Our theme for 2014 is

Choices 2014 resized

Life is full of choices: politicians, partners, work ... everything! Are we the sum of our choices? How do we make wise choices?

 

Coming up this month

Tuesday 25 November, 12:15 at St Andrew's

Islam and the West - Democracy and conservative religion: The case for Islam

After the recent stimulating Conversation with Dr Zainal Bagir, we have invited him back to give us a lecture on one aspect of the material covered.

Dr BagirAn old question that has been asked a lot is “Is Islam compatible with democracy?” This question tends to be answered in abstract by defining (or assuming) what democracy is and what Islam is. The problem is that both are not unequivocal, but contextual. Recent rethinking of secularism and democracy have opened up new possibilities to think about religion and democracy. This question is important particularly in the case of Muslims who now live in countries undergoing democratization but also the increasing number of Muslims who live as minorities in democratic countries. In this lecture, rather than answering the compatibility question, I will show the diversity of meanings of both, looking at how in practice Islam and democracy is lived. Further, when religion is said to be “compatible with democracy”, does it refer only to the liberal kind? Can democracy live with a conservative religion?
Dr Zainal Abidin Bagir (Visiting Lecturer, Religious Studies, Victoria University, Wellington; Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies, Graduate School, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia).

He has been running two undergraduate classes: Islam in the Contamporary World and Political Islam.
In a former class, entitled Democracy and Pluralism, he raised questions such as: “When religion is said to be compatible with democracy, does it refer only to a liberal kind of religion?”, “Can democracy coexist with a conservative religion?” and “If diversity is a mark of today’s democracy, what kind of pluralism is required by a pluralist democratic polity?”
 

***  DECEMBER  ***

Tuesday 2 December, 12:15 at St Andrew's

Islamic Sacred Art

Chris Longhurst, previously Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the Vatican, introduces us to the richness of Islamic sacred art.

Dr Chris LonghurstDr. Christopher Longhurst originally hails from Napier, Hawke’s Bay. For the past two years he has been living and working in Morocco as Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Islamic Studies Program at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. He also works as a docent (operatore didattico) at the Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy, leading tours, lecturing, and conducting seminars. His field of study is theological aesthetics or the interdisciplinary study of religion and art. Besides pushing the boundaries of what is considered “sacred pictorial art” by presenting abstract expressionist artworks as a theological locus, Longhurst’s secondary research interest explores manifestations of beauty in Islam. His work in this field has produced several publications among which are “Mihrab: Symbol of Unity and Masterpiece of Islamic Art and Architecture” (Lonaard, 2013), “Theology of a Mosque: The Sacred Inspiring Form, Function and Design in Islamic Architecture,” (Lonaard, 2012), and “Beautiful Holiness of Kalām Allāh: On the Transmission of the Divine Word in Islam through Art” (Encounter, PISAI, 2011). Longhurst also writes on religion and art for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. Holding a Ph.D. in Theology from the Angelicum, Rome, 2009, his talk today: Sacred Art in Islam: Meaning and Language, looks at Islām’s aesthetic theory and how Islām manifests itself through sounds and letters based on Qur’ānic injunctions.

 

Full bio from Al Akhawayn

Content
An Islāmic aesthetic‪
Islāmic abstraction, tawḥīd and the arabesque
Recitation and calligraphy
The question of images
Common language of Islamic art

Tuesday 9 December, 12:15 at St Andrew's

Samual Marsden: Our Earliest 'Religion and Society'

Richard RandersonThe Rt Rev Richard Randerson, In Conversation with Noel Cheer, will discuss the event of Christmas Day 1814 in which Bishop Samuel Marsden preached to Maori in Northland. He wrote in his journal it being Christmas Day, I preached from the second chapter of St. Luke's Gospel, and tenth verse: 'Behold! I bring you glad tidings of great joy."