Sunday 7 October 2012


Cheltenham was lovely and autumnal this weekend for the start of their literature festival. Mary Robinson was an unassuming but impressive figure at the event to mark the publication of her book, Everybody Matters: A Memoir (Hodder & Stoughton, 2012).  She mentioned very early in the interview that she has been inspired by her Christian faith and how she has stood out against convention and expectation numerous times in her already long and full life. 

As the blurb described it, “Mary Robinson has spent her life in pursuit of a fairer world. Here, the former UN High commissioner joins us to discuss her life and her memoir, Everybody Matters. In a fascinating interview she reveals what lies behind the vision, strength and determination that has helped her to achieve so much for human rights around the globe, and what it is like to be a member of The Elders - the smallest club in the world.”

Her Cheltenham talk was hosted by an organisation which is very relevant to Wychwood Circle, the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme, also known as simply “Coexist”( David Ford - who is speaking at Christ Church Cathedral’s Sunday evening After Eight series in Oxford - introduced the session and described the aim of the Programme as, amongst other things, trying to increase "religious literacy".  I perked up when I heard this,  and was also struck by Coexist's tag, which reverberates well into West Oxfordshire: "Making sense of religion today" - worth following up. 

Since leaving her post at the United Nations, Mary Robinson has moved on to campaign for what she calls Climate Justice.  This is also worth pursuing: The Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice (MRFCJ) describes itself as "a centre for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change who are usually forgotten - the poor, the disempowered and the marginalised across the world."


I hope to get to at least one of Christ Church’s October After Eight series entitled “Across the Faiths”. David Ford starts it off this very evening.  In November the theme will be “Taking a Stand” and is subtitled:  Four Christian activists on issues that matter.

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