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All Things Considered

BBC

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Religious affairs programme, tackling the thornier issues of the day in a thought-provoking manner
89 Episodes Play All Episodes
access_time4 months ago
For this week's All Things Considered Roy Jenkins joined a gathering of people who were ready for a good meal. It was early evening, and many of them hadn't eaten since well before sunrise.

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.
access_time4 months ago
It is twenty years since one of the world's best-loved fictional crime-fighters cracked her first case. Precious Ramotswe, founder of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, cheerful, gentle and armed with canny intuition, has now appeared in eighteen books set in Botswana, selling a staggering 20 million copies in English alone, and translated into more than 46 languages.



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.
access_time4 months ago
Many of us have been bombarded in recent weeks by businesses and various organisations seeking permission to keep us on their mailing lists. They assure us that they value our loyalty, and stress how carefully they look after any information we provide. But do we believe them? In March, 87 million Facebook users learned that their data could have been used without their permission for questionable purposes. The outcry was worldwide.

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?
access_time4 months ago
Recent NHS figures have shown that the number of admissions for life-threating eating disorders have doubled over the last six years.

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.
access_time5 months ago
Christian Aid Week begins next weekend - a fixed point in many church calendars, when congregations take to the streets and urge their neighbours to give money to help some of the world's poorest people.

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.
access_time5 months ago
On All Things Considered this week, there's another chance to hear Roy Jenkins and guests exploring the fashionable phenomenon of mindfulness.

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?
access_time5 months ago
What kind of funeral do you want? That's a question we all have to face, and if we don't, someone else has to face for us. While death remains certain for everyone, the way a death is marked, and the life before it honoured, can vary enormously.

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.
access_time5 months ago
As the athletes wave their farewells to Australia's Gold Coast, leaders of the 53 countries involved turn their attention to the UK, and the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, held this year in London, 16-18 April. As part of their networking, they'll be received by the Queen at Windsor Castle and the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, where religious freedom will be on the agenda.
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.
access_time6 months ago
Roy Jenkins visits the offices of Holy Trinity, Brompton, now one of the most famous churches in the world. It gave birth 40 years ago to the Alpha course, a way of exploring the Christian faith reckoned to have been followed by more than 29 million people in 169 countries and 112 different languages. More than 300 churches in Wales are running it at the moment.

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.
access_time6 months ago
50 years ago this week Martin Luther King, Baptist pastor, civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was assassinated. In a special Easter edition of All Things Considered Roy Jenkins hears from some of the many people in Wales on whom Martin Luther King had a profound influence.

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.
access_time6 months ago
'I've given it up for Lent' - it's still a familiar refrain from people explaining why they're suddenly abstaining from alcohol or chocolate, leaving the car at home and walking instead - even foregoing the delights of social media.

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.
access_time6 months ago
Father Brian D'Arcy is one of Ireland's best known priests and amongst its most controversial.
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.
access_time7 months ago
This week Roy meets a former drug dealer who's become an unlikely and controversial hero in an African war zone.

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.
access_time7 months ago
It is a hundred years since women in the United Kingdom won the right to vote - and then they had to be at least 30 years old and meet minimum property qualifications.

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.
access_time7 months ago
This week we mark the death of one of the most celebrated preachers in Christian history. In a ministry spanning seven decades, Billy Graham travelled the world preaching to huge audiences. Nine million people are reckoned to have heard him speak in Britain alone, a million on a single occasion in South Korea.

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.
access_time7 months ago
With one more week to go, the Winter Olympics will continue to fascinate, excite (and maybe terrify) with some of the most spectacular and dangerous of sporting feats. They will also be drawing attention to South Korea, the host nation usually completely overshadowed in the headlines by the activities of its neighbour in the north.

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.
access_time7 months ago
Mary Stallard explores the Gladstone Library, a remarkable residential library in Flintshire founded by Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone. He established it in 1895 to be a place of religious learning, literature, and politics. Mary visits Gladstone's to meet those staying and working there, including Warden Peter Francis, Chaplain Richard Kauffman, and Director of Collections Lousia Yates; and asks what role a Victorian library plays in contemporary life.
access_time8 months ago
Mary Stallard visits a unique location in North Wales, the site of an ancient and horrific legend. St Winefride was brutally murdered and then miraculously restored to life. Today, visitors from around the world still come to her holy well to honour her memory and find solace and healing. What are they looking for, and what do they find? How far can the experiences of a legendary saint impact lives today? Mary talks to the well's assistant custodian Lolita L'Aguille, Bishop of Wrexham Peter Brignall, and parish priest Canon Francis Doyle.
access_time8 months ago
For Roy Jenkins one of the most memorable descriptions of Winston Churchill's leadership in those days in 1940 when Hitler's forces gathered across the Channel poised to invade came in the film Darkest Hour now on general release. Its attributed there to a senior cabinet colleague after Churchill's famous 'We shall fight them on the beaches,' speech: 'He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.' It's a great image.

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.
access_time8 months ago
Last week began with "Blue Monday" - the term coined by a Welsh academic to identify what's alleged to be the most depressing day of the year.

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.
access_time8 months ago
On the eve of the election which put Donald Trump in the White House, All Things Considered brought together a panel of American commentators to discuss what they expected to happen. In this week of the first anniversary of his inauguration, we reunite them to talk about the reality, and in particular about the religious elements at play. We review an eventful and predictably controversial year for arguably the most unlikely individual ever to reach this office.
access_time9 months ago
Week by week we meet lots of remarkable people on All Things Considered, and Roy Jenkins reminds us of a few of the contributors who have spoken to us in the past year. Some are famous, celebrated because of what they write, the way they perform, and how they use their considerable influence. Many more are relatively unknown, yet their stories and achievements have immense capacity to inspire, or simply to get us thinking in new ways.

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.
access_time9 months ago
As 2017 draws to a close, Roy Jenkins looks back at some of the events and anniversaries we have reflected in All Things Considered during the past twelve months.

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.
access_time9 months ago
Roy Jenkins hears experiences from three people from different walks of life for whom the season of Christmas holds particular significance. Wynford and Helen have been deeply affected by lives of addiction but Christmas brings gifts in various ways that help to keep their faith and determination intact. For Canon Patrick Thomas traditions new and old unite him to the lives of the angels, shepherds and the Holy Family of two thousand years ago around the manger.
access_time9 months ago
Roy Jenkins presents the annual All Things Considered book review programme, and this year's selection has already been collecting prizes to wide acclaim.

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.
access_time10 months ago
A critical moment in the history of space exploration, one of America's most celebrated poets, and life through the eyes of people battling with the UK's benefits system.

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.
access_time10 months ago
The season of advent might appear to start earlier and get bigger every year: with an entire industry encouraging us to think about Christmas when autumn has barely begun, waiting for the day itself can seem to go on for a long time.

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.
access_time10 months ago
This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of the greatest of Welsh hymn writers, William Williams Pantycelyn. His best known composition, Guide me O thou great Jehovah, has been dubbed the second national anthem. It's sung around the world, and is as likely to be heard in an international rugby stadium as in a church.

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.
access_time10 months ago
Roy Jenkins' guest this week is a preacher who's been described as 'one of the world's most effective and compelling spiritual communicators.'

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.
access_time11 months ago
On Remembrance Sunday, Roy looks at the role of Military Chaplains.

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.
access_time11 months ago
Roy Jenkins guest is one of America's most distinguished authors.



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.".
access_time11 months ago
On the 31st October 1517 - five hundred years ago this week - the friar Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg in Germany. Europe would never be the same again.
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.
access_time11 months ago
One in three children born today is expected to live to the age of 100. It is a staggering thought, with all kinds of implications. The rapid rise in life expectancy has created a large privileged group, with time on their hands, and the health and money to enjoy it. It has also left many older people struggling with illness, poverty and loneliness.
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?
access_time11 months ago
Pot noodles, toast with chocolate spread, cocoa pops, tea and coffee, hip hop and gangster rap all in a Grade II listed chapel - some of the essential ingredients of a challenging, pioneering youth ministry which has been running for seven years in the Rhymney Valley. It's the vision of Kath Miller, a Baptist Minister, who felt compelled to offer a place of unconditional welcome to teenagers, young adults and children in the significantly deprived area of Cefn Hengoed. On two nights a week and on Sunday mornings, they offer a different kind of church which doesn't preach or teach but simply aims to live out the gospel of Jesus by extending love, hope and help to those most in need, the excluded, the poor, the marginalised. They have been barricaded in the church, had number plates stolen and items vandalised yet Kath, together with her husband Carl, and their handful of helpers, are adamant that they will not ban anyone from the church.
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).
access_time12 months ago
Religious affairs programme tackling the thornier issues of the day in a thought-provoking manner.
access_time12 months ago
Extreme weather earlier this month put questions of climate change back on the agenda - particularly highlighting the weather impact of warming seas, and the effect of human behaviour on the health of our oceans.

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.
access_time1 year ago
On All Things Considered this week, Roy Jenkins' guest is a world-famous Christian mission pioneer.

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.
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Roy Jenkins presents an in-depth interview with the Most Rev'd John Davies, this week named as the 13th Archbishop of Wales.
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As we are frequently reminded, Princess Diana, the 20th anniversary of whose death is marked this week, had a particular gift of touch. She seemed to know instinctively when and how to reach out, give a hug, hold a hand. She's credited with helping to dispel stigma and myth about leprosy by touching those with the disease. And her handshakes with Aids patients made a major impact around the world. All Things Considered explores the importance of human touch and its spiritual significance.
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Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell talks about her life, her religious faith and how she made one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the late 20th century.
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Roy Jenkins meets unconventional US pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, who talks about her sometimes controversial life and faith.
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What role did religion play in the work of Shakespeare? What do we know about his own faith and is it true that for some Shakespeare's works are more relevant today than the Bible?
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Counted among the 50 most influential women in Britain, Julia Cleverdon is the Dame who campaigns to get people and business working together for the common good.
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This week marks the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele. More than three months of fighting over a tiny area of Flanders mud cost at least half a million Allied and German casualties. This third Battles of Ypres has become an international symbol of the futility of war.



Ellis Humphrey Evans – the poet Hedd Wyn from Trawsfynydd – died on the opening day of that campaign and next week’s National Eisteddfod in Anglesey holds a series of reflections on his life and work.



The Senedd in Cardiff Bay is about to host the Weeping Window display, several thousand of the ceramic poppies which attracted huge numbers when they poured out of the Tower of London - and across Wales the first world war is being marked by exhibitions, lectures, debates, religious services and many other events, together with fresh initiatives to enable children to understand both its significance, and the value of working for peace.



In the hundred years since the war, it’s been analysed from virtually every angle, and today we ask how much we’ve actually learned from all this. What role do commemorative events play in helping us understand conflict, and what have the churches to do with it? And, at a time of rapidly changing international relationships, is the world really any more dangerous than it was a hundred years ago?



Joining Roy Jenkins are Dr. Philip Jenkins, distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University in Texas; Simon Barrow, co-Director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia; Dr. Jenny Mathers, Reader and Head of the Dept. of International Politics at Aberystwyth University; and the historian Dr. Elin Jones.
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Ahead of the Royal Welsh Show, Roy Jenkins spends a day with farmer and Anglican priest Canon Eileen Davies.
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Gay pride events across the country this summer are marking the half-century since homosexuality stopped being a crime. But that anniversary reflects a far wider change of attitudes. Those 50 years have seen a radically different landscape being shaped on a range of moral and ethical issues.

For most of that time, the British Social Attitudes survey has tracked shifts in public opinion. Its latest report summarises views on everything from tax evasion and benefit fraud to civil liberties, immigration, and what are classed as 'moral issues: sex, gender and euthanasia'.

Today Roy Jenkins explores how attitudes have changed, and where they might be heading, and asks what place is left for the religious bodies once looked to for a lead in the area of morality.

Joining Roy are:

Roger Harding, the author of that most recent study and Head of Public Attitudes at the social research organisation NatCen.

Dr Tristan Nash, senior lecturer in philosophy at University of Wales Trinity St.David.

Rev Carol Wardman, bishops' adviser for church and society for the Church in Wales.

Jim Stewart, public affairs and advocacy officer for Evangelical Alliance Wales.
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Should interfaith marriage be welcomed or resisted? Does it strengthen a community, or add unnecessary stresses? And what challenges face the people embarking on it?
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Is there room for Doubt in Faith? Roy Jenkins and guess explore the issues.
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Last weekend, many thousands across the country were marking the anniversary of the killing of the MP Jo Cox. They were celebrating not least the words from her maiden speech: "we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us". Yet within hours, an attack by a man from Wales on Muslims leaving a London mosque provided another horrific reminder that there are those who actively want to feed division.

In many recent terrorist atrocities, religion is seen as a significant element, however distorted. Those responsible are more interested in fostering division than unity, rejecting any principle that on most things we should simply agree to disagree, and get on with life.

Meanwhile in another area, Tim Farron appears not to have been allowed that luxury, as privately held religious views were deemed as incompatible with leadership of a liberal political party. What, then, can agreeing to disagree mean? How can freedom of conscience be maintained, alongside the freedom not to be victim of terrorist atrocity. And what part does compromise have to play?

Joining Roy to discuss the issues are:
Lord Murphy of Torfaen, who served two periods in Northern Ireland, one as secretary of state, and was also twice secretary of state for Wales.
Shereen Williams, Director of Projects and Strategy for the Henna Foundation, the Welsh-based charity committed to strengthening families within the Muslim community
The Rev Dr Karen Smith, specialist in church history and Christian spirituality at Cardiff University and the South Wales Baptist College.
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Roy Jenkins marks Refugee Week by meeting families and individuals from Syria and Africa who are being welcomed and helped by St David's Uniting Church, Pontypridd.
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