Shared Reading: a secular church?
From Robert Lyon, Communications Intern
Prayer, the Church’s banquet, Angels’ age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet, sounding heaven and earth;
Prayer, George Herbert
Here at The Reader we have developed a Shared Reading model that brings people together, creates community and builds confidence and trust through reading aloud. The creative and essentially human aspects of short stories and poetry are the vehicle we use to explore important issues and draw out the experiences and beliefs of our readers. Even when phrased in this way many may be surprised to learn that The Reader has been mentioned in the same breath as a religious body.
Casper ter Kuile is a trainee minister for non-religious people and in a recent article for The Huffington Post Is the Church of England Fit for Purpose he discusses the potential failings of the modern Church of England. After identifying a growing gap between the public and the Anglican Church Body he suggests the church still has much to offer but he seeks to imagine ‘‘articulating the purpose of the church differently’’. It is here that Kuile draws attention to The Reader as one of the organisations which is helping to build communities of belonging and make meaning in our lives.
While The Reader has no religious agenda there are parallels to be drawn between what happens in Shared Reading and within communities that meet within the Church. In the reading groups our readers can feel a sense of community, where friends are made and support can be found. At The Reader we believe in the power of poetry and literature which can remind us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
It is a pleasure to be mentioned in Casper's article, especially in conjunction with other meaningful projects.
There is a great opportunity to hear more about the relationship between reading and belief as we look towards Easter. In partnership with The Reader, Wednesday 2nd March will see author, screenwriter and our patron Frank Cottrell Boyce appear as part of Liverpool Parish Church's Lent Talks. Frank will be talking about his award-winning book The Unforgotten Coat - written especially for The Reader's Our Read campaign in 2011. The book, described by Frank as 'home-made', could not be more timely given the context of the ongoing refugee and migration crisis in Europe.
Tickets for the Lent Talk at Our Lady & St Nicholas Church this coming Wednesday starting at 6.15pm are free but can be registered online now.