Celebrating spirituality and peace after 9/11

By Donald Reid
13 Jul 2011

In 1947, after the devastation of war, the Edinburgh International Festival was conceived to ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’.

Similarly, the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, which runs this year in Edinburgh from 6-29 August 2011, seeks to reawaken the heart of the Edinburgh festival for people who, ten years after 9/11, want to work together for a peaceful future.

The Festival of Spirituality and Peace is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting those with a practical vision for peace. Each year we partner with appropriate humanitarian causes for which we raise money through ticket surcharges and donations at selected events.

This year the Festival will split all money raised in this way between the Blood Foundation in Thailand, the St Paul’s Centre in Uganda and our own Volunteer Programme.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was much comment to the effect that ‘the world had changed’. The intervening period has been marked by much violence – especially that wrought on the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan – and an increased sense of fear and insecurity throughout the world. Is ‘the clash of civilisations’ prophecy coming true? What is the legacy of these events? In the shadow of fear and violence, can we choose hope and peace?

Events in the Arab world suggest we can choose hope and peace. The popular (and non-violent) revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere have demonstrated that we are not powerless to effect change for the better. Are these hopeful and inspiring events recasting our perceptions of what is possible? Can peace grow in this freshly tilled soil?

These are just some of the questions we shall be addressing at this Festival - which runs alongside, but is distinct from, the famous Edinburgh Festival.

We will explore not only how different worldviews clash and contradict but also how different perspectives on reality might converge or complement one another, offering the possibility of fuller understanding.

‘Choose life, not death! Choose blessing, not curse!’ In the Festival of Spirituality and Peace we seek to draw on wisdom, wherever it may be found, to help us with this imperative. Do join us.

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© Donald Reid is an Episcopal priest on the staff at St John’s, Edinburgh, and Director of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, which runs from 6 - 29 August 2011. More information here: http://www.festivalofspirituality.org.uk/

Ekklesia is sponsoring three events at the Festival, and will be regularly profiling it over the coming weeks.

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