Religion, Beliefs and Culture
We study religious beliefs and their impact on culture and society to inform our work negotiating and transforming conflicts. Deeper analysis increases understanding of the complex interactions that characterise religious issues today.
A religious community’s perception and narrative of its cultural history shape its understanding of its role in society. They also form a community’s sense of belonging and its willingness to engage with others. Conflicts that arise from the tension created by these issues deserve the critical analysis that we undertake.
We want to deepen the public understanding of religion, and increase its sophistication. Theological and philosophical thinking and texts, traditions and practices are all important to the formation of religious identity and community. A strong grasp of the nuance enables us to look deeper wherever religious identity is taken to define one entire religion, tradition or community in opposition to others.
The more we understand or know about religious beliefs and their impact on culture, the better we can conduct this public debate.
What does this look like in practice?
As part of the British Library ‘Sacred’ Exhibition, we created a conference entitled ‘Ways of Reading’ with leading scholars of Jewish, Islamic and Christian texts for members of the general public. Topics considered included political uses of the Scriptures, morally challenging texts, feminist readings of the Scriptures, Law and the Sacred texts, and communicating scriptural scholarship to the faithful. Resources from the conference will soon be made available on our website.
In association with Gresham College, Lokahi hosted a symposium on ‘Diversity and Danger’ looking at the challenges of diversity and cohesion particularly in relation to religion, ethnicity, political views and economic systems. Speakers included our director, Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson, and a fellow of the Foundation, Professor Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad.