Category Archives: TV

The faith game

It’s not often when reading the Guardian you get what seems to be the beginning of a joke; “what do you get when you put a Muslim imam, a Greek Orthodox priest, a rabbi, a Buddhist monk and 10 atheists in the same room?”  The article went on to say that  Turkish television are broadcasting a new reality Tv show in which, ” contestants will ponder whether to believe or not to believe when they pit their godless convictions against the possibilities of a new relationship with the almighty on Penitents Compete (Tovbekarlar Yarisiyor in Turkish)”

Four spiritual guides from a range of  religions will seek to convert at least one of the 10 atheists in each programme to their faith and those persuaded will be rewarded with a pilgrimage to the spiritual home of their newly chosen creed – Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem for Christians and Jews, and Tibet for Buddhists. According to the programme makers one aim of the show is to promote religious belief and to expose Turkey’s overwhelmingly Muslim population about other faiths. That  programme’s advertising slogans make some bold claims which include “We give you the biggest prize ever: we represent the belief in God” and “You will find serenity in this competition”.

Only true non-believers need apply. An eight-strong commission of theologians will assess the atheist credentials of would-be contestants before deciding who should take part. Converts will be monitored to ensure their religious transformation is genuine and not simply a ruse to gain a free foreign trip. “They can’t see this trip as a getaway, but as a religious experience,” Ozdemir said. The programme, which is scheduled to air in September, has been criticised by commentators and religious figures for trivialising God and faith.

What’s your final answer or do you need to phone a friend?

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aahmedWhen the FA appointed a Swede to head up the management of the England football team there was stunned disbelief- until that is the supporters realised he was the right man for the job. When he was  replaced  with an Englishman who failed to qualify for the Euros  the fans expressed their disgust. Now we are coasting into the World Cup finals in South African led by an Italian.

Yesterday  the BBC yesterday appointed a Muslim as its head of religious programming in a radical departure from broadcasting tradition. In the past the post of head of religion at the BBC has been considered a job for a senior and respected cleric or lay churchgoer.The Church of England’s place as the established Church has usually been influential in the choice of post holders.There were deep reservations among church leaders eight years ago when for the first time the corporation appointed an atheist to the role.

Now the post  has gone to Aaqil Ahmed,who has been working as an executive at Channel 4.The Christian backlash has already begun. Voices have been raised by the usual suspects who seem to believe that Muslims are the work of the devil, but even  more liberal and thoughtful  Christian leaders such as Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury have added their critical voices to the debate. Dr Williams raised concerns over the prospect of a Muslim head of religious broadcasting during a meeting with the corporation’s director general Mark Thompson in March and I am sure an official position statement will be issued  from Lambeth within the week.

Christians are feeling under attack and marginalised ,and both Dr Williams and Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu have made repeated public complaints over the indifference and occasional hostility to Christianity shown in Whitehall and from other authorities.Last year the BBC gave the job of producing its most popular and long running religious programme, Songs of Praise, to a Sikh, Tommy Nagra.

The Church of England points out that 70 per cent of the population of Britain professes to be Christian, but only 3 per cent are Muslims and is in disbelief that a minority appointment could be made in this instance. Why? An official spokesman for the CofE said: ‘We will judge the new man by his output rather than his label.’  and Christina Rees, a member of the Church’s ‘Cabinet’, the Archbishops’ Council, said: ‘Aaqil Ahmed is a respected professional who has an established record of producing programmes on religion and ethics.It is important that the Christian faith continues to receive coverage that accurately reflects its significance in the lives of most people who live in Britain, the overwhelming majority of whom regard themselves as Christian.’

 Mr Ahmed is currently Channel 4’s senior executive for religious programmes. He has commissioned series on the history of Christianity and the Koran.His critics accuse him of dumbing down religion, for example in one programme by presenting an assessment of the state of Christianity by Cherie Blair.Mr Ahmed is a trustee of the Runnymede Trust, a body that has championed the ideology of multiculturalism.He has also taken part in campaigns for a greater Muslim presence in the media.

Doesn’t it say somewhere in the scriptures that God surprises us with the people he choosesto do his work. Jesus made a Samaritan and not a Jew the hero of his most famous parable and told is followers that he had found more faith in a Roman soldier than in his own people. I wonder if anyone has pointed this out to Mr Ahmed or the Archbishops: I think we are in for an interesting time don’t you? I hope every Christian leader in the country will write a warm letter of welcome to Mr Ahmed, and I look forward to some imaginative broadcasting on his watch.

Sing when you’re winning, you only sing when you’re winning…….

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Filed under Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York, bbc, Broadcasting, Christian values, Christianity, church, Church of England, ethics, faith, faith Christianity, islam, radio, religion, TV

All the small things

all-the-small-thingsHere’s a thing. What about  a story of a person who has gathered around them the rejected, unlovely and unloved and is building up their confidence and self esteem by showing them love, acceptance and inspiring them to do great things. The person is even helping them come to terms with past hurts and challenging them to move on and be healed from their insecurities by taking risks. At the same time this person in being enabled by a man of God to re imagine what church and heaven looks like and how it is possible to make a difference to the local community through the church building. The religious establishment are furious and seem unable to cope with the challenge of these random acts of kindness. You could be forgiven for thinking this was the story of Jesus or the early apostles but it isn’t. It’s a newish BBC One uplifting musical serial drama  from Debbie Horsfield called All the small things staring Sara Lancashire ,Neil Pearson Sarah Alexander and Richard Fleeshman. It’s an allegory (maybe not even intentional) of the christian faith and gospel of unconditional love and forgiveness. It’s full of surprises and transformations and handled the subjects of prejudice, disappointment, love and hope very well.  I think this should be required viewing for every member of the clergy and Christians who want to reach out to their communities with the unconditional love of Christ- we could all learn a lot from Esther Caddick and Jake the charismatic young curate who wants to make the church the hub of the community for those people who would not normally darken its doors. Watch the latest episode on BBCi player at the link below and ask your minister and congregation to do the same- it’s in all the small things- like acts of random kindness and bei9ng there for people who need us,- that we make the difference that transforms lives and this drama helps get to the heart and soul of what real faith is about.

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The meaning of Jade..making Jesus famous

jade1The dictionary meaning of Jade could well have been drafted for the character of Jade Goodymost of us would have recognised a year or so ago- “a horse, esp. a worn-out, worthless one a loose or disreputable woman a rare a saucy, pert young woman.”  The reality TV star who burst onto our screens as part of Big Brother was branded a racist, stupid, hedonistic young woman who  s outside the Uk.- more hated than loved. The last few months have changed all that as this remarkable young woman, who died early this morning, allowed us all into her journey to death. She made a pending tragedy a  life and hope-filled experience a personal gift to all of us that may just help thousands of others cope with death and loss. Jade led a powerful courageous last few months which have shone with life, love, tears and emotion  and touched the nation and thousands of hearts. Like millions of others, I never met Jade yet through the media thought I knew this 27 year-old woman as well as many members of my own church. Her open and powerful Christian witness took my breath away and hopefully has inspired Christians unsure about discussing  their faith with friends and relatives to share the hope that is in us. The most famous reality TV star of our generation has helped make Jesus famous to a generation who will never encounter him through church, school or any other means. Reality TV plucked Jade from obscurity and made her a star, and that star is  shining bright as a witness for Christ- the person she believes she is now with and the one who will take care of her family.

Why not offer up a prayer on this mother’s day for Jade, the loving mother, for her Christian witness and the two beautiful boys she leaves behind. post your prayer by lighting a candle here:

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Filed under Christianity, death, Jade Goody, TV