Yearly Archives: 2016

Self-Transformations: Faith Journeys in Verse

‘Self-Transformations: Faith Journeys in Verse’ is a series of workshops throughout November focusing on the power of poetry in narrating stories of faith transformation. Four experienced poets – Alan Spence, Georgi Gill, Sam Tongue, and Tariq Latif – each of whom will contribute a blog post before the event.

The final poetry-reading event, a part of Scottish Interfaith week, will take place at Edinburgh’s Storytelling Centre on 18 November. If you are interested in taking part, please Download the Self-Transformations Poetry Workshop poster (PDF).

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Self-Transformations: Writing Faith Journeys in Verse – Georgi Gill

When Hephzibah contacted the Scottish Poetry Library to discuss her ideas for a series of poetry workshops exploring faith, conversion and spiritual awakenings, I was fascinated from the outset.

To lay my cards on the table, I don’t approach the subject of faith from a conventional or easily defined position. As the daughter of a lapsed Methodist mother and a sometime Buddhist father, my spiritual cultural inheritance is something of a hotchpotch. I practise meditation fairly regularly and, like most British people who wouldn’t describe themselves as Christian, each year I relish wrapping presents and scoffing mince pies while a choir sings Christmas carols on the radio.

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Translation and Religion: the three days

The three days went so quick that it was time to say our goodbyes before we knew it. This indicates of course just how engaged we were discussing the themes of the conference, each others’ research papers and sharing meals. We had a rich combination of presentations addressing translation in a range of religions, languages and regions. It was a great opportunity to compare notes and to see what similarities and differences we could identity in each other’s research area. One thing was clear, we needed more research in this area and, as far as possible, across more languages and religions.

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Annie’s thoughts

The remit I had for this reading differed from my usual writing/dramaturgy process, in that I usually work from original writing, in consultation with the author, and with the ability to re-write material. This time I was working with text that had existed for decades and with no authors to consult with. The brief was to stick to the original text, adapting, but not re-writing, so that the words came directly from the accounts of the authors, in their time.

In order to make the reading live for an audience I had to find the drama in the accounts,

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A Battle for the Soul: The Evening

Doors to the Storytelling Court open at 8pm and people start walking in. A live, human audience—not just the figments of my imagination I’ve addressed during our practice runs! This is exciting.

John gives a brief introduction, the lights dim, the projections and the music come on. Annie and I walk to the front and wait for the images and music to fade. We each speak our part. I introduce each narrative section, making the link to the longer accounts from which these have been extracted as well as the fabric of history and culture within which these conversion stories are embedded.

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Translation and Religion: Interrogating Concepts, Methods and Practices

Conference Programme

The response to our call for papers was marvellously enthusiastic. With nearly fifty abstracts, balancing quantity with quality was a difficult task. We had at least 20-25 good abstracts and if time permitted, we would have been delighted to include more than the current 15 papers that we selected. Our aim was to ensure a good range of religions, regions and languages to enable discussion across various translation and religious traditions.

Apart from these, our two keynote speakers, Alan Williams and Arvind Pal Mandair, have sent us stimulating abstracts that focus on the conceptual and methodological challenges that accompany the study of religions in translation.

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A Battle for the Soul: Preparations

I first came across Annie George and her work in theatre and film when she got in touch with me while researching the history of Christian communities of the South-west Indian state Kerala for a play she was writing. When The Bridge was advertised (www.anniegeorge.wordpress.com) I could see some historical and thematic resonances with our project topic and got in touch with her. Would she be interested in developing a play based on the many first-hand accounts of conversion we’d unearthed as a project team?

Annie was indeed interested and so began our several long conversations on autobiographical narratives left by converts to Christianity in colonial India,

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‘A Battle for the Soul’ : Hidden Voices from India’s Past

The first in a series of events that the CTLA project are involved in this year, A Battle for the Soul – Hidden Voices from India’s Past presents narrative snapshots of the lives of young Indian men and women, drawn from recently uncovered autobiography and written testimony.

Theatre artist Annie George presents this rehearsed reading with projections, drawing on recent research at the University of Edinburgh by the CTLA project, documenting stories of personal dilemmas, faith and family conflict at the time of colonial rule in India. The reading will be followed by a discussion exploring some of the issues raised along with refreshments.

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Conversion beyond religions: A novel from a Hindu perspective

In my first blog post on ‘fact and fiction’ I mentioned three groups of authors for whom fictitious conversion narratives seem to have been particularly productive: Christian Missionaries, Europeans residing in India and – perhaps this may come across as a surprise – the Indian Hindu elite. I want to compare the novels Mimosa and The outcaste which I blogged on in previous entries to a novel composed by an Indian writer, who intellectually engaged with Christianity but never gave up his Hindu religion:

Clarinda, A historical novel, written by A.

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Conversion in Fiction: the exploration of a dilemma

In the last post I wrote about fictitious conversion accounts and their potential vis-à-vis factual report. But as I mentioned there, many of these fictional accounts were based on ‘real’ lives. At our Delhi workshop I presented autobiographical accounts of the Mangalore-born Brahmin Anandrao who joined Christianity and, under his Christian name Herrman Anandrao Kaundinya, became the first ordained pastor in the ranks of the Protestant Basel Mission in India. His conversion in 1844 stirred up a controversy between his family, the missionaries and the British administration. While preparing this paper, I came across a novel that seems to be based on this story.

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