Politics, Luther & Islam - a day at the Bradford Lit Festival

On Sunday, Bishop Nick took part in three events in this year's Bradford Literature Festival, discussing contemporary world politics, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in Germany and the notion of a British Islam.

The festival continues until Sunday 9 July. See below for events with Bishop Toby and Dean Jerry Lepine.

In a session ambitiously titled 'The Word Today', Bishop Nick, Professor Paul Rogers from Bradford University, and writer, politician and diplomat Shashi Tharoor discussed "how what is happening today might affect us all tomorrow".

After that, he was in conversation with Renaissance literature expert Professor Brian Cummings from York University (left) on the legacy of the Reformation

In 1517 when Martin Luther is alleged to have nailed his 95 theses to the door of a Church in Germany, he could not have known that it would set in motion events that would profoundly change Christianity and European politics.

Bishop Nick asked whether the Reformation could have happened without Luther. Both he and Brian Cummings acknowleged the importance of the printing press which enabled Luther’s letter to be distributed throughout Germany. Equally important was its translation from Latin to the common German tongue, allowing the people of Germany, and eventually the whole of Europe, to share in Luther’s outrage against the corruption of the Catholic Church.

Brian Cummings said, "The legacy of his translation of the Bible is hugely important. He was brilliant at story telling". And Bishop Nick added, "His hymn writing was also very important. He knew that if you want to propogate theology, it you put it to a good tune, then people will remember it and believe it."

They discussed Luther's difficult and sometimes contradictory personality. As Bishop Nick put it, "It's a mystery that someone who had been grasped by Grace could be so graceless" (particularly in respect of his anti-Semitism).

Brian Cummings said he took heart in the fact he was so flawed. "I think his legacy is particularly in relation to human freedom. He created the sense that any person has a stake in their own destiny - everyone is free to read, everyone can be a priest and we can make up our own minds".

Bishop Nick's third event of the day was a discussion with Ziauddin Sardar and Myriam Francois Cerrah on whether there can be a distinctly British Islam, combining cultural and religious traditions.

Events still to come:

An evening of sacred poetry at Bradford Cathedral
Sunday 9 July 6-8.30pm
A celebration of poetry and music from across the religious spectrum. Hosted by Bishop Toby Howarth, with soloist Claire White-McKay, Ranjana Ghatak, Buddhist poet Dh Maitreyabandhu, and Keertan Rehal, who will recite a selection of Shabad Kirtan from the Sikh tradition. The evening will end with a gospel choir medley.  More here.

Min Kym with Gwenan Edwards - "Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung"
Thursday 6 July, 7.30-9pm, Bradford Cathedral
Join world renowned violinist Min Kym as she reflects on the highs and lows of her incredible musical career - including the theft of her extremely rare 1696 Stradivarius violin from outside a train station café. More here.

Jerusalem the Anthem
Saturday 8 July, 10.30-11.45am, Bradford College
Join Blake expert Jason Whittaker, cultural commentator Boyd Tonkin and poet Ben Okri, as they discuss the origins and evolution of this much-loved yet increasingly divisive poem. The event will be chaired by Dean Jerry Lepine and will culminate in a special performance by the Bradford Cathedral Choir. More here


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