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Friday, 28th April 2017UPCOMING Seminar Thursday 11 May 2017:
Hope and Optimism: Theology, Psychology and Mental Health

This seminar will take place on Thursday 11 May 2017, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room B
(D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Dr Fraser Watts, Visiting Professor of Psychology and Religion, University of Lincoln

ABSTRACT:
Hope has been an important theme in both theology and psychology in recent decades, but there has been very little engagement between them concerning hope. Theology has often made a distinction between hope and optimism, and more recently that distinction has been made in psychology too. Optimism emphasises expectations about the future, and is most commonly found when circumstances are favourable. Hope, in contrast, can exist in unfavourable conditions in which there are no grounds for optimism, and is more a matter of attitude than expectation.

Psychological research on hope has been dominated by Snyder’s conceptualisation of it as reflecting the belief that one can find pathways to desired goals, and be capable of following those pathways. From a theological perspective that seems based on too simplistic a view of what goals are desirable, and places too much emphasis on self-efficacy in bringing those goals about. Theology would tend to assume that worthwhile goals are achieved more collaboratively, and as a result of openness to transcendent resources.

Research on depression has identified hopelessness as one of its key characteristics. It seems to be both a symptom of depression and something that maintains depression. Though this research has generally not been specific about what kind of hope is lacking in depression, measures of hopelessness often seem to be focusing on a lack of optimism, though it is arguable that a lack of hope would be of greater causal significance in maintaining depression. It is also not clear that, in order not to be depressed, people need a sense of self-efficacy rather than a sense that goals can be achieved more collaboratively.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Fraser Watts is Visiting Professor Psychology and Religion at the University of Lincoln. He is also Director of the Cambridge Institute for Applied Psychology and Religion, and Executive Secretary of the International Society for Science and Religion. He was formerly Reader in Theology and Science in the University of Cambridge, where he was Director of the Psychology and Religion Research Group and a Fellow of Queens’ College. He is a former President of the British Psychological Society and of the International Society for Science and Religion. His books include Theology and Psychology (Ashgate, 2002); Psychology for Christian Ministry (with Rebecca Nye and Sara Savage, Routledge, 2002); Forgiveness in Context (edited with Liz Gulliford, T & T Clark, 2004); Jesus and Psychology (DLT, 2007); Spiritual Healing: Scientific and Religious Perspectives (CUP, 2011); Head and Heart: Perspectives from Religion and Psychology (edited with G Dumbreck, Templeton Press, 2013) Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science: Critical and Constructive Essays (edited with L Turner, OUP, 2014). He has an overview of the psychology of religion, Psychology, Religion and Spirituality, in press with CUP. He is currently working on a book on religion and the body.

 

Monday, 17th April 2017UPCOMING Seminar Thursday 27 April 2017:
Child Abuse and its Impact on Children’s Spirituality

This seminar will take place on Thursday 27 April 2017, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room B
(D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Mr Nikolaos Souvlakis, Theology and Counselling Programme Director and Lecturer. London School of Theology, Middlesex University

ABSTRACT:
It is commonly accepted that abuse violates many aspects of the child’s understanding of his or her world, self and spirituality. Children’s development through their journey to experience the world makes them dependent and easily led. Parents on the other hand, pay great attention on their children’s physical development such as focusing in on their children’s nutrition and surrounding environment which will shape their bodies and character accordingly, as they grow up. Less attention has been given to children’s spiritual experience, which plays a fundamental role in shaping not only their attitude to nutrition later on in life but also on their attitude towards life and toward their ‘Self’.

This paper aims to discuss aspects of spirituality in childhood, the meaning of spiritual trauma in childhood and the impact of spiritual trauma on children’s mental health in later stages of life. One of the central points of discussion is the hypothesis that abuse in childhood creates a reverse spiritual experience, which is an amalgamation of overwhelming arousal and cognitive schemata, which creates a sense of denigration and nothingness about the Self in relation to the world. This paper investigates aspects of child abuse and its impact, among Christian families in Greece, over the last ten years. The research project was funded by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church. Finally, the researchers’ adopted an anthropological study following the AAA and BACP ethical frameworks.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Nikolaos has graduated as a psychotherapist, psychologist, Sports Scientist and Theologian. He has extensive experience working in psychotherapeutic settings providing individual, couples, group therapy and clinical supervision. His first Master’s degree is in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Investigation, linked with psychoanalysis and spirituality while his second Master’s is in Psychology of Religion. Nikolaos specialized in spirituality. He has worked in a variety of settings such as the NHS, the Ministry of Justice, and other religious organizations in UK, Europe and USA. Nikolaos has a keen interest in exploring spirituality and individuals’ well-being and healing processes which is the main focus of his PhD. His research interests are in the healing powers of religious beliefs, mental health and spiritual possession with a particular interest on evil eye. Further to such interests, most of his clinical and academic life has been focused on early on spiritual trauma and personality disorders but more specifically on psychopaths. He has developed a specific interest as psychotherapist on spiritual trauma and the forensics and the integration of religion and spirituality and psychotherapy.

 

Monday, 17th April 2017SEMINAR PROGRAMME
Easter Term 2017

SEMINAR PROGRAMME – Easter Term 2017

These seminars are open to all staff and students of Durham University and to the general public. However, please be aware that they are aimed at a postgraduate level and are therefore especially suitable for MA, PhD and DThM students, as well as for others engaged in postgraduate study in relevant areas of enquiry.

 

If you would like to attend any of these seminars, please send an e-mail to Charidimos Koutris (charidimos.koutris@durham.ac.uk) in order to ensure that a place will be available for you.

 

Also feel free to visit the Durham University website to Subscribe to these seminars, download future seminars as an iCal calendar file or download the seminar programme in pdf format.

 

Thursday 27 April 2017 (4.30-6pm)
Child Abuse and its Impact on Children’s Spirituality
Seminar Room B (D/TH004)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Mr Nikolaos Souvlakis,
Theology and Counselling Programme Director and Lecturer. London School of Theology, Middlesex University

 

Thursday 11 May 2017 (4.30-6pm)
Hope and Optimism: Theology, Psychology and Mental Health
Seminar Room B (D/TH004)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Dr Fraser Watts,
Visiting Professor of Psychology and Religion, University of Lincoln

 

 

Durham University logo (transparent)

 

Friday, 17th February 2017Seminar Thursday 2 March 2017:
Gods, Witches and Spirits in everyday life: Explanation, Prediction and Control?

This seminar took place on Thursday 2 March 2017, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room B
(D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Ms Bidi Broderick, Psychotherapist, Counsellor and Clinical Supervisor; BA (Hons). MBACP. UKRC REG in private practice; PhD candidate at York St John University

To watch the Lecture, please click on the video below:

 

ABSTRACT:
Religion and culture are powerful influencers of behaviours and attitudes, and diaspora often juxtaposes conflicting ideas and values. What is perceived to be a mental illness in one culture may not be considered so in another. Should all services be able to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population in the UK?

Today the exploration of the spiritual dimension in therapy is on the increase; yet there appears to be a dearth of information about religion itself within the training offered to mental health professionals. Societies, communities and individuals are all connected to religion in ways both subtle and obvious. For example, the commandments of thou shalt not kill, thou shall not commit adultery, form part of the foundations of secular laws governing both morals and behaviour in societies. But not all societies and communities adhere to the same laws. In Africa and India people adhere to sets of orthodox creeds and practices rooted in completely different, yet still ancient oral and written traditions. Spiritual beliefs and rituals are held in common within communities and contribute significantly to people’s sense of self, wellbeing and identity.

Over the decades, political conflicts, war, disease, religious intolerance and global industrial economic trends have led to an increase in the flow of different nationalities from the African and Asian continents into the UK and other European states. Meeting the needs of members of such diverse communities is prompting organisations vested in health and wellbeing to examine their service provision in a multi-ethnic society. Questions are asked about the uptake of services, the efficacy of their delivery and the capacity and knowledge of health professionals to understand and work with the religious belief systems of men, women and children seeking asylum and recovering from trauma. There is much work undertaken to understand the socio-economic impacts; but available research does not sufficiently delve into understanding how religious beliefs affect the everyday mental and emotional welfare of BME clients in diaspora. Does religion modify a client’s ability to heal following trauma?

Therefore, what are the effects of conflicts within family groups which result from the clash of cultural and social expectations; and, with the rise of what is being labelled the ‘commodification’ of therapy, how suited are current levels of service to specific needs?

What are considered to be “problematic” mental health issues in one culture, may not be considered in the same fashion in another. Witchcraft, hearing voices and belief in spirit possession will often fall under the purview of state run mental health services wherein the diagnosis of schizophrenia or psychosis is over represented among BME patients. However, the same phenomena situated in Kenya are approached differently by traditional healers and religious experts from within the person’s community; healing the misfortune of the individual benefits the whole community.

In my presentation I hope to show that was is known as witchcraft and magic has power and relevance for many African people in the modern world. I argue that these practices have no single moral direction; used, as they have been for millennia, to explain, predict and control events affecting the wellbeing of the community and its individual members. Its intents are to promote good health and good fortune and to direct ill health and misfortune away through the observance of long held rites and rituals.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Bidi is a senior accredited psychotherapist, counsellor and supervisor, practising in London for over twenty years. Her work with trauma survivors led her to question much about the provision of and approach to mental health issues for people from ethnic minorities. This was particularly evident to her in her work with those who hold that their religious and spiritual beliefs are intrinsic to their identity, sense of self and wellbeing.

As a result, Bidi felt it was important to deepen her knowledge in this area and completed a B.A. in The Study of Religions at SOAS. Initially focusing on Hinduism she broadened her field to encompass Religions of Africa and African Indigenous beliefs. Having conducted field research in the UK and Kenya she is currently conducting PhD research at York St. John University on the role and impact of African Indigenous beliefs on diaspora populations in the UK, investigating the interface of witchcraft, possession, magic and formal religion in the development of belief in and for individuals and communities amongst ethnic minorities. The core of this research centres on how people’s everyday lives are shaped by their beliefs.

Her work in this area has seen Bidi present at international conferences organised by various academic and political bodies in the UK and Europe. The conferences covered a range of related discussion areas such as interfaith symposia, traditional and complementary medicine, and the response of state agencies to the role of witchcraft on child trafficking from Africa to Europe and the role of witchcraft beliefs within African diasporic communities in the UK.

 

Friday, 3rd February 2017Seminar Thursday 16 February 2017:
How does workplace leadership affect spiritual well-being of employees?

This seminar took place on Thursday 16 February 2017, 3.30-5pm in Seminar Room B
(D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Prof. Roger Gill, Visiting Professor of Leadership Studies, Durham Business School, Durham University, UK

To download the Powerpoint presentation click here.

To view and download the presentation References click here.

To watch the Lecture, please click on the video below:

 

ABSTRACT:
This paper explores the causal relationship between leadership and employees’ spiritual well-being in the workplace. It touches on physical and mental well-being to provide context but focuses on the spiritual, defined as perceived meaningfulness, purpose, belongingness and value or worth in the workplace. In a proposed comprehensive model of leadership, vision, purpose and strategy, moderated by shared values and empowerment and mediated by engagement, are argued as illustrating spiritual leadership and as the basis for workplace spirituality and ultimately employee and organizational spiritual well-being. Implications for leadership practice are discussed.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Roger Gill is Visiting Professor of Leadership Studies at Durham University Business School (DUBS), Durham University in the UK, and an independent consultant on leadership and leadership development. He has taught courses on leadership and management consulting in the Durham MBA programme and contributed to executive development programmes since 2005 and he supervises PhD students in DUBS.

He was formerly Professor of Business Administration and Director of Executive Development Programmes at Strathclyde. He founded the Research Centre for Leadership Studies at the Leadership Trust in England in 1997 and he was its Director for nine years. He is also founder and former Director of the MBA in Leadership Studies run jointly by the Leadership Trust and the University of Strathclyde Business School.

Roger has previously held full-time academic posts at the State University of New York and the University of Bradford and has also taught at other business schools in the UK, USA, France, Switzerland, Germany, Southeast Asia and the Gulf region. He has held management positions in HRM in the private sector in the UK and has many years’ experience in management consulting in the UK, USA, Gulf Region and Far East. He ran his own consultancy in Singapore for eight years.

Roger is a Chartered Psychologist and a graduate of the universities of Oxford (MA), Liverpool (BPhil), and Bradford (PhD). In 2010 he was honoured with a Fellowship of the Leadership Trust Foundation in recognition of his contribution to the field of leadership and leadership development. His book Theory and Practice of Leadership (London: SAGE Publications, 2011) was shortlisted by the Chartered Management Institute for the ‘Management Book of the Year’ and ‘Management Textbook of the Year’ Awards in 2013. His current research interests are the contested nature of leadership, leadership and change, and workplace spirituality and spiritual leadership. He is a member of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality.

 

Saturday, 7th January 2017Public Lecture Thursday 16 February 2017:
The Voice of God

This public lecture will take place on Thursday 16 February 2017, 5.30-7pm in Wolfson Gallery
(Palace Green Library, Palace Green, Durham).

Professor Tanya Luhrmann, Stanford University

To register for free, click HERE.

DESCRIPTION:
God is in some ways the ultimate uncertainty, since God has no material trace which gives certain evidence of presence. The great achievement of the cognitive science of religion has been to demonstrate that evolved, “natural” qualities of our minds readily generate intuitions about supernatural agency. Yet it is also true that Christians also report that faith is hard: that it takes effort, and that this effort arises from the uncertainty of God’s presence. This talk makes the case that people find evidence of God’s presence in mental events; that different practices of attending to mental events shape mental experience; that different cultures and different theologies emphasize mind and mental process in distinctive ways, and that this has consequences for the way people experience God. I compare the experience of hearing God speak among charismatic Christians in Accra, Chennai and the Bay Area in the United States, and find that God’s voice is recognized differently and experienced differently in these theologically similar but culturally different settings@.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Tanya Marie Luhrmann is the Watkins University Professor in the Stanford Anthropology Department. Her work focuses on the edge of experience: on voices, visions, the world of the supernatural and the world of psychosis. She has done ethnography on the streets of Chicago with homeless and psychotic women, and worked with people who hear voices in Chennai, Accra and the South Bay. She has also done fieldwork with evangelical Christians who seek to hear God speak back, with Zoroastrians who set out to create a more mystical faith, and with people who practice magic. She uses a combination of ethnographic and experimental methods to understand the phenomenology of unusual sensory experiences, the way they are shaped by ideas about minds and persons, and what we can learn from this social shaping that can help us to help those whose voices are distressing.

Tanya was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and received a John Guggenheim Fellowship award in 2007.When God Talks Back was named a NYT Notable Book of the Year and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. She has published over thirty OpEds in The New York Times, and her work has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Science News, and many other publications. Her new book, Our Most Troubling Madness: Schizophrenia and Culture, will be published by the University of California Press in 2016.

This lecture will advance some of the aspects presented in our Hearing Voices exhibition, which is currently on display at Palace Green Library (further information below). We encourage you to enjoy the exhibition before the lecture starts.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION:
This event is part of the linked programme of events around Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everyday, a major exhibition on voice-hearing produced by Hearing the Voice and Palace Green Library.

The exhibition is at Palace Green Library, Durham, UK from 5 November 2016 to 26 February 2017. For more information please see the exhibition website. Visitor information can be found at the Palace Green Library website.

 

ABOUT HEARING VOICES: SUFFERING, INSPIRATION AND THE EVERYDAY:
Hearing a voice in the absence of any speaker is one of the most unusual, complex, and mysterious aspects of human experience. Typically regarded, as a symptom of severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, voice-hearing is increasingly recognized as an important part of many people’s lives and experience, as well as a phenomenon that has had profound significance, not only for individuals, but across communities, cultures, and history.

From the revelatory and inspirational voices of medieval mystics to those of imaginary friends in childhood, and from the inner voices of writers as they craft their characters to the stories of people from the international Hearing Voices Movement, this exhibition will explore the complexity and diversity of the experience and interpretation of voice-hearing.

This exhibition draws on the work of Hearing the Voice, a large interdisciplinary study of voice-hearing based at Durham University and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

To register for free, click HERE.

 

Thursday, 5th January 2017Spirituality & Recovery Conference 2017

Wednesday 12 July 2017 – Friday 14 July 2017 @ St John’s College, Durham UK

Durham University & TEWV NHS Foundation Trust

DETAILS:

As more and more mental health service providers embrace a recovery approach to care, this conference will give opportunity to explore the role which spirituality has to play in such an approach. Can there be a recovery approach without taking spirituality into account? Does a recovery model open up new opportunities to ensure that attention to spiritual needs is routinely a part of assessment and care planning? Are ‘recovery’ and ‘spirituality’ simply two different words for the same thing when it comes to mental health care, or do they have their own distinct, but mutually enriching, meanings? This conference is an opportunity for clinicians, service users and carers, chaplains, faith and community leaders and anyone else interested to come and think about how those interested in recovery and those who wish to promote the importance of spirituality can work together for the benefit of people who are receiving mental health services. The second day will focus particularly on the importance of narrative and we will hear a number of stories from TEWV service users. The final day will have a particular emphasis on compassion and kindness. This is the third Durham conference exploring good practice in spirituality and mental health care, and will take place at St John’s College.

 

Biographies and the conference agenda can be found here.

To view and download the conference poster, click here.

 

If you have any proposals for delegate workshops and presentations, please complete this form and return to Colin Jay (colin.jay@nhs.net) no later than 1st April 2017.

 

To book a place in the conference, click HERE.

 

You have the option to book accommodation as part of your registration.

PACKAGES:

  • Standard Package (£140): Includes attendance on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, including refreshments and lunch.
  • Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Staff (£125): Includes attendance on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, including refreshments and lunch.
  • Day Attendance – Thursday (£80): Includes refreshments and lunch

 

PAYMENT METHODS

  • Credit/Debit Card
  • Purchase Order

 

Spirituality-Recovery-Conference-2017-Logos

 

Wednesday, 4th January 2017Pastoral Community Health Care: Forging the Links Conference 2017

Saturday 4 March 2017 @ Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln

A conference to learn, explore and develop how faith organisations can improve community healthcare in Lincolnshire.

Hear speakers on the subjects of Parish Nursing, Primary Healthcare Chaplaincy, Multi-faith Working, Rural Chaplaincy in Lincolnshire, Local Community Projects and local Training Opportunities for Mission & Ministry.

This conference should be of interest to nurses, doctors, chaplains, priests, deacons, readers and lay church groups interested in how the resources of faith and healthcare services can be pulled together in order to close the gaps in community care.

CPD Certificates will be available.

 

To view and download the conference flyer, click here.

To book a place in the conference, click HERE.

 

SpiriPastoral Community Health Care Conference 2017 - Banner

 

Tuesday, 3rd January 2017Hearing the Voice events in February 2017: A focus on visionary voices

Events in February 2017 delve into the visionary and mystical worlds presented in our major exhibition, Hearing Voices: suffering inspiration and the everyday. Immerse yourself in an experiential sound and light installation in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, cross centuries and cosmologies in a public symposium exploring ‘voices, visions, and divine inspiration,’ and engage with ‘the voice of God’ in a public lecture by Tanya Luhrmann (Stanford University). The events listed below are free and likely to book up fast, so make sure you reserve a place before the year is out. Follow the links below for further information on the individual events and bookings.

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‘Tuning into the Light’
Nina Garthwaite and Hearing the Voice

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Durham Cathedral
11 – 25 February 2017, from 10am  4pm
An experimental sound installation which engages with the experience of hearing spiritual voices by blending together in infinite uncontrived and unforeseen ways rich accounts of mystical experience with sound, music and silence. All are welcome to attend this installation free-of-charge, and no advance booking is required.

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Professor Tanya Luhrmann on ‘The Voice of God’
Public Lecture
16 February 2017, from 5:30 – 7pm

Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Durham DH1 3RN

God is in some ways the ultimate uncertainty, since God has no material trace which gives certain evidence of presence. The great achievement of the cognitive science of religion has been to demonstrate that evolved, “natural” qualities of our minds readily generate intuitions about supernatural agency. Yet it is also true that Christians also report that faith is hard: that it takes effort, and that this effort arises from the uncertainty of God’s presence. This talk makes the case that people find evidence of God’s presence in mental events; that different practices of attending to mental events shape mental experience; that different cultures and different theologies emphasize mind and mental process in distinctive ways, and that this has consequences for the way people experience God. I compare the experience of hearing God speak among charismatic Christians in Accra, Chennai and the Bay Area in the United States, and find that God’s voice is recognized differently and experienced differently in these theologically similar but culturally different settings.

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‘Voices, Visions, and Divine Inspiration’
Public Symposium
18 February 2017, 1 – 6pm
St Chad’s College Chapel, Durham, DH1 3RN

Join us to explore the spiritual aspects of hearing voices and the way in which these rich and enigmatic experiences have been represented and interpreted in different religious contexts from the medieval period to the present. Together we will investigate the spiritual voices and visions of medieval visionaries – including the French saint Joan of Arc, whose voices inspired her to lead an army; the English mystic Julian of Norwich, whose Revelations of Divine Love retain a powerful influence today; and Margery Kempe, author of the first autobiography in English – as well as the role and representation of voice-hearing in early Mormonism, Buddhism and ayahuasca rituals.

The event features a public lecture by Corinne Saunders and a panel discussion with Durham University’s Chris CookHilary PowellAdam PowellDavid DupuisIsabel Clarke (Clinical Psychologist, author of Psychosis and Spirituality) and Satyin Taylor (Department of Spiritual, Religious & Cultural Care East London NHS Foundation Trust).  A wine reception between 5pm and 6pm will feature readings of specially commissioned works by Sara Maitland and winner of the 2016 Queen’s medal for poetry, Gillian Allnutt.

RESERVE YOUR TICKET

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Final guided tour of the ‘Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration, and the everyday‘ exhibition
25 February 2017, 3:30 
4:30pm
Palace Green Library, Durham, DH1 3RN

Enjoy a guided tour of the Hearing Voices exhibition and learn about the research behind some of the highlights and the making of some of the displays. The guided tours are led by members of the Hearing the Voice research team and students at the ARCH Recovery College in Durham.

RESERVE YOUR TICKET

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Hearing Voices – Further information

This event is part of the linked programme of events around Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everyday, a major exhibition on voice-hearing produced by Hearing the Voice and Palace Green Library.

About Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everyday

Hearing a voice in the absence of any speaker is one of the most unusual, complex, and mysterious aspects of human experience. Typically regarded, as a symptom of severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, voice-hearing is increasingly recognized as an important part of many people’s lives and experience, as well as a phenomenon that has had profound significance, not only for individuals, but across communities, cultures, and history.

From the revelatory and inspirational voices of medieval mystics to those of imaginary friends in childhood, and from the inner voices of writers as they craft their characters to the stories of people from the international Hearing Voices Movement, this exhibition will explore the complexity and diversity of the experience and interpretation of voice-hearing.

This exhibition draws on the work of Hearing the Voice, a large interdisciplinary study of voice-hearing based at Durham University and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration and the everday will be installed at Palace Green Library, Durham, UK from 5 November 2016 to 26 February 2017.

For more information please see the exhibition website: www.hearingvoicesdu.org

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If you need any further information regarding any of the above events then please do not hesitate to contact our Hearing the Voice Project Coordinators.

 

Sunday, 1st January 2017Seminar Thursday 2 February 2017:
Science, religion and healing: Cancer

This seminar took place on Thursday 2 February 2017, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room B
(D/TH004, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Revd Dr Gillian Straine, CEO of the Guild of Health and St. Raphael

To watch the Lecture, please click on the video below:

 

ABSTRACT:
Academic study of religion and science is undergoing a shift away from traditional areas of debate, such as evolutionary science and quantum theory, and into new grounds such as the role of human experience in both fields. In this paper, Straine explores one such avenue of enquiry by focussing on the human experience of illness to ask whether there is epistemological value for theology in the study of suffering. Taking cancer as a special example, where the suffering is understood to be wide ranging and deep and subject to social taboo, this paper presents a method of interdisciplinary interpretation to bring together theological knowledge with oncological science. This leads to new metaphors for the disease and new theological views emphasised such that the foundations of the pastoral work and its complimentary theological framework are strengthened. Following this, ideas from narrative medicine are used to promote the idea of storytelling in suffering to find meaning. The paper concludes by raising the possibility that any epistemological value found in suffering is only as important as the extent to which suffering is eased and healing made tangible in lives touched by cancer.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Gillian is the CEO of The Guild of Health and St. Raphael a national charity promoting the healing ministry of the Christian Church.

Gillian Straine received a B.Sci (2000) in Physics from Imperial College London, and a Ph.D (2005) from the same institution. Her research focussed on experimental observations and computational modelling of radiative transfer in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Gillian holds a MA (2008) in Theology from the University of Oxford and is an ordained Anglican Priest. Her main academic focus is the dialogue between science and religion, and uses training in both science communication and homiletics to communicate outside of the academy, publishing ‘Introducing Science and Religion: A Path through Polemic’ (SPCK) in 2014. Gillian’s current research interest are in interdisciplinary work engaging with practical theology, and the healing ministry of the church. ‘Cancer: a pilgrim companion’ was published by SPCK in January 2017.