Wednesday, 28 September 2011


Shana Tova!

Today is Rosh Hashanah the beginning of the High Holy Days of the month of Tishri in the Jewish calender. To find out more of about Rosh Hashanah and the period leading up to Yom Kippur - the day of atonement check out the videos by Reform Rabbis on the Movement for Reform Judaism website, they are all fascinating and informative but Rabbi Laura Jenner- Klausner on Teshuvah is particularly engaging. The Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has an interesting short reflection on the unique nature of  forgiveness and repentance in the Jewish tradition and its influence on Christian understandings here

Our friends over at Tikkun from within the Renewal tradition of North American Judaism  have again - as they did last year - extended an invitation to friends of other faiths to step into the practice of Teshuvah in the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. And have offered a High Holy Day Workbook to help with the process They write

Tikkun is not just for Jews—it is interfaith as well as Jewish. This High Holiday workbook is an invitation to all people to join with the Jewish people in using the period from September 28, the evening of Rosh Hashanah (the day of both celebrating the birthday of the Universe and of remembering who we have been this last year), until nightfall ten full days later on Yom Kippur (the Day of “At-one-ment” on October 8), to rethink our personal and communal reality and engage with the process of teshuva (returning to our highest selves and turning away from the ways we’ve missed the mark in this past year).

For a Torah commentary on Rosh Hashanah from a synagogue in the Renewal tradition see here

For further exploration Velveteen Rabbi has a list of resources for exploring Rosh Hashanah and the high holy days here

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Pluralist Theologians at Carrs Lane this October

Two leading North American theologians are coming to Birmingham in October to deliver four lectures at Carrs Lane Church Centre. Paul Knitter who I have blogged about previously here here and here is my favourite pluralist theologian of religions. I don't always agree with him, but I have enjoyed engaging with his work ever since I read his first major contribution to Christian theology of religions - No Other Name? back when I was a theology undergraduate in the early 90s. Since then he has published many books including  Jesus and the Other Names and One Earth Many Religons developing his own particular liberationist theology of religions and most recently Without Budhha I could not be a Christian. He is giving two lectures one on 'Atonement' and one on 'Life after Death'. The other lecturer is Roger Haight whose monumental Jesus Symbol of God I am reading at the moment. This book caused a good degree of controversy not least for its attempt to work out a christology that engages with the reality of interreligious dialogue. He will be lecturing on 'Who is Jesus?' and 'What is the Trinity?' Check out the details for the talks on the Carrs Lane website. They will be well worth attending.

Saturday, 24 September 2011


The panel at the Sydney Morris Memorial Lecture: Rabbi Malcolm Wiseman, myself, Julie Siddiqui Executive Director of Islamic Society of Britain and Heather Farr Religious Education specialist. At the back Hifsa Haroon- Iqbal and Revd David Lingwood of Stoke Minster who hosted the dialogue.

I enjoyed myself last week as one of the speakers at the first Sydney Morris Memorial Lecture in Stoke. You can read about the back ground to the lecture and about Sydney Morris and his anti racist and interfaith work here. The event was of similar format to one I spoke at in Stafford last May and was organised again by Hifsa Haroon - Iqbal of North Staffordshire Faith Forum. Between 60-70 people from all three faith communities attended a lively and thoughtful dialogue on Abraham and wider interfaith issues. After the four inputs from speakers we had some great questions from the audience and we were able to address challenging issues from conversion, to our understanding of contemporary forms of idolatry and our views on debates in faith communities concerning sexuality. A great evening!

Friday, 23 September 2011

'I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is Mine'

We are fast approaching  the most important period in the Jewish Calender beginning with Rosh Hashanah followed by the ten days of awe and then Yom Kippur - The day of Atonement. Jews have been preparing for this through the month of Elul. In the video below my interfaith colleague Rabbi Debbie Young - Somers explores how Jews prepare for this important time in their spiritual life.

Debbie and I were participants in an inter faith visit to Israel and Palestine last November. She is leading a session on the Inter Faith Module at Queens in November and we are currently working together on Bible notes related to our visit in November for Words For Today 2013 edited by my Queens Colleague Nicola Slee.

Saturday, 17 September 2011


Faith Storytelling Event an evening of inspirational stories from the faith groups in North Birmingham.

Spiritual stories play an important role in all religions, traditions and cultures as they
help us to remember the wisdom transferred from one generation to another.

Date: Friday 23 September 2011
Time: 7.30 - 9.00pm (Refreshments 7.30pm)
Venue: Faizul Quran Jamia Mosque Lozells, 213-217 Lozells Road. B19 1RJ
Cost: This is a free event for all faith groups to attend

Please come prepared to share an encouraging story from your personal spiritual journey or your Holy Scriptures for 5-10 minutes.
It could be in the form of a thanksgiving for an answered prayer or blessings you have received from God's loving hands.You might want to share a short story from your Holy Book or a spiritual leader who has inspired you.
Please share freely with an open heart while respecting the faith of others present on the evening.

Organised by the 'Faith in Lozells' group in partnership with faith leaders in North Birmingham and the Lozells Project.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Being Good News to Muslim Neighbours - A Forthcoming Conference

Pastor Alex Samy of Edward Road Baptist Church and I are becoming  great intra Christian dialogue partners. Last Friday we spent the good part of the afternoon discussing what Christian Witness in a multi Faith society should be all about. We didn't agree but had a great discussion and I think both of us came away challenged and encouraged by the conversation. Pastor Samy has asked me to share details a conference they are holding at Edward Road Baptist Church on 'Being Good News to Muslim Neighbours'. I hope to attend and in the process continue the dialogue. The conference is on Saturday 15th October and details can be found here

Those interested might also like to take a look at a relatively new online journal that is published  in the US with an international audience and panel of writers. Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue is available to download free.

Friday, 9 September 2011


The new term begins at Queens next week with Induction. I am teaching this term on my own 10 week Christianity in Dialogue Module the handbook can be downloaded here I am also teaching on the Introduction to Christian Mission  module on Congregational Mission in Multi Faith Contexts  and on the Person of Jesus module on Jesus in the Qur'an. I am also teaching on the 1st year Preaching course on Preaching Without Contempt. Promises to be an interesting term!