Day 1 of Summer school

Sunday 2nd August 2020 — Hosted in Jerusalem, participants zoomed-in from around the world

Jerusalem August 2020 / gj

We met today for the first session of the Summer School. There were around 16 of us from Jerusalem where it was being hosted, Europe, North America and Singapore.

Most of the first session was spent with us introducing ourselves and the impact of COVID 19 on us.

I noted how one participant described her journey through different faiths,

“ When I step back they are all in front of me.”

She articulated how I see my journey through different traditions.

There were 3 sessions in the day and each had key extracts from interviews conducted by Alon Goshen-Gottstein the founder and director of the institute.

The leaders with different styles reflected the varied psychological responses to COVID. Some spoke of doubt in their faith others about our need to adapt and the one that spoke most to me was a leader within the Buddist tradition. He spoke of the paradox of enjoying aspects of the crisis such as slowing him down and the quiet whilst others health is suffering due to the virus.

The question was asked what one thing have been learnt from the crisis. For me, I have learned that if I stay with something a breakthrough will come. I struggled for the first 7 weeks of the crisis having to do everything at home but then a breakthrough came. That showed as has previous experiences that somehow we will adapt despite what we are in. Zoom had also flattened the world as I found through it I would contact other countries and the world. Previously you had to be in the know, be invited and have the money to travel.

The last question of the day was what is religion? We all came us with our own answers. They were tied together in the following (my paraphrase),

“Religion provides, community, a belief in the afterlife, a personal relationship with God, it cultivates good habits and patterns of behaviour which produce an attitude towards God and the other.”

I was surprised that my identity as a Northern Irish protestant came out quite a bit. This was in relation to some faiths having dilemmas concerning buildings and religious rituals. As a non-conformist, I believe in the priesthood of all believers meaning that my faith continues whether in a building or not.

I also think that religion can be the result of humans organising God. For me the purpose of religion to provide a way to God through its teaching and language. When a religion becomes more centred in an ethnic identity it limits its potential to assist people in their spiritual development.

Best,

g

Extracts from the others

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Gordie Jackson

Gordie Jackson

Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.