Q&A: Christopher Jamison on religion and society

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 - 15:07

Christopher Jamison OSB, a Benedictine monk and former Abbot of Worth Abbey in West Sussex, speaks on the Does God Love Me? panel at For Good or For Ill? How Has Religion Shaped Society this weekend. We took the opportunity to get his thoughts on the place of religion in society.

Q. Life choices and identities can be a challenge to religious teaching. What advice would you give to people struggling to bridge the gap between their religion and life?

A. Maintain a dialogue. Religious communities are inherently conservative. Many insights about human identity are comparatively recent. Both conservatives and liberals need to keep talking and avoid damning the other.

Q. Do you think religion has a place in education?

A. As a core feature of human identity in all civilisations until recent decades in the West, the study of religion is essential. Families will pass on faith and they're the first educators of their children, supported by schools.

Q. Name a work of art (can be any art form) that has made you think differently about the contributions religious communities make to culture?

A. The gardens of many Buddhist monasteries are art works. The experience of nature transformed into art is a wonderful insight into religion's capacity to reframe life with new insights.

Q. What do you believe in, above all else?

A. That the hardest feature of life is genuine communion and that communion is the core feature of true religion.

Q. Do you think a more secular world would be a better place?

A. A secularised world would be a nightmare; only Maoist China and Hoxha's Albania tried it. A secular world is what we all live in and faith illuminates the purposes of this world.

Q. How do you think religious leaders should approach speaking out against discrimination and violence committed in the name of a religion?

A. Pope Francis in Egypt is a classic example. Keep undermining terror in the name of God by gestures, words and policies.

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