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Monday, 22nd April 2019UPCOMING Seminar Thursday 9 May 2019:
Hope and Health in ‘Larger Contexts’: Hans Mol, Jürgen Moltmann, and Viktor Frankl on Self-Transcendence

This seminar will take place on Thursday 9 May 2019, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room C
(D/TH107, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Dr Adam Powell, Junior Research Fellow, Department of Theology & Religion, Durham University

ABSTRACT:
This paper is a cross-disciplinary look at the wartime experiences and subsequent theories of the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, the theologian Jürgen Moltmann, and the sociologist Hans Mol. Each of these influential figures experienced imprisonment during the Second World War, and each went on to develop discipline-specific ideas about meaning-making, hope, and identity, respectively. Although their theories were distinct, and indeed aimed at different audiences, they overlapped in suggesting that the sources of human hope and meaningful identity came from beyond the self. These sources may include, for example, the love of/from another person or the objectified rituals and beliefs of a particular religion. Either way, for these three thinkers, the motivation to survive and the potential to flourish were not found in personal narrative but in something more transcendent. This cut against much western philosophy built on the sovereignty of the individual. What is more, this paper seeks to show that this similarity came, in part, from their first-hand encounters with the atrocities of war – devastating the individual both physically and psychologically. After drawing out the possible connections between their experiences and their academic contributions, the paper concludes with suggestions about what this may offer more contemporary discussions of human well-being within the medical humanities, psychiatry, et cetera which increasingly emphasise the mental and physical value of individual narrative construction.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Adam Powell is a junior research fellow in the Department of Theology & Religion of Durham University and a recipient of Durham’s International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise. As a member of the interdisciplinary project, Hearing the Voice, he researches religious experiences (supernatural voices and visions) among both 19th-century Mormons and 21st-century Spiritualists. He is the author of Hans Mol and the Sociology of Religion (Routledge, 2017) and Irenaeus, Joseph Smith, and God-Making Heresy (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015) and co-editor of Sacred Selves, Sacred Settings (Ashgate, 2015).

 

Monday, 22nd April 2019SEMINAR PROGRAMME
Easter Term 2019

SEMINAR PROGRAMME – Easter Term 2019

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 9 May 2019 (4.30-6pm)
Hope and Health in ‘Larger Contexts’: Hans Mol, Jürgen Moltmann, and Viktor Frankl on Self-Transcendence
Seminar Room C (D/TH107)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Dr Adam Powell,
Junior Research Fellow, Department of Theology & Religion, Durham University

 

 

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Friday, 1st March 2019Seminar Thursday 14 March 2019:
The Book of Job: speaking faith in the midst of trauma

This seminar will take place on Thursday 14 March 2019, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room C
(D/TH107, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury; Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Theology & Religious Studies, King’s College London

ABSTRACT:
The book of Job, more than any in Scripture, is one that explores the very possibility of faith and hope in the midst of despair. It is articulated around three sets of protagonists: Job, his friends and family, and God. The drama of grief and trauma for Job is one that is profoundly grounded in his understanding and practice of faith, as shaped by the culture that his family and friends represent. It also revolves around the need to find a language to talk of and to God from within a space of mental distress and the breakdown of usual categories of thought. It is a drama, which explores relationships between characters, modes of being and social relationships, and which climaxes in the interaction between Job and Yahweh. This brief analysis of Job will reveal a desperate search for meaning, for ways of being a person of faith within the challenges of grief and trauma, in ways that both connect with tradition, yet are authentic to the experience of collapsing certainties and complete alienation. It will explore how grief and trauma lead to the breakdown of existing spiritual language and practices, and how this breakdown affects both Job and those who care for him. The journey Job and his friends go on is one that will leave neither Job, nor his friends, untouched, but re-shape their language, spirituality, personal narratives of the wider world, and ways of relating to the divine. This is in turns leads to reflections on the nature and role of the community of faith, the place that spirituality can play in exacerbating mental distress, but also avenues of thought for exploring news ways of construing faith and theology.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Isabelle Hamley is currently Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury. She previously taught Biblical Studies and Practical Theology at St John’s College, Nottingham, as well as being the vicar of the parish of Edwalton. Her interest in academia has been nurtured through the years with a spell as a university chaplain at the university of Leicester and ten years teaching in the School of Continuing Education at the university of Nottingham. She has always had a passion for integrating theology, ministry and engagement with the wider world, and therefore trained and practiced as a Probation Officer whilst also teaching theology in the evenings in Nottingham.

 

Friday, 15th February 2019Seminar Thursday 28 February 2019:
“Living Deeply”: A Pastoral Integration of Psychology and Spirituality

This seminar took place on Thursday 28 February 2019, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room C
(D/TH107, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

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

ABSTRACT:
My recent book, Living Deeply: A Psychological and Spiritual Journey, has raised important issues for me about how to integrate wisdom about practical living that comes from psychology and from spiritual traditions. My basic assumption is that, though things are presented rather differently, there is a good deal of underlying convergence between the two. I will illustrate that by drawing attention to similarities between Augustine Baker’s Holy Wisdom (written in the 17th century) with modern cognitive-behaviour therapy. Living Deeply aims to provide a psychologically-grounded introduction to the Christian faith. The direction of travel in my book is deliberately from the human and psychological to the religious and spiritual. The book also moves from personal issues to relational ones, and finally deals more explicitly with religious ideas, including beliefs about God. Overall, it tries to make connections between personal growth, pastoral care, spiritual practice and religious belief, showing how richly inter-connected these are, and making the relevance of religion to everyday life more clearly apparent. The book tries to articulate the self-spirituality that seems to be the predominant one of late modernity, one that can be found in Christian settings (especially in Charismatic evangelical churches), secular settings and more general spiritual settings such as Twelve Steps programmes.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Fraser Watts 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 also a former President of the British Psychological Society and of the International Society for Science and Religion. He is now Executive Secretary of the International Society for Science and Religion and a Visiting Professor at the University of Lincoln. His books include Theology and Psychology (Ashgate, 2002); Psychology for Christian Ministry (with Rebecca Nye and Sara Savage, Routledge, 2002); Forgiveness in Context (ed. 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 (ed. with G. Dumbreck, Templeton Press, 2013;) Evolution, Religion and Cognitive Science: Critical and Constructive Essays (edited with L Turner, OUP, 2014); Psychology, Religion and Spirituality (CUP, 2017; and Living Deeply (Lutterworth, 2018).

 

Monday, 11th February 2019* CANCELLED * Seminar Thursday 14 February 2019:
Diagnosing Paul: A Methodology
for Understanding the Impairment and Disability
of the Apostle to the Gentiles

Unfortunately, the speaker had, for health reasons, to cancel the seminar scheduled on Thursday 14 February 2019, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room C
(D/TH107, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Mr Isaac Soon, PhD Student, New Testament (BCM, MTh, MPhil [Oxon.]), Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University; Research Assistant to Prof. Francis Watson

ABSTRACT:
Past interpreters of Paul the Apostle attempted to diagnose Paul’s various weaknesses (e.g. the thorn in his flesh [2 Cor 12:1-10], cf. Gal 4:13-15) purely through medical conjecture. Until recently scholars did not have the means to speak about physical impairment beyond medical diagnosis. The advent of disability theory, however, has provided a way of moving beyond Paul’s impairment(s) as medical conditions in order to conceive of them also as social and cultural realities. This paper gives a brief overview of some recent short studies on Paul and disability in the last twenty years, and as an alternative proposes a socio-cultural method for analysing disability in an ancient Jewish and Graeco-Roman context (I draw in particular on the work of foremost German disability scholar Anne Waldschmidt). The aim is to demonstrate a critical method for analysing disability in antiquity without anachronistic retrojection in order to make Paul a fruitful dialogue partner for contemporary analyses and applications of disability theory and disability theology.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
His previous training in Biblical Studies took place in Sydney, Australia where he earned a BCM (2010) from Alphacrucis and an MTh (2013) from Excelsia College (then Wesley Institute). From 2015-2017 he read for an MPhil in Theology (New Testament) at the University of Oxford, where he worked on a project about Paul’s somatic rhetoric in 1-2 Corinthians in conversation with ancient ideals of visual appearance. In 2017 he joined the University of Durham as a recipient of a Durham Doctoral Studentship, working alongside Dr. Jane Heath and Dr. Jan Dochhorn on his PhD project entitled: “Paul, the Disabled Apostle.”

 

Friday, 4th January 2019Book Launch: Hearing Voices, Demonic and Divine: Scientific and Theological Perspectives
by Professor Chris Cook

Thursday 17 January 2019 (6-8pm)

Prior’s Hall, Durham Cathedral, Durham, DH1 3EH

We warmly invite you to celebrate the launch of Hearing Voices, Demonic and Divine: Scientific and Theological Perspectives by Professor Chris Cook (Co-Investigator, Hearing the Voice) at Prior’s Hall, Durham Cathedral on Thursday 17 January 2019, 6-8pm.

Featuring an introduction by John Swinton (Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care and Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen), our panel of experts will explore the experience of hearing voices from scientific, spiritual, theological and personal standpoints. Chaired by Charles Fernyhough (Director and PI, Hearing the Voice).

Wine and canapes will be provided.

All welcome!

If you would like to attend this event, we kindly ask that you register through Eventbrite for catering purposes by clicking here.

About this book

Experiences of hearing the voice of God (or angels, demons, or other spiritual beings) have generally been understood either as religious experiences or else as a feature of mental illness. Some critics of traditional religious faith have dismissed the visions and voices attributed to biblical characters and saints as evidence of mental disorder. However, it is now known that many ordinary people, with no other evidence of mental disorder, also hear voices and that these voices not infrequently include spiritual or religious content. Psychological and interdisciplinary research has shed a revealing light on these experiences in recent years, so that we now know much more about the phenomenon of ‘hearing voices’ than ever before.

Hearing Voices, Demonic and Divine considers biblical, historical, and scientific accounts of spiritual and mystical experiences of voice hearing in the Christian tradition in order to explore how some voices may be understood theologically as revelatory, proposing that in the incarnation, Christian faith finds both an understanding of what it is to be fully human (a theological anthropology), and God’s perfect self-disclosure (revelation). Within such an understanding, revelatory voices represent a key point of interpersonal encounter between human beings and God.

The open access version of Hearing Voices, Demonic and Divine can be found here.

 

Tuesday, 1st January 2019Seminar Thursday 17 January 2019:
Caring for women with eating disorders:
Could insights from feminist theology reform the practice of pastoral care?

This seminar took place on Thursday 17 January 2019, 4.30-5.45pm in Seminar Room C
(D/TH107, Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham).

Dr Carolyn Blair, Research Fellow, School of Social Science, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast

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

 

ABSTRACT:
This seminar aims to provide recommendations to assist with the improvement of church-based pastoral care of women experiencing Eating Disorders (EDs) using insights from feminist theology and other relevant sources. Unique perspectives have been derived from a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with women who have experienced EDs, carers of those who have experienced EDs and those claiming insight into such issues.

Considering that the most significant finding of this research project suggests that religious fundamentalist traits mirror the characteristics of women experiencing EDs, it has been crucial to critically analyse how these traits may deepen distress for the sufferer especially in pastoral encounters. Furthermore, it has therefore been essential to provide an alternative theological perspective which has the potential to help counteract these deleterious effects.

As feminist theologians challenge patriarchal perspectives pertaining to human flourishing and practical care, this seminar will demonstrate and prompt discussion on how feminist theological insights could positively reform pastoral care and frame the place of religion and spirituality in the recovery from EDs.

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Carolyn Blair is a Research Fellow in Queen’s University Belfast in the School of Social Science, Education and Social Work specialising in the area of psychological trauma. Carolyn has received a PhD in Theology and Social Work, Master of Theology and Bachelor of Theology from Queen’s University Belfast. Carolyn’s research has mainly focused on the areas of EDs and self-esteem in females, reflecting upon how church-based pastoral care could be problematic but also has the potential to help in recovery.

 

Tuesday, 1st January 2019SEMINAR PROGRAMME
Epiphany Term 2019

SEMINAR PROGRAMME – Epiphany Term 2019

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 17 January 2019 (4.30-5.45pm)
Caring for women with eating disorders: Could insights from feminist theology reform the practice of pastoral care?
Seminar Room C (D/TH107)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Dr Carolyn Blair,
Research Fellow, School of Social Science, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast

 

Thursday 14 February 2019 (4.30-6pm) * CANCELLED *
Diagnosing Paul: A Methodology for Understanding the Impairment and Disability of the Apostle to the Gentiles
Seminar Room C (D/TH107)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Mr Isaac Soon,
PhD Student, New Testament (BCM, MTh, MPhil [Oxon.]), Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University;
Research Assistant to Prof. Francis Watson

 

Thursday 28 February 2019 (4.30-6pm)
“Living Deeply”: A Pastoral Integration of Psychology and Spirituality
Seminar Room C (D/TH107)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Dr Fraser Watts,
Visiting Professor of Psychology and Religion, University of Lincoln

 

Thursday 14 March 2019 (4.30-6pm)
The Book of Job: speaking faith in the midst of trauma
Seminar Room C (D/TH107)Dept. of Theology & Religion, Abbey House, DH1 3RS, Durham
by Revd Dr Isabelle Hamley,
Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury; Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Theology & Religious Studies, King’s College London

 

 

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Wednesday, 28th November 2018Press Release: The Healing Enigma: The Physician-Priest in the 21st Century
by Robert Jaggs-Fowler

THE HEALING ENIGMA: The Physician-Priest in the 21st Century

Robert Jaggs-Fowler, a graduate of our MA programme in STH and a current PhD student, offers a radical proposal for the relationship between medicine and religion

GP and author, Robert Jaggs-Fowler brings us The Healing Enigma, a fascinating exploration of the relationship between the physician and the priest, and a radical proposal on the future of the relationship between medicine and religion.

Despite a growing body of scientific evidence indicating the value of spirituality, the 20th century medical profession within the Western world has placed religion at arm’s length, effectively excluding such discussion from the medical consultation. “There is currently no book on the market that addresses this issue for modern times,” explains Robert. “The concept of the physician-priest is an ancient one existing pre-Christianity, but health evidence indicates that the concept is a powerful one even for today.”

Referring to both primary and secondary sources within theological, medical, legal, historic and philosophical literature, Robert puts forward an argument in support of a 21st century role for the physician-priest. He argues that if the physician can exercise the role of priest in addition to the medical role, they can thereby truly minister to the whole person in terms of mind, body and soul. With consideration of modern NHS funding streams, Robert suggests a radical proposal whereby the Church of England and medical educational institutions might combine to offer dual theological and medical training. “The result would establish a new breed of professional person ideally positioned in respect to the care of the elderly and those with terminal illness. This would not only assist with the provision of ‘whole-person’ care, but also allows the Church to firmly re-establish itself in the 21st century within its Christian healing tradition,” concludes Robert.

 

Robert Jaggs-Fowler is an ordinand, GP, writer and poet living in Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire. He has degrees in medicine, law and theology and is the author of several books. Robert won the Lincoln Book Festival Prize for fiction on 2005 and the Fathom Prize for poetry in 2010.

 

RELEASE DATE 28th November 2018
ISBN: 9781789015393
Price: £8.99

To buy the book, click here.

For author interviews, review or competition copies, articles, photos or extracts:
Alexa Davies
Tel: 0116 279 2299
Email: alexa_davies@troubador.co.uk
TROUBADOR PUBLISHING LTD, 9 PRIORY BUSINESS PARK, KIBWORTH, LEICESTER LE8 0RX

 

Tuesday, 24th July 2018Spiritually Significant Voices project

As Co-Investigators on the Hearing the Voice Project, funded by Wellcome Trust, we would like to request that any readers who have had experiences of spiritually significant voices (or voice-like experiences) would consider completing a survey which may be found online at this URL: https://durham.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/spiritvoices

Spiritually significant voices take a variety of forms. Some people find the term “hearing voices” a useful way to describe their experience, others refer more specifically to hearing God, angels, saints, demons, or other spiritual beings. Others hear sounds but not speech, describe loud thoughts, or feel the presence of God, angels, demons, or other beings. For some people such experiences have been rare – perhaps once in a lifetime – and for others they are ongoing. Our aim is to develop a better understanding of all of these experiences. Anyone can take part who has had first-hand experience of hearing a spiritually significant voice, as long as they are 16 years of age or over.