Friday, 27 December 2013

Time Berners-Lee's Religion on BBC Radio Four

When religious categories change the BBC doesn't keep up; and yet it insists on deciding the categories, not the religious. So when it is the case that a Unitarian minister is a non-theist (Andy Pakula), that one is excluded from the 'official' Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Four's Today on Boxing Day, whereas when one of them is a theist (Jim Corrigall; extra information: he's on the right wing of the denomination, argues even for a Christian norm) such is included. Not only that but one is introduced differently:

BBC presenter: Time for Thought for the Day; We had an alternative Thought - well, we got two sort of alternative speakers today because Tim Berners-Lee our guest editor wanted to hear a selection of voi...; he chose an atheist for an alternative Thought for the Day an hour ago. The world has not stopped spinning, although it might have done and we just don't know in the studio. Anyhow, he also wanted a Unitarian voice so the speaker here in our studio with us now is the Reverend Jim Corrigall, who is the Unitarian minister in Ipswich and Framlington [sic].

No, incorrect. Both are Unitarian voices, and ministers, one in east London and one in Ipswich with nearby in Framlingham. The latter is not the only Unitarian, and the old theological category of 'unitarian' cannot be imposed. Of course, when it comes to Buddhism, the BBC has to ditch its theists only policy otherwise that religion would not get a look-in. So the equivalent is to have had Andy Pakula on at the later time.

Earlier, Pakula: ...the BBC talks about not allowing people of 'no faith' to present Thought for the Day. Well, what does 'no faith' mean? Here I am: I'm minister of religion, leading a congregation, talking about peace and love, and I'm considered a person of no faith because I say I'm an atheist.

 Defintiion of faith? Trust. I once called myself a non-realist and, in religion, I am so still, but taking in all of the thought-worlds and my revised views I'd also be considered atheist. I never quite make it to 'real absence' when going up the transcendental road towards theism. I held a similar position when training at Unitarian College in Manchester 1989-90 and put the backs up of a number of locals in charge and thus was waved goodbye after a year. One practice report said OK about me but where would I minister? The Principal, a Buddhist orientated Unitarian, was gone soon after. His service, where I'd put my feet wrong, was Christian through and through. The worship tutor was a Pagan Unitarian minister, who outside the college played a straight bat and had alternative times for his beliefs in his church. Our read-through of the Bhagavad Gita rather than Bible class wasn't followed up the following year! Things have at least moved on since then, in that the dogmatists have lost some ground and the Pagans and obvious non-theists are now much bigger in proportion. Trouble is, the numbers are now so small that changes in proportion could become more random and simply chaotic.

But do keep up BBC and if you don't know, don't impose; ask.

Personally I'd scrap Thought for the Day just as I'd scrap compulsory Religious Education in schools.

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