Spirituality

In Our Time: Religion

BBC Radio 4

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Discussion of religious movements and the theories and individuals behind them.
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The Talmud

47:48 | May 29th, 2014

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history and contents of the Talmud, one of the most important texts of Judaism. The Talmud was probably written down over a period of several hundred years, beginning in the 2nd century. It contains the authori...Show More
The Trinity

42:11 | Mar 13th, 2014

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Trinity. The idea that God is a single entity, but one known in three distinct forms - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - has been a central belief for most Christians since the earliest years of the religion. The d...Show More
Hindu Ideas of Creation

41:57 | Dec 5th, 2013

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Hindu ideas about Creation. According to most Western religious traditions, a deity was the original creator of the Universe. Hinduism, on the other hand, has no single creation story. For thousands of years, Hindu...Show More
The Book of Common Prayer

42:00 | Oct 17th, 2013

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Book of Common Prayer. In 1549, at the height of the English Reformation, a new prayer book was published containing versions of the liturgy in English. Generally believed to have been supervised by Thomas Cran...Show More
Prophecy

42:06 | Jun 13th, 2013

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the meaning and significance of prophecy in the Abrahamic religions. Prophets, those with the ability to convey divinely-inspired revelation, are significant figures in the Hebrew Bible and later became important n...Show More
Gnosticism

42:06 | May 2nd, 2013

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Gnosticism, a sect associated with early Christianity. The Gnostics divided the universe into two domains: the visible world and the spiritual one. They believed that a special sort of knowledge, or gnosis, would e...Show More
The Cult of Mithras

42:12 | Dec 27th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the cult of Mithras, a mystery religion that existed in the Roman Empire from the 1st to the 4th centuries AD. Also known as the Mysteries of Mithras, its origins are uncertain. Academics have suggested a link with...Show More
The Upanishads

42:00 | Nov 8th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Upanishads, the ancient sacred texts of Hinduism. Dating from about 700 BC, the Upanishads were passed down through an oral tradition in priestly castes and were not written down until the 6th century AD. They ...Show More
King Solomon

42:09 | Jun 7th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the biblical king Solomon, celebrated for his wisdom and as the architect of the First Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Old Testament account of his life, Solomon was chosen as his father David's successor as ...Show More
George Fox and the Quakers

41:53 | Apr 5th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the origins of Quakerism. In the mid-seventeenth century an itinerant preacher, George Fox, became the central figure of a group known as the Religious Society of Friends, whose members believed it was possible to ...Show More
Erasmus

41:58 | Feb 9th, 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the life and work of the Dutch humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus. In his lifetime Erasmus was almost universally recognised as the greatest classical scholar of his age, the translator and editor of numerous Lati...Show More
The Concordat of Worms

41:52 | Dec 15th, 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Concordat of Worms. This treaty between the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, signed in 1122, put an end, at least for a time, to years of power struggle and bloodshed. The wrangling between the German kings an...Show More
Judas Maccabeus

42:02 | Nov 24th, 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the revolutionary Jewish leader Judas Maccabeus. Born in the second century BC, Judas led his followers, the Maccabees, in a rebellion against the Seleucid Empire, which was attempting to impose the Greek culture a...Show More
Daoism

42:22 | Dec 15th, 2010

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Daoism. An ancient Chinese tradition of philosophy and religious belief, Daoism first appeared more than two thousand years ago. For centuries it was the most popular religion in China; in the West its religious as...Show More
The Delphic Oracle

42:05 | Sep 30th, 2010

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Delphic Oracle, the most important source of prophecies in the ancient world. In central Greece, on the flank of Mount Parnassus, lies the ruined city of Delphi. For over a thousand years, between approximately...Show More
The Siege of Munster

41:54 | Nov 5th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests Diarmaid MacCulloch, Lucy Wooding and Charlotte Methuen discuss the Siege of Munster in 1534-35.In the early 16th century, the Protestant Reformation revolutionised Christian belief. But one radical group of believers stood ou...Show More
St Thomas Aquinas

42:18 | Sep 17th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg discusses the life, works and enduring influence of the medieval philosopher and theologian St Thomas Aquinas with Martin Palmer, John Haldane and Annabel Brett. St Thomas Aquinas' ideas remain at the heart of the official doctrine of th...Show More
Sunni and Shia Islam

42:34 | Jun 25th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests Amira Bennison, Robert Gleave and Hugh Kennedy discuss the split between the Sunni and the Shia. This schism came to dominate early Islam, and yet it did not spring at first from a deep theological disagreement, but rather fro...Show More
St Paul

42:04 | May 28th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests Helen Bond, John Haldane and John Barclay discuss the influence of St Paul on the early Christian church and on Christian theology generally. St Paul joined the Christian church in a time of confusion and wonder. Jesus had bee...Show More
The Siege of Vienna

41:57 | May 14th, 2009

Melvyn Bragg and guests Andrew Wheatcroft, Claire Norton and Jeremy Black discuss the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683, when the Ottoman Empire tried to capture the capital city of the Hapsburg monarchs. The ensuing tale of blood and drama helped defi...Show More
The Baroque Movement

42:14 | Oct 23rd, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the culture of the Baroque. What do the music of Bach, the Colonnades of St Peter’s, the paintings of Caravaggio and the rebuilding of Prague have in common? The answer is the Baroque – a term used to describe a vast a...Show More
Miracles

42:16 | Sep 25th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the parting of the Red Sea, the feeding of the five thousand and the general subject of miracles. Miracles have been part of human culture for thousands of years. From St Augustine in the 4th century through the mediev...Show More
Dante's Inferno

42:04 | Jul 3rd, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Dante’s ‘Inferno’ - a medieval journey through the nine circles of Hell. “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”. This famous phrase is written above the gate of Hell in a 14th century poem by the Italian poet Dante Alig...Show More
The Arab Conquests

41:52 | Jun 26th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Arab conquests - an extraordinary period in the 7th and 8th centuries when the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula conquered the Middle East, Persia, North Africa and Southern Europe and spread the ideas of the Islamic...Show More
The Metaphysical Poets

42:12 | Jun 19th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Metaphysical poets, a diffuse group of 17th century writers including John Donne, Andrew Marvell and George Herbert. Mourning the death of a good friend in 1631, the poet Thomas Carew declared: “The Muses' garden, ...Show More
The Dissolution of the Monasteries

42:19 | Mar 27th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Was Henry’s decision to destroy monastic culture in this country a tyrannical act of grand larceny or the pious destruction of a corrupt institution? When he was an ol...Show More
The Greek Myths

42:17 | Mar 13th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Greek myths from Achilles to Zeus. Are you a touch narcissistic? Do you have the body of an Adonis? Are you willing to undertake Herculean tasks or Promethean ventures? Perhaps you have an Oedipus complex? If you a...Show More
The Fisher King

42:22 | Jan 17th, 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests will be delving into the world of medieval legend in pursuit of the powerful and enigmatic Fisher King. In the world of medieval romance there are many weird and wonderful creatures – there are golden dragons and green knights...Show More
The Nicene Creed

42:11 | Dec 27th, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Nicene Creed which established the Divinity of Christ. "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotte...Show More
The Pilgrim Fathers

42:10 | Jul 5th, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Pilgrim Fathers and their 1620 voyage to the New World on the Mayflower. Every year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans go home to their families and sit down to a meal. It’s called Thanksgiving and it ec...Show More
Ockham's Razor

42:10 | May 31st, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the philosophical ideas of William Ockham including Ockham's Razor. In the small village of Ockham, near Woking in Surrey, stands a church. Made of grey stone, it has a pitched roof and an unassuming church tower but p...Show More
Spinoza

28:13 | May 3rd, 2007

Melvyn Bragg discusses the Dutch Jewish Philosopher Spinoza. For the radical thinkers of the Enlightenment, he was the first man to have lived and died as a true atheist. For others, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he provides perhaps the most pro...Show More
St Hilda

28:13 | Apr 5th, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the 7th century saint, Hilda, or Hild as she would have been known then, wielded great religious and political influence in a volatile era. The monasteries she led in the north of England were known for their literacy ...Show More
The Jesuits

41:55 | Jan 18th, 2007

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Jesuits, a Catholic religious order of priests who became known as “the school masters of Europe”. Founded in the 16th century by the soldier Ignatius Loyola, they became a major force throughout the world, from Ch...Show More
Hell

27:56 | Dec 21st, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss hell and its representation in literature and the visual arts, through the ages from Ancient Egypt to modern Christianity. Why do certain religions have a Satan figure and others don’t? And why did hell shift from the ...Show More
The Diet of Worms

42:10 | Oct 12th, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Diet of Worms, an event that helped trigger the European Reformation. Nestled on a bend of the River Rhine, in the South West corner of Germany, is the City of Worms. It’s one of the oldest cities in central Europe...Show More
The Spanish Inquisition

42:10 | Jun 22nd, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Spanish Inquisition, the defenders of medieval orthodoxy. The word ‘Inquisition’ has its roots in the Latin word 'inquisito' which means inquiry. The Romans used the inquisitorial process as a form of legal procedu...Show More
Fairies

28:07 | May 11th, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the literary and visual depiction of fairies, supernatural creatures that inhabit a half-way world between this one and the next.'They stole little Bridget for seven years long; When she came down again her friends wer...Show More
The Oxford Movement

42:17 | Apr 13th, 2006

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Oxford Movement in the Church of England in the 19th century. Cardinal John Henry Newman is perhaps the most significant Christian theologian of the nineteenth century. He began as an evangelical, becoming a High A...Show More
Heaven

28:08 | Dec 22nd, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ideas of heaven and the afterlife. The great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote 'that in the end language can only be related to what is experienced here, and given that the hereafter is not here, we can only inf...Show More
Greyfriars and Blackfriars

42:07 | Nov 10th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the religious orders of the Dominicans and the Franciscans, known as the Blackfriars and Greyfriars. "Just as it is better to light up others than to shine alone, it is better to share the fruits of one's contemplation...Show More
Paganism in the Renaissance

41:52 | Jun 16th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss paganism in the Renaissance. For hundreds of years in the Middle Ages, the only way to read Ovid was through the prism of a Christian moralising text. Ovid's sensual tales of metamorphosis and pagan gods were presented...Show More
Angels

28:13 | Mar 24th, 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the heavenly host of Angels. George Bernard Shaw made the observation that "in heaven an angel is nobody in particular", but there is nothing commonplace about this description of angels from the Bible's book of Ezekie...Show More
The Venerable Bede

28:06 | Nov 25th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Venerable Bede. In 731 AD, in the most far-flung corner of the known universe, a book was written that represented a height of scholarship and erudition that was not to be equalled for centuries to come. It was cal...Show More
Zoroastrianism

42:10 | Nov 11th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discusses Zoroastrianism. "Now have I seen him with my own eyes, knowing him in truth to be the wise Lord of the good mind and of good deeds and words." Thus spake the real Zarathustra, the prophet and founder of the ancient a...Show More
Witchcraft

42:20 | Oct 21st, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss witchcraft in Reformation Europe. In 1486 a book was published in Latin, it was called Maleus Mallificarum and it very soon outsold every publication in Europe bar the Bible. It was written by Heinrich Kramer, a Domini...Show More
Toleration

27:49 | May 20th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas and politics behind the idea of religious toleration. In 1763 Voltaire remarked that "of all religions, the Christian is undoubtedly that which should instil the greatest toleration, although so far the Chris...Show More
The Fall

28:12 | Apr 8th, 2004

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the concept of original sin and its influence in Christian Europe. Genesis tells the Bible’s story of creation, but it also carries within it a tale of the ‘fall of mankind’. After their primal transgression, Adam and ...Show More
The Devil

28:05 | Dec 11th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of the Devil. In the Gospel according to John he is ‘a murderer from the beginning’, ‘a liar and the father of lies’, and Dante calls him ‘the ill Worm that pierces the world’s core’. But Milton’s descripti...Show More
St Bartholomew's Day Massacre

28:13 | Nov 27th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the infamous St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. In Paris, in the high summer of 1572, a very unusual wedding was happening in the cathedral of Notre Dame. Henri, the young Huguenot King of Navarre, was marrying the King of...Show More
The Schism

28:10 | Oct 16th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss events surrounding the medieval division of the Christian Church. In 1054, Cardinal Humbert stormed into the Cathedral of Constantinople and charged down the aisle. In his hand was a Papal Bull – a deed of excommunicat...Show More
The Apocalypse

42:27 | Jul 17th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Apocalypse. George Bernard Shaw dismissed it as “the curious record of the visions of a drug addict” and if the Orthodox Christian Church had had its way, it would never have made it into the New Testament. But the...Show More
Blood

41:36 | May 22nd, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss blood. For more than 1500 years popular imagination, western science and the Christian Church colluded in a belief that blood was the link between the human and the divine. The Greek physician, Galen, declared that it ...Show More
The Holy Grail

28:17 | May 15th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Holy Grail.Tennyson wrote:“A cracking and a riving of the roofs,And rending, and a blast, and overheadThunder, and in the thunder was a cry.And in the blast there smote along the hallA beam of light seven times mor...Show More
Redemption

28:05 | Mar 13th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss redemption. In St Paul's letter to the Galatians, he wrote: "Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery". This conception of Redemption as freedom from bondage is crucial...Show More
The Lindisfarne Gospels

28:10 | Feb 20th, 2003

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Lindisfarne Gospels. In 597 Pope Gregory the Great ordered that a mission of monks be sent from Rome to convert Britain to its own brand of Christianity - lest it be submerged by the pagan beliefs of the Anglo-Saxo...Show More
Muslim Spain

28:07 | Nov 21st, 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Muslim Spain. In 711 a small army of North African Berbers invaded Spain and established an Iberian Islamic culture that would last for over 700 years. Despite periods of infighting and persecution, Muslim Spain was a ...Show More
The Soul

28:13 | Jun 6th, 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Soul. In his poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ WB Yeats wrote:An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unlessSoul clap its hands and sing, and louder singFor every tatter in its mortal dress. For ...Show More
The Buddha

28:05 | Mar 14th, 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and teachings of The Buddha. Two and a half thousand years ago a young man meditated on life and death and found enlightenment. In that moment he saw his past lives spread out before him and he realised that a...Show More
Yeats and Mysticism

28:16 | Jan 31st, 2002

Melvyn Bragg explores the strange and mystical world of the poet W B Yeats. Celtic folklore, the Theosophical society, the Golden Dawn group, seances and a wife who communicated with the spirit world all had a huge effect on the work of this great Ir...Show More
Catharism

42:12 | Jan 17th, 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Cathars, a medieval European Christian sect accused of heresy. In 1215 Pope Innocent III called the greatest meeting of Catholic minds for a hundred years. He hoped that the Fourth Lateran Council would represent t...Show More
Third Crusade

28:03 | Nov 29th, 2001

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the highs and lows of the Third Crusade. In 1095 Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade and by the end of the 11th century an army of Franks had driven what they called the ‘infidel arab’ out of Jerusalem. The Crusad...Show More
Science and Religion

42:06 | Jan 25th, 2001

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the areas of conflict and agreement between science and religion.What space should science leave to religion? What ground should religion give to science? Do they need to give ground to each other at all? The American...Show More
The Age of Doubt

28:21 | Mar 9th, 2000

Melvyn Bragg examines the spread of religious doubt over the last three centuries. Nietzsche proclaimed that God was Dead in 1882, Hegel in fact beat him to it apprising his Berlin students of God’s demise as early as 1827. By the end of the 19th cen...Show More
Prayer

28:17 | Dec 23rd, 1999

Melvyn Bragg examines the purpose and effects of prayer. Why do people pray? What did prayer ever do, the cry goes up, for those millions upon millions of non-combatants, civilians, children, innocents, whose lives have been ended by a savage variety...Show More
Fundamentalism

28:09 | Apr 22nd, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the roots and the consequences of religious fundamentalism. It still surprises many Western liberal intellectuals that religion survives at all. That fundamentalism flourishes is even more of a mystery. And if we shift...Show More
Good and Evil

28:17 | Apr 1st, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss whether religion can still be seen as a way of interpreting and judging good and evil in modern western civilisation and examines what the discoveries of Darwin and our knowledge of the true physiological nature and hi...Show More
Space in Religion and Science

28:03 | Feb 18th, 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of thought about space, and examines whether cyberspace has introduced a new concept of space in our world or if its roots are in Einsteinian physics. It would have seemed extraordinary to Dante or Newton, ...Show More