Saturday, 13 September 2008

Philosophical utopias at the Church of the Holy Spirit

It was obvious on the first evening of the Promised Land consultation that the Heiliggeist parish right next to the railway station in Bern is very creative, taking its role as a church in the heart of city seriously. Getting the renouned Swiss yodeller Christine Lauterburg as part of the welcome for international guests was one sign of that.
Another sign is the regular monthly silent vigil for peace and justice in the Holy Land. Quite a number of participants from the meeting joined people from the City of Bern at the vigil at lunchtime on Friday and listenend to the commitments of the local group and experiences of Valentina Magiulli who was for several years the international coordinator of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.
Then today I picked up a flyer for a series of early evening lectures and discussions on Utopias - how philosophers develop their thinking of a perfect world. Again all happening at the Heiliggeist church, just at the right time of day as people leave work but just for an hour and a half so they can still can home and have some family time as well. Looking at it I wished I lived in Bern and could take part in the discussions. I particularly like the title of the fourth evening which goes "And everyone can go and fish ... The idea of a society without cares or needs - the dreams of the young Karl Marx".
So now I'll just have to see if I can't organise something similar in Geneva or Ferney - I like stealing other people's good ideas sometimes. The final evening of talks asks "Are we tired of utopias?" and I found that particularly challenging after listening to and interpretting theologians talking about the hopes, possibilities and impossibilities of justice and peace in the Middle East.
Are we tired of justice, of peace, of hope?
As Heiliggeistkirche means Church of the Holy Spirit I do hope that the Spirit will continue to inspire us so we can dream dreams of future possible worlds even as we also try to find the energy for working on pragmatic solutions. But to believe in the future dream people need to see rather more trace of justice and peace in their everyday lives.