Plus text by interviewer Peter Kirkwood
Many of the interviews on Eureka Street TV have featured the views and insights of interfaith activists. Usually they’ve commented on the theology or politics of interreligious dialogue. This burgeoning activity is one of the few bright spots, a sign of hope in our troubled era marked by conflict between different religious groups.
This week we offer quite a different angle on interfaith collaboration, a focus on the spiritual dimension. The video features an interview with Ros Bradley who is editor of a book of prayers from all the major traditions, and excerpts from the launch of the book which took place recently in Sydney.
This includes a moving segment from Gail O’Brien, wife of highly regarded Sydney-based surgeon and cancer specialist Chris O’Brien who died from a brain tumour in 2009, as she explains his contribution to the collection.
The book is called A World of Prayer, and it’s published by the prestigious American company, Orbis Books. As the blurb on its inside cover explains, ‘Nearly a hundred prominent men and women from every religious tradition and region of the world share a favourite prayer and offer their own reflections on its meaning.’
The very dogged Bradley spent three years persuading and cajoling just about every major religious figure around the globe to contribute to the book. It includes such spiritual luminaries as the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Nelson Mandela, Hans Kung, John Shelby Spong and Rowan Williams.
Ros Bradley was born and raised in the UK, and her parents were agnostic and very secular. Though there’s a strong Jewish heritage on one side of the family, they didn’t attend any synagogue or church, and while growing up she didn’t receive any religious instruction.
Despite this, as a young adult she was drawn to religion, and in her late 20s she was baptised and confirmed as an Anglican. Shortly after she spent two years working as a volunteer teacher in Papua New Guinea. This experience in an exotic culture awakened in her an abiding interest in different cultures and belief systems.
She has lived in Australia for 25 years, and was received into the Catholic Church in Sydney in 2002. She has worked in public relations and marketing for several charities including the Fred Hollows Foundation, and in world development with the Methodist Church.
Bradley is a founding member of a Sydney-based interfaith initiative called Companions in Dialogue which promotes fellowship and understanding among its members and holds regular public forums on a range of topics.
In recent years she has become a committed member of the World Community for Christian Meditation, attending one of its groups that meets weekly at a Catholic Church in Sydney’s lower north shore.
She is also a member of the council of Eremos, an organisation which explores and promotes spirituality in Australia, and of her local St Vincent de Paul chapter in Sydney.
A World of Prayer is her second compilation of prayers from different religions. The first was published in 2008 and is called Mosaic: Favourite Prayers and Reflections from Inspiring Australians.