RTÉ’s lack of ‘faith’ in ‘religious’ programming

Last week, I encountered the senior executive at RTÉ who is responsible for the religious output. In the course of conversation, I suggested to him that they might consider changing the word ‘religion’ to ‘faith’.

He was doubtful. But there were some thoughts that religious programming might be altered to the ‘spiritual’ rather than the ‘religious’.

Wasn’t that a bit vague? ‘Spiritual’ encompasses everything from tree-hugging to witchcraft (now calling itself Paganism).

Well, he said, they were lucky to have a space for religious programmes at all in the national broadcasting network. Seven years ago, there was a prevailing view that it should be ditched altogether.

This ‘prevailing view’ would come from the corporation personnel who are sometimes described as ‘the suits’. ‘The suits’ are the bean-counters, the men (and it is usually men) who make decisions based on budgets and vague concepts like ‘outreach’.  ‘Vision’ is not generally expected from ‘the suits’.

But even to contemplate abolishing religious programming in an era when faith issues make big news globally is to show a considerable lack of awareness.

Never, in my lifetime, has religion been so central to topicality and current affairs. Sometimes in a bad way, yes, whether that be allusions to the burqua, suicide bombers or Vatican scandals.

RTÉ hasn’t abolished religious programming, though I gather, from one of its producers, “God” is “pretty low down on the food chain”.

Have I got news for them? God will continue to be big news for humankind.

Yet I do think the word ‘faith’ has more positive, affirmative – and indeed inclusive – connotations than ‘religion’, and that is the word that should be used in the context of – faith issues.


Climate change – Who benefits?

We are being told that the scientists have again concluded that global warming and climate change are all the fault of “human activity”.

This is a code for ‘over-population’. At least Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist, is candid in his over-population language – calling the human species “a plague upon the earth”.

I am not a ‘climate denier’, but I am a sceptic. I ask the question that Lenin so helpfully suggested we should always ask about anything: “Who benefits?”

And who benefits from wholesale dismay about climate change and global warming? Why, climate scientists and their academic institutions who are often the recipients of large sums of research (and Government) money!

Some scientists, who maintain a true spirit of enquiry, have admitted that there has been no continuous warming trend since 1998. For 15 years, there has been no increased global warming in average land temperatures.

At Stockholm last week, for the UN’s Interngovernmental Panel on Climate change, this dissident finding was watered down, in response to objections from German delegates who are strongly committed to ‘Green’ issues (in consequence of which Germans now pay 40 per cent more for their electricity than other Europeans because of dependency on wind power).

We’ve had a beautiful autumn, which may, or may not, indicate some element of climate change. I keep an open mind. But ask “who benefits?” just the same.


Lucian Freud and Natural law

In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae in which he outlined that artificial birth control was not compatible with the Natural law.

I don’t think that he would have in mind the lifestyle of the artist Lucian Freud (grandson of Dr Sigmund). And yet Freud’s personal conduct is an interesting case study in the practice of a Natural law, even if not exactly virtuously.

The most recent biography of Lucian Freud reports that he ‘acknowledged’ some 14 illegitimate children, begotten of various relationships with a number of ladies.

Other sources have suggested that Freud’s out-of-wedlock progeny numbered around 20. Friends of the late artist have speculated that he may have fathered 40 children. An outlandish claim even suggests that Lucian Freud left a total issue of 92 on this earth.

It is in any case agreed that Lucian Freud begot many children, and it is also evident that he never had recourse to an artificial contraceptive.  He certainly practised his own form of ‘natural law’.

It is interesting that so many women were ready to be won by Lucian Freud, and to bear his children. There is no mention of a terminated pregnancy.

It was not a virtuous life, and did not represent a family ideal for any child: perhaps, in  mitigation, people might say it was an artist’s life, and the ‘temperament d’artiste’ is seldom a stable one.

But it’s also perhaps an example of the Alpha Male who, if he thinks he can get away with spreading his genes as he pleases, will do so. And the last thing on his mind is artificial contraception.