There’s a bit in the book of the prophet Jeremiah where the king, Hezekiah, asks Jeremiah: “Does the Lord have a word for us today?” the answer is ‘yes’, but the king doesn’t like it when he hears it. It doesn’t press the right political buttons. It is inconvenient to the dominant ideology. So, it gets dumped. Today it would simply get ridiculed.

The question itself, however, provides the lens through which I look when writing Pause for Thought scripts for BBC Radio 2 (principally these days for the Chris Evans Show). Of course, people don’t articulate it in that language; but, I assume they are asking a similar question: “Will someone help me make sense of this?” or “Will someone shed a different light on this, so I can think it through?” The choice of language – as well as theme – then matters.


When I was asked to go into the studio to do a ‘live’ broadcast a couple of days after 9/11, this was how I thought about it. It was a similar process after the Tsunami, the death of Princess Diana, and other big events. But, it plies to the ordinary times of life, too.

I pick this out now because of what I wrote in the last post about the silence of the Archbishop of Canterbury during the riots in London and other English cities. In one sense, Rowan had nothing new to say that he hadn’t already been saying for years.

Think about his penetrating book, Lost Icons, in which he questioned the consequences of (for example) the sexualisation of children and the refusal of adults to behave like adults (by competing with children in the sexuality market).

Consider his considered thinking and writing in the wake of the Children’s Society ‘Good Childhood Report’ – criticised because he didn’t let adults or parents off the responsibility hook and questioned the destiny of the ‘me’ generation in which ‘personal fulfilment now’ trumps everything else and justifies any behaviour.

Consider what he actually wrote in the New Statesman edition recently and the questions he put to the Government, the Opposition and the rest of us about the values upon which our society is being built. (Ignore the ridiculous media furore and address the actual questions.)

Rather than being silent, in fact he’s been banging on about this stuff endlessly for years. But, people who haven’t listened now turn round and tell him he hasn’t spoken. Bizarre or what?

Rowan once said that when people accuse him of ‘not leading’, what they really mean is that he isn’t going where they want him to take them – and that when they want him to ‘speak out’, they really mean they want him to say loudly what they want to hear.

Unfortunately, that has never been the job of the prophets.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:New York, USA