They should have axed The Spirit of Things

16 10 2008

Stephen Crittenden is justifiably incensed at the axing of his Wednesday morning Religion Report, but in all fairness, religion had a fairly big slice of the cake on the Radio National schedule with four weekly programs (The Religion Report, The Ark, Encounter and The Spirit of Things). His suggestion that the axing of his program and the religious history program The Ark will spell “the death of religion at the ABC” is a touch overblown in my view; but it is disappointing that ABC management chose to discard the two religion-themed shows that at least endeavoured to be informative, relevant and educational. Encounter‘s usually not that bad either, but Ark presenter Rachael Kohn’s The Spririt of Things is a syrupy paean to belief in belief and religious pandering that has been dumbing down the Radio National brand for a long time.

Of course, the shows mentioned here aren’t the only ones to go, and former RN presenter Andrew Dodd gives his take on the programming reshuffle at Crikey.com (“The dumbing down of Radio National“).

The good news is that The Philosopher’s Zone—perhaps the best philosophy radio show/podcast available anywhere—has been retained. They would have had to pry it from my cold, dead hands.

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The ABC Religion department goes off its meds

19 02 2008

From The Spirit of Things, 27/1/08:

Caroline Myss: By the time Teresa [of Avila] was in her 50s in the convent, not only did her sisters, the nuns that she lived with, realise that they were living with a saint. But the whole of Spain knew that, as well as Rome, the Vatican. Her experiences, her mystical experiences, had become famous, even though she was a cloistered nun. [. . .] But let me just give you an example: she would sometimes levitate.

Rachael Kohn: Levitate?

Caroline Myss: Yes.

Rachael Kohn: Other people witnessed this?

Caroline Myss: Oh yes. Now mind you, don’t picture her around the ceiling Rachael. She would go into states of ecstasy where she would hover over the ground by 2 inches, or something like that. Now that’s not unusual. I mean in the sense that Eastern mystics have been seen to do that.

Rachael Kohn: I’ve read that her face was illuminated.

Caroline Myss: Her face would be illuminated. [. . . emphasis added]

Oh, for fuck’s sake!





Kohn-descending: The Spirit of Things on secularism

16 12 2007

It strikes me that the most strident reaction to the recent work of atheism’s “Big Four” (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens) has come from so-called moderate or liberal theists. For example, Terry Eagleton produced a scathing critique of The God Delusion soon after its release, in the blog Stanley Fish writes for the New York Times he disparagingly refers to Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens as “The Three Atheists,” and earlier this year Archbishop Rowan Williams himself got stuck into Dawkins. Sean has already posted on Tom Frame’s attack on secularism in <i>The Australian</i>.

Closer to home, ABC Radio National’s Religion Report and Rachael Kohn of The Ark and The Spirit of Things have been quite hostile to atheism. Kohn demonstrates this admirably on a recent episode of The Spirit of Things, “Secular Alternative?,” which in spite of its title–yes, Rachael, “secular” and “atheist” have different meanings–turns out to be another vehicle for Kohn to bag (her strawman definition of) atheism, either directly or via those she interviews. Read the rest of this entry »