Prior to beginning this job a couple of years ago, I studied for a Masters in Theology. An incredibly broad and interesting subject covering a wide range of religions and philosophies, I thought this blog could be a good opportunity to reflect on those speakers who talk about or have some involvement with these themes. From Christianity and atheism to Buddhism and Islam, although in no way a comprehensive list, here are some of the few speakers who touch upon faith and religion, with topics including politics and society inevitably entangled.
Richard is something of a celebrity vicar. He’s just taken part in this season’s Strictly Come Dancing and was previously in pop band The Communards. While he’s become prominent in media and broadcasting he continues to practice his vocation and speaks about his (sometimes hilarious) training and transition into the church, as well as balancing his dual occupations and being a ‘modern’ member of the clergy.
Another speaker who sometimes talks about his Christian faith is Terry Waite. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy to negotiate hostage release, Terry was captured in Beirut and held there for 1760 days. Here his faith was tested, but ultimately helped him, giving him the mental capacity to survive the ordeal. His gripping talk provides a unique and thoughtful perspective.
As Vice President of the Humanist Society A.C. Grayling talks about secularism in government think tanks and the lack of representation in the UK. Arguing for a unified secularism, he points out that certain religions get ‘special treatment’ in comparison to atheism. A strong voice in politics and philosophy, he also founded the New College of the Humanities, becoming its first Master. As keynote speaker, he talks about his beliefs in applied ethics and views on international relations.
As Security Correspondent, Frank was the only British journalist permanently designated to the ‘War on Terror’. Ambushed when on an official trip to Riyadh with his cameraman, Frank was left seriously injured. Extremely well versed in Arabic and the conflict in the Middle East, as a keynote speaker he talks about security and relationship building, and commentates on the different religious factions and motivations behind the unrest in the area.
Yasmin is a Muslim journalist and an outspoken voice on issues of gender, race and religion. Similarly to A.C. Grayling, she also backs secularism and is a trustee of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, a progressive Islamic organisation supporting more adequate representation. An important proponent of women’s rights, she speaks candidly about her experiences and her views on multiculturalism and multiple faiths in the UK.
A psychotherapist and mindfulness expert, Alistair brings elements of Buddhism into his work. Originally developing an interest in mindfulness to cope with the pressures of his broadcasting career, he has travelled extensively studying Buddhist techniques and philosophies. He now presents his methods to de-clutter the mind and lower stress.
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