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BBC Radio 4 Beyond Belief

Covid-19 has had us all scrambling to adapt to life in lockdown. But the period of lockdown also coincided with a number of key religious festivals from Easter to Passover, Vaisakhi to Ramadan. This in turn has led to a flourishing of new and inventive ways for religious communities to mark their holy days. But religion online is not a new phenomenon and virtual spaces, live streaming and words of wisdom have been available on the internet for many years. So what should our relationship be with religion on the internet and where does its future lie post lockdown?

Joining Dr Katie Edwards to discuss this is Dr Beth Singler, Junior Research Fellow in Artificial Intelligence at Homerton College, University of Cambridge; Swami Ambikananda, a Hindu monastic and founder of the Traditional Yoga Association; Adrian Harris, Head of Digital at the Church of England and Abid Khan, Imam at Cheadle Mosque in Manchester.

Producer: Amanda Hancox


BBC Radio 4 Beyond Belief

2020 marks 250 years since the birth of William Wordsworth, one of England's most celebrated poets. Wordsworth and his friend and colleague Samuel Taylor Coleridge were pioneers of English Romanticism and they produced works including The Excursion, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and The Prelude.

Religion and nature were great sources of inspiration and debate for both men. Wordsworth's childhood home, The English Lake District, was alive with different and often 'dissenting' ideas about Christianity but what influence did these ideas have on his work? Did Wordsworth and Coleridge share a common idea of the nature of God and what resonance does their work have today?

Joining Dr Katie Edwards to discuss the influence of faith on the life of Wordsworth, is Rev Marie-Elsa Bragg, priest and writer; Seamus Perry, Professor of English Literature at The University of Oxford and Heidi Snow, Professor of English Literature and holder of the Edith and Lewis White Distinguished Professorship at Principia College, Illinois, USA.

Producer: Dan Jackson

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Radio 4 Beyond Belief

During the lockdown, with gyms shut and exercise outdoors restricted, social media is littered with anecdotes of people putting on weight or turning to diet plans. Most religious traditions have some kind of rules when it comes to what we eat. From Lent to Yom Kippur, from Karva Chauth, to Ramadan many religious followers observe days of abstinence. So why is the relationship between food, fasting and faith so meaningful for so many?

Dr Katie Edwards discusses faith, food and fasting with Dr Hannah Bacon, Associate Professor in Feminist Theology and Acting head of Theology and Religious studies at the University of Chester, Dr Hina Shahid, General Practitioner and Chairperson of the Muslim Doctors Association and Geeta Vara, Ayurvedic Practioner and author of Ayurveda: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Wellbeing

Producer: Rajeev Gupta
Series Producer: Amanda Hancox


BBC Radio 4 Beyond Belief


There are growing reports of couples opting for private wedding ceremonies or even resorting to marrying online during lockdown. On a less celebratory note, the divorce rates in China are said to have rocketed after their lockdown ended. There are concerns that the same will happen in the UK after weeks of couples living in isolation together. Is it time to accept that marriage has had its day? Or has marriage simply acquired a different meaning in the 21st century?

Dr Katie Edwards discusses marriage with Imam Ajmal Masroor, who's also a marriage counsellor, Hannah Brock Womack, a Quaker and civil justice campaigner and the Rt Rev Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry.

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BBC Radio 4 Beyond Belief

Religion in Soap Operas

Since the nation was introduced to the likes of Elsie Tanner and Ken Barlow in the northern town of Weatherfield almost 60 years ago, television soap operas have gripped viewers across the networks. Some talk about it as an addiction as the weddings, funerals, rows, murders, love triangles, crashes, affairs and divorces are played out on our screens.

As these epic stories draw on our emotions, some have argued that it's easy to see the biblical and other religious parallels in the story-lines.

In this edition of Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea discusses the religious influences on the soaps and how they have portrayed religious characters over the years with Dr Katie Edwards, a freelance writer and broadcaster who has researched the Bible in popular culture; Mark Pinsky author of "The Gospel According to the Simpsons", the Right Reverend Dr John Saxbee, retired Bishop of Lincoln and June Brown who played Dot Cotton.

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Noirthern Podcast

The podcast where location is an important as the characters

Produced by Trace Productions