Conference 2020 – Life, Time and Eternity

Friday May 8th (6 p.m.) – Sunday May 10th (2 p.m.)

Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, 1046 Bristol Road, Birmingham, B29 6LJ

In this conference we will consider questions like

  • What do we mean by life?
  • What is the nature of time?
  • Can we get ‘outside’ time?
  • How do different religions look at life and death?
  • What comes after death, if anything?

We have invited a wide range of outside speakers, all approaching from a different religion or viewpoint. We have already booked four and are actively seeking one more. Already booked are:

Sharada Sugirtharajah – from a Hindu perspective

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. She also has research interests in Modern Hindu Thought, Religious Pluralism, Interreligious Relations, Hinduism in Diaspora, and Women’s issues. Sharada is engaged in freelance work and has led sessions for students, counsellors, social workers, nurses, clergy and multi-faith groups. She has acted as a consultant to various Religious Education projects and is on the International Editorial Board of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. Sharada edited and wrote two essays in the book Religious Pluralism and the Modern World: An Ongoing Engagement with John Hick (2012)and also wrote Imagining Hinduism: A Postcolonial Perspective (2003). We are delighted to welcome back Sharada, who was a speaker at the QUG’s 2012 and 2017 conferences.

Julian Barbour – from a scientific perspective

Dr. Julian Barbour is a British physicist with research interests in quantum gravity and the history of science. He has written several books and papers, most notably his 1999 book The End of Time, which puts forward the view that time, as we perceive it, does not exist as anything other than an illusion, and that a number of problems in physical theory arise from assuming that it does exist. He argues that we have no evidence of the past other than our memory of it, and no evidence of the future other than our belief in it.

Murray Corke – from a Zen Buddhist perspective

Dr. Murray Corke is a veterinary surgeon, conservationist and advocate for animal welfare. He is a clinical teacher at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge. He is also a Zen Buddhist. He learned to meditate with the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order in 1984, before encountering the teaching and practice of Thich Nhat Hanh on a retreat in south Devon in 1992. He then spent time on a number of retreats at Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery in south-west France. The Cambridge Sangha (Buddhist community), which started in 1993, has been his major support and source of learning over the years. He has been active in the Community of Interbeing since it was formed to promote the teaching of Thich Nhat Hanh and the practice of mindfulness in Britain, leading courses and retreats throughout the country.

Arif Hussain – from a Muslim perspective

Shaykh Arif Hussain was born in Uganda, but moved to the UK at the age of 8. The Shaykh studied at Madrassah Syed Al-Khoei, London, and graduated with Honours in 1988. He then went to Iran for further Arabic and Islamic Studies. Later Shaykh Arif returned to the UK to establish the Al-Mahdi Institute in Birmingham, an important Shi’i Islamic Seminary. He is Co-director of CIMS (Centre for Intra Muslim Studies) and an active contributor to Interfaith dialogue. He has written many academic articles on various Islamic topics, and books including 289 Sayings of Imam Ali (2017), Islam and God-Centricity: A Theological Basis for Human Liberation (2017)andIslam and God-Centricity: Reassessing Fundamental Theological Assumptions(2019).

Our fifth outside speaker will approach the topic from a Christian perspective.

The cost of the whole residential weekend at Woodbrooke will be £240 (with the offer to give a little more for speakers’ expenses if you wish). We are still charging less than nearly all other equivalent courses at Woodbrooke.

The programme will include three breakout group sessions, a special Saturday evening event and opportunities to question the speakers. There will be the usual meetings for worship and epilogues; and plenty of time to socialise and enjoy the wonderful Woodbrooke buildings and garden.

As in recent years, we hope many of you will attend our conference. Indications are that this conference will be very popular, so do apply early if you can. Please note that the conference is open to all: you do not have to be a member of QUG or a Quaker.

A note on pricing for the 2020 Conference

Our speakers give very generously of their time and request no fee for taking part in our conferences but QUG does have to pay for their accommodation and travel expenses. In the past we have covered these expenses from the basic cost charged for the conference but we are concerned that with the substantial increases in the accommodation costs charged by Woodbrooke over the past few years this might mean that some people who would like to attend would not be able to afford it. With this in mind we have decided to seek to pay the speakers’ expenses from voluntary contributions rather than levying an additional sum on to the rate payable by all delegates so that we can keep the basic cost for attendance as low as possible.

We are suggesting an additional donation of £20 (or more if you wish) for those who feel able to afford it, as this would help greatly towards covering our speakers’ expenses, but we will be grateful to receive however much you wish to give and we appreciate that many delegates will not be in a position to contribute any extra money. Our main wish is to see you at the conference!

Thank you.

To reserve your place at the conference please use the booking form here .pdf , .docx