The Pope Francis Fan Club's weekly magazine was out again this morning. It goes by the title of Sunday and its audio incarnation is broadcast on Radio 4 every Sunday morning.
Not one but two features on this morning's programme took the doings of (
St.) Pope Francis as their starting point: Pope Francis goes to see the Turin Shroud, Sunday does a feature about the Turin Shroud; Pope Francis spouts off about global warming, Sunday devotes the opening and closing sections of the programme to discussing it, ending with a discussion with two admiring Catholics (chaired by a third, Edward Stourton).
Not even a whiff of scepticism was to be found here (either about global warming or the Pope). The science is settled and Pope Francis is simply super.
The bit on the Turin Shroud with Professor Mark Goodacre was quite interesting though. The science still isn't settled on that, apparently.
International Yoga Day received some coverage (as it did on Sunday Morning Live). The focus on Sunday was on the politics of it. It was the BJP government of Narendra Modi that got the UN to make it an official 'UN day', as a symbol of Indian spirituality (and, thus, helpful at creating the right image for Western tourists). This innocuous-sounding move has, however, upset the Muslims. (I know! It's not like Muslims to get upset about stuff, is it?). They think that yoga is a Hindu thing rather than an Indian thing, and that the Modi government is advancing a Hindu agenda over it. And, boy, they aren't happy about it! (And neither are some Christians it has to be said).
Talking about Muslims, there was also a report (from Trevor Barnes) on how some Muslim groups are using new teaching resources to challenge Islamic State ideology and try to deter "youngsters" from going overseas. They will be doing so using "authentic Islamic sources" - ones that show that Islam is a "moderate" religion and that 'jihad' should only be taken to mean 'inner spiritual struggle'. IS are only "so-called Muslims", according to one campaigner. These groups will show young Muslims the true Islam. Hmm.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was also on talking about his new book and about the term "altruistic evil". (This basically amounts to 'doing evil things in the belief that you are nobly helping others'.) He argued that the way to fight Islamic State is to get all religions back to the mainstream (a sentiment not dissimilar to the ones expressed by those Muslim groups in Trevor Barnes's report). He defended himself against Edward Stourton by insisting that all religions have a history of being misused by murderous extremists, so he's definitely not singling out Islam, no sirree.
Everyone was saying 'nice things' here, but the terms 'wishful thinking' and 'vague' kept popping into my head.
I did note that Edward Stourton briefly echoed Newsnight's strikingly biased defenestration of David Cameron's Slovakia speech about some British Muslims "quietly condoning" Islamic State's actions (if you recall, the programme contained nothing but criticism of the speech - including from its presenter),by beginning his discussion with Lord Sacks by saying:
David Cameron raised some hackles this week when he some some Muslims "quietly condone" the extremism of groups like Islamic State.
Was the "raising of hackles" the important part of the news story here? (And he did receive some support too, Edward). Later he described the PM's words as "tough rhetoric".
The same African-American academic that appeared on Newsnight last week, discussing the Charleston church massacre, was interviewed again on this edition of Sunday. One of her friends was murdered in the attack. She takes the view that a lot more action needs to be taken to confront racism - a view the BBC is prepared to share across its platforms.
There was also a pleasant report on a new piece of classical music - 'The Passion of Christ as told by Mark the Evangelist - by the BBC's delightfully-named Sarah Swadling. Whenever I hear her name on Sunday I always think of the little baby Jesus lying in his manager wrapped in swaddling clothes, and that cheers me up. Hmmm, mince pies!
And on that bombshell, here endeth this week's rant about Sunday.