The 2017 QUG Conference ‘Exploring the mystery of mysticism’ generated considerable interest. The presentations gave a rich structure to the days and led to many questions and lively discussion. Some questions that could not be raised in the time available will be posted on this site hopefully stimulating a continuing debate on-line.
Recordings of all the presentations and question sessions from the conference are now available on the QUG.org.uk website Conferences/Conference 2017.
Facebook generates strong reactions, both for and against, yet arguably Facebook is by far the most widely used forum existing today. But what exactly does Facebook do and how can Quaker Universalists use it?
I see Facebook essentially as a self-curated newspaper and as such, through the mechanisms of ‘comment’, ‘share’ and ‘like’ tends to reinforce like-minded posts, from like-minded users. Simplistically it can work as an echo chamber reflecting limited set of ‘group-think’ views, Used carelessly or even maliciously this can become abusive.
However used with imagination and care, people from across the world can build a rich and unique collection of thinking drawn from personal experience, religious thinking, academia, philosophy, other commentators and the wider media.
As Quaker Universalists, we should not be afraid to be challenged by others with different ideas, rather we should work together to build new, richer, more fundamental common understandings. The vast majority of contributors will be considered and courteous, my hope is that the Quaker Universalist Group -UK Facebook page will give powerful support to our sharing of ‘that of God in every person’.
Following our latest conference in July 2016 we have published three of the talks on compassion as a pamphlet. available, price £4.00 (including packing and postage). This pamphlet arose from our Quaker Universalist Conference in July 2016 which had the title Compassion: Why is it failing? Three of the talks at the conference have been written up and edited by the presenters to make up this publication.
The 2017 Quaker Universalist Annual Conference ‘ Exploring the mystery of mysticism’ was held on May 5th-7th 2017 at the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, Birmingham.
“Is mysticism an experience of oneness with the divine, an altered state of consciousness, being at one with nature, a way of explaining the unexplainable or something else?”
We ‘explored the mystery of mysticism’ by hearing about how it has been viewed and practised by different faith traditions and whether it still has any relevance today.
The presentations from each speaker are now available on the 2017 Conference Page which you can access by clicking the title of this post.
Rex Ambler is a retired lecturer (having taught at Birmingham University for 30 years), Quaker Theologian and prolific writer on theology and Quaker beliefs and practices.
Dr Alinda Damsma is Senior Lecturer at Leo Baeck College, London. She teaches Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Jewish mysticism.
Dr Sharada Sugirtharajah is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham. Sharada’s research focuses on representations of Hinduism in colonial and postcolonial writings.
Jan Arriens has had an interest in mysticism going back 50 years to his university days in Melbourne. He has written extensively in the Friend and other Quaker publications, including QUG pamphlet no. 17, The Place of Jesus in Quaker Universalism.