300 episodes

Series exploring the place and nature of faith in today's world

Beyond Belief BBC Radio 4

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.3 • 91 Ratings

Series exploring the place and nature of faith in today's world

    The State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

    The State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

    Exploring the faith behind the pomp and pageantry of the Queen's funeral.

    Millions will have watched the historic funeral service from Westminster Abbey and the Committal at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest. For some, the services will be full of meaning and resonance. Others will be less familiar with the Christian rituals that have evolved over centuries.

    Ernie Rea is joined by writer and journalist Catherine Pepinster, Professor Douglas Davies, Rev Dr Giles Fraser and Andrew Carwood MBE (Director of Music, St Paul's Cathedral) to discuss and illuminate the meaning, symbolism and significance of the Queen's state funeral.

    Producer: Rebecca Maxted
    Assistant Producer: Peter Everett
    Editor: Dan Tierney

    • 27 min
    Atoning for Slavery

    Atoning for Slavery

    Anglican Bishops are starting to consider what 'redemptive action' for the horrors of slavery could look like. The history of the transatlantic slave trade casts a long shadow. Over three million black Africans were transported in British ships to a life of slavery. The legacy of a practice that spanned three centuries has been keenly felt in recent years, from the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, to the toppling of statues of slave traders.

    Calls appear to be getting louder for institutions, corporations and individuals to offer redress. The historic links of Christianity with slavery have been examined and some feel there is a debt to be paid. What might that look like? What responsibility do the heirs of the oppressor have to the heirs of the oppressed?

    Ernie is joined by theologian and broadcaster Professor Robert Beckford, legal specialist on reparations Esther Stanford-Xosei, and Professor Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford.

    Plus he hears from the Virginia Theological Seminary in the US who have started paying reparation to the descendants of those it says laboured on it's campus under slavery or segregation.

    Producer: Rebecca Maxted
    Assistant Producers: Josie Le Vey and Peter Everett
    Editor: Dan Tierney

    • 28 min
    The Handmaid's Tale

    The Handmaid's Tale

    Margaret Atwood tells Ernie Rea about the role of faith in her seminal novel and how her fiction, written nearly 40 years ago, resonates in a post-Roe v Wade world.

    Atwood's novel about a dystopian future in a fundamentalist regime has been turned into a hugely popular TV series, about to start it's fifth season. It's also been adopted by activists protesting against restrictions on female rights and freedoms.

    Professor Linda Woodhead (Kings College London), Professor Coral Ann Howells (editor of The Cambridge Companion to Margaret Atwood) and Alissa Wilkinson (Culture and Film Critic for Vox.com) join Ernie to discuss the role of religion in Atwood's Gilead, why her vision has struck a chord today and its influence on culture and politics.

    Producer: Rebecca Maxted
    Assistant Producers: Josie Le Vay and Peter Everett
    Editor: Dan Tierney

    • 28 min
    How Religious Is Iran?

    How Religious Is Iran?

    Last month’s attempt on Salman Rushdie’s life brought the world’s attention back on Iran and the death sentence imposed on the writer by Ayatollah Khomeini more than three decades ago.

    More recently, Iran has been in the news with reports of crackdowns on perceived dissidents: women who choose not to wear the hijab and members of other religions especially the Baha'is.

    The Islamic Republic of Iran is ruled by a Supreme Leader from the Shia tradition, Ayatollah Khamenei. It is he who ultimately wields the power and imposes limits on the peoples’ rights and freedoms. Given his overruling authority, it is difficult to know what ordinary people believe or how they feel about their system of government.

    So is this vast country of 86 million people really an Islamic nation? And if it’s not, how religious is Iran?

    Ernie Rea is joined by Professor Ali Ansari, Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian, Professor Sajjad Rizvi and Khosro Kalbasi, a journalist for BBC Monitoring watching Iran.

    Producer: Rebecca Maxted
    Assistant Producer: Peter Everett
    Editor: Dan Tierney.

    • 27 min
    What Makes a Ritual

    What Makes a Ritual

    Can our morning coffee routines, the Saturday parkrun, or a daily walk in nature be sacred?

    Ernie Rea explores how ritual, repeated actions done the same way every time, long associated with religion, is being employed by those outside of faith practice. There are now apps that can help build mindful rituals into your day, workplaces are designing ceremonies to build community amongst colleagues. What attracts us to these kinds of practices and without a religious framework do they lose their power?

    Ernie is joined by Casper Ter Kuile, formerly at the Harvard Divinity School he's the author of 'The Power of Ritual'. Kashori Jani is a Sanskrit teacher at a Hindu faith school and shares ancient Hindu wisdom and Kirtan (musical mantra meditation) with her large following online. Father David Elliot is Catholic Priest and the Head of Theology at the Oratory School in Oxford.

    Plus Matt Brooke from Tough Mudder tells us how ritual helps competitors complete their endurance challenges.


    Producer: Rebecca Maxted and Katharine Longworth
    Assistant Producer: Josie Le Vey
    Editor: Tim Pemberton

    • 28 min
    Modesty Uncovered

    Modesty Uncovered

    Modest clothing is a multi-billion dollar trend, with designers seeking inspiration from cultures where dressing modestly is the norm. There are millions of images tagged as #modestfashion on Instagram or Tik Tok, from prairie dresses to designer hijabs. Ernie Rea explores the religious reasons from the Abrahamic faiths about why some cover up, and asks if our ideas of modesty are changing.

    He's joined by Dr Shuruq Naguib a lecturer of Islamic Studies at the University of Lancaster, Dr Lindsay Simmonds a research fellow at the London School of Jewish Studies and Molly Boot, a theologian training for ministry in the Church of England. They discuss what rules they apply to the way they dress and the historic and scriptural basis for their understanding of modesty. What is the requirement of men to dress modestly in faith traditions and what role do sexuality, shame and purity have in the way some people of faith understand they have to dress?

    Plus, cultural journalist Hafsa Lodi explains why, for her, the modest fashion industry poses a paradox, and we hear from male blogger Zaahid.

    Producers: Rebecca Maxted and Katharine Longworth
    Assistant Producer: Josie Le Vey
    Editor: Helen Grady

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
91 Ratings

91 Ratings

Old and slow ,

What Happened to this Podcast? No updates since March...

I really enjoyed this podcast and the contrasting perspectives it offers to different topics. I am very sad that no new podcasts have been posted since March? Has it come to an end?

Asciguy ,

Delusional belief

Has terrible consequences as people are willing to kill and die for essentially nothing.

Puzzlexes ,

Science vs Theology

A good example why theologians shouldn’t be counted on to provide any reliable conclusions. The fact that faith seems based upon personal experience completely ignores the fact (as demonstrated by the scientific method) that human experience is often unreliable. So to make conclusions based upon experience is more irrational than hypothesizing some potential material “cause” that can be confirmed via a rigorous, peer reviewed and consensual agreement upon physical evidence. And the realization that the scientific method proposes no ultimate explanation of everything. Thus theologians are in effect “jumping to conclusions” without any rational basis.

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