TV and RADIO
THE UNEASY relationship between politics and religion emerges in three programmes this week. Two concentrate on the Church of England, the third was part of the documentary series on the Soviet Union — Comrades (Sunday 8.05 BBC2).
The latter has been criticised for falling for Soviet propaganda, and the most recent episode on Uzbekistan, a Muslim part of the Soviet State, did little to dispel that criticism.
As a documentary on the art of restoring Muslim mosques and minarets it was fascinating. As a reflection of the way the Muslim religion is practised in the Soviet Union, it was unconvincing. The inference that Muslim worshippers remain free and unpersecuted applies only to those who do not worship openly.
The master restorer on whom so much of the programme focused, said himself that the young either worked or went to the Mosque to worship. We were told of the generosity of the state which, while opposed to religion was nevertheless prepared to pay for the costly and painstaking work of restoring ancient mosaics and returning these places of worship to their former glory. But they were not being restored to their former purpose. Although this particular Master craftsman was working in a freelance capacity after disagreement with official restorers (a status seldom accepted in the Soviet Union) his work was not being supported for a different purpose.
The Mosques he restored were not to be used to call the faithful to prayer, but to call the tourists to gawp and listen to European style son et lumiere histories of the Mosque in the Communist context. These beautifully reconstructed museum pieces were sterile in any religious sense.
Songs of Praise (BBC]
Sunday 6.40) celebrated 80 years of worship at the Anglican Cathedral of Southwark. Not an imposing and historic work of art like the Mosque of Samarkand, but a vibrant and living place of worship.
This strange diocese grew up along the commuter lines from south London, and embraces inner city poverty and stockbroker belt Surrey. Parishes include Lewisham and Richmond, Clerkenwell and Woldingham, and the diocesan centre lies in the shadow of the London terminus.
Among those interviewed were the local Liberal MP Simon Hughes, who expressed his belief that his faith had to be reflected in his politics and in his political work. He talked of some of the devastating problems facing people in the inner city areas. Problems which the Church too is trying to. recognise and help to alleviate. Previous bishops of Southwark have been renowned for their outspoken political views, and this has long been a pioneering diocese.
Today it is one which embodies many of the most deep rooted social problems facing the modern Church. Problems which will be discussed in a wider context in Pillers of Society — The Bishops, on Thursday 30 January 8.15pm Radio 4, Robert Carvel of the London Standard will be talking to Church of England Bishops about their role in the 1980's.
It is the second of six programmes which set out to examine various British institutions and to find out what they think of themselves, and how they are perceived from outside.
In his mini pilgrimage, Carver visited Durham, York and Ely among other places and talked to the Bishops and their wives about their lifestyles, their objectives and the current state of the Church of England. He will be assessing the authority and influence of the Bishops in both temporal and spiritual matters and many of the issues addressed could be equally applied to the Catholic Church.
Sunday 26th January 10am ITV MORNING WORSHIP Mass from St Wilfrid's Catholic High School, Featherstone.
Sunday 261h January 2pm ITV ENCOUNTER This film follows Rabbi Lionel Blue on one of his regular visits to a Dominican priory in Spode, Staffordshire and he explains his pesonal views on Judaism and Christianity.
Thursday 30th January 8.15pm Radio 4 PILLARS OF SOCIETY — THE BISHOPS The second of the six British institutions to be examined in this series, Robert Carvel talks to the Bishops of the Church of England.