylor is a world renowned thinker and prolific writer on the philosophy and sociology of religion, and so it was no surprise that the Faith Centre was completely full for this event which saw him in conversation with LSE Director Craig Calhoun, who has also published on the subject of secularism.
The discussion was moderated by Rev James Walters, the Centre’s Chaplain, who opened proceedings by noting that in LSE’s 120-year history, it was only in the past few years that the Faith Centre was established, and asking Taylor what he thought that fact suggested about the place of faith today. He responded that we live in an era in which, rather than being organised around any single faith, individuals and communities pursue, or constantly seek, their own directions. Much of the remaining conversation revolved around defining, categorising, and explaining this condition, and around the questions that he associated with this state of affairs: what kind of coexistence does a diverse world demand, and what new ways of living does it stimulate? Continue reading
If you missed Charles Taylor and Craig Calhoun in dialogue on The Future of Faith you can listen to the podcast here:
Professor Charles Taylor, The Revd Dr James Walters and Professor Craig Calhoun in discussion
Charles Taylor is a Philosopher whose work has earned him the prestigious Kyoto Prize, the Templeton Prize and the John W. Kluge Prize. His seminal work, A Secular Age, has reset the terms of the debate about religion in the contemporary world.
Craig Calhoun, Director of LSE, is Professor of Sociology and has published widely on religion and the changing nature of secularism.
The talk was chaired by the Revd Dr James Walters, LSE Chaplain.
What insights does the Tibetan Buddhist tradition have to share about the pursuit of happiness?
In the UK today one in six people suffer from depression or anxiety disorders. We enjoy a high standard of living but happiness is often illusive. How might the practice of meditation contribute towards a happier life and how integral is the religious or spiritual dimension of this practice?
Khenpdo Sodargye has become one of the most eminent contemporary Buddhist masters.
As a Tibetan lama, a Buddhist scholar and teacher, a prolific translator into Chinese, and a modern Buddhist thinker, he is renowned across Asia and the West for his interest in the integration of traditional Buddhist teachings with global issues and modern life.
Thomas Tozer, a postgraduate Philosophy student at LSE, shares his reflections on Khenpo Sodargye’s talk, organised by the LSE Faith Centre.
“It was a rare and special honour to attend the talk by Khenpo Sodargye. Despite having only been at the LSE for about a month, I had already attended many different talks – some very interesting, some not so much. But no talk was anything like the talk that I was about to hear from Khenpo. Continue reading
Greg Doolittle, MSC in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, and one of the first cohort of LSE Faith & Leadership, relates his experience of participating in the Faith Centre’s innovative extra-curricular certificate in religious literacy and effective leadership for the contemporary world.
From the introductory session, ‘Free to Believe?’, led by LSE Chaplain and Interfaith Adviser the Rev. Dr James Walters
The LSE Faith Centre undertook a pilot program this Lent Term, convening an extracurricular program in Faith & Leadership in which I participated. A group of around twenty students was selected to participate and that group met for eight weeks out of the term. Diverse even by the standards of the LSE, the group included postgrad and undergrad students from all major world religions with representatives from some of the smaller ones as well.
Faith & Leadership in session
Although no preparatory readings were required and no exam was administered, we engaged in remarkably earnest discussions regularly into the late Monday evenings; the course became a highlight of my week. Continue reading
A Literary Festival Fringe Event at the LSE Faith Centre
Faith Centre Coordinator Jacob Phillips reflects on the LSE Literary Fringe event – Foundations of Faith – held at the LSE Faith Centre.
A few weeks back, the LSE Faith Centre hosted a conversation between Graham Ward (Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford and author of Unbelievable: why we believe and why we don’t), and the critically acclaimed novelist Sarah Perry (author of After Me Comes the Flood). The discussion centred on the role of faith and belief in life and literature, chaired by the LSE chaplain and interfaith adviser James Walters. A breathtaking range of topics were covered, including how faith and knowledge can be unsettled and disrupted, how such experiences might serve to uncover hitherto unacknowledged dimensions of belief as fundamental to human experience, and – if belief is of such foundational importance – how it can take shape in unexpected forms beyond the explicitly ‘religious’. Continue reading