My radio station of preference, considering overall the various criteria for choosing, is Radio 4, although these days I tend not to listen live at home or in the car, but rather via podcasts or BBC iPlayer, from my computer. I have already reflected in these pages on two of my favorite shows: The Archers and Desert Island Discs. Another show, that over the years I have listened to on many occasions, is the “Today program”, which includes within it a reflective slot with a spiritual angle called “Thought for the day”.
According to Wikipedia: “Thought for the Day is a daily scripted slot on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 offering “reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news”, broadcast at around 7.45 each Monday to Saturday morning. Nowadays lasting 2 minutes and 45 seconds …”. Over the years, the program has become less overtly Christian, with contributors being less drawn from the ranks of the Christian clergy, and with more woman taking part along with those from other faiths, and sometimes no faith at all. No doubt the producers of the program wish to reflect the multi-culturalism that has permeated into our society as well as the diversity we now see, and while it is a subject on which I hold strong views, which I will discuss in a future post, I don’t necessarily see this in negative terms in this instance.
As anyone who regularly does public speaking knows, to do a good presentation in such a brief period of time, takes a lot of time and effort to prepare but, in the main, the speakers rise to the challenge and, in most cases, deliver a worthy performance, with some a good deal better than others, as might be expected. I like the format of the program that provides the listener with the opportunity to pause for thought and think about some or other item, often in the news, from a calmer and more spiritual perspective. While sometimes I disagree and even get irritated when the speaker misses the point entirely, dwells on trivialities or is just plain wrong, more often than not I find what the speaker is saying suitably enlightening, even if he/she does not share my own views or faith.
In a strange way, often it is those speakers that go along less with my own views I prefer to those with who I might agree. It takes me out of my comfort zone and I may be more likely to learn something new, both of which are good things. I suppose my favorite all time Thought for the day presenter is Lionel Blue. He is a Jewish rabbi from the liberal tradition and who happens to be gay. What endears him to me is his winsome approach, his humanity and warmth, and funny anecdotes and good, down to earth, common sense observations. This often compares favorably with speakers who hold conservative Christian (my own) views, who sometimes strike me as being somewhat pompous, out of touch, rather too full of themselves and not as inclusive as they might be. I realize the important thing is to communicate with the listener, getting him/her onside, and having something relevant and/or uplifting to say. For me, it offers yet another opportunity in the day to pause for thought and much needed spiritual reflection and, for this, I for one am thankful.
I often use my experience as an irregular thought for the day listener of many years standing as a model and as a source for writing this my blog. How successful I am, of course, is for others to say!