Edinburgh's Festival season is not just a 'commercial jamboree', but an an opportunity to recapture the vision of peace in the human community, amidst a world of conflict.
That was the message of the director of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, the Rev Donald Reid, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 'Sunday' programme this morning (7 August 2011).
He recalled with presenter Ed Stourton that the Edinburgh International Festival was conceived in 1947, after the devastation of the second world war.
Its aim back then was to "provide a platform for the flowering of the hman spirit" - and the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, which will attract some 25,000 people to 300 performances over 200 events in six venues between 6-29 August, seeks to "reawaken the heart of the festival for people who, after 9/11, want to work together for a peaceful future," says Mr Reid.
He added that the peace and spirituality Festival, which along with the famous 'fringe' and a number of other festivals, brings tens of thousands of people to Scotland's capital and attracts the interest of millions, seeks to be an occasion of celebration and understanding for people from all faith backgrounds and none.
Among the highlights this year will be the presence of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who has been at the centre of a storm of publicity around the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ in New York.
There are also events looking at change in the Middle East, non-violent responses to conflict, religion and violence, Lockerbie (with the entire Justice for Megrahi campaign committee present), faith and sexuality, and lessons from Bloody Sunday.
The Festival of Peace and Spirituality formally launches at 6pm on Sunday 7 August at St John's Church, with Bishop Brian Smith among the speakers.
On Monday 8 August at 10.30am, journalist and author Yasmin Alibhai Brown discusses the post 9/11 world, the democratic Arab revolutions, and Samuel Huntingdon's flawed 'clash of civilisations' thesis, along with David Pratt, foreign editor of the Sunday Herald newspaper.
With the theme ‘Faith, Hope and Reality’, the Festival of Spirituality and Peace enters its own 11th year in 2011. It was founded within a month of the 9/11 attacks, and will focus heavily on the implications of those events for the world today.
It will ask whether things have got better or worse in the intervening ten years, and how people can cooperate and work together in a global environment.
* The full Festival programme is at: http://www.festivalofspirituality.org.uk/ 
* Spirituality Peace and News: http://festivalofspirituality.blogspot.com/ 
* More on FoSP from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/festivalofspirituality 
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