I was puzzled to see a warning about strong language for a religious programme, and even more puzzled to find no strong language in the programme after all!
So it was with Young, Welsh and Pretty Religious on BBC1 on Tuesday of last week. In this episode the focus was on a young Catholic priest, a Hare Krishna monk and a mediation practitioner, all in Wales. Fr Ross was newly ordained, had been through the care system due to family problems and had the Faith as his bedrock. He appreciated the support of his community and was particularly enthused by Baptism. We saw him carrying out one such joyful ceremony and he felt privileged to do so.
After that he was off to give a Confirmation preparation course and then home to watch Dr Who!
Later we accompanied him on a visit to a faith school where he was part of the ‘Pop-In Pastor’ scheme. With the second level students he was showing a Christian perspective on social issues – this day it was finding a religious connection with the ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ initiative.
He reckoned the students “get” the Gospel message, though they mightn’t call it that. He could see the young people’s commitment to social equality, including, curiously, what he called “equal marriage”.
One of the contemporary problems in this area of religious belief is the mistaken assumption that science and religion are in conflict. You get people quoting the ‘Big Bang’ theory as if it contradicts religious belief without realising that the theory was developed by a Jesuit priest – Fr Georges Lemaitre – and that Soviet scientists rejected it because they thought it came too close to supporting a religious view of the world and creation.
The false polarisation between religion and science was evident in comedy drama Young Sheldon (E4, Monday) which, ironically, is a spin off from another show, The Big Bang Theory. In this episode Sheldon declares he doesn’t believe in God but accepts the challenge of the pastor (who says he has “the coolest boss”) to do some research, like a good scientist would do. The mother is not too happy when he starts exploring other religions for his database: “Your database is Baptist – that’s all the data you need!”
Sheldon takes to the study with his usual thoroughness and makes some learned comments about the Gospel of John. His discussion with a young Catholic, student, Tam, is less enlightening, though of course these are little children talking about religion, always interesting even if the theology is a bit off.
This Catholic says Jesus is not God, but “the Son”, and adds that there’s a “ghost” as well, but not the scary kind, more like Casper (the friendly ghost). Sheldon says he doesn’t have any sins, but Tam says therefore he has the sin of pride.
Eventually Sheldon invents his own religion, Mathology, where the only sin is stupidity. This is after he has a dream about binary code being God. This version of God says that without evil and suffering there can be no good and happiness.
Though very funny at times, and the mother is certainly a likeable character, some Christians might have several reservations about a somewhat negative attitude to religion in the show.
Finally, there were so many programmes last week relating to the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. I found Day of Days: June 1944 (PBS America, Saturday) a nice combination of history and emotion as veterans of that day remembered the harrowing events.
Elderly men were moved to tears as they remembered how scared they were and how upset they were as their friends got killed around them. One said there were no atheists on those landing crafts, as people prayed and called out for their mothers.
Also moved to tears was Carol Malone, regular panellist on The Pledge (Sky News) last Thursday as she watched a video of one veteran who had parachuted into occupied France re-enacting that jump in a tandem sky dive at the age of 94.
Another panellist Nick Ferrari remarked on how modest these heroes were when interviewed. During the show it was good to see the ticker tape telling us of the words of Pope Francis delivered by Cardinal Marc Oullet during the ceremonies, a tribute to the effect that D-Day had been “decisive in the fight against Nazi barbarism”.
PICK OF THE WEEK
CATHOLIC ENLIGHTENMENT: GIFTS OF CATHOLICISM TO CIVILISATION
EWTN, Saturday, June 15, 8.30 pm
Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent explore how Catholics influenced educational systems, pioneered women’s roles in teaching and politics, and revolutionised theories in ethics and philosophy.
SUNDAY MORNING LIVE
BBC1, Sunday, June 16, 11.30 am
New series: Seán Fletcher, Ria Hebden and panel discuss religious and ethical stories from the week.
Channel 4, Sunday, June 16, 2 pm
Homer has a vision from God and decides to start his own religion.