Welcome to our Early Bird programme. The full programme will be released at the end of March.
On the morning of 6 October 1536, a frail scholar was taken from a dungeon in the castle at Vilvoorde, just north of Brussels. Armed guards kept the crowds at bay as he was led through the streets of the small town. He was to be burned. He was allowed a few moments of prayer. As a priest, prayer had been the keystone of his faith. After the brief pause, he walked up the steps to be tied to the cross. As he waited for the flames, he called out, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!” This was Willi Tyndale, the man whose translation of the New Testament and much of the Old Testament was to bring about more profound changes to the English-speaking world over the next five centuries than the works of any other man in its history.
In our own time of anxious arrivals and enforced departures, the Jews’ search for a home is more startlingly resonant than ever. Belonging is a magnificent cultural history abundantly alive with energy, character and colour. From the Jews’ expulsion from Spain in 1492 it navigates miracles and massacres, wandering, discrimination, harmony and tolerance; to the brink of the twentieth century and, it seems, a point of profound hope. Schama tells the stories not just of rabbis and philosophers but of a poetess in the ghetto of Venice; a boxer in Georgian England; a general in Ming China; an opera composer in 19th- century Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California.
"Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion" – Rumi. Jalaluddin Rumi is one of the foremost poets of the Sufi tradition, with a lasting influence that transcends nationality, religion and literary genre. His poetry distils the purest experience of love, life and God into some of the most haunting, beautiful and profound verse ever written. The acclaimed Turkish novelist celebrates Rumi’s philosophy of love and life and reflects on her own experience of Sufism, and its impact on her work. Chaired by William Sieghart.
A conversation about how her Quaker faith has informed the life and work of one of the world’s greatest scientists, celebrated for her discovery of pulsars when she was a postgraduate student in 1967, and now the Oxford Professor of Astrophysics.
Comedian, writer and performer Ruby Wax, with some help from monk Gelong Thubten and neuroscientist Ash Ranpura, has delved deeply into what it means to be human in an age obsessed with the latest technology. She now provides a manual to upgrade our minds so that they don’t get left behind. In this event Ruby, Ash and Thubten talk about brains, bodies and mindfulness.
The two-year-long siege of Acre (1189-1191) was the most significant military engagement of the Third Crusade, attracting armies from across Europe, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Maghreb. Drawing on a balanced selection of Christian and Muslim sources, the historian introduces his account of this hard-won victory for the Crusaders, when England’s Richard the Lionheart and King Philip Augustus of France joined forces to defeat the Egyptian Sultan Saladin. Chaired by Peter Florence.
Radiocarbon dating recently identified a manuscript in the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library as possibly the world's oldest fragment of the Qur’an, showing it to be at least 1,370 years old and attracting unprecedented international interest. Similarly, the earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels was rediscovered in a manuscript in Cologne Cathedral Library after being lost for 1,500 years and published for the first time last year with an English translation. How are such texts identified, authenticated and catalogued? What measures are taken to preserve them and make them available for scholarly research and public interest? What are the cutting edge technologies being used to analyse, protect and recover key historical documents?
Sarah Kilroy is Head of Conservation and Programming and Hugh Houghton is Director of Research at the Department of Theology and Religion and leads Birmingham's Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing.
An exploration of Muslim women’s involvement in violent religious politics, specifically Islam. Brown examines the ways in which gendered jihadi narratives motivate and enfranchise, and how they combine with everyday experiences of living and politics. She also examines how counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programmes impact on religious women’s rights and Muslim communities in the UK. Brown is Lecturer in Islamic Studies.
See also event .
The uncompromising and passionate rationalist calls on us to insist that reason take centre stage and that gut feelings, even when they don’t represent the stirred, dark waters of xenophobia, misogyny, or other blind prejudice, should stay out of the voting booth. He investigates a number of issues, including the importance of empirical evidence, and decries bad science, religion in the schools, and climate-change deniers. Dawkins has equal ardour for ‘the sacred truth of nature’ and renders with typical virtuosity the glories and complexities of the natural world. When so many highly placed people still question the fact of evolution, Dawkins asks what Darwin would make of his own legacy - 'a mixture of exhilaration and exasperation'– and celebrates science as possessing many of religion’s virtues – 'explanation, consolation, and uplift' – without its detriments of superstition and prejudice. Chaired by LBC's Matt Stadlen.
One morning in October 2013, 19-year-old Ayan Juma and her 16-year-old sister Leila left their family home in Oslo. Later that day they sent an email to their parents. "Peace, God's mercy and blessings upon you, Mum and Dad ... Please do not be cross with us..." Leila and Ayan had decided to travel to Syria, "and help out down there as best we can". While their father, Sadiq risks his own life to bring his daughters back, at home his wife Sara begins to question their life in Norway. How could her children have been radicalised without her knowledge? How can she protect her two younger sons from the same fate? Seierstad - with the complete support of the Juma family - followed the story from the beginning, through its many dramatic twists and turns. It's a tale that crosses from Sadiq and Sara’s original home in Somalia, to their council estate in Oslo, to Turkey and to Syria - where two teenage sisters must face the shocking consequences of their decision.
The investigative journalist’s previous books include The Bookseller of Kabul and One of Us. See also .
In the Islamic tradition, a garden with its central elements of water, the scent of fruit trees, and places for rest and reflection, celebrates Heaven on Earth. The gardener Monty Don and acclaimed photographer Derry Moore set off on a journey to find out more about the principles and immersive delights of paradise gardens and how a very different culture and climate has influenced garden design round the world. From the Real Alcazar and the Alhambra in Spain to a Mughal garden in Bradford, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Maidan in Isfahan, Iran, the birthplace of paradise gardens, they present a glorious celebration of the richness of Islamic culture through some of the most beautiful gardens on earth.
The writer, diplomat and politician offers a profound examination of Hinduism, one of the world's oldest and greatest religious traditions. He lays out Hinduism’s origins and its key philosophical concepts, and its everyday beliefs and practices, from worship to pilgrimage and caste. Tharoor is unsparing in his criticism of extremism and unequivocal in his belief that what makes India a distinctive nation with a unique culture and democratic tradition will be imperilled if Hindu fundamentalists, the proponents of ‘Hindutva’, or politicised Hinduism, seize the high ground.
Now in his ninth decade, former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway has spent a lifetime at the bedsides of the dying, guiding countless men and women towards peaceful deaths. In Waiting for the Last Bus, he presents a positive, meditative and profound exploration of the many important lessons we can learn from death: facing up to the limitations of our bodies as they falter, reflecting on our failings, and forgiving ourselves and others. Holloway’s previous books include Leaving Alexandria and Looking in the Distance.