National, Regional and Local Conferences organised by the Sea of Faith Network (UK)
Sea of Faith is a registered charity, no. 1113177
The Sea of Faith Network
We alone create our religion and our faith
SOF CONFERENCE 2019 -
Listed below are descriptions of the workshops, seminars and discussion groups that are available in the Forum sessions at this year’s conference.
You may also simply send an email, clearly listing your three choices for each session to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to include your name in the body of the email.
Numbers are limited, usually to a maximum of about 15. Places will be allocated on a first-
1 ISSUES OF “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM" Barbara Burfoot
Genital mutilation of children, non-
Discussion on issues where there is a conflict between things now considered important like the rights of women, children and animals and established religious norms are presented by some as issues of religious freedom. How should these issues be resolved? What are the limits of religious freedom? Potential participants are encouraged to look out for current news items raising these concerns.
2 WORDS, WORDS, WORDS … OR GOD IS NO THING Michael Hell
I expect to talk for 10-
David Lambourn and Martin Spence are offering a ‘two-
4 SOF AND SOCIAL MEDIA: SEA OF FAITH FOR C21st Simon Mapp
Forum for discussion of ideas from participants for PR and marketing the Network– exploring YouTube, Instagram etc.
5 PAST PERFECT: FREEDOM FROM PERFECTION IN LIFE & FAITH Stephen Mitchell
. . . talking about his book followed by discussion.
We seem to be obsessed with perfection. It permeates our conversations, language, advertising, films and religion and has roots deep in the beginning of our civilization. Past Perfect unravels some of the confusion surrounding our use of the word and shapes an understanding of God that is free of this notion.
6 DAME IRIS AND THE FANTASTIC VICARS Frank Walker
Some aspects of religion in the novels of Iris Murdoch
The discussion will include reference to the following books by Iris Murdoch: The Sea The Sea; The Time of the Angels; The Philospher's Pupil; The Book and the Brotherhood; Nuns and Soliders; -
7 THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT – WHERE ARE WE NOW? John Gamlin
We will begin with a short introduction followed by exchange of thoughts leading to a consideration of the possible futures and what action is needed to minimize the adverse consequences. This will include a look at the social, financial and political implications of a changing world.
There is a mass of material on this topic as well as regular newspaper articles in the quality press. However, I suggest you could also look at the following: The Sixth Extinction by Kolbert; Climate Change by Boyd and Tompkins; Ten Billion by Emmott; Ethics in the last Days of Humanity by Don Cupitt.
8 FROM RE TO RE AND WORLD VIEWS – AN OPPORTUNITY NOT TO BE MISSED Allan Hayes
Last September after two year’s work the Commission on Religious Education issued its final report. Noting that something must be done if RE is not to “wither on the vine”, it proposed replacing RE with a national course Religion and World Views to be provided in all UK maintained schools, religious and non-
9 RELIGIOUS NATURALISM Ron March
An investigation, exploration and evaluation of what Religious Naturalism can contribute to our understanding.
The workshop will take the form of a discussion looking at how Religious Naturalism understands religion, belief, faith, spirituality, suffering, death, right and wrong, human beings -
Suggested reading: Religious Naturalism, Sofia 112, June 2014 and online: Religious Naturalism and the Menace of Evil, Sof.org.nz; The Atheistic Religious Naturalism of Crosby, Goodenough and Rue; Religious Naturalism -
10 THE EXISTENTIAL CRISIS IN GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS’ “TERRIBLE SONNETS" Steve Roberts
The session will explore how Hopkins draws on Shakespeare’s great tragedies, The Bible and his own poetic aesthetic in order to work through the great crisis of his life. The session will take the form of a short presentation and will then involve group work focused on looking closely at the 6 sonnets in question.
Martin Spence and David Lambourn are offering a ‘two-
12 A CASE FOR SOLAR ETHICS Chris Smith and David Belcher
Reality is a mystery about which we have no absolute knowledge. We can often find ourselves confused when our conscious, deliberate thoughts, based on the limited perceptions of our individual, physical senses come into conflict with unconscious, intuitive feelings. Is there a case for the spontaneity advocated by solar ethics? Talk & discussion.
13 THE ASCENT OF OUR IMAGINATION Trevor Davies
The evolution of consciousness brought anxieties, but imagination evolved too and so we acquired gods bringing reassurance. Some seek substitutes through hero worship (a theme of a 2016 workshop on celebrities); others worship ideas and things, and some despair leading to addiction (drugs, gambling, abuse) or mental ill-
What of the future? I am influenced by Yuval Noah Harari, well known as the author of Sapiens, and now, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, London: Vintage, 2017. Come prepared for verbal conflict to a workshop illustrated by PowerPoint. Leave your milkshake at home.
14 WITTGENSTEIN TLP PART 2: ELEMENTARY PROPOSITIONS Simon Mapp
This workshop is for those who tackled Part 1 last year. It will work through a booklet produced by Simon in which he writes: "Any proposition can be broken down into ‘elementary propositions’ which are by definition, according to Wittgenstein, purely logical – and to understand the given proposition is to know what it is if it is true – because a proposition cannot be both true and false – there can be no internal or external negation within."
15 JUDGING RELIGION: A DIALOGUE FOR OUR TIME John Holroyd
John will talk about his forthcoming book which focuses on the character and validity of ethical evaluations of faiths as they are understood and misunderstood today. John believes that our time offers remarkable opportunities for understanding each other's religious and non-
16 BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS John Pearson
We shall discuss a number of the key issues considered by Stephen Hawkins in this book compiled from his writings. Each, in their way, is integral to the Conference Theme – Is That All There is? We shall address the following chapters; Is there a God? -
The book discusses many of today's challenges, including the biggest threats to the planet (ranging from the steady progress of climate change to a one-
17 THE QUAKERS AND HERMENEUTICS James Priestman
"So far as our Christian sects today are evolving into liberality, they are simply reverting in essence to the position which Fox and the early Quakers so long assumed." (Henry Joel Cadbury, 1953)
How did early Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) use the Bible and to what degree should their approach to hermeneutics be valued by members of the Sea Of Faith Network? Introductory talk and discussion.
FORUM SESSION 1, TUESDAY 4:00 -
FORUM SESSION 3, THURSDAY 9:15 -
FORUM SESSION 2, WEDNESDAY 11:10 -