Peace and Reconciliation in World Traditions
13 / 05 / 22
03 / 01 / 22
Dr Richard Britton is a church elder in the United Reform Church, and is based in Derbyshire. He is currently a probation officer, after previously working as a teacher, has recently completed his Doctorate, and is also an author. Richard has a keen interest in interfaith and sharing, and thus has decided to complete a trek across Jordan, to raise funds for the Faith & Belief Forum.
The New Year is a marker of change and even reform. Many of us will begin new diets, exercise regimes or make resolutions to improve our lives or contribute more to society.
It could be argued that the 1st of January is an arbitrary point, because we can begin our desired changes any day of the year or even at any moment. However, at whichever point in time we choose to start change, we fill it with meaning based on our commitment and faith. I think it is important that we don’t turn our New Year’s resolutions into stark markers between what came before and what we want to come in the future. We should embrace and love our past, including our mistakes, sins and traumas, because they are part of our journey. We also have in our past the treasures of success, love and happiness, even in the most trying of times. Our resolutions shouldn’t be a sudden jolt away from who we are, but a continuation of our story, even if in a totally different direction.
All religions began with people making some kind of change, although that does not mean what came before was rejected or condemned. Abraham and Sarah began their journey to faith in the barren desert before Judaism or even before Torah was conveyed by Moses. Their singularity of faith was a covenant with God and their progress afterwards was far from perfect, with obstacles on the way! They did not condemn their mistakes but folded them into the beautiful tapestry that became the Jewish tradition. Similarly, the Buddha did not suddenly declare Buddhism, but was working within and around the Dharmic traditions we now tend to call Hinduism and Jainism. Buddha’s message moved beyond India, interacting with Tibetan shamanism, Confucianism in China and Shinto in Japan.
I am a public servant and academic of theology, with a leaning towards interfaith dynamics. As such, I am deeply passionate about the connections, dialogues and sharing between different religions, as much as about their differences.
For me, Jordan is a meeting place of the tributaries of some great faiths, leading out into the wider world. This is why my resolution, at the age of 43, is to trek through the sublime and holy places of this beautiful nation.
It is in this spirit that I resolve to trek 77km, from Dhana to Petra, in aid of the wonderful work of the Faith & Belief Forum. My journey will begin by exploring Amman and the surrounding areas, including the Dead Sea – where Bedouin nomads found the legendary Dead Sea Scrolls. From there, I will spend five days trekking through the valleys and mountains on the path of the Bedouins. I will explore the Roman ruins of Nabatean civilisations and some of the Iron Age sites. My destination will be the ancient and astounding city of Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, where I will visit the fascinating sites of the Monastery and the Treasury.
Another inspiration for my trek is the memory of my close friend and fellow theologian Simon Mapp, who sadly passed away last year. He shared a passion for the intricate connections between faiths and philosophies.
This journey will be to support the amazing work of the Faith & Belief Forum. For the last 20 years, they have worked tirelessly in the United Kingdom, and beyond, fostering understanding, building bridges and developing connections between those of different faiths and beliefs, including non-religious identities, to create a society where difference is celebrated.
I recently discovered F&BF and attended their inspiring London Faith and Belief Community Awards 2021, which celebrates the unsung heroes of London’s faith and belief communities. Through this, I found that I share the immense passions and goals of the charity, so much so that it inspired me to raise funds to further their work with this trek. I hope that this journey will promote the meaningful goals of the Faith & Belief Forum and allow them to continue building a more connected society.
Therefore, I ask you to kindly sponsor my endeavour and, in doing so, help promote sharing, harmony and the celebration of our similarities, as well as our differences. It is these similarities and differences that make us who we are – the foundations of our faiths, beliefs and identities – which makes celebrating, discussing and exploring them so important.
You can donate to Richard’s trek to support the Faith & Belief Forum here.
13 / 05 / 22
29 / 04 / 22