Friday 12 February 2016

What day is it again?

It's true: Sometimes I really don't know what day it is. But today I know it's Friday. And (getting my calendar out and tracing my finger back from today's date) I can even tell it's been getting on for six days since last Sunday. 

And I'm telling you this because?

Well, I really wasn't going to write a post about last week's Sunday on Radio 4 but I am now. (Crack open the Prosecco folks!)

You'd might have thought I'd have done so earlier (like last Sunday), but I felt as if I'd probably bored you more than enough about it over the past few years.

So why am I doing it now? Well, because it was such an 'exemplary' edition of the programme and its biases were so pronounced, so something has been nagging me all week to write a short piece about it. 

So, belatedly, here goes (and it might not turn out to be that short after all)...

Over the life history of ITBB, I've described the Sunday programme in various ways:
  • as the broadcast counterpart of the liberal Catholic magazine The Tablet (in the way that the BBC more generally is sometimes described as the inkless counterpart of The Guardian), of which its main host is a trustee, obsessed with Catholic matters from a liberal Catholic perspective (and as 'groupies' of Pope Francis).
  • as "offering perhaps the most undiluted liberal bias to be found anywhere on the BBC" (pace Damian Thompson).
  • as following a fairly unvarying menu consisting of "the usual diet of breaking news from the Arab world, Christian-related abuse stories, bad news about the Catholic Church [that was in the days of Pope Benedict, who wasn't a favourite of Sunday], something about human rights, the usual airing of Muslim grievances, a call for something or other by a left-wing campaign group, an Anglican row over something, that sort of thing".

Last Sunday's edition had four sections on Catholic matters: the first Catholic service at Hampton Court chapel since the Reformation; the Catholic diocese of Salford's 'Mercy Bus' (inspired by Pope Francis's Year of Mercy); the Pope's relationship-building with the Orthodox Church; and the closing debate on whether the Zika virus should make the Catholic Church re-think its position on abortion and birth control. 

[Edward Stourton's old friend from The Tablet, its disgraced-and-then-dismissed former Vatican correspondent Robert Mickens, also made his return to the programme. He was given the push for his heavily-mocking social media comments about then-Pope Benedict].

The Christian-related abuse story was there in the shape of the row over the (long-dead) former Church of England Bishop of Chichester George Bell, accused of assault. 

The left-wing campaign group bit was given over to the feminist group in Israel that's won the right for women to worship at the Western (formerly known as 'Wailing') Wall. The programme let us hear from one of those feminist campaigners (the kind who talks about 'patriarchy') and from a liberal journalist from Haaretz who applauded their victory whilst worrying about what the Palestinians might think.

(And Hadar at BBC Watch was not impressed with Edward Stourton here, especially his sloppy language about what the Jordanian Waqf controls on and around Temple Mount.).

And, of course, "the usual airing of Muslim grievances" was to be found. 

It took the form of an interview with a male convert to Islam who bemoaned his treatment since converting, with sympathetic supporting comments from a Muslim leader. (For someone who wanted to find spiritual fulfilment he did an awful lot of moaning.)

In all the time I've been closely monitoring Sunday I've yet to hear an equivalent interview with a convert to Christianity from Islam, or with an 'apostate' from Islam. (And that's because there hasn't been such an interview).

Having got that off my chest, I will now state that the Zika virus discussion regarding abortion and birth control featured both sides of the argument and that Edward Stourton handled it fairly. (The choice of subject matter in the first is a different matter of course). 

And I will state that Trevor Barnes's bit on the historic first Catholic service to be held at Hampton Court (of Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII fame) since the Tudor era was characteristically interesting....

....and calls for a favourite piece of music of mine from the time, one of Catholic Thomas Tallis's simplified, English language pieces for the new Anglican church: If Ye Love Me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.