Monday, February 21, 2011

Radio 4

When my inevitable move to Dublin does take place there are a few things I'll really miss. Without a doubt the greatest of these will be the ability to pick up BBC Radio 4 on the car stereo. Today, simply by chance, I caught two programmes which I don't think would have been broadcast elsewhere and that were of such a high quality I was left wondering why anyone would complain about paying their licence fee.

Beyond belief is not my usual cup of tea but, having taught in a convent for the past 10 years, my interest was pricked by the topic of nuns. Much of the discussion was predictable, addressing issues such as the decline in new members; however, two points in particular grasped my attention. Firstly, the openness which emerged after the second Vatican council left many older nuns dealing with feelings of loss and isolation which frequently come when individuals are forced to emerge from what Erving Goffman would call "total institutions". But most interestingly was the contention that being a nun is a counter-cultural activity. The women featured (two Catholic and one Buddhist) felt their rejection of consumerism, materialism and sexual norms gave them a relative autonomy from which to analyse society from a feminist perspective.

More my usual kind of thing was tonight's documentary about the Liberal Democrat's orange book. Attempting to place the Liberals and their antecedents on the ideological spectrum, it served as a reminder that none of us should really be surprised that the current Lib Dem leadership are (and ought to be) natural bedfellows of the Tories.

Great stuff all round.

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