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New College Festival – Book & Beliefs

Following the School of Divinity’s highly successful literary festival the ‘Winter Tales’ in 2021, our Centre is delighted to support this event again this year.

In this year’s festival we will be asking what influence the religions of the world, plus humanism and secularism, have had on the books we read, and why prominent thinkers and writers have engaged with diverse beliefs so creatively. Writers of historical fiction, biography, poetry, drama and much more will offer their insights and read from their works.
The title ‘Books and Belief’ comes from the organisers’ desire to explore personal belief systems and faith rather than to talk bout religions more generally. Speakers will talk about loss of faith and challenges to faith, renegotiation of their belief systems, generational divides and different ways they connect with the secular and spiritual worlds. We want to explore ‘religion’ not just as a system of theology and rituals but as permeating all layers of our society and life whether we have faith in any spiritual belief system or not.
The Creative Directors of the Festival are Professor Alison Jack – the Principal of New College – and Professor Jolyon Mitchell, the CTPI’s director.

The three days of New College Festival – Books & Belief will be inaugurated by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, Peter Mathieson, followed by a conversation with the former Bishop of Durham, Burkitt Medal awarded for Biblical Studies and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor N.T. Wright.

On Friday November 4th, co-authors of ‘Women Remembered: Jesus’ Female Disciples’, Helen Bond and Joan Taylor will explore women in the New Testament. Dina Nayeri (‘The Ungrateful Refugee’) and Chritra Ramaswamy (‘Homelands’) will discuss what it means to be a refugee. Distinguished poets Kevin MacNeil, Alycia Pirohamed and Alan Spence, currently working in Scotland, will discuss religious influences on their work.

On Saturday November 5th, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will open the festival’s final day with a talk about his life work journey. There will be a conversation on the impact of Islamic spirituality and humanism on the works of the acclaimed novelists Leila Aboulela (‘Bird Summons’) and S.J. Parris (‘While you Sleep and Storm’). Also, a panel of award-winning playwriters will reflect on the role of religion in Scottish drama today. Amongst other events!