208 episodes

Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.

Heart and Soul BBC

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.7 • 50 Ratings

Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.

    The Pope's astronomer

    The Pope's astronomer

    Br. Guy Consolmagno calls himself a 'Sputnik Kid'. He started school the year the Russians launched the world's first satellite. Growing up in Detroit during the space race he remembers the excitement he felt watching Nasa launch rockets into space, "I grew up at a time when anything was possible." He was always fascinated with astronomy. In fact, his father always wanted to be an astronomer but could never turn it into a career. He would show Guy the stars at night and point out the different constellations. Little did he know back then that his son would not only go on to be an astronomer, lecturing at the prestigious colleges of Havard and MIT, but he would go on to become the director of one of the oldest observatories in the world - The Vatican Observatory.

    The Vatican Observatory has been gazing at the stars since 1582. The church started the observatory to study the heavens in order to make changes to the church calendar. Over the years it became a way for the church to marry science and faith and explore the points where they intersect. The first telescopes were placed right on top of the Vatican, but as Rome grew bigger and brighter, the view of the stars started to fade and so in the 1930s the Vatican built a new large telescope at the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo 25km south of Rome, and also one in Arizona in the US!

    There are twelve astronomers working at the Vatican observatory, but Br. Guy, the director, is unique as he is the only one who was appointed by a pope and saint, Saint Pope John Paul II. He worked under JPII, Pope Benedict, and now Pope Francis. He still wears his MIT ring, as well as his white priest's collar.

    For this Heart and Soul special on the BBC World Service, we will visit the Vatican Observatory to hear about its fascinating history and meet the 'Sputnik Kid' who is passionate about showing the world that science and faith are not as opposed as you might think.

    • 28 min
    Ground Zero for God

    Ground Zero for God

    Jim Giaccone will never forget the day his brother Joe simply vanished – killed in a blast so forceful that not even a trace of his remains was ever recovered.
    Joe was one of the 2,977 victims of the terror attacks of 11 September 2001 when members of al-Qaeda – an Islamist extremist group – flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York. They also crashed into the Pentagon on the outskirts of Washington DC and another plane was downed in a field near the town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
    Jim not only lost his brother that day, he also lost his faith. With grief came anger and a reckoning with God that continues when he revisits New York’s Ground Zero on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

    Jim tells his story to Jane O’Brien who discovers that he is not alone in re-evaluating his beliefs. She also hears from others who say the terrible events served to strengthen their faith and a Muslim American who say’s they still face hostility because of their religious identity.

    • 27 min
    The Taliban wanted me dead

    The Taliban wanted me dead

    Marzia Babakarkhail knows what it's like to have the Taliban break her door down intent on killing her. In 1997 they did just that because of her work promoting education and progress for women. She was forced to flee and now lives in the UK. That work continues and has never been more important.

    As the last of the US military presence leaves Afghanistan Marzia tells her story to Matt O’Donoghue, how she rose to become a judge at 26 and was forced to flee and live under threat of death.

    But she says her faith never faltered and she carries its strength in the UK where her humanitarian work continues in Manchester. Her fear now is that the progress she has fought for will be ripped away as the Taliban violently grab more and more control of her troubled homeland.

    • 27 min
    Abused online for my faith

    Abused online for my faith

    Sophia Smith Galer, reporter and TikTok creator, speaks to users who have faced discrimination and suppression online based on their religion. We speak to YouTuber Nada Majdy, who regularly faces abuse from Islamophobes whose sexualised comments do not get taken down; the Jewish TikTok creators who try to challenge anti-Semitism, only to have their own videos taken down in the process; and we ask why and how Instagram managed to censor #sikh for nearly three months.

    • 26 min
    The Druze

    The Druze

    The Druze are a religious minority, living mainly between Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. The religious movement was founded in the 11th Century by Hamza ibn Ali ibn Ahmad, an Ismaili leader, mixing aspects of Shia Islam and Esoterism, among other western philosophies. Because they are an insular community - conversions are forbidden either out of or into the faith - the Druze face a number of existential challenges, in a region where unrest is the norm.

    Tamara Rasamny meets young Druze men and women to what pressures young people in the community face, and how they reconcile loyalty to their faith and their country.

    • 26 min
    Hidden children of the Church

    Hidden children of the Church

    For decades, the Catholic Church rarely acknowledged the fact that supposedly ‘celibate’ priests were fathering children. The scale and impact of these secretive births is only now coming to light. The Vatican does not deny that there could be as many as 10,000 children of Catholic priests living around the world. Many who are now adults describe childhoods separated from their fathers, shrouded in secrecy and shame. For this Heart and Soul, three of them – Vincent Doyle, Michael McGuirk and Sarah Thomas – tell their stories.

    Produced by Dan Tierney

    • 26 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
50 Ratings

50 Ratings

Ayeattslonske ,

Perfect

I am so glad this podcast exists! I don’t know any other religion podcasts that are such a perfect mixture of facts & personal interest. I learn so much every time! Thank you.

Tonkaheimer ,

Jonestown

Excellent doc about Jonestown. Kudos to Erin Martin for a well researched and thoughtful program.

Erica0987 ,

Erin Martin Jonestown Episodes

What an awesome host! Must listen!

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