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May 3, 2013

Chaplaincy Blog
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» So you thought slavery was a thing of the past?

The issue of human trafficking was dealt with at a very enlightening evening at the Meeting House on Wednesday evening. Hatty Hodgson, of the West Midlands Anti Human Trafficking Network  was the Key Speaker. Many thousands of people in the … Continue reading

May 10, 2010

Welsh Institue of Health and Social Care Blog
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» Taking Liberties

This, in retirement, is what I do one way or another every day, as well as every couple of weeks or so. And the taking of liberties brings, in turn, unbridled joy alongside deep, conflicting thoughts.

Never have I had so much freedom – to spend rewarding times with people I like and love; to enjoy, in my own way a pace, the physical and intellectual challenges of cultivation; and, essentially, to own my in-tray and change it’s order without catastrophe following. Every day is a good day, and for this I have freedom and autonomy to think.

But what a contrast is the lot of those I meet as I chair Mental Health Managers Hearings. Often they ‘choose’ not to come: their mental state will not allow them to appear in a room filled with those who, by personal experience or the recounting of others, will report verbally on the intimate details of their lives as though they were not present, and conclude overwhelmingly and, it seems, unanimously – whether managers or professionals – that ‘it would be best for you to stay here and be helped’. This, and the ‘need for the public and yourself to be protected’, signals a door never really half open is about to close again. Next, the Tribunal; but at least skilled representation is assured this time, rather than at best, and then infrequently, only a lay advocate.

In one life the continuous and almost total opportunity and power to fulfil my own ends and determine the journey towards them. In the other, suspending liberties – putting them into limbo. The one brings the other into sharp and uncomfortable relief.

Written by Morton Warner, Emeritus Professor, WIHSC

March 11, 2010

Chaplaincy Blog
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» Equality and Freedom – are they Compatible?

Issues of equality are very complicated, said Ziauddin Sardar at the Chaplaincy Lecture on Monday evening.

Talking of the current controversy about the Equalities Bill and the Pope’s remarks on it, he drew attention to the tension between contradictory points of view that each have their own validity. Freedom of speech and conscience are in a sense absolute: therefore religious bodies should not be forced to employ people whose beliefs and way of life are contrary to what they stand for. But equal rights are also in a sense an absolute: therefore no-one should be subject to discrimination on the ground of their gender or sexual orientation. But when these “absolutes” clash, the issue becomes complicated.

Ziauddin Sardar is a leading Muslim scholar and author. He was delivering the Chaplaincy Lecture on ‘Re-thinking the Contemporary Relevance of Islam’. As a former member of the Equalities Commission, he gave examples of the kind of dilemmas often faced, and stressed that every case must be considered individually in its context, and we need to learn to live with contradictions. He went on to say that faith and belief systems are full of contradictions, including science, which he described as a kind of belief system with its own contradictions.

On Islam, he pointed out the difference between the Qur’an as the supreme authority and the Sharia as the product of tradition in different historical contexts. He likened tradition to a lake – a rich source of refreshment and nourishment for plants, animals and people, but needing to have a constant influx of fresh water or it will become stagnant and a source of disease rather than life.
In answer to a question from the floor Dr Sardar said he felt very positive about future co-operation between faith communities and optimistic about the essential contribution they make to society.

The lecture, which was held at the Glamorgan Conference Centre, was attended by people of different faiths from the University and the local community. Details of further Chaplaincy lectures will be posted on the Chaplaincy web site