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" A Oes Heddwch ? " Conference 07-06-14

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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 10:55 pm    Post subject: " A Oes Heddwch ? " Conference 07-06-14 Reply with quote

Keeping the Peace / A Oes Heddwch ?

A conference on war, peace and Christianity in Wales today to note the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War

10:30am - 4:30pm, Saturday, 7 June 2014,

Morlan Centre for Faith and Culture, Queen's Road, Aberystwyth SY23 2HH ( its car park is entered off the junction at the east end of North Parade )


Entrance is £5 and everyone is welcome.

Tea and coffee will be available but please bring a packed lunch.

[ On the flier it says that you can book your place by sending an email to mari(at)ebcpcw.org.uk ]


Jill Evans ( Plaid Cymru MEP, CND etc )

Aled Huw Thomas ( Former Senior Army Chaplain, Wales )

Ken Booth ( President, David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies )

Guto Prys ap Gwynfor ( President, Fellowship of Reconciliation )

Dewi Lloyd ( broadcaster )


One thing to do in Aberystwyth during the lunch hour of a conference at Morlan is to rush up to the National Library of Wales and get yourself a library card - they will ask you to fill in a form and you will need proof of your residence in Wales ( e.g. demonstrating to them how poor you are usually convinces them sufficiently ) - then you can use it to get free access to a number of academic on-line journals and archives like the Dictionary of National Biography which normally charge extortionate fees.



Forgotten why peace is so utterly necessary ? Relax & Learn - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atwfWEKz00U

I have had a flier for this propped up nearby for a while - Welsh people will hopefully recognise that famous phrase from the ending of the Gorsedd Ceremony when the Archdruid threatens us all with a very large sword if should we not behave ourselves ... it came out of Iolo Morganwg's use of Rousseau's idea of creating of a civic religion to propagate a public morality and ethics, which is why Democrats in Wales laugh contemptuously at the very idea of it. " A Oes Heddwch ? " asks " And will you all be peaceful ? " which is an appropriate title for a day of people speaking and fielding questions. But where do I direct you to find out about all of this ?



" On the eve of the centenary of outbreak of the First World War, countless questions remain about how nation states inflict violence upon each other and against their own people. ... To seek answers to these questions and more, a special interdenominational conference is being held to help Welsh Christians to respond knowledgably to challenges involving war and peace. ... Entrance is £5 and everyone is welcome. Tea and coffee will be available but please bring a packed lunch."

Well, for those who are convinced that religion and politics are entirely separate and that this all sounds desperately dull ... let me explain it to you from my way of thinking. The central pre-occupation of Republicanism is with " Meta-Ideology " i.e. figuring out how people construct their belief systems : the word " Ideology " comes out of Republicanism in France and it was originally a proposed academic discipline which would inform the construction of political systems by exposing how sectarian belief systems were constructed such that people elaborated their neuroses into obsessions and compulsions which drove them to wage war upon those who differed from them both within and without a society. It was born more or less out of the shocking events of the 1790s when ' the revolution devoured its own children ' when under the threat of invasion by hostile powers such as Austria and the United Kingdom the ' Reds ' seized control of the government and believed that they could bring order back to society and discipline it by the use of terror - and the guillotine.

Some of the first victims of " The Reds " were the moderates who had at first supported a constitutional monarchy, until the king betrayed them and then wanted to insist upon his supporters at least getting proper trials before any others followed the king to the guillotine. These were the " Whites " of the French Revolution, and when they in turn finally overthrew Robespierre & Co they extracted a terrible revenge upon them and their supporters for the random mass-murders, replacing the " Red Terror " with a " White Terror " that had the same policy if at least it demanded a proper trial before a person was executed. This revenge in turn sickened many, and that led to the clamour for a strong leader from the right - " The Blues " who supported the military - and so Napoleon came to power, and it was in cutting away the influence of " The Whites " that he sneered at Ideology and Pure Republicanism as totally impractical and founded the French Empire. " The Ideologues " however persisted and their proposed academic discipline gave birth to modern Psychology, Sociology, the History of Ideas etc and deeply influenced Modernist and Post-Modernist Republicanism - and still does : these make no distinction between ' religion ' or ' philosophy ' or ' science ' - they are all belief systems, and the way in which they are constructed is what concerns Republicanism.

BUT - Republicanism's critique of poorly constructed ideologies was such that it was extremely unpopular with traditional Christian believers and remains so with any who adhere obsessively and uncritically to irrational and unreasonable ideas or who cultivate them in others - such as Jeremy Bentham the Utilitarian, Karl Marx the Communist and presumeably Richard Dawkins who have all claimed their own opinions to be faultlessly grounded in reason - so why would anybody endorse the practices of Religion ? Republicans do so because we are interested in doing the right thing, not in having an over-elaborated explanation as to why it is done : it doesn't matter that you do not kill because you reason that either God doesn't want you to, or that doing so lacks utility or that it stunts the evolution of the species. It does matter that human beings have rationalised it to be wrong because of their experiences and then reasoned that they ought to teach others the wisdom that they have gleaned. The fact that Richard Dawkins is trying to propagate his own views upon things and yet he does not own up to doing religion is a big joke for Republicans : his own belief system, his prejudice that religion is simply a bad thing, interferes with him being able to investigate the practice of religion scientifically.

Republicanism's criticism of religion being " a bad thing " is a bit more intelligent and indeed scientific than Richard Dawkins' prejudice. Religion is " a bad thing " in the same way that science is " a bad thing " - when the consequences are bad. The Republican critique of Religion is that it advocates a morality without attaching any ethical behaviour to it i.e. it says " be good " but then it does not instruct people how, or its version of how to " be good " is vacuous and inconsequential - a Religion without ethics is the mirror image of a Science without morality : these are both bad, and the object of all Republicanisms is to create political systems which are directed towards promoting the unity of morality and ethicality in the government of a society by embodying these things in the rule of law. It is easy to identify that the rule of law is the central pre-occupation of all religious activity, which is why scientific inquiry grew out of religious doubts about the existing belief systems, but it is less easy perhaps to understand that Republicanism is indifferent to any particular religion whilst recommending that individuals regularly participate in any organised religion as " a good thing " because particiption has good consequences - but one is not to blindly subscribe to any belief system to the exclusion of others : this stunts the mind and excludes it from questioning - everything.

What questioning everything leads to in Republicanism's approach to religious belief systems is to acknowledge the morality and ethics which they contain whilst rejecting their petty distinctions : no religion survives for centuries without containing good advice on these matters, and any examination of the basic teachings of the world's major religious traditions leads one to the inescapable conclusion that they all describe the same basic morality and ethics whilst dressing them up in cultural terms which are the result of historical circumstances. When Republicanisms have undertaken to construct civic religions for the purposes of welding together a shared sense of political community, they have typically simply taken this basic morality and ethics and clothed them in modern cultures : when Republicans in Wales invented and developed Neo-Druidism the historical circumstances were those of Romanticism which fed upon the discoveries and speculations of the antiquarian movement. This furnished them with the idea of a natural primitive religion through which to express natural laws which asserted the equality of all men, looking back to a golden age before the industrialisation of Wales, before the Norman-French Conquest of Britain and Ireland but connected to their Wales - our Wales - through the unbroken tradition of the skills of the bards in extolling the morality and ethicality expected of " Y Cymry." Naturally these bards had originally been Non-Conforming Druids, typically of a Methodistical sort - with a few Unitarians thrown in for good measure of course.

So - should you choose to go to listen to the five speakers at this conference, and should they refer to a certain four-lettered word, then try not to worry about it : it is just an aspect of their belief system and what you should concern yourself is with the contents of the tin not the label. Personally I think that it is annoying not to see anybody there not only from those other Christian denominations which also support Christian Aid and The Fellowship of Reconciliation - but what about the other religions present in Wales ? Why not atheists ? This is where the Republican critique bites hard into the village politics of religious sectarianism : this is the kind of mutual isolationalism which eventually breeds that antagonism between small communities which leads into the conflict which brings into question the sincerity of their desire for peace however earnestly expressed. You do not need to mutually agree theologically in order to promote the cause of peace - so next time let us hope to see Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Taoists, Cargo-Culters and Atheists all there together ... unless of course this is just some kind of stunt to promote religion under the guise of advocating peace ?
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