Multifaith in Sweden and Switzerland

Recent research trips back to visit multifaith projects in Sweden last week and Switzerland earlier in the year turned up further evidence of the importance of such spaces, not only in those places but in all societies seeking to integrate religious difference and explore and deepen religious intelligence and co-operation.

The shared religious space in the New Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, at the planning stage when I visited in 2013, is really quite beautiful. A simple design by White Architects is enhanced by the beautiful and stunning work of designer Irene Agbaje, was brought to birth by a truly inclusive process of open discussion and debate by representatives from all the major faith groups. People listened to each other: and the result is a masterpiece of inclusivity.

At nearby Saint Goran private hospital there’s another space that combines a remarkable ‘living-dining room’ facility with the prayer space: as a way to cater for hospitality and shared food at key times of year or on special occasions.

Meanwhile the church-mosque in Fisksatra that I first documented on this blog quite some years ago still continues to fundraise, with a big conference in February that I’ve been invited to address. The plans, by Draken arkitektur, are remarkable for their faithfulness both to traditional Christian and Islamic architectural forms. The shared in-between space that I have called a ‘cleaving space’ will facilitate dialogue and joint activities for the benefit of the whole community.

Equally ambitious, but this time in Bern Switzerland, is the remarkable Haus der Religionen: the House of Religions. A very large Hindu Temple, Buddhist Temple (with accommodation for visiting monks), large Muslim mosque, a church for minority Christians groups and a worship space for Alevites are complimented under the same roof by classrooms for language teaching and play space, an Ayurvedic meat-free kitchen where Jews, Sikhs and veggie-vegans can enjoy fabulous food and flexible dialogue and event spaces facilitated by moveable walls that open out or enclose according to need.

These spaces promise inclusive and transformational initiatives for the benefit of all! Go visit!

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Interfaith encounters!

Just been sent this photo with me and the Chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth and my good friend Mohammed Ullah.  A memorable occasion. Rabbi Mirvis is a very charismatic character.  (And I look cold and ill-clad standing next to the others!)



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And so the new year begins

Proverbs 1: 20-31 Mark 8:27-36

There then is wisdom.

Above the din of the market place, Above the cries of those selling exotic foods and excellent wines, Above the voices of those seeking to persuade, lure and entice, Above the noise of distraction and the whispers of temptation, Above the clamour of the inner fears and anxieties we all share at the start of a new adventure. Above even the jangling thrill of excitement and anticipation, and the glittering promises of ‘freedom, at last;’ ….

Above it all: the voice of wisdom calls out to us. In the squares, in the library, the corridors, the classrooms, the halls of residence, the students’ union, the bars, she raises her voice. At the busiest corners she cries out;

“Give heed to me. I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you. Listen to me.” Listen to me….

And so we find ourselves here today, at the beginning. Of another year? Yes. But not the same year as last. That cannot be. No. We have a new beginning before us.  A starting afresh. A breaking open of new possibilities; The crossing of new horizons The becoming something else; someone different. Someone more. More ‘fully ourselves.’ Someone on the long journey of transformation towards the future. Someone on an adventure!

But, what ambition drives you? Whose voice calls you?  Who are you? Who do you people say that you are? Who do you say you want to become?

The question of who exactly Jesus is, of course, is one that is riven throughout the four gospels, and beyond. It’s a question that tumbles down the centuries, blown along by a playful spirit; carried along down the road that leads from far away Jerusalem, all the way to the path that brings us here today. ‘Who do you say that I am? he asks.’ And people sought, people seek, the answer. The ‘one’ answer. The one ‘correct’ answer, we imagine. And many have been glad to supply it, for those happy to accept answers at second hand…

But the wise amongst you will know that there are myriad answers. Myriad answers – and one full lifetime of rich opportunity and exploration.  Such an adventure to be had!  A lifetime’s worth of seeking the answers that best enliven you; A lifetime’s worth of following the voice that calls you ever on.

Now the call of wisdom: ‘Listen to me,’ and the lure of Jesus: ‘who do you say I am’? are challenges we are keen to address in this place.

But we are minded too, that the call to wisdom, the call to follow, the call to serve is not for ourselves alone. Nor can it ever be. “Those who want to save their life will lose it, says Jesus, asking more: For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”

He said all this quite openly.

And we here say quite openly that what this place stands for is to persuade, lure and entice you to discover yourself; to encourage you to like and cherish yourself (and that can be hard!); to enable and equip you to become more yourself; to fill you with hope and endeavour in caring and compassion for your neighbours near and far; to teach you to learn from the world around us and to value all life: without exception. To give you the imagination and courage to draw close to wisdom and to listen hard: for wisdom is so elusive; to challenge and inspire you to be the difference the world needs; to urge you to follow and to encounter the one who calls. In brief: to empower you to dare the impossible: for life demands nothing less!

Well now, that’s quite some challenge. We’d better get started! You coming?


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Religion and the 21st Century City, University of Accra, Ghana

For all those colleagues at the conference who asked to have a copy of my presentation:

“Do shared religious -or multifaith- spaces point to a brighter future for urban religion?”

Here is the link:

Do shared religious -or multifaith- spaces

Please acknowledge my work when you use it.

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The emergence of interiority

Thanks to all those who have requested a copy of my presentation at the conference on emergence (rescheduled from March to May).

I attach the powerpoint for your edification (!)

Presentation emergence 

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Update re March conference – as requested.

Saturday 3rd March 2018. The second event in our series in partnership with The Institute for Theological Partnerships at Winchester University and Spirit of Peace will explore the theme of working with emergent process and address the question ‘What is the quality of intelligence that is necessary to move things in the direction of a greater flourishing for all?‘.

The emergence of interiority as part of the process of cosmic evolution/awakening will be explored, as well as seeing religion as something that is unfinished and evolving, much as the universe is.

Further details will be available soon. Please let us know if you would like to be emailed with more details of the event.

Speakers: Professor Chris Mowles of the Hertfordshire University Complexity and Management Centre and Rev Dr Terry Biddington, Dean of Spiritual Life and Lecturer in Practical and Eco Theology at the University of Winchester & soul traveller and adventurer.

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More on fear.

Nigerian author Osinakachi Akuma Kalu has just published a new book: The First Step Of The Fearologist (2017). It looks to be a splendid new addition to the growing library of fear that includes the work of Desh Subba and my friend R Michael Fisher who has done so much over many years to alert the world to the presence of fear and fearism that is akin to sexism and racism. So endemic that we hardly notice it!

Check out the book and share.


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