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RLC UK Book Club: Spiritual Activism w/ Alastair McIntosh & Matt Carmichael

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Authors& Activists Alastair McIntosh & Matt Carmichael join us for an interactive Zoom book club discussion of their book Spiritual Activism

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Investing in spiritual resilience to undergird our public activism and community work has been a key theme for Red Letter Christians UK this past year. And so we're thrilled to welcome Alastair & Matt to join us for an interactive discussion of their important book Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service.

This RLC UK Book Club session will be a mixture of hearing from Alastair & Matt, small group breakout discussions and a time for Q&A. We look forward to a morning of deep discussion, stories and learning together.

About this book and its origins from Alastair McIntosh:Matt and I (Alastair) use the expression - Spiritual Activism - to mean the spiritual underpinning of action for social and ecological justice. It is an underpinning, because it is not sufficient to think of spirituality - that which gives life - as an optional "dimension" or "element". If activism is not grounded in spirituality it cannot be sustained in the long run: we either burn out or sell out as the oil of life runs low. We need replenishment from the wellheads of life itself. No matter what religious tradition we may or may not be coming from, this re-sourcing is a question of depth psychology and, we argue, ultimately one of spirituality.Starting around 1990 I taught accredited masters-level courses in human ecology (the relationships between the natural and the social environments) variously at the University of Edinburgh, the Open University and the University of Strathclyde. I also ran special sessions in many parts of the world, both in academic institutions and in grassroots communities. I'd long wanted to draw my rough teaching notes for my students into a handbook, but the pressures of an activist's life stopped me from properly getting down to it.However, in 2011, Schumacher North invited me to run a weekend training course at Hebden Bridge. One of the participants, Matt Carmichael, a climate change activist and English teacher from Leeds, asked if he might use my teaching handbook to run a course of his own through Schumacher North. The success of this resulted in him editing, expanding and updating my material, as well as finding a wonderful publisher in Green Books (UIT Cambridge Ltd). I am immensely grateful for this collaboration. The result is a book that draws upon the activist life experience of us both, but also draws extensively on insights from social psychology, from the spiritual teachers of many different faiths, and from front-line activist experience, including direct action, with case studies of effective activists at the end of each of the ten chapters.

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Matt Carmichael is a climate activist, English teacher, writer and homemaker with a degree in theology from University of Durham, England. He was a founder board member of Schumacher North, a forum devoted to exploring and promoting the ideas of deep ecology, sustainable development and social transformation.

Alastair McIntosh (Scotland) has been described by BBC TV as “one of the world’s leading environmental campaigners.” A pioneer of modern land reform in Scotland, he helped bring the Isle of Eigg into community ownership. On the Isle of Harris he negotiated withdrawal of the world’s biggest cement company (Lafarge) from a devastating “superquarry” plan, then agreed to serve (unpaid) on that company’s Sustainability Stakeholders Panel for 10 years. Alastair guest lectures at military staff colleges, most notably the UK Defence Academy, on nonviolence. His books include Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power (Aurum), Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition (Birlinn), Rekindling Community (Green Books) and Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service (Green Books). His most recent major work is Poacher’s Pilgrimage: an Island Journey (Birlinn 2016, Cascade (USA) 2018). He is a fellow of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh and a visiting professor at the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow. His website is www.AlastairMcIntosh.com and Twitter @alastairmci.

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Red Letter Christians UK is a relational network for those who want to live for Jesus and Justice. Our focus is connecting and supporting Christian activists and community leaders across the UK. We aim to provide practical tools for developing advocacy and organising skills alongside deepening spiritual resilience. We seek out spiritual and tactical resonance, creating opportunities to pursue justice together. We aim to amplify prophetic voices from the margins who bring spiritual depth, experience and a healthy dose of challenge to national conversations.

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