Sunday, 4 October 2015

Desire and caritas

Professor Mona Siddiqui will be giving the Gifford Lectures next year.  I know how dense this annual series of Lecture’s can be: I’ve read carefully at least the first third of Rowan Williams’ 2013 ones on the nature of language and got a huge amount out of the portion which I understood. 

Anyway, she came to the Lincoln Theological Society to give a taste of the theme she has in mind for the Lectures, although she says she has not yet written them.  It took some concentration keeping up with her.

Faith as ‘struggle’ is for her a positive and, importantly, hope-ful approach (in contrast to ‘suffering’ which appears to be more negative and often simply about enduring).  It is closely tied up with the implication of our desires – positive (this is where hope comes in), inevitable (unavoidably part of the human condition) and negative (able to skew our appetite, expectation and satisfaction).

It was sad that the questions which came after the lecture mainly asked her to comment on the presenting issues of Islam to casual western observers (the first question asked was why she had not tackled the theme of jihad and the last asked her why she didn’t wear a veil) and thus rarely engaged with her theme at all.

If I can get Rowan Williams’ ones on language read and understood by the end of 2016 it might be just in time to buy Mona Siddiqui’s on struggle and desire and start the round again.

It was my second trip to Lincoln in a week, and on the earlier occasion I had gone to see someone in the County Hospital where I took the two photographs of things preserved from an earlier building.

The statue is that of Caritas (the embodiment of the virtue of loving care).  The bed endowment plaque – one of a whole row – reminded me that the origins of First World War tanks lay in the development of more easily movable agricultural machinery in Lincoln.

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