In this extract from ‘The Interbrain,’ Digby Tantam considers the implications of the interbrain for religion, morality and our ability to demonize other humans.
For a very long time, human beings have explained harm coming to one person or to groups by attributing this to demons. Demonic possession is possibly the oldest explanation of psychopathology and is still widely held in Africa and other parts of the world.
Demonization of offenders increases the public’s desire to punish them retributively is most likely because of common knowledge, which seems to be widespread, that demons exist, that they are evil, and that evil is contagious. So humans cannot, and indeed should not without imperilling their own morals, consort or connect with demons. Demons must be cast out of individuals, as the Bible has Jesus casting out the demons, and of society. Psychiatrists and psychologists have updated this demonology by postulating that types of people exist who cannot empathize and consequently act in a deranged or demonic fashion. There is also the presumption,
as there often is when a person is said to lack empathy, that it is equally impossible to empathize with them.
Demonization is, for obvious reasons, a strategy that is particularly attractive to religious groups…
For more information on The Interbrain, or to buy a copy of the book, click here.
We sought out Reverend Tom Wilson, co-author of Learning to Live Well Together, to find out any advice he had for frequently encountered issues with regards to interfaith meetings. In the second of two common scenarios, Tom discusses what must be considered when working out how to conduct vigils.
You never know when you will have to conduct a vigil; the nature of tragedy is that it takes us unawares. But this does not stop us planning. Many may know of the existence of plans for Operation London Bridge, the code name for the activities that will take place across the United Kingdom when the Queen dies, as she must do one day. Whilst it is inevitable that every individual dies, and so we must of necessity plan how to mark those deaths, the nature or fact of a terrorist attack is not as clear-cut. But given recent history, with four terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom in a few short months, it is nevertheless important that we have some ideas of what we might do should something terrible happen. Continue reading
We sought out Reverend Tom Wilson, co-author of Learning to Live Well Together, to find out his advice for frequently encountered issues with regards to interfaith meetings. In the first of two common scenarios, Tom considers how to respond to concerned parents who have approached a head teacher about the prospect of a planned visit to a mosque.
A significant proportion of the work that the St Philip’s Centre undertakes is educational work with school children. We are recognized providers of learning outside the classroom. Our focus is on bringing religious education to life. Rather than pupils reading about Sikhism in a textbook they visit a Gurwara, see the reverence afforded the Guru Granth Sahib and smell the vegetarian food cooking for langar. Instead of discovering that Muslims wash before they pray from a book, they are taken into the Wudu area of a mosque, and their guide explains, step-by-step, the process of purification he undertakes before joining in congregational prayers.
It is the scenario of visiting a mosque that can, at times, unfortunately become problematic. In the past few years, after there has been a major terrorist incident in the United Kingdom, it has become not uncommon for a school visit to be cancelled or postponed. The situation might not be this drastic; it might simply be that parents begin to voice concerns about whether such a visit is appropriate. Continue reading
Although Religious Education (RE) is a legal requirement in UK schools, it is an oft-neglected and misunderstood subject. It is important to seriously re-think this key subject at this time of low religious literacy and rising extremism, to protect communities from the consequences of hatred and misunderstanding.
We spoke to Mark Chater about his new book (co-edited with Mike Castelli) that brings together essays from prominent thought leaders in the theory and practice of RE, to promote wider discussion of what exactly is needed from a new model of RE within our education system to benefit wider society.
What were your motivations for writing We Need To Talk About Religious Education?
A creative anger that the voices of very able younger teachers are not being properly heard, that they deserve to become thought leaders for RE; also, an interest in listening to voices of experience and wisdom who can see change coming and welcome it; a desire to pump some life-giving fresh air into the old body of RE, to save it; and a professional and personal commitment to promoting the change debate in RE.
Formerly a pastor for the little parish of Djursland in Denmark, Isle Sand is now a psychotherapist and, more particularly, an author. Having written and published Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World, Come Closer, Tools for Helpful Souls and The Emotional Compass, she provides a free downloadable guide on how to say a proper goodbye through necessary work to enable you to reconcile with your relations and yourself.
“Many problems arise because of broken relationships where no one said a proper goodbye. It could be a former partner, family member, friend or colleague that has passed away, or that you have parted ways with over a disagreement. You might not be fully aware of how much former relationships fill your mind.
It is hard to say goodbye to a person that has made you feel loved and that you have loved in return. It can be even harder to part with a relation where there were many ambivalent emotions involved. The same way you can find it hard to leave a meal before you are completely full, it can prove particularly difficult to say goodbye to a relationship, where you were never completely satisfied. Many people suffer from low self-esteem for years following a divorce or break up that they are not completely over.
Are you emotionally over a loved one?
What should you do if find it hard to let go?”
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Carlo Leget is Professor in Care Ethics and Endowed Professor of Spiritual and Ethical Questions in Palliative Care at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, Netherlands. His book Art of Living, Art of Dying is a contemporary guide for discussing end of life and existential questions. Here, he considers end of life issues in a hospice context and reflects on the importance of a model for enabling a ‘good death.’
Some twenty years ago I entered the world of patients who are dying and their families. Until that time I had been studying theology, trying to find the meaning of life in conversation with the great minds of Western thought. I wrote a PhD thesis on the relation between life on earth and ‘life’ after death in the theology of Thomas Aquinas, and hoped to continue my work by building a bridge between the ancient wisdom of the Church and problems in contemporary health care.
The higher one’s ambitions are, the more one risks to lose. During my participatory observation as an auxiliary nurse, caring for dying patients and their families, I virtually did not find a single point of connection between my ambitions and everyday reality. The people who were cared for and died in the nursing homes I worked in, were hardly thinking about life after death. Even ethical issues about autonomy, non-maleficence and benevolence I had read so much about and which might work as a point of departure did not seem to play any role at all.
Reverend Kathryn Darby is the Chaplain at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and co-author with Paul Nash and Sally Nash of Spiritual Care with Sick Children and Young People.
In this blog, she explores the roles chaplains play for sick children and young people who are staying in hospices or hospitals.
How can we attune to the spiritual and religious needs of children and young people in a hospital or hospice context? This question was recently sharpened for me in my role as a chaplain at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital when in conversation with a young person receiving treatment for mental health. He said words to the effect of, “You just get into that headspace where you don’t matter, you don’t deserve anything”. The need for all of us to attend to our mental health has been highlighted in British society recently – e.g. the grieving and recovery process of Princes William and Harry in relation to their mother’s death and debate within the political arena about mental health provision. No one is invulnerable to the stresses and bruising of life that can result from illness, bereavement, or loss. At times, mental health issues, such as anxiety, low mood, or eating disorders can escalate for young people leading to hospital care. Young people and their families experience distress, suffering and heartache but can find the support that they need for recovery and growth. Continue reading
Reverend Dr Steve Nolan is the chaplain at Princess Alice Hospice in Esher and the author of ‘Spiritual Care at the End of Life.
Here, he explores new ways of understanding the roles of hospice chaplains.
I never met Dame Cicely Saunders. The nearest I came to her was when I visited the chaplain at St Christopher’s, the south London hospice she established. My tour of the hospice had reached the old chapel, and as I chatted with the chaplain, I caught a glimpse of her as she walked slowly passed the chapel door.
Whether Dame Cicely should be considered ‘the founder’ of modern hospice care could be debated. But her dynamism and drive had a significant hand in shaping the direction and values of the nascent movement. Yet she was not the only dynamic woman to have influenced the history of hospice care.
In 1843, Mme Jeanne Garnier opened a home for the dying in Lyon. In Dublin, Sister Mary Augustine inspired first Our Lady’s Hospice for the Dying, which opened in 1879, then further hospices in Australia and Great Britain. And in New York, Mother Alphonsa established St Rose’s Home in 1899. Working independently of each other, these women shared not only a common purpose but a motivation that was inspired by their spiritual beliefs.
Spirituality was clearly one of the key motivators that drove Dame Cicely. In the late 1940s, she converted from agnosticism to a deep evangelical Christian faith, which transformed the way she understood her work. Caring for the sick had always been a priority; following her conversion it became a religious calling.
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Southwark Cathedral’s resident mouse-catcher recently secured her first book deal. We caught up with author, Lisa Gutwein, and the book’s star – Doorkins.
For those who might not know the story of how Doorkins came to be the resident cat of Southwark Cathedral, could you give us a summary?
Lisa: Doorkins was a stray cat who made Southwark Cathedral her home almost 10 years ago. One morning she was just waiting by the door when the cathedral verger came to open up for the day. After that she made the cathedral her home and has never left!
Doorkins: Southwark Cathedral is the perfect place for a cat, it has lots of impressive chairs to nap on and secret corners to explore. Borough Market is right next door and my friends there always have lots of tasty scraps to feed me! I have made so many friends who like to come and visit me from all over the world, and the Dean relies on me to keep things running smoothly.