Living Theology Birmingham 2018

This two–day course focusses on several aspects of how God is active in our world.

Everyone follows course A on the parables; and in addition each person can choose a course from the two offered in the B courses, and one from the two in the C courses.

Course outlines

Everyone follows this course:

A: The Parables of Jesus

These stories of Jesus embedded in the Gospels are a source of encouragement and challenge to the contemporary world. “What is the Kingdom of God like?” asks Jesus, and gives his answer through the parables. This course will look at the parables of Jesus and how they have been received. Do they continue to make us think? Have we heard it all before?

James Crampsey SJ, a Glasgow-born Jesuit, lectured in Biblical Studies at Heythrop College for twelve years after which he became Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain for six years. After that he was a parish priest, working for nine years in the multi-faith and multi-ethnic context of Southall in West London. After eight years in Edinburgh, where he was director of the Lauriston Jesuit Centre, he is awaiting a new assignment.

Each person chooses one of the following two B courses:

B1: Religion and Peacebuilding

This course explores popular and scholarly ideas about the connections between religion, violence and peacebuilding. We will look in particular at teaching on peace in the Catholic Church.

Doesn’t religion cause war?
When we look at the news or listen to commentators in the media, we get the impression that religion causes war, and that it is safest to reduce the influence of religion in the world, or banish it altogether. In this session, we will explore and discuss different understandings of the relationship between religion and violence.

Can religion be involved in peacebuilding?
This session explores the characteristics of 21st century violent conflict, and looks at how strategic peacebuilding aims to address it. We will look at some examples of religious involvement in peacebuilding efforts worldwide.

Peacebuilding and the Catholic Church
What does the Catholic Church teach about peace? Many people are familiar with the idea of ‘Just War’ reasoning, but the Church’s broader tradition of teaching on peace is not so well known. This session introduces some of its key concepts, and we will reflect on how Catholic social teaching on peace might need to develop in the light of 21st century challenges.

Dr Theodora Hawksley CJ is a theologian by training, with a background in ecclesiology and social science. Her postdoctoral work at the University of Edinburgh focussed on peacebuilding and the arts, and she is currently finishing a book on Catholic social teaching on peace. She entered the Congregation of Jesus in 2015, and is based in London.

B2: Practical Theology

In Practical Theology we reflect on what we know about God and the world we live in. Through reflection we can understand the theology that underlies and directs how we live in the world. In this course we will examine our understanding of God, and the ways in which that affects the world. We will look at how God is trying to save the world, and what that means, and look several examples, including how the liberation theology movement has led to change in the way we view and participate in God’s saving action.

Michael Smith SJ is a Jesuit priest who has spent most of his life in education. He now specialises in adult education, and lectures in several places on theological topics. Beginning with a degree in physics, he has a special interest in the links between science and faith, and tries to maintain this view of reality in all his work.

Each person chooses one of the following C courses:

C1: Introduction to the Psalms

Pick up the hymn book of the Jerusalem Temple and what do you find?  There are poems of praise, poems of lament, remembering poems, dark poems with elements of violence. The Psalms have been described as a conversation with God conducted in public.
This course will look at the variety of Israel’s individual and communal prayer and ask whether we can make these prayers our own.
Do they challenge our own ways of praying?

James Crampsey SJ (see above)

C2: Teilhard de Chardin — his life and work.

Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest who devoted his life to science and realised that science is a revelation of God. As well as studying his chosen sciences – palaeontology and geology – he was a skilled theologian and a mystic. In this course we will follow three of his main writings to look at creation as the playing out of evolution, the revelation of Christ in evolution, and what it means for us to live in a universe where we are co-creators and given the task of bringing creation to its ultimate perfection.

Michael Smith SJ (see above)


This course will be held at: St Paul's Convent, 94 Selly Park Road, Selly Park, Birmingham B29 7LL
Nearest train station is Selly Oak.


Please book in advance, so that we can get the numbers for catering and handouts correct.
E-mail and include which of the two B course, and which of the two C courses you wish to follow.

The suggested offering for this course is £40 for both days which includes a light lunch each day. If this is a problem then there is no difficulty if you offer less than this.


Saturday July 21st
10.00 Arrive and register 
10.15 Course A 
11.15 Coffee Coffee
11.30 Course B1 or B2
12.30pm Lunch Lunch
1.00 Course B1 or B2 
2.00 Coffee Coffee
2.15 Course B1 or B2 
3.15 Coffee Coffee
3.30 Course A
4.30 End  

Sunday July 22nd
10.00 Arrive and register
10.15 Course C1 or C2
11.15 Coffee Coffee
11.30 Course C1 or C2
12.30pm Lunch Lunch
1.00 Course C1 or C2
2.00 Coffee Coffee
2.15 Course A
3.15 Coffee Coffee
3.30 Mass for those who wish to stay
4.30 End  

Saturday, July 21, 2018 - 10:00 to Sunday, July 22, 2018 - 16:30
St Paul's Convent
94 Selly Park Road, Selly Park
B29 7LL
United Kingdom