No Man Is An Island

‘No Man is an Island’ (John Donne) is the theme of this year’s Abbey Summer School in Edinburgh 1- 3 June. I am preparing a TED talk (oldies can google this term for a ten minute pungent, topical and well-crafted talk) and a workshop.

The organisers explain: ‘The ‘abbey’ in our name is an important indication of our ethos: we gather in a particular place, and are attentive to that place. We do so to seek God together in community, even if only for a brief time. We want to be attentive to both heart and mind. Our participation depends on a journey we have each undertaken – a pilgrimage that is both a lifelong journey as well as a more limited and recent relocation. All of this takes on substance not only in eating, learning, and praying together on site, but in a mini-pilgrimage that we build into the Summer School – often to an actual abbey. Like all true abbeys, however, ours is a hospitable place. Built in Scotland, it is welcoming to pilgrims from all over the world. Founded with Scots primarily in mind, it opens its doors to all God’s people – all who want to gather to think in fresh ways about their faith and what it means for their lives. Our aim is to reach towards something of the integration of thought and emotion, head and heart, spirituality and theology, as found in monastic abbeys before the split into abbey and university – back in the time of Columba at Iona, or Cuthbert at Melrose and Lindisfarne. Therefore, we offer much more than just an academic summer school, although we do not offer less than that. We take seriously the minds that God gave us, but also the bodies with which they are united; the reason with which our Creator has endowed us, but also our imaginations and our emotions. There will be time to be at peace, for spiritual guidance, for laughter and for music, for worship and reflection, and for interaction and discussion. We can’t promise you a life-changing experience, but we think it’s possible. Following on from last year’s theme, Being Human, this year we ask the next question: Can we be human on our own? In the theme of The Abbey Summer School 2017, No Man is an Island, we come face to face with the Western predicament of individualism, and the ways that Christian faith must meet this challenge. For many of us, individualism is the cultural air we breathe. Immersed as we are, it is difficult.

This year we have two events. A short course on Reading and Preaching the Old Testament will be taught by Iain Provan. Overlapping with this, our usual three day event will consider relationships and individualism in No Man is an Island. We’ll be led into this by Julie Canlis, Trevor Hart, Ray Simpson and others, including the film GODSPEED.’

https://www.abbeysummerschool.com/details/

Posted at 08:58am on 10th April 2017
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