Beyond BeliefAuthor: BBC Radio 4
15 Nov 2018

Beyond Belief

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

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    China

    Pope Francis has reached an historic agreement with the Chinese government which could restore diplomatic ties broken in 1951. Before September this year, Catholic bishops appointed by either the Vatican or the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association were not recognized by the other party. But now the Pope has agreed that in future, the Chinese can submit a list of suitable names from which Rome will make a selection. The Pope has also officially recognised seven Bishops appointed by the Chinese authorities in previous years. The Communists under Chairman Mao tried to kill off religion but it didn’t work and so Mao’s successors have had to compromise. The Chinese constitution says that citizens should be able to “enjoy freedom of religious belief" but in reality it does not guarantee the right to practice those religious beliefs. Buddhism is the most dominant religion and has been practiced in China for two millennia. The Chinese government recognises five faiths; Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism but religions in China are subject to a certain level of state control. Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the place of Religion in Modern China are Dr Gregory Scott, Lecturer in Chinese Culture and History at the University of Manchester, Dr Caroline Fielder, Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds, and Dr Maria Jaschok, Director of the International Gender Studies centre at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. Producer: Helen Lee Series Producer: Amanda Hancox

  • Posted on 12 Nov 2018

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    Remembrance

    On the 11th November at 11am it will be exactly 100 years since the end of the First World War. There will be the usual Ceremony of Remembrance at the Cenotaph on Whitehall when the nation honours those who lost their lives in two world wars and more recent military conflicts. Is this the best way for us to remember war? Do acts of Remembrance have any relevance today and should religion play a part in these ceremonies? To take a look at these questions, Mark Dowd is joined by a panel of experts and pupils from Loreto Sixth Form College in Manchester. Producer: Catherine Earlam Series Producer: Amanda Hancox

  • Posted on 05 Nov 2018

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    Frankenstein

    Frankenstein, the tale of a scientist who creates a creature that ultimately destroyed him, has been a popular subject for films for many years. But the religious content of the original novel written by Mary Shelley is lost on the big screen. Her story centres on the scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who plays God. His creation identifies first with Adam and then with Satan in Paradise Lost. He has admirable human qualities but is deprived of love and affection and becomes brutalised. Joining Ernie Rea to discuss Mary Shelley's Frankenstein are Andrew Smith, Professor of Nineteenth Century English Literature at the University of Sheffield; Marie Mulvey-Roberts, Professor of English Literature at the University of the West of England; and Dr James Castell, Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University. Producer: Helen Lee.

  • Posted on 17 Sep 2018

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    Disability

    The issue of why a loving God would create a world full of suffering has exercised the minds of the world's greatest thinkers. How can you reconcile a loving God with dreadful illnesses for which there is no known cure? For millions who live with disability it is no mere academic question. If they are men and women of faith, they have to wrestle with this question on a daily basis. Developments in science now allow expectant parents to make informed choices based on scientific evidence about whether to allow a severely disabled baby to come to full term. Is this a good thing? Or are we heading down a morally slippery slope? How can religion and disability make sense of each other? Ernie Rea discusses these questions with three guests who all live with a disability: Amoghavajra, who is ordained in the Triratna Buddhist Order; Rev Zoe Heming, a Church of England priest and the broadcast journalist Ahmad Bostan. Producer: Helen Lee.

  • Posted on 10 Sep 2018

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    Religion in Mexico

    When Pope Francis visited Mexico in 2016, he paid his respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe, a dark skinned Madonna who is said to have appeared to a peasant man in 1531. Then, standing at the Mexican border, he turned his attention to the migrant crisis, "No more death, no more exploitation," he declared. Mexicans have experienced a lot of death in recent years. Drug cartels operate freely in the urban areas. They have even appropriated their own folk Saint - called Santa Muerte or Our Lady of Death. 87% of Mexicans identify as Catholics. But what does their faith have to say about the desperate conditions under which so many live. Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the role of religion in Mexico are Alan Knight, Emeritus Professor of Latin American History at the University of Oxford; Amanda Hopkinson, Visiting Professor of Translation at City University, London; and Dr Elizabeth Baquedano, Senior Honorary Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Producer: Helen Lee.

  • Posted on 03 Sep 2018

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