I have the privilege of being guest editor for this quarter’s edition of Encounters. Our regular editor, Tim Davy, has been on leave to complete his PhD on the mission themes in the book of Job.
At first reading the contents of this edition seem eclectic: two lead articles, two book reviews and an interview. Indeed they are. My own article is on conversion, dialogue and religious practice amongst Buddhists, coming out of a paper presented to the Faith to Faith forum of Global Connections in late 2011. Many in the West are ‘converting’ to Buddhism, or rather, as I argue in this paper, ‘taking up the practice’ of Buddhism. What might this mean then for Christians who use similar language (‘conversion’) but also variant language (‘practice’). Some missional reflection concludes the paper, informed by spending a day in dialogue with a Zen Buddhist group.
In contrast, Helen McGeoch’s case study of Prayer Spaces in one particular Gloucester school offers a window into a rapidly growing movement across the United Kingdom. This is supplemented with an interview with Joe Knight, one of the Gloucester Prayer Spaces in Schools team, which outlines in more detail the background of this ministry. Prayer Spaces in Schools offers a cutting edge, dynamic, respectful, and highly creative way for British children to explore the Christian faith: it ticks all the boxes that the national curriculum requires for religious education. And the kids love it!
Two book reviews are then offered, seemingly on yet a completely different and third theme, that of restorative justice. Redcliffe College faculty Andy and Carol Kingston-Smith’s new book Carnival Kingdom is reviewed by Associate Professor Chris Marshall, and then Chris Marshall’s new book Compassionate Justice is reviewed by Rev. Ruth Adams. Andy, Carol, Chris and Ruth are all passionate about restorative justice, advocacy and reconciliation issues.
But are these three themes all that different? Surely they are linked in that they represent three ways to incarnate the Gospel of Christ in innovative ways: dialogue with Buddhists, creative prayer spaces for British kids, and restorative justice as an alternative vision to conflict and punishment. All the authors are practitioners in their fields, and yet also think theologically about what they’re doing and why. I commend this issue to you, because in its apparent eclecticism there is a many coloured vision of hope.
Hugh Kemp, Academic Dean and Head of Mission Studies
Article 1: Buddhist Conversion
(Hugh Kemp, 5580 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 2: Prayer Spaces in Schools: A New Enquiry into Creativity and Children’s Prayers in a Gloucestershire (UK) School
(Helen McGeoch, 6948 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 3: Prayer Spaces in Schools: Interview with Joe Knight
(Hugh Kemp, 4544 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Book Review 1: Carnival Kingdom: Biblical Justice for Global communities
(edited by Marijke Hoek, Jonathan Ingleby, Andy Kingston-Smith & Carol Kingston-Smith; Wide Margin Academical)
Book Review 2: Compassionate Justice: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue with Two Gospel Parables on Law, Crime, and Restorative Justice.
(by Christopher D. Marshall; Wipe and Stock)
And finally, a single PDF of the whole issue. Ideal for using offline or to make printing easier.
Issue 45 – A Many Colour Vision of Hope (pdf 587 KB)