A RADIO RELIGION Would B.B.C. Welcome It?
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It would hardly be unfair to say that while the B.B.C. disclaims its intention of providing a religion of its own it does regard such a religion as among the ideals of broadcasting. I am not shaken at all by the vehement declaration a week or two ago that " there is no such thing as a broadcast or radio religion." There is not; because, of course, there cannot be. But this does not mean that the B.B.C. disbelieves in the possibility of a radio religion or would not welcome the co-operation of the churches in founding one.
I will not attempt to define a radio religion. Absurdities cannot be defined. But it can be described by illustration. By way of illustration, therefore, I will take the views the B.B.C. undoubtedly holds as to the possibility of preaching Christianity without being controversial.
" Simple Truths " Only
On the one hand the B.B.C. professes to place radio at the service of the churches. "To help the existing churches "—that is how it has recently, and in an official utterance, defined its aims.
On the other hand, it forbids controversy in a sincere belief that there is such a thing as " the simple truths of Christianity" (in the sense in which many people use these words) and that it ought to be sufficient to preach sermons which limited. themselves to these " simple truths": sermons, in other words, which could be preached in any pulpit of any church, whatever its denomination.
This I believe to be the view sincerely held by those who control the religious side of broadcasting in this country at the moment. Controversy is not excluded because it is tiresome or perilous, but because it ought to be quite unnecessary. A law against controversy is imposed upon all its preachers.
A Catholic preacher would be fulfilling the B.B.C. ideal who devised a sermon for his own flock which he could deliver the following Sunday evening with equal edification in the Anglican Cathedral or the Wesleyan Chapel. And if this is not to believe in the possibility, at any rate, of a radio religion, this ban on controversy—
principally, of course, the historical and the economic.
The Catholic Standpoint
Is it not, therefore, abundantly clear that the Catholic listener, vaguely aware that there is something wrong with radio, and conscious certainly that he, as a Catholic, is not getting a square deal, should focus his attention more and more on the week-day broadcasts and let the Sunday broadcasts, for the moment, look after themselves?
The rigidity of the B.B.C.'s attitude to controversy — on Sundays — lust he accepted. Nothing short of a revolution will alter it.
And does it not become increasingly clearer that Catholic Action alone can deal with the week-day broadcasts? I suppose. I am right in saying that it is not part of the duties of the Catholic representatives on the Religious Advisory Boards to concern themselves with these. I invite correction. This means that so far as the week-day fare is concerned the Catholic listener has no one to represent him. Such representation must have behind it the mass of Catholic listeners.
A Catholic Listeners' Guild, such as I suggested a week or two back is now in imperative need of formation. Such a guild, acting through its committee, would be an interpretation of the Catholic Action urged upon us the other day by the Director of Vatican City Radio.
The Year's Dead End
I have little to draw your attention to among forthcoming programmes. This is the dead end of the year. You will have a chance of hearing " The Dream of Gerontinus " from the Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester on September 7.
And I should advise you to make a note of Captain I. E. Gurdon's little play, "The Peaslakc Crash " on September 28 and 30. This is one of his inimitable aeroplane stories turned into a radio play. Perhaps you don't know those stories? You should. As bedside books they are second to none. I know no more entertaining pair of comedians in current fiction than Flight-Lieutenants Kinley and Carew. You should domesticate them, Yours sincerely,
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