|Rembrandt, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee|
The Guardian featured a touching interview yesterday with 61 year old Hylton Murray-Philipson. He's been through five days of intensive care and been on a ventilator, 'thanks to' coronavirus. Unlike either a similar aged man on the same ward or an ENT consultant at the same hospital, Mr Murray-Philipson pulled through. He is profoundly grateful to the NHS:
While in recovery, the nurses found out it was my 61st birthday coming up and asked me what I wanted. I felt pretty rough and beaten up so I said I’d love a shave. The nurse gave me one. On the day, the nurses gathered around my bed with a slice of cake and sang Happy Birthday. It was so unbelievably moving.
NHS staff even gave him a 'guard of honour' and applauded and cheered him when he finally left hospital.
This morning's Today programme picked up on this good news story and interviewed Mr Murray-Philipson. Something curious happened during that interview though:
Nick Robinson: Those memories that you had in intensive care are very, very intense, aren't they, good as well as bad?Hylton Murray-Philipson: Well, absolutely. And following those words from Bishop James Jones just now I think it's appropriate to say that one of the many very powerful images I had in that moment of great distress and struggle was the image of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. And that just came to me, and I would like to think that that was Jesus Christ coming to me and helping me in my hour of need.Nick Robinson: Well, it's so powerful that you have that...partly I have to say, partly because of the drugs that you have to be on in order to be on a ventilator machine which plays tricks with your mind, doesn't it really? But you also had some happy moments, didn't you? There must have been some horror there but also some happy moments?Hylton Murray-Philipson: Well, to be honest, the happy moments came when I was out of intensive care. Intensive care is a pretty horrendous experience I can't really put the word 'happy' alongside it.Nick Robinson: (interrupting) I was thinking of your birthday that you spent in hospital.
This was blog favourite Alex Deane's immediate reaction to Nick Robinson's kneejerk 'explaining away' of Mr Murray Philipson's recent deeply-felt religious experience:
- It is Good Friday. The Today Programme interviews a man who was discharged from hospital having had COVID-19. He said that in his hour of need, he saw Christ. Nick Robinson: "Ah, you were of course on very powerful drugs at the time."
- The sense of desperate panic amongst the BBC production team that someone was going to mention his Christianity was palpable.
- There’s no other faith that would have been dumped on in this way on air on the BBC. I honestly think that if the recovered patient had outed himself as a Satanist who’d seen the Devil he’d have got a more respectful time.
- I understand that Robinson felt awkward in the moment & that this was an instinctive remark rather than a scripted one. But it’s telling that that’s his instinct, isn’t it? You sweet, silly old drug addled God botherer, chuckled the host... imagine it towards another faith. Try.
- I honestly don’t think for a scintilla of a moment that there is a chance that any other faith would have been disparaged in this way.
Update - Nick Robinson has asked for forgiveness:
Further update - Ah, but BBC defensiveness is already creeping back in again:Forgive me. I didn’t mean to dismiss his or anyone else’s faith. I’d been told that he’d had a series of vivid dreams & as it happens I have been on a ventilator & heavily sedated myself & still remember my dreams almost 40 years on. My words got a bit jumbled (like the dreams).
Thanks for re-tweeting my apology & explanation. I can understand why it upset you & others but on the day we heard from Rowan Williams, Vincent Nichols, an excerpt of the St Matthew’s Passion [sic] & Thought for the Day you can’t really argue that we dismiss Christianity.That wasn't really what Alex Deane was arguing, was it? He was arguing that no other faith would have been treated in this way, however 'accidentally'?