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Spirituality for a World in Crisis

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By Geoffrey Pullen

There was a meeting on the above theme at the Essex Unitarian Church in Notting Hill Gate on 8th June which was attended by over one hundred delegates from different spiritual organisations, such as the Alister Hardy Society, the Scientific and Medical Network, the Anthroposophy Movement, the British Teilhard Society, the College of Psychic Studies and several others.

It was under the aegis of the Wrekin Forum and Janice Dolley introduced the speakers. The Phiroz Mehta Trust was represented by two trustees, Rosemary Monk and Geoffrey Pullen.

Janice gave the rationale for the day and explained the reasons for the conference. Existing institutions are not rising to the challenges we face in today’s world. So an emerging alliance of spiritual and religious groupings is called for to explore what each might contribute to a coherent vision and set of actions for the future.

Questions for the day included “What are the key issues at stake?”, “How might we co-operate?” and “Can we bring our various spiritual visions together to inspire a change in the way we live?”

The first speaker was David Lorimer, president of the Scientific and Medical Network. He gave a dazzling overview of recent writings on the subject, from Al Gore’s latest book The Future to earlier works by Aldous Huxley, Arnold Toynbee, Albert Schweizer, Tolstoi and Oswald Spengler.

I was particularly impressed by his review of David Hawkins’s book Power vs. Force (see the SMN Network Review) and Pitirim Sorokin’s book The Ways and Power of Love.

The afternoon speaker was Dr Greg Barker for the Alister Hardy Society, a senior lecturer at the University of Wales doing research on Spiritual Atheism. He posed the challenge of attracting the young, in the face of ageing membership and dwindling funds.

He suggested that to attract young people organisations need to engage more in social media, engage the emotions more, offer something of interest and re-envision trusteeship to engage more with young people.

He stressed a study by David Voas from the University of Manchester on ‘Measuring Religiosity using Surveys’ which had led him to these conclusions.

The day ended with small group discussions of about ten people and we handed in our observations for a final report. The day ended with a meditation from Sister Maureen of the Brahma Kumaris.

I personally enjoyed the day immensely and found much in common with fellow participants.

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