Category: Opinions | May 20, 2020
This is a very beautiful photographic book. Niki artistically captures the vibrancy and diversity of faiths in the City of London through a collection of photographs of over 200 visits to most of the City’s places of worship.
The mention of “Faith in the City of London” conjures up images of formal ceremonial events in St Paul’s Cathedral, but there are over 40 other Anglican churches as well as Jewish, Dutch, Catholic, Orthodox, Welsh Presbyterian places of worship squeezed in between The Square Mile’s towers of commerce. And Niki shows us this throughout her colourful book.
Niki places these photographs into chapters under themes such as “Preconceptions”, Unique History Celebrated”, “Outside Relations” and “Reaching Out”, which make you think and reflect on those words as you look at the photographs and see the enthusiasm and colour leaping out.
What the photos do is show us images of the religious life within the City but they are all within a contemporary setting, because the emphasis is on the people (of all generations) taking part in a modern world; in a modern City of London. We see that all faiths are accommodated. The Muslim faith, even though it has no permanent space of its own in the City, has Friday Prayers held in hired rooms such as the Wax Chandlers’ livery hall. And Sikhs have also found a location for weekday prayer in the Bedouin Tent at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.
Through this stunning photography, Niki shows us that there are layers of interaction between faith and commerce within the City’s tight geographical confines; that diversity flourishes and everyone’s faith or no faith can be accommodated; that events are celebrated; that philanthropy is thriving; that there are interchanges between religion and other organisations associated with the City e.g. livery companies, legal Inns of Courts, businesses, armed forced, charitable foundations etc. and of course music-making.
For me, I personally liked the section on “Depth and Breadth” that shows one altar and two congregations and also “Characters” which highlighted the array of energetic, imaginative and popular clergy.
This book not only reveals and celebrates the City of London’s very active and spiritual life but it also shows London City workers not dominated by money-making but instead are trying to connect to life’s deeper meanings. It also captures the beautiful architecture from another angle, revealing a rich history and human interaction. It is definitely a book that will encourage more people to explore not only these amazing buildings but the hidden world of worship going on inside them.
Original Book Review by Martha Grekos for The London Society