Living Theology - Birmingham  2019

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St Paul’s Convent

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Birmingham Living Theology

The course takes place on Saturday June 15th and Sunday June 16th 2019.
Click to see details of location, booking, and detailed timetable.

This two–day course focusses on several aspects of how God is active in our world.
Everyone follows course A on Peacebuilding; and in addition each person can choose one course from the two offered in the B courses, and one from the two in the C courses.

Course outlines

Everyone follows this course:

A: Religion and Peacebuilding

This course explores popular and scholarly ideas about the connections between religion, violence and peacebuilding. We will look in particular at teaching on peace in the Catholic Church.

Doesn’t religion cause war?—When we look at the news or listen to commentators in the media, we get the impression that religion causes war, and that it is safest to reduce the influence of religion in the world, or banish it altogether. In this session, we will explore and discuss different understandings of the relationship between religion and violence.

Can religion be involved in peacebuilding?—This session explores the characteristics of 21st century violent conflict, and looks at how strategic peacebuilding aims to address it. We will look at some examples of religious involvement in peacebuilding efforts worldwide.

Peacebuilding and the Catholic Church—What does the Catholic Church teach about peace? Many people are familiar with the idea of ‘Just War’ reasoning, but the Church’s broader tradition of teaching on peace is not so well known. This session introduces some of its key concepts, and we will reflect on how Catholic social teaching on peace might need to develop in the light of 21st century challenges.

Dr Theodora Hawksley CJ is a theologian by training, with a background in ecclesiology and social science. Her postdoctoral work at the University of Edinburgh focussed on peacebuilding and the arts, and she is currently finishing a book on Catholic social teaching on peace. She entered the Congregation of Jesus in 2015, and is based in London.

Each person chooses one of the following B courses:

B1: Towards a New World

As we human beings get more and more control over God’s continuing creation, we seem to be able to make more and more of a mess of it. In this course we will look at the various increasing problems we face around the world, and how they are seen in Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’. What’s causing all these problems? And what can we actually do about them? How can we move towards a better world, and ultimately into the Kingdom of God? Although there is an air of gloom over what we are doing to the world, this course is upbeat and hopeful!

Michael Smith SJ is a Jesuit priest who has spent most of his life in education. He now specialises in adult education, and lectures in several places on theological topics. Beginning with a degree in physics, he has a special interest in the links between science and faith, and tries to maintain this view of reality in all his work.

B2:Jesus’ Passion for the Kingdom of God.

We will explore the disturbing nature of Jesus’ teaching of the alternative kingdom of God, how it clashed with other ideas of Kingdom, religious and secular (Messianic. Herodian and Roman Imperial), and how it inevitably provoked violent opposition from those who wished to maintain things as they were. We’ll explore some of the stories he told and just how subversive they were seen to be. Finally we’ll reflect on how his teaching and practice remains a challenge to Church and State today.

Apart from the texts of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures we will be drawing on the fruits of 100 years of middle Eastern archaeology which have helped us to sharpen our understanding of First Century life in Palestine under the Roman Empire. Against this background Jesus’ life shines out anew in all its freshness and uniqueness.

David McLoughlin is a theologian who has spent most of his working life helping Christian leaders and activists – teachers, deacons, priests and bishops – get a clearer vision of the gospel of Jesus and its implications. He is a founder member of the Movement of Christian Workers which aims to inspire working people to transform the world by transforming their world of work. His favourite religious saying is: “The glory of God is a fully alive human being.” (St. Irenaeus 130-200 CE)

Each person chooses one of the following C courses:

C1: Revisiting the grounds of our Hope.

The French Poet Charles Péguy speaks of Hope as the little sister of Faith and Love, often overshadowed and ignored in the presence of her powerful elder sisters. But in times of difficulty and darkness – Péguy was writing on the brink of World War – little Hope comes into her own.

This session will reflect, in the face of global warming and the ongoing destruction of so many species and life forms, on where we find Hope today. We will locate the hope that arises out of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and explore how that hope can be sustained in our daily lives? How can it enable us to live towards the future in joy and specifically face death with equanimity.


C2: Being saved . . .

Jesus Christ in his life, death and resurrection redeemed the human race. This course will focus on what that means for each of us individually, and for the whole human race. We will look at the meaning and use of the word redemption and related ideas such as salvation, atonement, and being freed from sin, as they occur in scripture, and in later thinking in the Christian church. And we'll think how that work is being carried on today.

Michael Smith SJ



This course will be held at:
St Paul's Convent, 94 Selly Park Road, Selly Park, Birmingham B29 7LL
Click here to see a map

Nearest train station is Selly Oak.

Booking a place on this course

Please note that booking does not open until January 2019. After that, please book in advance, so that we can get the numbers for catering and handouts correct.
E-mail and include which of the two B course, and which of the two C courses you wish to follow.

The suggested offering for this course is £40 for both days which includes a light lunch each day. If this is a problem then there is no difficulty if you offer less than this.


 Saturday June 15thSunday June 16th
10.00Arrive and register 
10.15Course ACourse C1 or C2
11.30Course B1 or B2Course C1 or C2
1.00Course B1 or B2Course C1 or C2
2.15Course B1 or B2Course A
3.30Course AMass for those who wish to stay


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