For Jews the Passover is a time to remember their liberation from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses. That story, known as the Exodus is dramatic and powerful and has inspired books and films. It still speaks today to those fighting injustice. To discuss the religious and contemporary meaning of Passover both for Jews and Christians, Ernie Rea is joined by Robyn Ashworth-Steen, Rabbi at Manchester Reform Synagogue and a former human rights lawyer; Daniel Walker, Orthodox Rabbi at Heaton Park Hebrew Congregation; and the Rev Peter Scott, Samuel Ferguson Professor of Applied Theology & Director of the Lincoln Theological Institute at the University of Manchester.
Producer: Catherine Earlam
Femininity and Religion
In 1965, Teen Magazine asked a number of well-known actresses what it means to be “Feminine.” Sandra Dee said: “You must be meticulous in your clothing, make-up, skin – to be clean, fresh and nice all the time.” How times change. This week Ernie Rea is joined by three women representing three faith traditions who give their own views on what it means to be feminine. Mrs Michelle Ciffer describes herself as a wife, mother and Senior Community Services Manager in Salford’s Orthodox Jewish Community; Dr Chetna Kang is a Vaishnava Hindu Priest and Consultant Psychiatrist; and Dr Holly Morse is a lecturer in Bible, Gender and Culture at the University of Manchester.
Producer: Amanda Hancox
Masculinity and Religion
What it means to be a man in today’s world is confusing. There are lots of mixed messages. Men are often portrayed as needing to be the alpha male, remain strong under pressure, to get on and succeed in life but they are also supposed to be loving, caring, sensitive and talk about feelings. So what does it mean to be a man today? How should we define masculinity and what answers and tips can religion give to men today? Joining Ernie Rea to discuss these questions are Rabbi Neil Janes, Congregational Rabbi at the West London Synagogue; Dr Andrew Boakye, Lecturer in Religions and Theology at the University of Manchester and Assad Zaman, an Imam at several mosques in Manchester. Plus Citizen Khan actor Abdullah Afzal talks about how he juggles with competing pressures on how to be a modern Muslim man.
Producer: Amanda Hancox
2019 looks set to be a huge year for superhero movies with eleven films due for release. From X-Men: Dark Phoenix to Captain Marvel, Marvel studios' first movie led by a female; the superhero movie craze looks set to continue long into the future. Yet the idea of heroes has religious and cultural roots that go way back. The Epic of Gilgamesh written in 2100 BC is thought to be the oldest hero story. “Hero cults” were one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. In the ancient Greek epic poem The Illiad “Homeric Heroes” are seen as exemplars of moral and physical action. Perhaps then it is not surprising that our modern day superheroes have such deep, on-going appeal.
On this New Year’s eve edition of Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea discusses how the idea of heroes has developed, why those characters often have supernatural as well as superhuman dimensions and what religious and cultural meaning underlines their enduring appeal. He is joined by Angie Hobbs, Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at Sheffield University, Natalie Haynes, Classicist and Comedian and Ajinbayo "Siku" Akinsiku, British/Nigerian Artist and Writer and creator of the Manga Bible.
Angels are central to the Christmas story. The angel Gabriel first told Mary of the birth of her Son, an angelic choir greeted his entry into the world and an angel warned wise men not to go near Herod. All the monotheistic sacred texts include descriptions and stories of angels. But belief in angels goes beyond religion, as research shows as many as one in three people in the UK believe in angels while one in ten people claim to have seen or heard an angel.
In this Christmas Eve edition of Beyond Belief, Ernie Rea discuss angels with Sally Vickers Author of Miss Garnet’s Angel, Rev Dr Arabella Milbank Robinson, Deacon and Theologian and Angel Expert and Rev Dr Stephen Burge, Lecturer at the Quranic Studies Unit at the Institute of Ismaeli Studies and author of “Angels in Islam.”