Today All Things Considered looks at the way success or failure on the field can affect the national mood; explores some of the pressures on those involved at different levels, and the ethical issues particularly for those with a religious faith. And we ask, just how far is it right to push yourself – or someone else – in the name of sporting glory?
Joining Roy Jenkins to discuss this are: Chris Jones, Rhondda schools rugby development officer who as a player was regarded as one of the hardest men in Welsh rugby; Geraint Richards, former head of GB wheelchair tennis; Carolyn Hitt, award-winning sports broadcaster and writer; and Peter Jackson who was chief rugby writer for the Daily Mail for 35 years during more than 60 years of sports reporting.
This takes place in the context of a country divided dramatically by beliefs in one inescapable area of our national life: the Brexit debate has split families, generations and communities. It’s sparked both high-flown rhetoric and the ugliest of abuse.
But belief can unify too, with widely accepted understandings of values and rights: shared beliefs can shape communities and hold them together.
So what does it mean to believe something? What difference does it make to daily life? And in an increasingly secularised society, what part does religion still play in determining what we believe?
With Roy to discuss these questions are: Rabbi Monique Mayer, of the Cardiff Reform Synagogue and the Progressive Synagogue in Bristol; Richard Paterson, who retired last year after three decades as the first Humanist celebrant in Wales; Abdul Azim Ahmed, Deputy Secretary General Muslim Council of Wales and Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK at Cardiff University; and Stephen Bullivant, Professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion at St Mary's University, Twickenham, and consulting editor of the weekly Catholic Herald.
Among the contributors are: Vicky Beeching, former singer songwriter and equality campaigner, Father Brian d’Arcy, one of Ireland’s best-known priests, Sam Childers, a former drug dealer now controversially known as ‘The Machine Gun Preacher.’ Stuart Townend, the composer behind modern day Christian classics as ‘In Christ Alone’ and ‘How Deep the Father’s Love for Us’. And we mark the death of one of the most celebrated preachers in Christian history – Dr. Billy Graham.
Jeffrey Howard is a classically trained organist, a pianist, conductor, orchestrator and arranger, formerly a vocal coach at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Welsh National Opera. He’s Director of Music at St Johns College in Cardiff and the Metropolitan Cathedral of St David. And among many other commitments, he also directs the Treorchy Male Voice Choir.
In constant demand as an accompanist, he’s worked with Bryn Terfel, Kiri te Kanawa, Shirley Bassey and lots of other familiar names, He’s performed many times in the Royal Albert Hall and in concert halls and cathedrals around Europe; and many of his arrangements appeared on an Only Men Aloud album which won a Classical Brit Award. This year he became an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
He and his wife Rachel, a professional harpist, have three children, and they’ve both been involved for decades with Cambrensis, the Christian choir which expands twice yearly to become the St. David’s Praise Choir. He joined as a boy soprano, spent many years as accompanist and is now musical director.
Set against the backdrop of a rehearsal for The Promise of Christmas with the St. David’s Praise Choir, Jeff talks about his early musical roots, the pressures of living as a freelancer and his passion for giving glory to God through the gift of music.
There’s the exotic butterfly salesman who gets thrown out of church for challenging preachers he sees as hypocrites, and the young Welsh writer who falls under his spell and lands up in jail. There’s a mother kidnapped and sold into slavery, and the husband who searches desperately for someone who’ll pay the ransom to get her home. And we’ve a whole collection of doctors, nurses and other hospital workers who share something of the reality of life in today’s National Health Service.
None of them is actually with us, but we hope they’ll come alive as we meet them in the pages of the books we’ve chosen for our annual review programme.
Joining Roy Jenkins are Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St Davids; George Craig, former civil servant and a regular voice with Weekend Word on Good Morning Wales; and historian Dr Elin Jones from Ystrad Mynach, chair of the mental health charity Hafal.
The books we are reviewing:
The Killing of Butterfly Joe by Rhidian Brook
Histories by Sam Guglani
The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson
Our guests’ choices:
Being Human by Rowan Williams
Wales in 100 Objects by Andrew Green
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
Joining Roy Jenkins are The Rev’d Dr Peter Francis, warden of Gladstone’s Library at Hawarden, which regularly runs courses on contemporary film and theology; the film-maker and writer Angela Graham, and the Rev’d Sister Wendy Tayler, whose previous jobs have included being a night club chaplain for the Church Army: she’s now associate priest at four churches in the Caerleon ministry area.
But it’s not only religious believers with their liturgies, and strange sects retreating to mountaintops, who talk these days about preparing for the end of the world.
Films, books and television series reflect a growing interest in an approaching Apocalypse – with titles like Armageddon, Oblivion, or Goodbye World. Alarmed by world events, some people have built themselves bunkers to increase their chances in the event of any doomsday they can imagine, while others pore endlessly over biblical prophecy to try to understand what they see as dark times. What are they waiting for, why are they watching for it – and do the rest of us need to worry?
Joining Roy to discuss TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) are Rev Byron Jones; recently retired as vice-chair of Prophetic Witness Movement International, an organisation which seeks to warn people that the time is short; Rev Dr Jonathan Black, who lectures at the Elim Pentecostal Regents Theological College, and reports that students are particularly eagerly to attend his lectures on the end times; Revd Professor David Wilkinson, Principal of St John’s College and author of a book examining Christian end times theology – eschatology – and its relationship with science; and Dr Susannah Crockford, an academic who’s studied apocalyptic communities and spent time with survivalists in Arizona.
Last week, we looked at how we reflected some of the national and global events which have helped to shape the world in these four decades. This time we focus on just a few of the people whose stories we’ve told. We’ve met people honoured around the world for their courage or endurance, for the movements they’ve inspired, the books written, the music composed. We’ve welcomed religious leaders of many faith traditions: theologians and evangelists, cardinals and archbishops, and once the man regarded by some as a living god, the Dalai Lama.
Many of our guests have been relatively unknown, and yet their impact on small communities and individual lives has been immense. Choosing has been an almost impossible task, but those who found their way into the final edit include the Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler Ross who transformed attitudes to death and dying; Sean Stillman who runs Zac’s Place for the homeless in Swansea; Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche; the poet and priest R.S. Thomas; and the writer and activist Dr. Maya Angelou.
Joining Roy are: Dr Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University in Texas, who grew up in Port Talbot: one of his many books is ‘The Great and Holy War: How World War 1 changed religion for ever’; Dr Robin Barlow, author of ‘Wales and World War One’; Dr Robert Pope, Director of Studies in Church History and Doctrine at Westminster College Cambridge; and Dr Elin Jones, who was until recently responsible for the history curriculum in schools in Wales.
Stuart Townend’s compositions are credited with what some see as a combination rare in current writing for Christian worship - both theological depth and poetic expression…to go with singable tunes. He travels the world leading worship and performing, and he’s regularly in Wales.
In the Dar Ul-Isra mosque in the Cathays area of Cardiff, preparations are well under way to welcome those who will be breaking their Ramadan fast as soon as darkness falls. But this is not an occasion only for faithful Muslims. In this most sacred month of their calendar, the people of this mosque, as in many others, also open their doors to their neighbours of all faiths and none, and invite them to join them in this meal.
Tonight's guests have the opportunity not only to feast, but also to take a guided tour, and to ask questions. Sharing Ramadan, as this event is called, is a partnership between the mosque and the charity Bridges for Communities, which aims to connect people from different cultures and faiths in the hope of building friendships and challenging stereotypes.
Her creator, Alexander McCall Smith, who's speaking at the Hay Festival this week, has received huge praise from critics, not least because they find her charm a reflection of his. As one put it:
"If he has a raging ego, extreme vanity or hopeless insecurity, or, indeed, any of the other traditional writerly frailties, Alexander McCall Smith keeps them well hidden. He is charming, avuncular, a global publishing phenomenon who looks like a Rotary Club chairman." (The Times, March 15th 2008)
He might have made Precious Ramotswe Botswana's most famous sleuth, but he sets much of his prolific output in his home city of Edinburgh, including the 44 Scotland Street series and the Sunday Philosophy Club. There are also more than 30 children's books, a string of stand-alone novels, and various non-fiction titles, quite apart from his academic work as a professor of medical law.
Our digital identity is important to us - and it's worth a great deal to those who want to exploit it. What used to be private - the contents of our weekly shop, the newspapers we read, our holiday destinations, political preferences and much more beside - are used to influence future choices, not least on the way we spend our money. And there's growing concern about the security vulnerabilities of devices in our 'Smart Homes' and 'Smart cars'
New laws come into effect this week - the GDPR - General Data Protection Regulation - designed to safeguard our rights over our own information. But is it too little too late? Have we already given away far too much unwittingly? And how does all this involve churches and other religious groups - both in the practicalities of form filing, and in their understanding of relationships?
Just over thirty years ago, at the age of 19, Helena Wilkinson had her first book published: an intimate, personal account of her recovery from severe anorexia. Ever since, she has been helping others to overcome eating disorders and related conditions.
Based at Nicholaston House, a Christian retreat centre on Gower, she lectures on, trains counsellors in, and leads residential recovery courses for those struggling with eating disorders which can all too easily overwhelm them. So how did Helena win her battle with this condition - and what hope can she offer to sufferers today? Mary Stallard meets her to find out.
This year, the revelations of sex abuse in a number of charities have rocked confidence in the whole sector, especially those dealing with overseas relief and development. Everyone is having to work harder simply to rebuild trust.
It's a difficult time to take the reins of one of the best-known agencies in the field. Amanda Khozi Mukwashi is barely a month into her new job as chief executive officer of Christian Aid, with its work of advocacy and education, and its projects in nearly 40 countries - needing about a hundred million pounds a year to keep them going.
She comes to the job with experience in a range of countries, and with organisations from Voluntary Service Overseas to the United Nations, and she's passionate about fighting poverty, injustice and inequality. Roy talks to her about her life, and her vision for Christian aid this Christian Aid Week, and into the future.
Politicians in Parliament practise it, physicians prescribe it and businesses send their staff on courses to learn how to do it. Mindfulness crops up in all sorts of places these days. , but what actually is it? How do you practise it? What difference can it make?
And as a discipline with roots in ancient Buddhism and links with other traditions, to what extent does its current practice require any religious affiliation?
With space in cemeteries limited, and many churchyards full, three out of four families now opt for cremation. But this is only one sign of change. At a funeral today, friends are often asked not to wear black. Music is as likely to come from a Hollywood film score as from a classical requiem. There might be video clips reflecting key events for the person who's died. The emphasis is on celebrating a life rather than mourning a death. And with much mourning and celebrating taking place online, the ways of commemorating are evolving rapidly.
To explore what all this means, Roy is joined by:
Alan James - managing director of John Edwards Funerals, in Swansea.
Dr Rosa Hunt - minister of Salem Baptist Chapel, a bilingual church at Llantwit Fardre
Richard Paterson - recently retired after 30 years as the first Humanist celebrant in Wales
Dr Elaine Kasket - clinical psychologist and academic, writing a book about the way digital technology is affecting the rituals of death.
The Commonwealth embraces a quarter of the countries of the world, with extremes of wealth and poverty, 2.4 billion people of all faiths and none, sixty per cent of them under the age of thirty. But what's it for? Is it simply a relic of a long-gone colonial era? Or can it actually do anything about some of the biggest issues facing the world? Roy Jenkins is joined by Dr Andrew Davies, of Birmingham University, co-founder of the Commonwealth Initiative for Freedom of Religion and Belief; Dr. Sue Onslow, Deputy Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies; Methodist minister Leslie Griffiths, Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, and the Rev'd Aled Edwards, Chief Executive of Cytun, Churches Together in Wales, who's active on a range of human rights issues.
The man who's been responsible for Alpha for the last 27 years is the Rev Nicky Gumbel. He's been described as one of the most influential Christians in the country. What's that like? What's he like? Roy meets him to find out.
This programme was first broadcast in February 2017.
Dr King's courage in resisting injustice even when it meant being repeatedly locked up; his insistence on non-violence; and his rich flowing oratory and the passion of his people's struggle, still inspire many today.
50 years on, despite significant advances, including the first African-American president, Martin Luther King's dream is far from being achieved. Race, poverty and violence present enormous challenges, and America is still a deeply divided country. But his legacy remains powerful.
And it's a power which reaches way beyond his violent death making it strangely fitting that this 50th anniversary falls at Easter, when Christians affirm that death never has the last word.
We're still in the Christian season of Lent in preparation for Easter. But what's it for? How much is it simply about giving things up? And how relevant is it to today's world?
To discuss Lent and its significance, Roy Jenkins is joined by the Bishop of Bangor, the Rt. Rev Andy John, Rev Julia Bartholomew, minister of the United Reformed churches in Rhos-on-Sea and Old Colwyn. Community and environmental activist Clare Seek, who's been much involved in the campaign for a plastic-less Lent, which is being promoted by the Church of England and Canon Matthew Jones, Catholic Parish Priest of St Brigid's and St Pauls, and Christ the King in Llanishen, Cardiff.
In this candid interview he talks about having been sexually abused as a child; the impact of the abuse scandals on the church and his devastation at having been censured by the Vatican.
For more than 40 years he has written a weekly column for the tabloid Sunday World. He has his own BBC radio show, appears regularly on television, and has so many contacts through his love of music that he was regarded as the country's show business chaplain. He receives thousands of letters a year from listeners and readers, not least because he's outspoken on issues facing the Roman Catholic Church - priestly celibacy; the place of women, the handling of sexual abuse scandals, and much more. He has the rare and unwelcome distinction of having been censured by the Vatican. That happened in 2010 and at times both before and since he has battled with doubt and despair, and struggled to stay a priest in a church in crisis. But he's still there, and this year enters his 50th year in the ministry. For five years he presented Sunday Half Hour for BBC Radio 2, and he contributes regularly to Pause for Thought on the Chris Evans programme; and before that he was a favourite of his compatriot the late Sir Terry Wogan.
Victims of the continuing conflict in South Sudan and surrounding areas have often been children, taken by armed groups and turned into child soldiers. In an area where many have been snatched, this American preacher has established a number of orphanages.
But he's far from the usual image of missionary or aid worker. An ex-alcoholic, rough-living biker, he has led his own heavily-armed group of soldiers to defend children at risk in the conflict, sometimes re-capturing them in fights with the notorious Lord's Resistance Army.
A Hollywood film has told the dramatic story of his life, and five years ago he won a Mother Theresa Award for international social justice. He's now on a European tour, and is speaking in Newport this week. His real name is Sam Childers but he's best known as the Machine Gun Preacher.
The struggle for equality has been a long one, and it is far from over. The issues come at us regularly - how women are paid in relation to men doing similar work; how they are represented in places of power, how they are portrayed in the media.
High level campaigns are currently focused on abuse and harassment in the celebrity industries and aid organisations, but across the world, millions of women and girls are victims of a catalogue of oppression - domestic violence, forced marriage, prostitution the list is a long one.
Wales' first female bishop, Joanna Penberthy, will mark International Women's Day on Thursday by opening an exhibition at St David's Cathedral Library celebrating the centenary of the change in the voting laws, and also a visit to the cathedral by leading suffragettes.
But is religious faith a help or hindrance in the fight for gender equality? How are the Christian churches doing? And what still needs to be tackled?
Roy Jenkins is joined by sociologist and theologian Dr Elaine Storkey, who has written and campaigned extensively on violence against women. Dr Natalie Brand who lectures on women's spirituality at Union School of Theology in Bridgend. Writer and broadcaster Myfanwy Alexander who lives in Montgomeryshire and Kath Miller, Baptist minister at Cefn Hengoed in the Rhymney Valley.
In more than half a century, he met every one of the twelve American presidents, from Harry S Truman to Barack Obama. He prayed with most of them and became a close confidante to several.
He counselled Dwight D Eisenhower before he sent troops to Little Rock, Alabama, during the civil rights protests. He made frequent visits to Lyndon Johnson at the White House; he was a personal friend of Richard Nixon from the early fifties; was with George Bush senior on the night before the first Gulf War. Little wonder he became known as America's pastor.
Billy Graham was criticised by some for his links with politicians, for his theology and for his methods. But unlike many contemporary televangelists, he maintained an untarnished personal reputation. He headed a multi-million dollar organisation, but drew a salary in line with that of a pastor of a large church. And when his wife Ruth died in 2007 they'd been married for 64 years and raised five children.
It was in 1954 that Graham took Britain by storm with a 12 week mission to London which culminated in a final meeting in Wembley Stadium packed by nearly 140,000 people.
But he had been here before, in 1946, when he made his only public visit to Wales and began a week-long preaching tour in Capel Salem, Gorseinon. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of that event, All Things Considered tracked down some of the people who were there, and who looked back on it as life-changing.
On All Things Considered this week Roy Jenkins and guests ask what do we know about these two apparently very different countries which were one less than 70 years ago? And what, in particular, about the astonishing contrast in their attitudes to religion? the world's largest churches in one, in the other prison camp, torture and worse for professing a religious faith of any kind.
There's particular reason for interest in Wales: many Welsh soldiers served in the war which left the country divided, and from the previous century a young Welshman, Robert Jermain Thomas, is honoured as Korean's first Protestant martyr.
Words have immense capacity both to create and destroy, to inspire and demean. And they can hurt very much indeed - leading to all kinds of injustice.
"The Power of Words" was the theme chosen to mark yesterday's Holocaust Memorial Day. . The organisers hope that a focus on how language has been used in the past will help us understand how it can be employed for both good and ill, and make us all think about how we use our words .a topical theme indeed for the era of social media and so-called fake news.
To explore some of the issues all this raises Roy is joined by The Rt. Rev. Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, well known to early morning listeners of Radio 2 and Radio 4. He's just stepped down as chair of the Sandford St. Martin Trust, which promotes excellence in Religious Broadcasting; Ifor ap Glyn, broadcaster and National Poet of Wales; Dr. Kerry Moore, Senior Lecturer at the Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media & Culture; and Rabbi Michoel Rose of the Cardiff United Synagogue.
In response, BBC Wales is doing some serious thinking about the reasons why we can swing between delight and despair, with a number of programmes this week examining the issues involved. Tuesday has been dubbed 'Welsh Happiness Day', and this week we look at what happiness is, and what it has to do with religious faith.
Joining Roy to discuss happiness are: The Rev Dr Martin Robinson, Principal of ForMission College and co-author of The 8 Secrets of Happiness; Vishvapani Blomfield, Buddhist teacher and writer who lists 'the path to happiness' among his courses; and
Laura Jones from the Muslim Council of Wales, who's been a university chaplain and worked with an Islamic mental health charity.
In the past 12 months they have included the one-time atheist behind a Christian course followed by more than 29 million people in 169 countries; the man who's preached to 30 million; and the celebrated American author whose works are lauded by Barack Obama. He hears from a couple offering radical welcome to marginalised young people in a valley community, families who've fled Syria, and many more.
It has been a year of an unexpected general election and intense political controversy - not least over Brexit. North Korea has made more threatening noises on the nuclear front, and the US president has responded in kind. Syria's agony has dragged on, refugees have continued to risk their lives, hurricanes have devastated communities and famine has reappeared in parts of Africa.
And for many in Britain, it has been a year of tragedy, with terror attacks in London and Manchester, and the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower. It has also been a time of significant anniversaries, a centenary on from Passchendael, 300 years since the birth of the greatest of Welsh hymn writers, William Williams Pantycelyn and 500 years since the Protestant Reformation.
The master story teller John Le Carre described one of the books we are looking at as 'a monumental achievement, profoundly personal, told with love, anger and great precision.' Another, said to echo Dickens and Dylan Thomas, is hailed as 'one of the most memorable historical novels of the past decade.' And a third has been lauded as 'thriller of the year' - 'unputdownable'
Each of them touches on important issues of faith, but whether our guests will agree on the plaudits we're about to find out - and in case they don't, they've brought along something from their own shelves to recommend, so they'll be happy at least once today.
Joining Roy Jenkins are Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St Davids; George Craig, former civil servant and a regular voice with Weekend Word on Good Morning Wales; and historian Dr Elin Jones from Ystrad Mynach, chair of the mental health charity Hafal.
The books we have been reviewing:
Conclave by Robert Harris
East West Street: by Philippe Sands
The Essex Serpent: by Sarah Perry
And our guests' personal choices:
Flame in the Mountains: Williams Pantycelyn, Ann Griffiths and the Welsh Hymn. Essays and translations by H A Hodges, Edited by E Wyn James
English Voices: Lives, Landscapes, Laments by Ferdinand Mount
Carols before Dawn and other Welsh Christmases by Patrick Thomas.
They might appear to have nothing in common beyond their appearance today in the annual All Things Considered film review programme.
In fact, they all have to do with intense struggle, inviting us to enter into it, and offering moments to cheer and to weep, a little laughter along the way, and above all the opportunity to stretch our minds.
Joining Roy Jenkins are the Rev Dr Peter Francis, an Anglican priest and warden of Gladstone's Library at Hawarden, which regularly runs courses on contemporary film and theology; Nigel Ipinson-Fleming, musician and senior pastor of Bethlehem Church Life Centre, Cefn Cribbwr near Bridgend; and the film-maker and writer Angela Graham
The films we've discussed:
A Quiet Passion Cert 12
Hidden Figures Cert PG
I, Daniel Blake Cert 15
Our guests' choices:
Dunkirk Cert 12
Florence Foster Jenkins Cert PG
The Accountant Cert 15.
But in the Christian calendar the experience of waiting is itself considered to be valuable. Believers are encouraged during this season to wait not just for Christ's birth in Bethlehem, but also for his daily presence in their lives, as well as his promised second coming and the hope of eternity.
And waiting is something we all have to do: it's a fact of life, and we might have to wait for something much more serious and significant than the cosy anticipation of mulled wine and mince pies. In this programme, Mary hears three very different stories of advent waiting, from people whose lives have been completely changed by the experience.
Until relatively recent times, hymn singing was regarded as a key characteristic of Welsh life, and it was central to some of the great revivals which helped to shape the religious landscape. It's now very different.
The cymanfa ganu singing festivals are just a memory for most communities. Far fewer people are in church and chapel. And most contemporary worship music has no place for traditional four-part congregational harmony. Today Roy Jenkins explores why hymns have been so significant in Wales, and what kind of future they might have.
Thirty million people are reckoned to have attended his meetings in 75 countries. He's published nearly 50 books. His radio programmes are heard around the world.
And this week, the Argentinian-born evangelist Luis Palau is in Wales. He's here to share some of his insights with church leaders, and, at 83, to support Higher, described as 'the largest youth mission to the UK for a generation' with high energy concerts and a range of community events aimed at young people who are seen as 'the hardest to reach'. Recorded ahead of his visit to Cardiff, he shares his views on the challenges facing young people today; his impressive ministry, and how he feels the churches can revitalise their approach to sharing their faith.
From the royal spectacle in Whitehall, with its marching bands and huge crowds, to simple events in towns and villages across the land, people gather today to honour those who have fallen.
Almost always, the ceremonies are led by Christian ministers, with leaders of other faith communities where appropriate - although many of those remembering might not see themselves as religious.
The proportion of servicemen and women with an active faith is unlikely to be any higher, but everyone is meant to have access to a chaplain, and they're still seen as having an important function. What is it? How have reactions changed to the person with the dog collar? And what's it like to be padre in the middle of a conflict?
Joining Roy to talk about Military Chaplaincy are four people who've been there:
The Rev Jonathan Woodhouse, Cardiff-born Baptist minister and former Chaplain General of the British Army;
The Rev Marcus Wyn Robinson, Presbyterian minister in Caernafon and former Royal Navy Chaplain;
Anglican Priest The Rev Mandy Reynolds was at one time the only woman chaplain in the British Army;
and Imam Asim Hafiz, who was the first Muslim civilian chaplain in the British forces, and is now an adviser to the Ministry of Defence on cultural and religious issues around Islam.
Marilynne Robinson was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Gilead, the first of a trilogy of books based around the family of an elderly Congregationalist minister in a fictional town in Iowa. Numerous honours have followed, among them the National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama for her 'grace and intelligence in writing.' That was more than a formality on his part: her writings, he said, 'have fundamentally changed me I think for the better' And before he left office, the president chose to interview her for the New York Review of Books.
Her non-fiction work includes regular collections of essays in which she explores issues of science and religion, politics and culture - all in the light of her personal commitment to a distinctively Calvinist understanding of Christian faith.
The British commentator Brian Appleyard is one of her many admirers: 'I'm not saying you're actually dead if you haven't read Marilynne Robinson,' he wrote, 'but I honestly couldn't say you're fully alive.".
The fallout from his argument with aspects of Catholic teaching and practice created, according to one of our guests today, 'one of the most highly-charged and transformative periods in history.'
The Protestant Reformation shaped modern Europe and its political, social and cultural life, as well as radically changing its religious landscape.
Today we seek to explore the essence of the Reformation and assess some of its multiple consequences. We look for its impact on Wales, assess the astonishing man at its heart, and ask what he'd have made of today's church, with its apparently unending variety. Joining Roy Jenkins are
the journalist and broadcaster Peter Stanford, who's marking the anniversary with his book "Martin Luther: Catholic Dissident";
Diarmaid MacCulloch, much celebrated writer and broadcaster, and Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University. He's the author of "All Things Made New - Writings on the Reformation"; and Dr David Ceri Jones Head of the Department of History and Welsh History at Aberystwyth University.
Caring for them presents huge social and political challenges. When people can be effectively written off once they've had a certain number of birthdays, how can their potential be released? How can attitudes be changed? And what of the spiritual issues to be confronted in the later stages of life?
Having built up a relationship of trust and mutual respect over several years, the community is now beginning to see the positive and sometimes lifesaving effects of this project at New Hengoed Chapel. Roy Jenkins meets Kath and Carl Miller, young people and members of the church to hear about why the work exists, the impact it is having and plans for the future. (First broadcast 16th April 2017).
Hurricane Irma even caused the plane carrying Pope Francis on a visit to Colombia to change its course. On his rather smoother journey home, the Pope warned that humanity will "go down" if we do not address climate change. Scientists clearly tell us the way forward, he said, and we all, politicians, everyone, have a moral responsibility to act.
But there hasn't always been a unified response within faith communities: many have been slow to embrace the issue, seeing it perhaps as too political; too complex; or just of less importance than other priorities.
So, what should be our response to climate change - and how much impact can we have? Joining Sarah Rowland Jones to discuss the issues are:
Steve Hall, Chief Executive of the Society for Underwater Technology, and former Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO; Graham Gordon, head of policy at the Catholic International Development Charity, CAFOD; and Stephen Edwards, campaigner at Operation Noah, an ecumenical Christian charity responding to the threat of climate change.
As a schoolboy of 12, George Verwer started his own business in New Jersey. At 16, he had 200 people working for him part-time selling fire extinguishers, and he also ran a stamp collecting enterprise. Typical beginnings for many an entrepreneur. But George Verwer's direction changed dramatically after he responded to the preaching of Billy Graham. The zeal which had gone into moving fire extinguishers was transferred into distributing Christian literature. Still in his teens, he went to Mexico with a couple of friends to give away gospels, and that trip was to mark the inauspicious beginning of what has become one of the world's largest Christian mission movements.
Sixty years on, Operation Mobilisation has 6,000 workers of more than 100 nationalities working in as many countries. Its latest ship, Logos Hope, is the world's largest floating bookshop.