‘Spirituality and the Earth Community: Responding to the Spiritual Challenges Facing People and Planet’. This was former Professor Ursula King’s theme for her Cheltenham lecture last evening. It deserved to be better attended. Possibly the title was what put people off, for after a somewhat analytical start, she took off in the latter part of her talk, and ended with several almost impassioned responses to audience questions. Not for a long time have I heard such a free thinker, open to so many differently stimulating channels of thought! “I was mighty impressed,” as a friend put it.
Amongst challenging questions Professor King herself raised were, “Are modern societies predominantly secular?” (Answer: “Pace Richard Dawkins, no.”) “Does spirituality only concern the needs of the individual?” (Answer: “Again, no.”) And, echoing Indira Gandhi at Stockholm almost 40 years ago, “Will the growing awareness of ‘one earth' and ‘one environment' guide us to the concept of ‘one humanity'?” (Answer: “We must sincerely hope so, notwithstanding the signal lack of progress to date!”) Finally, and she gave no answer to this, leaving us each to take up the quest for a response ourselves: “How do we live a good life?”