Religion talks in London

Oct
19
Sat
Singing the Song of Creation: St Francis and the Canticle of the Creatures
Oct 19 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Singing the Song of Creation: St Francis and the Canticle of the Creatures @ Royal Foundation of St Katherine

The Canticle of the Creatures is St Francis’ great song of love, praise and thanksgiving to God. Written late in his life when he was blind and following a period of deep despair, it is both an outpouring of joy in creation and the distillation of a lifetime’s hard-won wisdom.  In it he calls us to join with the sun, moon and stars in the praise of God, and also to praise God through our lives, forgiving each other and living together in peace.

Written in the 13th century, it is full of wisdom we urgently need today.  In a time when we often experience a lack of connection between ourselves, other people and the world around us, the Canticle can teach us to ground ourselves both in the beauty of the natural world and our place as a part of the family of creation.

In this reflective day we will explore the Canticle’s beauty and wisdom, its origins in St Francis’ own life, including his sense of himself as a ‘Troubadour of the Lord’ proclaiming a love song in praise of his Beloved, and how its beauty and wisdom illuminate his own thinking, faith and relationship with God.  We will also reflect on its profound ecological and psychological insights for us and our world today.

Br Sam SSF was until recently the Brother-in-Charge at Hilfield Friary in Dorset, and now lives in the Franciscan community in East London.  He is much in demand as a retreat leader and speaker, and is co-authoring a book about St Francis’ wisdom for our own times for Canterbury Press.

The day includes reflective worship, lunch and other refreshments and takes place at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine in Limehouse, East London (www.rfsk.org.uk).  We are very grateful to St Katharine’s for their hospitality in co-hosting our reflective days.

Oct
22
Tue
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 5/10
Oct 22 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 5/10 @ The Course at The University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

In Princely Patronage, a series of 10 lectures, we will examine how for nearly two centuries, some dozen city states waged war and their leaders competed to create spheres of both authority and magnificence. Artists from Italy and abroad flourished, moving from court to court, sharing influences and creating ever more sumptuous environments. This series examines the role of the ruling families, their spectacular personalities and projects, and the values of the age in driving this artistic flowering.

Smoke and Mirrors

Mantua, small and muddy, was one of the least powerful of Italian city states but through extraordinary and judicious patronage of the arts, the Gonzaga dynasty presented itself as the equal of all contemporaries. Alberti in architecture, Pisanello and Mantegna in painting created an image of splendour which made the city the envy of its contemporaries.

Oct
24
Thu
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 5/10
Oct 24 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 5/10 @ The Course at The University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

We have all heard of the great master of the Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci. Speculation regarding the true life and meaning of his work has been rife for centuries. Books such as the Da Vinci Code and many others only serve to confirm and equally to confuse us. So how much do we really know? How did he become such a great artist, how famous was he in his own lifetime, was he rich and where and how did he learn his craft? This series of lectures will give you an insight into the life of this great artist; charting the beginnings of his career, the highs and the lows, and finding out just how and why he became the ultimate and universal genius we now regard him.

Inside The Mind Of Man – Grotesques, Personality & Caricature

Leonardo’s mind and its supposed impact on physiognomy and ultimately personality will be the subject for this session. We will look at a wide variety of his drawings of physiological types and ask if these can tell us about the social mores of Leonardo’s times and ultimately how the explorations into the human psyche affected Leonardo’s finished works such as The Last Supper.

Oct
29
Tue
We Need To Talk About Race: Black Experience in White Majority Churches w/@BCWLindsay
Oct 29 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
We Need To Talk About Race: Black Experience in White Majority Churches w/@BCWLindsay @ St Paul's Cathedral

The Bible speaks of an impartial God, a diverse body of believers and justice for all people. Yet, historically, the words of the Bible have been used to justify slavery, segregation and racial discrimination. And despite advances in law and in society, white privilege persists in all areas of life, including our churches.

Ben Lindsay describes how ‘being black in a white majority church can be a bit like the first day of a new school on repeat. Your natural insecurities come to the surface. Will I be included? Will I be noticed? How do I connect with the popular people? How do I fit in? Will my contributions be valued?’ These feelings come from a lifetime of slights and indignities based on skin colour and highlighted differences; of isolation and exclusion; and from the hostility and defensiveness of white people. And yet, not wanting to be defined by these experiences or be portrayed as a victim, Ben invites us to talk about race.

Join us to listen with open hearts to the wise and honest insights of our panel of speakers: the joys and sorrows, the grace and the pain of their individual and collective experience, and to explore together how we respond to each other as people of faith, see each other as God sees us and build inclusive and empowered communities.

Ben Lindsay is a pastor at Emmanuel Church London, the Founder and CEO of Power the Fight, a charity working to end youth violence and knife crime, and the author of We Need To Talk About Race: Understanding the Black Experience in White Majority Churches (SPCK 2019).

He will be joined by Guvna B, the first rapper to top the Christian and Gospel charts, the Revd Rosemarie Mallett, Vicar of St John’s Church, Brixton, and Lead Public Policy Advisor in the Diocese of Southwark and Chine McDonald, Media Content & PR Lead at Christian Aid.

The evening will be chaired by Canon Tricia Hillas, Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral, and include plenty of time for questions and answers.

Oct
31
Thu
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of a Universal Man 6/10
Oct 31 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of a Universal Man 6/10 @ The Course at The University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

We have all heard of the great master of the Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci. Speculation regarding the true life and meaning of his work has been rife for centuries. Books such as the Da Vinci Code and many others only serve to confirm and equally to confuse us. So how much do we really know? How did he become such a great artist, how famous was he in his own lifetime, was he rich and where and how did he learn his craft? This series of lectures will give you an insight into the life of this great artist; charting the beginnings of his career, the highs and the lows, and finding out just how and why he became the ultimate and universal genius we now regard him.

Obsession With Nature, Anatomical & Experiment

Leonardo was obsessed with how everything worked and the close relationship between man and nature. Here, we will look at his exploration of the workings of nature and his attempt to understand these processes and thus understand the soul of man. We will look at examples of anatomical drawings that demonstrate Leonardo’s unflinching eye and ability to investigate areas of human anatomy that many would find repulsive.

Nov
3
Sun
The Sacramental Sea: A Spiritual Voyage w/@newell_edmund
Nov 3 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
The Sacramental Sea: A Spiritual Voyage w/@newell_edmund @ St Paul's Cathedral

Why do so many people feel a spiritual connection with the sea?  Edmund Newell’s research shows that throughout history, the sea has been associated with religious experience and that the sea is highly sacramental, speaking powerfully of God.

His new book explores the sea in Christian history, theology and spirituality.  It moves from the Bible to the present day, via, among others, St Augustine, Christopher Columbus, William Shakespeare and John Donne, the scientists of the Enlightenment and the great hymn-writers of the 19th century.  In this talk, he will explore some of what the sea has meant spiritually over the centuries, and challenge us to see the current dangerous rises in sea-levels worldwide as not only an environmental crisis, but a spiritual one as well.

Canon Dr Edmund Newell is the Principal of Cumberland Lodge, and was formerly Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Sub-Dean of Christ Church, Oxford and Research Fellow at Nuffield College Oxford.  His latest book is The Sacramental Sea:  A Spiritual Voyage though Christian History (DLT 2019).

Nov
5
Tue
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 7/10
Nov 5 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 7/10 @ The Course at The University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

In Princely Patronage, a series of 10 lectures, we will examine how for nearly two centuries, some dozen city states waged war and their leaders competed to create spheres of both authority and magnificence. Artists from Italy and abroad flourished, moving from court to court, sharing influences and creating ever more sumptuous environments. This series examines the role of the ruling families, their spectacular personalities and projects, and the values of the age in driving this artistic flowering.

A “Restive and Independent City”

Florence was a proud Republic, so the position of the Medici family was equivocal. Officially “first among equals”, they trod a fine line in asserting their rule without alienating the democratic rhetoric of the state, and their discerning and generous commissions to some of the greatest creative figures of the age were calculated to give political reassurance while subtly reminding the people of the munificence, wisdom and virtue of the first family.

Nov
7
Thu
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 7/10
Nov 7 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 7/10 @ The Course at the University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

We have all heard of the great master of the Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci. Speculation regarding the true life and meaning of his work has been rife for centuries. Books such as the Da Vinci Code and many others only serve to confirm and equally to confuse us. So how much do we really know? How did he become such a great artist, how famous was he in his own lifetime, was he rich and where and how did he learn his craft? This series of lectures will give you an insight into the life of this great artist; charting the beginnings of his career, the highs and the lows, and finding out just how and why he became the ultimate and universal genius we now regard him.

Drawing Becomes Art

The emergence of drawing as an art form has always been hard to pinpoint. In this lecture, we will look at Leonardo’s drawings and examine how and why this art form might be attributed to him. We will also look at the Burlington Cartoon in London’s National Gallery, its life, history and production, and ask why this unfinished work has been seen as the earliest example of drawing as art and why it holds such a special place in the Gallery’s collection.

Nov
12
Tue
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Renaissance 8/10
Nov 12 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Renaissance 8/10 @ The Course at The University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

In Princely Patronage, a series of 10 lectures, we will examine how for nearly two centuries, some dozen city states waged war and their leaders competed to create spheres of both authority and magnificence. Artists from Italy and abroad flourished, moving from court to court, sharing influences and creating ever more sumptuous environments. This series examines the role of the ruling families, their spectacular personalities and projects, and the values of the age in driving this artistic flowering.

Princes of the Church

Renaissance popes were not only princes of the church but rulers of vast secular domains, determined to recreate for Rome the glories of pagan antiquity. None was more remarkable than Julius II who, in a reign of barely 10 years, rebuilt a dilapidated city, commissioned Michelangelo, Raphael and Bramante, and laid the foundations of St Peter’s Basilica as we know it today.

Nov
14
Thu
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 8/10
Nov 14 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Leonardo da Vinci: The Life of the Universal Man 8/10 @ The Course at The University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

We have all heard of the great master of the Renaissance – Leonardo da Vinci. Speculation regarding the true life and meaning of his work has been rife for centuries. Books such as the Da Vinci Code and many others only serve to confirm and equally to confuse us. So how much do we really know? How did he become such a great artist, how famous was he in his own lifetime, was he rich and where and how did he learn his craft? This series of lectures will give you an insight into the life of this great artist; charting the beginnings of his career, the highs and the lows, and finding out just how and why he became the ultimate and universal genius we now regard him.

Signature Projects

We will look in detail at some of Leonardo’s major projects: the Last Supper, The Madonna of the Rock and The Battle of Cascina and discuss how these works were realised, what was the thinking behind them and how do they compare with works by his contemporaries? We will also look at the work of collaborators on these projects and ask how much is theirs and how much Leonardo’s and why do we care?

 

Nov
19
Tue
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 9/10
Nov 19 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 9/10 @ The Course at the University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

In Princely Patronage, a series of 10 lectures, we will examine how for nearly two centuries, some dozen city states waged war and their leaders competed to create spheres of both authority and magnificence. Artists from Italy and abroad flourished, moving from court to court, sharing influences and creating ever more sumptuous environments. This series examines the role of the ruling families, their spectacular personalities and projects, and the values of the age in driving this artistic flowering.

Merchants, Monks and Guilds

The patronage of princes inspired others. Wealthy urbanites and the Church, individuals and groups, increasingly used art to confirm their commitment to Renaissance values of piety, charity and scholarship.

Nov
23
Sat
The Art of Advent
Nov 23 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
The Art of Advent @ St Paul's Cathedral

Advent is the season when we prepare both for the birth of Jesus and for his return in glory. It invites us to journey with the people who prepared his way, from the Old Testament Prophets to Mary the mother of God, and also to contemplate the reality of our own ultimate meeting with God.  It is both a joyful and a serious season which challenges us to ask ourselves what really lies at the heart of our lives.

Jane Williams’ book The Art of Advent sheds new light on the season’s themes through art from all over the world, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, El Greco and Blake, 15th century Ethiopian frescoes and contemporary works from China, Australia and the UK. Considering how art can illuminate familiar themes and stories, we will explore paintings and the insights they offer into the theology and spirituality of Advent.

Dr Jane Williams is the Assistant Dean of St Mellitus College.  She is the author of academic and popular works of theology including The Art of Advent (SPCK 2018) and The Merciful Humility of God (Bloomsbury 2018).

Nov
26
Tue
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 10/10
Nov 26 @ 10:45 am – 12:45 pm
The Course / Princely Patronage in the Italian Renaissance 10/10 @ The Course at The University Women's Club

Started in 1994, The Course offers Art History, Literature, Music and Opera Lectures.

In Princely Patronage, a series of 10 lectures, we will examine how for nearly two centuries, some dozen city states waged war and their leaders competed to create spheres of both authority and magnificence. Artists from Italy and abroad flourished, moving from court to court, sharing influences and creating ever more sumptuous environments. This series examines the role of the ruling families, their spectacular personalities and projects, and the values of the age in driving this artistic flowering.

Influence

Italy created the model in which connoisseurship became the distinguishing mark of the enlightened and refined ruler. From Krakow to London, monarchs presented themselves through their patronage of the arts, the forms taken from Italy and often executed by artists from the peninsula itself, responsible for spreading the vocabulary of classicism and power across the European courts.

Nov
27
Wed
God With Us: Seeing the Christmas Stories with Fresh Eyes w/@paulargooder
Nov 27 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
God With Us: Seeing the Christmas Stories with Fresh Eyes w/@paulargooder @ St Paul's Cathedral

The Christmas stories are some of the best-loved in the Bible but their familiarity can mask their real, mind-boggling message:  God comes to the world in a human body, in obscurity and vulnerability, and nothing is ever the same again.

In this evening, Paula Gooder, the renowned New Testament scholar, will unravel some of what these revolutionary stories really tell us.  What does it mean that the God who shaped the universe into existence was prepared to be born as a tiny, vulnerable baby in a dangerous time?  Why did God chose this ludicrously risky way to redeem the world?  And what does it mean that he trusted the whole plan to a young girl?

She will also explore what Jesus’ birth means for the powerful and the poor, then and now, and how we might come to these stories afresh, letting them reach our hearts and change our lives.

Dr Paula Gooder is one of the best-known New Testament scholars and teachers of our time, and Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, the first layperson to hold the role.  She is the author of numerous academic and popular books of Biblical theology, including Journey to the Manger: Exploring the Birth of Jesus and The Meaning is in the Waiting: The Spirit of Advent (both Canterbury Press).

The evening will be chaired by Andrew Carwood, Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral, and include plenty of time for questions and answers.

Dec
1
Sun
Angels
Dec 1 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Angels @ St Paul's Cathedral

In a recent poll, one in ten Britons claimed to have experienced the presence of an angel, and one in three believe they have a guardian angel: a surprising story in a sceptical age.

But what are angels?  They make many appearances in the Bible, sometimes bringing comfort but more often arriving with challenging or mysterious messages from God.  Are they part of the poetry of religion? Or are they real, a manifestation of divine concern?

In this talk, Peter Stanford will explore something of the history, theology and cultural significance of angels and how they might illuminate a deeper truth about human existence and the cosmos.

Peter Stanford is a features writer at the Telegraph and a contributor to The Tablet among many other publications.  His books include What We Talk About When We Talk About Faith; Martin Luther: Catholic Dissident and Judas:  The Troubling History of the Renegade Apostle.  His latest book is Angels (Hodder Faith 2019).

Dec
2
Mon
The Apology of Socrates – 2
Dec 2 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

The Apology of Socrates – 2

Plato’s account of the apology or defence offered by Socrates in his trial when charged with impiety and the corruption of youth in Athens is one of the great moments in philosophic literature in the west. It demonstrates the seriousness with which Socrates took his quest for wisdom – a search which even the threat of death could not prevent. The priority that the Platonic tradition gives to the care of the soul over and above all other human endeavours is encapsulated in Socrates exhortation, “O best of men, since you are an Athenian, of a city the greatest and the most celebrated for wisdom and strength, are you not ashamed of being attentive to the means of acquiring riches, glory and honour, in great abundance, but to bestow no care nor any consideration upon wisdom and truth, nor how your soul may subsist in the most excellent condition?” And perhaps we who live in a civilization which we consider to be marked by intelligence and strength should attend to that plea with greater thought than Socrates’ earlier judges. We will read and discuss the Apology over two sessions (this is the second session and we will start with a short summary of the first one, for those who are absent from the first session).

No previous experience of formal philosophy is required.

Entrance in free, but donations between £3-5 will be welcomed.

A PDF download of the extract we will be reading is available on our website together with further details of this and other Prometheus Trust’s activities: www.prometheustrust.co.uk (the PDF is on the “London Monday Evenings” page

Jan
11
Sat
A Time to Laugh? A Theology of Joy and Laughter w/@mountainskies
Jan 11 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
A Time to Laugh? A Theology of Joy and Laughter w/@mountainskies @ St Paul's Cathedral

We know that laughter is great for our wellbeing, builds relationships and helps us deal with failure, but does it have anything to teach us about God?

Christianity has had a very mixed relationship with it.  The puritans and some saints condemned it outright but the writer of Ecclesiastes says that there is a time to laugh, as well as a time to weep.  And in the medieval church, the Easter service included uproarious jokes so that the people greeted the Resurrection with an outburst of joyful laughter.

Tricia Hillas says that joy and laughter are profound gifts which can lead us into a deeper understanding of God and what it means to be the children of God.  She also says that if we want to change the world, especially in dark times, we must change it with radical joy.

In this afternoon, we will explore the place of delight, wonder, joy and laughter in the spiritual life and in becoming people of change and hope in the world.

Tricia Hillas is Canon Pastor at St Paul’s Cathedral.  Before ordination, she was a social worker specialising in working with people with HIV/Aids and she has recently completed her MSc in conflict resolution and mediation.

Feb
2
Sun
Saying Yes to Life w/@ruthvalerio
Feb 2 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Saying Yes to Life w/@ruthvalerio @ St Paul's Cathedral

As people made in the image of God, we are entrusted with the care of what God has made and also with sharing in the joy and creativity of making a difference for good.

In her new book, Saying Yes to Life, Ruth Valerio draws on the creation stories from the book of Genesis to illuminate the most vital issues of our times.  She relates their themes, including light, water, the seasons, other creatures and Sabbath rest to matters of environmental, ethical and social concern.  She will challenge us to do the same this Lent, asking ourselves foundational questions about what it means both to be human and to be a follower of Jesus.

Dr Ruth Valerio is Global Advocacy and Influencing Director at Tearfund, and an environmentalist, theologian and social activist. Her latest book, Saying Yes to Life (SPCK 2019) was commissioned by The Archbishop of Canterbury as his official Lent book for 2020.

Feb
22
Sat
The Way of Ignatius: A Journey of Prayer
Feb 22 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
The Way of Ignatius: A Journey of Prayer @ St Paul's Cathedral

Most people find prayer hard. But there can be ways in which, by grace, we can be in touch with our capacity to know and feel the presence of God in all things. St Ignatius was a rare and gifted teacher in helping people to discover how to do this. Both extraordinarily modern in his understanding of human psychology and breathtakingly free in his approach to prayer, his insights have offered countless people a way to be in touch with God’s limitless desire to break through and surprise us, and our own built-in ability to respond.

Just before Lent, we will spend an afternoon exploring his way of prayer, using silence, imagination and the everyday reality of our own lives.

Dr Gemma Simmonds is a Sister of the Congregation of Jesus who has taught Ignatian Spirituality at Heythrop College in the University of London, worked in prison chaplaincy and among women and street children in Brazil.  She is a renowned international speaker, a regular broadcaster on religious programmes, and her latest book is The Way of Ignatius: A Prayer Journey through Lent (SPCK 2018).