Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.
WATCHING TROY FALL: THE PODCAST
By Jeff Wright
Black on Blues
By Jason Monty & Kevin Black
5 live Science Podcast
Jan. 14, 2018
Germany has gained itself the role as Europe’s great provider of sanctuary for some of the millions of refugees that have fled from the most troubled parts of the world.
But Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under fierce criticism over the million plus people who’ve sought asylum over the past two years, leading to her having to fight over the past days to retain her seemingly invincible power.
Churches, both Protestant and Catholic are defying the state and public opinion by opening their doors to offer refuge to migrants even though the state wants to send them home.
Dale Gavlak meets Christians who tell her they don’t ask if someone believes in the Christian God, to them they are all children of one God.
But not all people of faith feel that churches should offer migrants a roof despite their often horrific stories. Taking a Christian stance on people in need, seems to be clashing with a fractious political mood in Germany.
Jan. 7, 2018
Naco Christian Church serves a small but devout congregation, Jesse Wood, its pastor spends hours in his pick-up, driving around meeting and praying with his parishioners.
His journey routinely takes him across the US – Mexico border, because his church straddles these two countries
Division and misunderstanding are real and potential problems. Pastor Jesse responds by using the gospels to teach that all barriers must be done away with, not by disregarding or destroying boundaries but by learning to interact with people on a level that transcends those boundaries.
Will Grant attends the bi-lingual services, Jesse delivers a service in the US on Sunday morning then drives four blocks to deliver a service in Mexico in an attempt to find unique ways to connect with people.
Will travels with Jesse, deep into the Mexico countryside to meet Maria, struggling to make a living from the scrub countryside and how her faith sustains her.
The call by President Trump for a huge wall to halt the migration from Mexico was hugely controversial and Will finds whether it has divided the worshippers on the US side of Naco Church and their Mexican counterparts.
Dec. 29, 2017
At the darkest time of the year in Iceland scary creatures come out to play. Storyteller Andri Snaer Magnason used to be terrified by his grandmother's Christmas tales of Gryla the 900-year-old child-eating hag and her 13 troll sons - the Yule Lads - who would come down from the mountains looking for naughty children in the warmth of their homes. These dark lullabies partly hark back to a pre-Christian Christmas when the Norse gods dominated peoples’ lives.
As Iceland opens up to global influences after centuries of isolation, Andri travels from farmstead to lava field to find out how these traditions live on; whether the elves still crash your house to throw a Christmas party or the cows still talk on New Year’s Eve. And what happens when you have to spend Christmas alone, locked inside a suburban furniture showroom?
Image: A pile of stones and a volcanic path, Credit: Getty Images
Dec. 22, 2017
The lives of young Palestinian Christians are being transformed by this ancient spiritual art. At the heart of Bethlehem's old city sits the Bethlehem Icon Centre, a school training local Palestinian Christians to become icon painters - some of them to a professional standard. Unique in the Middle East, the school is best known for Our Lady of the Wall, a large-scale, striking image of the Virgin Mary painted onto the Israeli security barrier.
Its founder is a British icon painter, Ian Knowles, who aims to help Palestinian Christians reconnect with a nearly lost part of their spiritual heritage - and give some of them a skill that can feed a family in a difficult economic climate.
Mark Dowd visits Ian and his students at their studio in Bethlehem to discover what it means to them to study this ancient Christian art in Christ’s birthplace - in a town where Christians are now in the minority following large-scale emigration, and which has the highest unemployment rate anywhere in the West Bank.
Away from the school, we meet some of the students' families and local traders who sell Christian crafts to find out more about what it means to be a Christian in Bethlehem. Despite all the economic hardships, preparing for Christmas in Bethlehem is still special to the students who are making icons of the Madonna and child.
Image: A student at work on the icon of a saint, Credit: With kind permission of the Bethlehem Icon Centre
Dec. 17, 2017
Charlottesville in the American state of Virginia, was thrust into the limelight in the late summer when white supremacists groups violently clashed with counter demonstrators
The city is Jane Little’s home town, and she will find that even before the events of the summer, religious leaders had been long been mobilizing against alt-right groups following two previous demonstrations. The tactics they are taught mirror those used by leaders of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s.
As the violence escalated in Charlottesville, clergy were called upon for help, in some cases even before the Police could arrive, often running straight into trouble. Sometimes a clergy presence would calm a situation but Jane will meet clergy who on that day suffered violent attacks.
She will meet Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, pastor, activist, singer and the spiritual head of a movement of non-violent resistance which he hopes to spread across the US
Can a faith response though like Charlottesville in reaction to the threat of violence between such polarised groups be enough?
Presenter: Jane Little
Production: Jane Little and Louise Clarke-Rowbotham
Dec. 10, 2017
Pastor Daniel Habteys journey to becoming a church leader in the north of England has taken him through the toughest of tests.
In 2002 he fled persecution and imprisonment in his native Eritrea because of his Christian faith. After spending a fortnight crossing the Sahara Desert in the back of a pick-up truck, he, his wife and their baby daughter almost lost their lives while making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean to Italy.
Now, he leads English and Eritrean worship at his church and offers practical, spiritual and emotional support to the many asylum seekers and refugees who pass through this West Yorkshire town. Refugees and worshippers share the impact Daniel has had on their community and faith.
Nov. 26, 2017
Old Belief communities formed as a result of Russian Orthodox Church theological reforms of the 17th century.
After a period of torture and mass executions and unrecognised by the state, Old Believers were forced to go underground or move to unreachable parts of this vast country, where they lived independent of state and official church. The Revolution of 1917 led to a further exodus – even as far as Latin America.
In the last decade, the population decline led the Russian government to invite families to return "home", to practice their faith in the land of their fathers, only to find fierce opposition from neighbours and local authorities.
Natalia Golysheva travels to the Far East in Russia to meet the Old Believers, who relocated here from Bolivia after a century in exile. Here, in Dersu village they find salvation in their own community, refute most technological advances and home school their children. Natalia takes part in the community’s rituals Old Believers have carefully preserved, but not before they also put her through an unexpected test.
Why is it important for them to return to Russia to practice their faith? Why continue to stay despite all the hardships?
Produced and Presented by Natalia Golysheva
Picture: Old Belief Priest Father Nikola and his helper
Credit: Natalia Golysheva
Nov. 19, 2017
Baktash Noori is a 23-year-old practising Muslim Mancunian YouTube vlogger. He lives just five minutes drive from the Manchester Arena where, six months ago, 22 people were killed by suicide bomber. In the days after the attack his parents were warning him to stay off the streets, worried that the colour of his skin and his faith would make him a target for attack. Instead Baktash took to the Manchester streets, blindfolded, with a cardboard sign inviting people to give him a hug. Scared of the reaction right up until the minute he covered his eyes, he says he did not receive a single negative comment. The video he posted has been viewed nearly a million times. He received 5,000 positive emails in three days and had to switch his phone off because his social media notifications were buzzing non-stop.
Abdullah Rashid Vavdiwala was one of the many Muslim taxi drivers who also hit the headlines in the hours and days after the bombing for giving free taxi rides to anyone stranded in the wake of the bomb. Both are men of faith who personified the ‘We Love Manchester’ spirit.
For Heart and Soul, Athar Ahmed takes a trip round the city six months on from that horrific night with Baktash behind the microphone and Abdullah at the wheel.
They talk to 93-year-old Renee Black – the Jewish representative on the Blackburn Interfaith Initiative – whose tears in Albert Square as she stood next to her friend Sadiq Patel summed up the interfaith community’s response and became one of the iconic images of the city’s shared grief.
They also discuss whether faith can withstand such a terrible tragedy with Gibran Awan and his two sisters who were at the arena for the Ariana Grande concert on the night of the attack.
And they visit the Villa Road mosque in Oldham, fire bombed in the hours after the attack, to explore whether the ‘One Love’ response represents the real heart and soul of Manchester or is it a convenient veneer hiding the more unpalatable truth about our suspicions about Muslims and the knee-jerk association with terrorism.
Producer: Lissa Cook
Nov. 12, 2017
Audrey Brown is in South Africa to meet Pastor Xola Skosana. After nearly 20 years of ministering to a congregation impoverished by the legacy of apartheid he has rejected his Christian faith. It is a controversial message and uncomfortable for many Christians, but it is a message which has tapped into a bigger narrative in this troubled country. We hear how Xola struggled with his faith, and why he no longer sees his faith in the white Jesus of the established church.
Nov. 3, 2017
Around the world, thousands of children have been fathered by supposedly celibate Catholic priests. Most are never acknowledged. Those whose paternity does become known are often shamed into silence. Some have been forced to sign confidentiality agreements, other discovered in adulthood that their mothers became pregnant as a result of sexual assaults.
Hugh Costello talks to people in two countries where such cases are widespread – the Philippines and Uganda – and meets the children of priests as they struggle to gain recognition and respect. A new campaigning group is using DNA testing and documentation searches to hold priests – and their bishops – to account. But as the Vatican under Pope Francis continues to reject calls for priests to be allowed to marry, how willing is the church to put the needs of the children above those of the institution?