QUG 2018 Annual Conference April 13th- 15th, 2018, at the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre
The annual meeting of the Quaker Universalist Group took place at Woodbrooke 13th to 15th April 2018 attended by about 60 people. The title: Quaker Understandings of Truth – in religion, in a Quaker meeting for worship, in the media.We considered the experience of early Quakers, who described themselves as Friends of Truth and emphasised their subjective spiritual experiences. In modern times religious pluralism is favoured and theologian John Hick was quoted : ‘the world is religiously ambiguous’. In daily life facts are important but objective facts are unable to prove one religion right and another wrong. An investigative journalist gave an enthralling talk on Truth in the media. Although fake news is not a new phenomenon – known to the ancient Egyptians – modern methods of communication give cause for concern. We need to recognise that free speech has its limits and accept more legislation. We desperately need a Campaign for Real News! Participants in the conference were questioned about their religious journey. Typically they had been raised in a Christian (mainly C of E) tradition and now found sustenance in non- credal Quakerism. Buddhism and other Eastern religions as well as humanism were important in their spiritual search.
The conference for the Friday evening was planned to be introduced by two members of the QUG Committee, Alan York and Tony Philpott. Unfortunately Alan was unable to attend for medical reasons so Hazel Nelson read the talk Alan had prepared.
They also organise a simple anonymous survey of participants on world views / religions that influence our spiritual awareness and on the media we use. A summary of the results was reported to the conference on the Sunday morning.
Audio Recordings of the Conference Sessions
An Introduction to the Conference Topic
- Alan York (read by Hazel Nelson)
- Tony Philpott
Joycelin Dawes – Truth in a Quaker context.
The slides that Joycelin used are available here: Truth – a spiritual inquiry – Joycelin Dawes
Joycelin wrote QUG pamphlet 32, Choosing Life: Embracing Spirituality in the 21st Century. She has written on contemporary spirituality in The Quest, and, as clerk to Quaker Social Action trustees, compiled The Q-bit – at the heart of a Quaker-led organisation. Her recent book, Discernment and Inner Knowing explores our ways of knowing, probing truth through discernment. Joycelin is curious about “what’s really going on here?” – how we interpret our experience and give it meaning. She hopes to bring a similar approach to her topic on truth now.
She is an Associate Tutor and trustee at Woodbrooke, and also trustee of Friends Provident Foundation. Joycelin loves time with her grandchildren, reading and walking.
Ben Wood was unable to attend but we were very fortunate to have Hugh Rock who stood in at very short notice.
Hugh Rock – Truth in Religion
Hugh Rock is a new type of theologian whose message is that people are inherently religious. Today’s discount of the old religion disguises an intuitive religion expressed in new forms. His special interest is liberal intepretations of God and the hidden religious nature of contemporary culture. Since graduating in what is his second career he has published articles in various liberal journals. Education: BA Balliol College Oxford, MSc.Social and Political Theory Birkbeck, Postgraduate Diploma in Theology King’s College London.
Stephen Cox – Truth in the media
A Quaker since 1994, Stephen has led the communications of four national organisations, including 13 years at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children covering issues as diverse as sexual misconduct, scientific breakthroughs and fundraising morality. He has been a front-line participant dealing with investigative journalism, honesty in government, hysteria and hype, journalistic and public relations ethics, and many other issues. He says – ‘If you are not worried about truth in politics and the media, you are not paying attention’. He is a member of the LGBT community, and a member of North London Area Quaker Meeting. His novel comes out in 2019.
The slides that Stephen used are here: Truth in media – Stephen Cox
There was the usual meetings for worship, break out groups, epilogues and panel/general discussion – plus Saturday evening entertainment, the excellent Woodbrooke food and plenty of time to socialise.