There will be a wide variety of events from interfaith services, panels of speakers, art competition, discussions on social issues, book launches, lectures, conversations, coffee mornings, film shows.
The theme for the week is ‘Values and Visions for Scotland’. With the Scottish Referendum approaching in 2014, this provides an opportunity for interfaith groups across Scotland to think about the kind of Scotland they would like to see now and in the future, regardless of the political outcome. This is a unique moment for Scotland. There can't be many small countries in the world that, in peacetime, have the opportunity to think about the kind of society they would like to live in. There are many such conversations going on in Scotland at the moment and Interfaith Week encourages faith communities to engage with them.
One of the topics for conversation has been the place of religion in a secular state and how important it is that all religious and philosophical beliefs are allowed their space. A recent meeting of the religious leaders of Scotland at the Parliament brought this out. In an introduction to the conversation the Moderator of the Church of Scotland pointed out that recently the Guide Movement in Britain has dropped God from the Guide Promise. This, no doubt, has been done in the interests of inclusion but in fact it excludes religious guides of whom there are many. The Scout Movement has gone about things differently. It allows for different kinds of promises so is truly inclusive. We all speak different languages, and it's important to allow beliefs to speak their own language, and even more important perhaps to understand the other's language and even find out the reality behind the words is closer than we think.
Within religion virtue is described as a middle way. Although compassion is at the heart of Buddhism there is such a thing as idiot compassion. Thomas Aquinas following on from Aristotle saw the moral virtues as a mean between excess and defect; thus courage is a mean between cowardice and rashness, and liberality is a mean between stinginess and prodigality. As far as equality is concerned excess can in fact lead to inequality and deficiency can mean injustice.
To find the middle way with which all can live dialogue is necessary . A good agenda for this interfaith week.