Thinking again about religion

By Simon Barrow
August 7, 2013

Religion is a 'hot topic' one way or another. Some love it, some loathe it, many go meh... but you can't ignore the diverse belief mix that now makes up a modern plural society.

Many of us think we know a lot about one faith or another, but we're also embarrassed by how little we know. What's more, as author Owen Cole once wisely observed: "People who have different beliefs to you don't live in books, they live down your street."

'Religion', in fact, doesn't exist as such - there are religions, plural, and some of them aren't very keen on that label, for a variety of reasons.

So... Ever wondered what makes food halal? How karma works? Or why Sikh people wear turbans? Or perhaps you have some other philosophical questions, or wonder how people within particular religious traditions conceive of their relationship with others in society, with Humanists, agnostics or atheists, with the business of government and politics, with economics, culture or more...?

In the series 'A beginner's guide to religion' you will get to find out some of the close-to-home details and potentially much, much more. It is a taster, mind you, not a whole eight course meal!

Each evening we will explore a different religion with a speaker from that faith.

Learn the history and teachings of each belief system, and hear personal accounts belonging to a faith tradition in 21st century Scotland and beyond.

The series, part of Just Festival 2013, is being put on by the Edinburgh Inter Faith Association ( The talks start on 7-8th August, then 14-15th, 21-22th • 17:30 – 18:30 each of those evenings.

Attendance is by voluntary donation. Venue: Cornerstone Bookshop, EH2 4BJ (at St John's Church, corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road, Edinburgh).

Just Festival, also known simply as Just, runs from 2-26 August 2013. It is based at St John's Church (Princes Street and Lothian Road) and some 27 other venues, and combines artistic and performance style events with conversations, talks, films exhibits and other ways of exploring how to live together creatively in a mixed-belief society.

* For more information on Just Festival, visit and

* Ekklesia is a sponsor of Just Festival. Our news, reporting and comment is aggregated at:


© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia and a media adviser for the 2013 Just Festival.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.