Working to improve mutual understanding between the Middle East and the West
The LSE Faith Centre and Gingko, in association with the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Barenboim-Said Akademie, held a major conference in London focused on inter-faith dialogue in the summer of 2017.
The theme of the conference, ‘Religious Imaginations: How narratives of faith are shaping today’s world’, was specifically designed to bring together representatives from international institutions, think tanks and universities. It was held at Clement House at the London School of Economics over the 14th and 15th June 2017.
Keynote Speakers: Karen Armstrong OBE, Professor Craig Calhoun, Professor Mona Siddiqui OBE
Short Papers Themes: Reimagining Doctrine, Challenges of Modern Faith and the Making of Modern Religion
Keynote Speakers: HMA John Casson, Bishop Anba Angaelos, Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer
Short Papers Themes: Global Issues in Interfaith Relations, Faith and Diplomacy and Religion and Sustainability
On the evening of 14th June, a special concert was presented by Professor Mena Mark Hanna, Dean of the Barenboim-Said Akademie, Professor of Musicology, celebrating the role of music as an expression of religious imaginations. This concert was followed by an Iftar celebration.
The causes of global transitions are numerous and complex. Market globalization, technology, climate change and post-colonial political forces are all forging a new world. But caught up in the mix are some powerful religious narratives that are galvanizing peoples and reimagining political and social order. Some are repressive, fundamentalist imaginations such as the so-called Islamic Caliphate. Others could be described as post-religious such as the evolution of universal human rights out of the European Christian tradition.
But the question of the compatibility of these religious worldviews, particularly those that have emerged out of the Abrahamic faith traditions, is perhaps the most pressing issue in global stability today. What scope for dialogue is there between the Jewish, Muslim and Christian ways of imagining the future? How can we engage with these multiple imaginations to create a shared peaceful future?
This conference will take a trans-disciplinary approach to how religious narratives interact with the contemporary geopolitical climate, and will draw together these often disconnected strands of religious motivations and the analysis of current affairs.
Karen Armstrong is viewed as one of the most prolific writers on religion in the world today. She is known for her numerous documentaries, and books focusing on the history and evolution of the three Abrahamic faiths including A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and The Case for God.
Professor Calhoun is the President of the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles, Global Distinguished Professor at New York University and Centennial Professor at the LSE and its former Director. His books include Nations Matter: Culture, History and the Cosmopolitan Dream, and Nationalism.
Professor Siddiqui is Professor of Islamic and Interrreligious Studies and Assistant Principal, Religion and Society and Dean international for the Middle East at the University of Edinburgh. She is internationally renowned as a commentator on religion and public life and her books include Hospitality in Islam: Welcoming in God’s Name and My Way: A Muslim Woman’s Journey.
His Grace Bishop Angaelos is General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and is widely recognised for his extensive advocacy work, and work on human rights, international religious freedom and development work, and youth ministry.
Rabbi Brawer has been Rabbi of Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue since August 2007 and serves on the Chief Rabbi’s cabinet with responsibility for Jewish-Muslim relations. The Jewish Chronicle recently listed Rabbi Brawer amongst the 100 most influential people shaping the Jewish community in Britain.
John Casson is British Ambassador to Egypt, having previously served as the Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Private Secretary from 2010 to 2014. Prior to this he was Deputy Ambassador in Jordan, Head of the FCO’s Near East and North Africa Department and led the US political outreach of the British Embassy in Washington.