Progressive spirituality: new directions

Thirteen members of the Uniting Church WA made the long flight to Brisbane to join with 300 others from around the world for the 4th Common Dreams Conference. Common Dreams aims to  promote study and discussion of progressive religious thoughts.

The conference was formally opened by Rev David Felten, co-author of Living the Questions, who highlighted the significance of the progressive movement and his experience of a co-ordinated attack on Progressive Christianity by his neighbouring evangelical churches. It was followed by a lecture for the late Rev Canon Nigel Leaves, a past Warden of Wollaston College in WA, introduced by his widow Rev Jewlz Leaves and given by theologian Dr Val Webb.

We also heard a most engaging lecture by a Muslim woman, Saara Sabbagh on ‘Living with Faith in a faithless world’. She shared the wisdom of Islam’s Sufi mystical tradition known to many of us from the writings of Rumi. Nine different elective workshops on progressive spirituality led by experts were held throughout the conference, as well as a range of keynote sessions on interesting topics.

The Common Dreams Conference provided an amazing diversity of talented speakers and topics with many opportunities for open discussion and debate. The expectation is that Common Dreams 5 will be held in Sydney in 2019. In the interim, ‘Common Dreams on the Road’ will bring Professor Hal Taussig to Western Australia in October–November 2017 to talk on his latest book A New New Testament, a landmark contribution to the two worlds of scholarship and spirituality.

For more information visit

Richard Smith

Top image: Diana Butler-Bass articulating a move from the vertical to the horizontal world view of the sacred, in her book, Grounded.

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