A JOURNAL OF PROGRESSIVE RELIGION PUBLISHED TWICE A YEAR AT HARRIS MANCHESTER COLLEGE, OXFORD, ENGLAND


The Latest Issue

Spring and Summer issue 2020 of Faith and Freedom,(Volume 73, Part 1) issue 190 is now available

Articles include:

Sacred Stories by MARGOT STEVENSON
Exploring the intersection between individual stories of the sacred and the canonical stories of religious traditions.

Civility in Public Life – can it be restored? by Rabbi Baroness JULIA NEUBERGER
The Vincent Strudwick lecture on Religion in Public Life delivered in Oxford in November 2019.

The Sovereignty of Good and the Kingdom of God – a view from the hospital waiting-room by FRANK WALKER
The Rev Frank Walker gives a very personal and moving account of his response to his late wife's cancer diagnosis and ties that in to Iris Murdoch and 'The Sovereignty of Good'.

Spiritual modelling with the Findhorn Foundation by RALPH CATTS
Ralph Catts considers spirituality as the means of making meaning in life and providing the framework for social action and finds synergy within the practices of the Findhorn Foundation and Unitarian communities.

Images of Gertrude von Petzold by DAVID STEERS
The editor looks at images of the Rev Gertrude von Petzold, the first woman minister of an organised denomination in Britain who began her ministry in Leicester in 1904.

Books reviewed:

Both Here, and Beyond

Stephen Lingwood, Seeking Paradise: A Unitarian Mission For Our Times, Lindsey Press, London 2020, pp 142, ISBN 978-085319-094-3. £10.00 pbk. Reviewed by JIM CORRIGALL. [The full text of this review can be read in the Archives section of this website].

The fountain of sweet and bitter water

Ann Peart (ed.), Unitarian Women. A Legacy of Dissent, Lindsey Press, London, 2019, pp 241. ISBN number is: 978-0-85319-092-9. £10 pbk. Reviewed by MÁRIA PAP.

'A time when new life will break through'

Marjorie Dobson, Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell, London, 2019, pp 165. ISBN 978-0-85249-959-7. £15.95 ppk. Reviewed by STEPHANIE BISBY.

The Dean of the Interfaith Movement

Helen Hobbin, Afternoon Tea with Mary and Marcus, Braybrooke Press, Abingdon, OX14 3EN, www.lulu.com, 2019, pp 154, ISBN 978-0-244-96888-5, £12.95. Reviewed by PETER B. GODFREY.

The Gospels, spirituality and photography

Peter Brain, The Knowable God, Circle Books, Alresford, 2019, pp 143. ISBN 978 1 78904 1057. £12.99 pbk. Reviewed by LENA COCKROFT.

N. Micklem, On the Lookout, Matador, Kibworth Beauchamp, 2019 (9, Priory Business Park, Wistow Road, Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicestershire LE8 0RX), pp.45. ISBN. 978 1789017 519. £7.99. Reviewed by LENA COCKROFT.

Philip J. Richter, Spirituality in Photography, Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 2017, pp. 120. ISBN 978-0-232-53293-7. £9.99 pbk. Reviewed by LENA COCKROFT.

Christianismi Restitutio

L. Goldstone, N. Goldstone, Out of the flames, Broadway Books, New York, 2002, pp 368. ISBN: 978-0-7679-0837-5. $24.95. Reviewed by BARRIE NEEDHAM.

Interfaith worship and prayer

Christopher Lewis and Dan Cohn-Sherbok (eds.), Interfaith Worship and Prayer. We Must Pray Together. With a Foreword by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London and Philadelphia, 2019, pp.296. ISBN 978 1 78592 120 9. £19.99 pbk. Reviewed by DAVID STEERS



Autumn and Winter issue 2019 of Faith and Freedom,(Volume 72, Part 2) issue 189 is now available

Articles include:

T.E. Lawrence and God by Howard Oliver

An engrossing study of the evolution of the religious thought of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), of one of the most enigmatic and complicated public figures of the twentieth century.

The Story of Silent Night by Andrew Page
The true story of the transmission and translation of the famous carol Silent Night, uncovering its three 'lost' verses and giving an entirely new and faithful translation of the hymn first sung at the bicentenary service held last year in Cairo Street Unitarian Chapel Warrington.

Romantic Religion by Tim Clancy
What do we mean by God and how do we understand God. "In so far as we recognize God's loving recognition of us, we come to participate ever more intimately and ever more fully in God's own power, the power of being itself. In this way God can be said to actively relate to us without determining us."

Barbara Ward and this Journal: 'Faith and Freedom' by Dan C. West
The writings of the late Barbara Ward which share similarities of ethos as well as of name with the journal.

In the Interim by Sue Norton
Exploring being in the interim.

Books reviewed:


Liberal faith beyond Utopian dreams

Nancy McDonald Ladd, After the Good News: Progressive Faith Beyond Optimism, Skinner House Books, Boston 2019, pp 159, ISBN 978-1-55896-828-8. $16.00 pbk.
Reviewed by Jim Corrigall


The 1960s - a new spirituality for a new world

Sam Brewitt-Taylor, Christian Radicalism in the Church of England and the Invention of the British Sixties, 1957-1970; The Hope of a World Transformed, Oxford University Press, 2018 pp 272, ISBN 978-0-19-882700-9, £65, hbk.
Reviewed by Marcus Braybrooke


Climate Crisis - essential reading

Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin, The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, Pelican (2018), pp 465, ISBN: 978-0-241-28088-1, £8.99
David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future, Allen Lane (2019), pp 310, ISBN: 978-0-241-35521-3, £20.00
James Lovelock with Bryan Appleyard, Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, Allen Lane (2019), pp 139, ISBN: 978-0-241-39936-1, £14.99
Reviewed by David A. Williams


Unitarians and Biblical revision

Alan H. Cadwallader The politics of the Revised Version: a tale of two New Testament revision companies, T & T Clark, 2019, pp. 224, ISBN: 978-0567673466, £85 hbk.

Reviewed by Andrew M. Hill


Clerical corruption in the Vatican
Frederic Martel trans. Shaun Whiteside, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, Bloomsbury, London, 2019, pp.570. ISBN 978-1472966148, £25, hbk.
Reviewed by Frank Walker


Autumn and Winter issue 2018 of Faith and Freedom, Volume 71 Part 2, Number 187 is now available.

The front cover has a self-portrait of Edward Lear as the 'Archbishoprick of Canterbury' with his cat Foss which relates to Howard Oliver's article Beyond the Nonsense:Edward Lear and his Writings on Religion and Faith, a rare examination of the religious thought of this unique artist. Other articles include Barrie Needham's exploration of language, reason and faith in Mysteries Too Deep for Words; Dan C. West's For Fear of the New, Missing the God of Surprises looks at how we respond religiously to the destructive contemporary challenges that are emerging in society on both sides of the Atlantic; Frank Walker makes a distinction between 'official' and 'unofficial' Christianity in What has Christianity ever done for us?; and Peter B. Godfrey recounts his experiences and memories of A Theological Student at Oxford 1953 to 1956.

As always the journal is richly supplied with reviews, including two review articles:

Alastair McIntosh, Poacher's Pilgrimage - An Island Journey, Birlinn, Edinburgh, reviewed by Jim Corrigall.

Unitarian Theology II. Papers given at the Unitarian Theology Conference, Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds October 2017. Edited by David Steers. Reviewed by Bob Janis-Dillon.

Derek Guiton A Man that Looks on Glass: Standing up for God in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FeedARead Publishing, 2015, reviewed by Stephen Lingwood.

Rachel Hewitt, A Revolution of Feeling: The Decade that Forged the Modern Mind, Granta, 2017, reviewed by Ernest Baker.

Jane Shaw, Pioneers of Modern Spirituality: The Neglected Anglican Innovators of a 'Spiritual but not Religious' Age, Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2018, reviewed by Jim Corrigall.

Mike Aquilina and Grace Aquilina, A History of the Church in 100 Objects, Ave Maria Press/Alban Books. Notre Dame/Edinburgh, 2017, reviewed by David Steers.

Simenon Honore, Education for Humanity, Spirit of the Rainbow, 2018, reviewed by Peter B. Godfrey.


Spring and Summer issue 2018 of Faith and Freedom, Volume 71 Part 1, Number 186.

This issue includes the address delivered by David Gyero, deputy Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church, at the dedication of the Religious Freedom Memorial at Torda in Transylvania, Romania, on 13th January, 2018, that is the 450th anniversary of the promulgation of the Edict of Torda, one of the first expressions of religous toleration in European history.

It also includes the full text of Faith Without Certainty in Uncertain Times the Keynote Address given at the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in April by Paul Rasor. This is a highly pertinent examination of the place of liberal religious thought in the current climate. Among his arguments Dr Rasor stresses reason:

We live in postmodern times where the idea of freedom of conscience might be twisted in a way that supports not the search for truth, but rather denies the possibility of shared truth. Have we liberals, with our emphasis on freedom of conscience, unwittingly contributed to the problem? How do we respond to this?...I think the answer lies in our emphasis on reason. Reason has always been a central feature of our liberal religious faith. At times we may have over-emphasized reason, but that doesn't deny its importance. Historically it was the basis on which our forebears challenged outdated dogmas that did not fit with modern science, for example. Reason also plays an important role in our emphasis on the search for truth and meaning in our lives. In the post-truth society, in contrast, there is no room for reason. Instead of supporting our beliefs, reason now becomes a hindrance to them. This development is a threat not only to liberal faith, but to liberal democracy.


Dr Rasor presents his suggestion of ideals and visions for religious liberals as a way towards progress in society.

Other articles include Helena Fyfe Thonemann's examination of David Hume's essay 'Of Miracles' and Professor James C. Coomer's reflection on Jesus of Nazareth: A Quintessential Humanist:


What do we in the twenty-first century know about Jesus of Nazareth? We only know what his friends said about him. There is no Jesus to know apart from his friends. He comes to us through his friends, or he does not come to us at all. His friends stand between us and him as barriers to the truth, or bearers of the truth. Jesus of Nazareth is quoted as having said that if one wanted to find contentment, one must look within oneself. The existential Jesus is, perhaps, the quintessential humanist.


Faith and Freedom is especially noted for the quality of its reviews of the latest books and this issue contains the following reviews:
Vincent Strudwick (with Jane Shaw), The Naked God: Wrestling for a grace-ful humanity. Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, London, 2017
Rachel Mann, Fierce Imaginings: The Great War, Ritual, Memory and God, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, London 2017
both by Jim Corrigall.
Marianne Moyaert and Joris Geldhof, Ritual Participation and Interreligious Dialogue: Boundaries, transgressions and Innovations, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2016
by Marcus Brabrooke.
Hans le Grand and Tina Geels, It is all about your search for truth and meaning, not about our belief system: a new perspective for religious liberalism, privately published,
Netherlands, 2016. Mark D. Thompson, Colin Bale and Edward Loane, eds., Celebrating the Reformation: its legacy and continuing relevance, Apollos/Inter-Varsity Press, 2017
Wayne Facer, A Vision Splendid: the influential life of William Jellie: a British Unitarian in New Zealand, Blackstone Editions, Toronto, 2017
all by Andrew Hill
A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism, Volume 1 From the Beginning to 1899, Volume 2 From 1900 to the Present, Edited by Dan McKanan, Skinner House Books, Boston, USA, 2017
Gleanings from the Writing of Nicholas Teape, edited by June Teape, privately published, 2013
both by David Steers



Autumn and Winter issue 2017 of Faith and Freedom. Volume 70 Part 2. Number 185.
In the latest issue of Faith and Freedom Professor Emily Klenin breaks new ground with an exploration of the writings of David Delta Evans, the Flintshire-born son of a miner who went on to become a Unitarian minister, printer, editor of the Christian Life, novelist and poet in English and Welsh. Emily looks in detail at his 1913 novel Daniel Evelyn, Heretic, which is both a fictionalized account of his childhood and youth and a confession of faith. She draws out the importance of this long-forgotten novel in the religious and social landscape of England and Wales at the time. It's a fascinating account of a remarkable man who has been long neglected.

Stephen Lingwood develops 'A Unitarian Theology of Tradition'. He asks "in what sense do we claim religious continuity in a non-creedal tradition that allows the freedom of religious evolution? In what sense is the Unitarianism of the past the same thing as the Unitarianism of the present?" These are important questions for Unitarians to grapple with and drawing on sources such as James Luther Adams, Susan B. Anthony, George Lindbeck and Alasdair MacIntyre and taking scientific method as an analogy he gives a compelling explanation of the way Unitarians can understand their own tradition.

In 'Manchester College Oxford Old Students Association – The Early Years' Alan Ruston uncovers the early history of the OSA and describes its birth pangs and early development, concluding with its creation of Faith and Freedom and the encouraging observation: "F&F has proved to be a successful long-lasting journal of mainly intellectual content representing the Unitarian position, which is now in its seventieth year. Its creation can be considered the single most important initiative to have been undertaken by MOSA."

Our review section is extensive and wide-ranging. Graham Murphy reviews Diarmaid MacCulloch's All Things Made New, Writings on the Reformation (Allen Lane/Penguin). It's an excellent review of a timely and important book, Graham writes: "MacCulloch guides us around rooms of the past, noting progress, noting dystopia, and here and there a glimmer of light: 'a Declaration in the parish church of a town called Torda, a place which should be more of a centre of pilgrimage than it is' – Toleration."

Stephen Lingwood's incisive review of Frederic Muir's edited collection Turning Point: essays on a new Unitarian Universalism (Skinner House) draws out the 'trinity of errors' identified there, including exceptionalism, an aversion to authority and, especially, individualism. This latter tendency is the root of the philosophy of Samuel Smiles and in his fascinating review of John Hunter's The Spirit of Self-Help. A Life of Samuel Smiles (Shepheard-Walwyn) Bob Janis-Dillon shows how the sometime attender at Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds adapted Emersonian individualism to his 'Self-Help' idea, "a mode of thinking we need to challenge if we are to advance as a species".

Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, joint president of the World Congress of Faiths, looks at three books that inform on the place of Islam in modern Britain (James Ferguson, Al-Britainnia, My Country: A Journey Through Muslim Britain, Bantam Press; Richard Sudworth, Encountering Islam: Christian Muslim Relations in the Public Square, SCM Press; Rahim Snow, Remember Who You Are, 28 Spiritual Verses from the Holy Quran, Remembrance Studio), an essential starting point for those who wish to open up dialogue and debate in this area. Marcus also provides two reviews of works that deal with Jewish–Christian relations and pluralism – Tony Bayfield (ed.), Deep Calls to Deep: Transforming Conversations between Jews and Christians (SCM Press) and Hans Ucko (ed.), Thanking Together: On Pluralism, Violence, and the Other (Journal of Ecumenical Studies).

In his review of what may be Don Cupitt's "last and most important book" (Ethics in the Last Days of Humanity, Polebridge Press) Frank Walker lifts about fifteen random insights from the book. These all bear careful reflection. One takes up the theme of Muslim relations ("Western scholars should publish fully critical studies of the origins and the developing theology of the Qur'an and of the hadith"). In another Don Cupitt asserts: "Ordinary people will need a religious discipline like that of the Buddhist sangha to help people to calm their violent passions and to think rationally about how best to live." It's difficult not reflect on the plight of Muslims in Myanmar on reading this. But it is an important book concerned, as Frank says, "in the most down-to-earth way" with the end-times.

Faith, hope and healing are the themes of three reviews. Pat Frankish reviews The Enduring Melody (Darton, Longman Todd) by Michael Mayne about one man's struggle with cancer, "a powerful and painful book, with a thread of reality and hope". Christian Wiman's book My bright abyss: meditations of a modern believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is similarly a tale of a struggle with cancer, in this case that of a poet who tries to make sense of religion and God through his suffering. It is reviewed by Barrie Needham who draws out many profound insights from it. Barrie writes: "Faith which is self-centred does not, according to Wiman, recognise God impinging on this world through love. 'The only way to ascertain the truth of religious experience: it propels you back towards the world and other people, and not simply more deeply within yourself'." Andrew Hill also reviews a new book of hymns: Hymns of Hope and Healing: words and music to refresh the church's ministry of healing (Stainer & Bell), a modern, progressive collection of hymns which covers a subject index of more than 250 topics. Andrew mentions some of them but those listed alphabetically from A to D give an idea of the books radical emphases: "ageing, balance, birth, carers, dementia, DNA, drugs…"

So many of the reviews are about finding and connecting with the divine in one way or another and Jim Corrigall reviews Lorraine Cavanagh's new book Waiting on the Word: Preaching Sermons that connect people with God (Darton, Longman and Todd). Jim quotes the author "Sermon preparation is a matter of waiting in the pain of others, rather than worrying what we are going to say." Finally Peter Godfrey reviews Crocodiles do not swim here (Avian House) by John Smith Wilkinson who looks at doctrine, Biblical interpretation and religious understanding from fresh angles.

The Spring and Summer 2017 issue of Faith and Freedom (volume 70 Part 1, Number 184) is now available. It has a striking picture of an Eagle Owl taken from an engraving by Thomas Bewick's 1797 book Land Birds on the cover.

In this new issue we are again delighted to have some really fascinating articles. These include Phillip Hewett outlining his research in pre- and post-Communist Poland for his book Racovia. He compares his experiences in Poland with those of Earl Morse Wilbur decades earlier. We are delighted to have too Johnston McMaster's in-depth examination of Francis Hutcheson and the Social Vision of Eighteenth-Century Radical Presbyterians and Stephen Lingwood's timely consideration of a Theology of Unitarian Ministry. Dan C. West discusses the way faith can cross boundaries and make connections and Howard Oliver discusses The Art and Theology of Thomas Bewick.

Faith and Freedom is always particularly strong in its reviews section and we are delighted to once again welcome some important reviews by top writers.

With the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses in mind, Professor Ian Hazlett, leading Reformation scholar and former Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Glasgow, reviews Scott H. Hendrix's Yale University Press book Martin Luther Visionary Reformer. Professor David Williams reviews Yuval Noah Harari's newest book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow and Philippe Sands' East West Street: on the origins of genocide and crimes against humanity. Lena Cockroft reviews Dan Hotchkiss' Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, which is a major contribution to the theory of church administration. Marcus Braybrooke, Joint President of the World Congress of Faiths, looks at Main Religions of the Modern World and the Two Forms of any Religion by Antony Fernando, and Frank Walker reviews Emmanuel Carrere's extraordinary and controversial novel The Kingdom.

The Autumn and Winter 2016 issue of Faith and Freedom (Volume 69 part 2, Number 183) is now available.

It features a picture of a fourteenth-century carved figure of a pilgrim in Chester Cathedral on its cover. In it leading expert on Welsh poet-priest R.S. Thomas, Professor John McEllhenney, discusses the poet's annotations of Paul Tillich's Systematic Theology and Theology of Culture. Interpretation of Tillich also features in Plinio de Goes' examination of the theology of 'fashionable rebel pastor' Jay Bakker and his Revolution Church. Jay Bakker is the son of the notorious TV evangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker but rejected their kind of style and developed a different type of church identified as 'hipster Christianity'. We also carry the full text of Tehmina Kazi's keynote address to the 2016 Unitarian GA, she is the former Director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy and now works for the Cork Equal and Sustainable Communities Alliance. Yvonne Craig, a retired social worker and former JP, gives some careful thought to the question to false accusations of sexual abuse in 'Blaming, Naming, Shaming and Biblical Justice'. Katharine Parsons discusses 'God and the Problem of Language' and Barrie Needham unpacks the novels of Marilynne Robinson. There are also accounts from Alan Ruston and David Wykes of the events marking the 300th anniversary of the death of Dr Daniel Williams.

Faith and Freedom is always very strong in its reviews and this issue has Bob Janis-Dillon on refugees and asylum, Maud Robinson on Quaker views of assisted dying, Ernest Baker on Benjamin Franklin in London, Andrew Hill on Bryan Tully's humanist anthology, and Rosemary Arthur on Bishop John Shelby Spong as well as reviews of Marsilio Ficino, Sue Woolley's new book, Jennifer Kavanagh's Simplicity Made Easy and Alan Ruston's new collection of historical biographies.

The Spring and Summer 2016 issue of Faith and Freedom (Volume 69 Part 1, Number 182)

There's a great deal in it, including Rachel Muers' and Rhiannon Grant's examination of the subtle checks and balances of Quaker decision-making processes in 'At the Threshold of Community'. Ralph Catts discusses 'Child spiritual development and the role of a liberal church' and Victor Lal gives us the third part of his research on 'The Unitarians of the West and the Brahmo Samajees of the East at Manchester College, Oxford 1896 – 1948'. Indeed the cover picture on the latest issue includes an Indian 15P. stamp dating from 1967 and featuring Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who was Upton Lecturer in Comparative Religion, Manchester College, Oxford, from 1929 to 1930, later becoming President of India between 1962 and 1967. Dan C. West discusses 'The Emerging Church' and Susan Fogarty examines questions of 'Faith Tourism' in the context of poet and Welsh Anglican minister R.S. Thomas. Mark Adair's paper 'Once upon a time' takes as its starting point a line of dialogue from the 1987 film Planes, Trains and Automobiles: ""Everything is not an anecdote. You have to discriminate… Here's a good idea: have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener…""

With reviews by Martin Fitzpatrick, Marcus Braybrooke, Pat Frankish, Rosemary Arthur, Lena Cockroft, and Iain Brown there's much that will interest any reader on a whole range of subjects.

The Autumn and Winter 2015 issue of Faith and Freedom (Volume 68 Part 2, Number 181):

This issue contains a highly pertinent article by leading US Catholic theologian John Navone Finding God in Strangers, and an examination of the way we read Mark's gospel by author and UU minister George Kimmich Beach. Yvonne Craig give s personal reflection on Grace and Disgrace: A Social Pilgrimage and two articles are reflective of the centenary of the First World War with the editor's account of the Rev Percival Godding's experience as a prisoner of war and Evelyn Taylor's discussion of the impact of the war on Manchester College. The College also features in the second part of Victor Lal's research onto the Brahmo Samaj and Oxford, and short and illuminating articles are provided by Barrie Needham and Sue Norton. As well as this there are stimulating reviews by, among others, Pat Frankish, Ernest Baker, Peter B. Godfrey, and Lena Cockroft, and a review article on Sarah Shaw's The Spirit of Buddhist Meditation (Yale University Press) written by Graham Murphy.

To subscribe click on Subscriptions.