Is religion bad for women? That’s the question being asked by a conference held in Newcastle this week [8 November]. The main speaker is Professor Daphne Hampson, author of ‘Theology and Feminism’ who argues that ‘religions have proved the ultimate weapon in keeping woman in her “place”’. Professor Hampson joins Jenni along with Dr Tina Beattie, Reader in Christian Studies at Roehampton University and Farah Khan, journalist and practicing Muslim, to ask if women can find a place for religion in their lives.
Listeners who are, or have been, parents or teachers might have experienced the problem of fair shares, when a child has a sweet or a treat, and the others get wind of it and demand one too. It’s no good trying to sneak a treat to one child, without setting off wails of “O-oh! That’s not fair!”
You’ve probably had one of these moments yourself. There you are, sitting quietly across the table from a new acquaintance who seems to have all the necessary qualifications to become a new friend. They’re reasonably attractive, fairly clever, quite funny, and nicely self-deprecating. They have some good stories to tell and seem refreshingly free of prejudice.
In mid-August, a few hundred people took to the streets in Burma’s capital, Rangoon. Since then, the world has watched an unfolding drama on its TV screens. At least, those that have TV are watching. Others are listening to their radios, or reading newspapers, leaflets, emails and blogs (or web logs).
Over fifty years ago, when they wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they didn’t anticipate the World Wide Web and its effect on international communications. Article 19 says, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” It’s become harder to conceal human rights abuses since then, as there are an increasing number of ways to spread information.
Have you noticed how often the word “closure” is used these days? A policeman or woman might say, when being interviewed on TV about a case, that they want to find the perpetrator so the that the victims can have “closure”. A verdict, a funeral, a divorce, or any event that marks a significant setback in someone’s life, and he or she may be expected to find “closure”. It’s one of those words that seems to mean something, but doesn’t.
I went through the Sunday papers with Luke Deal on BBC Radio Suffolk this morning. On the way home, I heard him report that a listener had phoned in to say our discussion was “the most intelligent and enjoyable bit of radio she’d heard for a while”. At least, that’s what I think she said. I was driving, not taking notes. So nice to know that someone was listening, after getting up at 5.30am.
If you’re a Radio 4 listener, you’ll know that the debate about including atheist/humanist thoughts for the day in the Today programme has been hotting up. We’ve had an email from Naomi Phillips, Public Affairs Officer at The British Humanist Association, as follows:
We seem to be getting somewhere with our campaign to have humanist voices included on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’. Last week both BHA member Lord Harrison of Chester and Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia (the Christian think tank with which the BHA has worked on issues like creationism), himself a contributor to Thought for The Day, made the case on the Today programme for including humanist contributors.