Sunday 23 March 2014

Central Africa, a place that loves immigrants, Rev., slavery, the Bible, missing family members, the Big Bang & Islamic feminism

This morning's Sunday had a newbie presenter, veteran BBC reporter Mike Wooldridge.

He's such a BBC veteran that I seem to have been hearing his name all my life. Checking the infallible fount of all human wisdom, Wikipedia, apparently he's been a BBC reporter since 1970 - some 44 years. And now he's presenting Sunday. 

So what were this week's themes?

1. Central African Republic
Mike talked to the BBC's Tim Whewell about the conflict there.

Tim Whewell himself talked about the plight of Muslims there, saying they are now very much on the receiving end of the violence, and also about the role of priests in sheltering Muslims. He said many priests are doing this, calling them "very brave". There have been death threats madee against them. He said that the conflict was not a religious issue originally, and that the Christian militias arose partly for reasons of revenge and partly because they are being used by other nationalist political forces who believe that CAR nationalism has no place for Muslims. 

Several radio/TV programmes by Tim Whewell will reflect on his experiences there, so his take on the conflict will remain the dominant one at the BBC. Whether his single perspective is an essentially accurate one is something we may only know from reading beyond the BBC.

2. Immigration
John Laurenson reports from Riace where immigrants are welcome and encouraged to stay.

The BBC often gets accused - and sometimes (as per Helen Boaden, Nick Robinson, John Humphrys, etc) accuses itself - of having a pro-immigration bias. This report did absolutely nothing to refute that accusation.

We heard from a village in Italy, which you may also have read about in the Guardian last year. Refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Syria, and other places are being positively welcomed there. Pope Francis was cited saying that each migrant should be treated as if they were Christ himself. Don Giovanni (yes, really) agreed, saying you're giving food & shelter to Christ himself by feeding and housing immigrants. He says there should be no limits at all on immigration, no limits on love. There should be open borders, no upper limits on numbers, no limits on social security. Riace isn't just offering emergency treatment, they are actually encouraging the immigrants to live there, to stop this village becoming a ghost town. They do jobs Italians don't want to do, said the mayor, such as looking after old people.

We also heard the experiences of a Christian Eritrean refugee & his journey to Europe. We heard of the dangerous crossing of the Med to Lampedusa, and of how he was badly treated by the Sudanese (who kept trying to get him to convert to Islam) & how he was treated even more badly in Libya (where they would beat him for refusing to convert to Islam). He says he feels free and at home in Riace. It's impossible not to feel relieved for him, and feel glad that he's now safe and sound in Europe's heaving bosom.

No then, definitely not a report to persuade people who think the BBC has a pro-immigration bias that they're in any way wrong!

3. Rev.
Next week sees the return of Rev, the BBC sitcom about a former rural parish vicar trying to cope with the varied demands of running an inner-city church. Co-creator and writer James Wood tells Mike where he gets his material.

A plug for the "cult" TV series Rev. It's popular with clergy, apparently.

James Wood discussed some of the issues the new series would tackle.  In Episode 1 Rev. Adam Smallbone will team up with a local imam. Episode 2 will deal with gay marriage, as Adam has two dear friends who are gay and want him to marry them.

He said the team meet up with London priests and get their stories, gathering lots of material, and then decide which stories to tackle.

4. Slavery
In an unprecedented collaboration Anglican, Catholic and Islamic leaders at the highest level have given their backing to a global campaign to fight slavery and human trafficking. What is this new initiative doing that hasn't been done before? Trevor Barnes reports.

There are an estimated 29 million men and women in bondage across the world, and a global network has been set up to tackle the problem. We heard from a bishop, and archbishop and an Australian philanthropist. All power to their elbow, I say.

We heard that the Grand Imam of al-Azhar is on board. Trevor Barnes said that there'd previously been a strain between Muslims and Catholics because of "Pope Benedict's some would say 'unfortunate remarks' at Regensburg". [It wouldn't be Sunday if someone didn't have a dig at Pope Benedict].

5. Listener e-mails
Two e-mails were read out. One said that RE teacher's have a vast amount to teach but very little time each week to do it. The other pointed out Ed Stourton's mistake in calling a Lib Dem MP a Conservative last week. Mike Wooldridge apologised [even though it had nothing to do with him].

6. Steve Chalke on the Bible
Mike Wooldridge talks to Steve Chalke as he embarks on a social media debate which he hopes will spark answers to some "Big" Bible questions.

Leading British Evangelical Steve Chalke is hosting a Twitter debate in the coming days. He told Mike Wooldridge that the Church has a history of getting sacred texts wrong, such as over apartheid, slavery or 'women in leadership', thus ending up on "the wrong side of history", justifying "prejudice" and "oppression". He said that Martin Luther King and others show that the Bible can also be a tool for "liberation". His Twitter debate will ask, 'How can it be used both to oppress and to liberate?'. 

He says he's always been inspired by the Bible, as an Evangelical, but says we now need to ask how to answer new questions that were never around in the 1st Century, such as gay marriage. This Twitter debate will discuss that too.

7. The missing Malaysian airliner
We heard from Katrina, whose brother when missing in the Alps 35 years ago. Since then she's been a counsellor, specialising in bereavement. Over that time she kept hoping he had survived. Her mother believed for a while that he had, against all the odds. She said she felt angry watching the TV seeing the grieving mother being pulled out of the room, screaming, crying. The families of the passengers will feel their sense of anxiety rising with each day. She said that everyone needs a story to hold onto. Her brother's body was finally found just last summer and was preserved enough so that she was able to hold his hand. By that stage, she herself didn't want his body to be found in her lifetime, feeling happier imagining him as a free spirit wandering on the mountain - though, she said, that wasn't the case for everyone in her family. She felt angry that that the body had been found, but....[Unfortunately, Mike Wooldridge had to cut her off at that point as they'd run out of time.]

8. The Big Bang
This week scientists recorded the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, coming one step closer to proving the Big Bang theory. Bob Walker reports on the theological implications of this.

1950 - The term 'Big Bang' first used (in a BBC broadcast)
1980 - cosmic inflation discovered
2014 - gravitational waves discovered

We heard from Chris Lintott of The Sky at Night. He's an atheist. Then from Anglican David Wilkinson, Durham (of Thought for the Day fame) who said the discovery reinforces the case for a creator, as beautiful, comprehensible laws suggest a deeper story to the universe. A Muslim particle physicist then argued that we overstate Big Bang, as classical Islamic theology talks of continuous creation. An American creationist finished the report by saying that some scientists are more interested in fame than the truth (i.e. they are after a Nobel Prize) & are tweaking the model infinitely to justify the notion of a Big Bang (which he doesn't believe in.) 

Well, that report certainly can't be faulted for failing to offer a range of perspectives - all the way from an atheist to a creationist.

9. Islamic feminism
Maslaha is a new project about Islam and feminism. How does Islam work within the Western ideas of feminism where traditionally religion has been left at the door? Latifa Akay and Shelina Janmohamed discuss.

This was a strange discussion, as it barely seemed to get anywhere. Latifa talked in fluent sociological wafflese throughout. She believes Islam and feminism go together, but quite how I really can't say (given how she said it). Shelina also believes Islam and feminism go together, but didn't make much of a case for that either. She did say that the "outside world" mocks them for engaging with such issues, saying that someone had just tweeted her asking if 'Islamic feminism' is a joke. Shelina believes that Islamic feminism is a bit different in that (unlike other forms of feminism) it draws on the Koran and early Muslim experiences. 

The discussion might have sprung to life when Mike Wooldridge asked a question about whether she thought women could lead a mixed-gender congregation in prayer. Shelina begins waffling and seemed to be beginning to deflect the answer by saying there are more basic issues to deal with first, when she was stopped in her tracks - as they'd run out of time (again). The programme was ending.

As is this post. Enjoy your Sunday.


  1. Aha!
    I heard this one myself, but thanks for being clear in the running order.
    The last piece on Islamic Feminism made no sense at all-except for that buzz word "intersectionality" that is code for layers of subjective grievance callibrations to come to us all soon enough, Witness Burchill/Suzanne Moores run in with the sex change cohort!
    Yet this one ran out of time-good,
    Less good was the sister of the bloke who died on the mountain years ago-Wooldridge cut her curtly, as if no-one there plans or edits. Why do we get uninterrupted leisurely puffery for "Rev", but a rush through the grief of somebody specifically there to "empathise" with those on MH370?
    I`m guessing because the story hasn`t yet reached the peak that "Sunday" might have been hoping for when they booked her.
    Note too that over half the programme was given over to Islam as victim, as seeking a better world and as a vanguard for feminism...funnily enough NOT gay marriage, NOT its real role in slavery(today, as well as way back) and NOT as provoking and leading atrocities in the CAR(that only now requires the UN according to the BBC-when it was Christians getting wiped out, we had no news of it-well, nothing to bother us here).
    In short-usual Lefty liberal hand wringing crap-in a week of FGM news, of possible Islamic links to the Malaysian pilots and a boy walking out on his failing school( I`m guessing the RE taught there would be as rubbish as his maths!,...Aaron Parfitt`s the name)...we get only Islamic victimhood, the need for more of them to cover over to enrich our lives a la Woolwich-and absolutely NO comment on the use of FGM by Islam in this week where it made the national news(35 years-not bad eh?),
    Still-Wooldridge was less Uriah Hippie that Posh Ed, but his bumping of the grieving sister was as "un Sunday Christian" as you could possibly here.

    1. That cutting off of the grieving sister just as she was saying something very important to her, and making a point listeners (like me) wanted to hear her finish, was a bad mistake. It sounded brutal, and clearly left her startled.

      I suspect it was some 'Sunday' producer shouting in his ear, telling him to wind the interview up and (being an inexperienced presenter) him panicking and making a hash of it. She would have only needed about 10-15 seconds more time, and they could have spared that.

  2. So Sunday was pap.
    Much better was The Service that followed on Radio 4 re the Syrian Orthodox Church. I learned plenty, and it was a joy to hear Charles speech on Dec 17th last year re the persecutions of Christians in the erstwhile-"Holy Land".
    But no media coverage though worth the candle-as opposed to the acres he gets given if he`s promoting wind turbines or global warming agendas.
    That tells you all you need to know re the BBC and liberal media...1000 dead Christians equals one wind turbine or one UEA Doomwatch Report there at the BBC.

    1. Green Energy is cultural suicide.
      If it's taken seriously it'll be part n parcel of the demographic collapse of Europe.


    When God told Abraham to sign the covenant of the flesh, he circumcised all the male children and he was
    circumcised. GENESIS 17: 1-27 When God told Moses that the Children of Israel shall not circumcise their
    girls, the message was given in a spiritual language and bore two warnings. The
    Israelis parent shall not sexually mutilate their daughters and fathers were
    commanded not have carnal knowledge (incest) of their daughters making them
    prostitutes. The evil cutting is done in honor of the dead.
    Leviticus 19:28-29. Israelis girl child remained a land fenced,a spring shut up and a blessed fountain sealed in divine state.
    Song of Solomon 4:12, Proverbs 5:18-19.
    Israelis women remained lively and delivered goodly children easily a state known to Pharaoh and he agreed with the midwives reply. Exodus 1:15-22. God has promised our beloved sisters save child delivery. 1Timothy 2: 15. Man is commanded by GOD to give his
    wife her conjugal wrights for its a shared joy. 1Corithians 1:1-4. FGM suppresses libido . Where man circumcision involves removal of a fold of fore skin FGM involves massive dense muscles with high concentration of sensitive net work of nerves and soft bone removal. Her bone is left in the air to dry like wood. This is not circumcision. It is Sexual excavation. It is the time the promises in fgm die out and the demonic world open its’ gates wide for the girl child and closes its’ gates behind her back as she leaves the alter of Satan empty handed for the lest of life time. The girl child lives with unresolved burning self reserved resentments against her parents but all they see is well to their eyes.
    Which man would ever leave any cut part of his bone to dry in the air like wood? After FGM there are no bows left for man to hold. Song of Solomon 7:8 .NO blood should be spilt in FGM. Leviticus 1928-29.
    FGM makes a woman a land without fence and a well without a cover. Song of Solomon 4:12
    They view God at fault for providing the girl child with an active sexual organ a source of immorality . FGM is a
    form of partial castration for a womanhood. The fleshy coals are provided for marriage. 1Corithians7: 9 .Jeremiah 44:19 . in FGM women count on their husbands support God purposed a woman to enjoy sex in marriage. Song of Solomon 2:2-6.No curse for brethren . Galatians3:10-14, Proverb26:1-2.
    We need fathers who can stand for God with their families like Joshua when the lest rebel against GOD Joshua 24:14-15 . FGM exercise the most Dignified Unreserved Beastly Cultural Atrocities on womanhood which is the deadly yoke of Satan hidden in parenthood for demonic chastity acceptance. .Let all Children of Abraham by faith join in spiritual circumcision. Colossians 2: 8-12. Roman2:28-29 .When faithful Abraham the father of faith was commanded by God to be circumcised at 99 years old with his son Ishmael at thirteen years old, he obeyed
    God. Sarah and Hagar were not circumcised or any girl child since there is no women circumcision with God. GENESIS 17: 1-27


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