Sunday, August 24, 2014

Scrap Thought for the Day and bring back Compline

I have been listening to Radio Four's Thought for the Day for decades, and in all that time (leaving aside a few jokes from Rabbi Blue) there has been only one of these homilies that was worth listening to.

It was by, I think, Rosemary Hartill, who was then the BBC's religious affairs correspondent. She spoke of the tedium of assemblies in secondary schools and of keeping your eyes open to show you did not believe a word of it. Most of us have been there.

If religion in secondary school was a New Testament affair, then at primary school it was very much an Old Testament affair. God was a god of vengeance who might just conceivably take your side against the headmistress. Most of us have been there too.

But apart from that, Thought for the Day is remarkably unmemorable. I can't imagine it has anything to say to most believers. It certainly has nothing to say to this wistful unbeliever.

Radio Four used to have a programme that did speak to me. Every Sunday evening it broadcast the order of Compline, sung by the BBC singers.

The plainchant was moving in itself, and the words...!
Brethren, be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour : whom resist, stedfast in the faith.
You don't get stuff like that on Thought for the Day.

So my proposal is that Radio Four should scrap thought for the day and bring back Compline on Sunday evenings. As each takes 15 minutes, it is rather an elegant proposal.

The central problem with Thought for the Day is that the contributors have nothing much to say. And somewhere there too is the mistaken idea that, if only Christians took away all the poetry and bells and smells and mumbo jumbo and poetry, then what would be left would be reason and everyone would belief.

But, of course, the central problems for Christians is that their creed is not true and it is only the poetry that makes it appeal.

As Gregory Bateson pointed out in the 1960s, Roman Catholics gave up conducting its services in Latin just at the point that young people took up chanting in Sanskrit.


Ron Combo said...

Hear hear!

Anonymous said...

faith needs not to have its nose rubbed in 'trurh' -