Modern Believing

Book Reviews

Modern Believing (2014), 55, (2), 179–209.


Book Reviews K. Knott, E. A. Poole and T. Taira, Media Portrayals of Religion and the Secular Sacred: Representation and Change. Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2013. Pp. xvi, 233. Pb. £19.99. ISBN 978-1-4094-4806-8. This excellent series, overseen by Linda Woodhead and Rebecca Catto, is responsible for this fine book on media portrayals of religion and the sacred. It could not be more timely. There is a great tendency among religious groups – and perhaps one thinks especially of the Roman Catholic church and the Church of England – to engage with the media through a trinitarian prism: one of fright, flight and fight. This is a pity, because the media are probably more absorbed by religion today than ever before. But the signs of the times are not easy to read. I recall a conversation with a group of bishops some years ago, in which they lamented the coverage of religious themes during Holy Week. They seemed to believe that the BBC and other television channels and radio stations had ignored the marking of sacred time. One opined that he might complain to the BBC. Another cussed that it just showed how secular our nation had become. Curious, I looked at the TV and radio schedules for the week. Radio Three and Classic FM were awash with choral evensongs, sacred music and cathedral choirs. The BBC had scheduled a ‘people’s passion play’, and there were many other programmes that touched on religion, including one that looked at early middle-eastern monasticism and another on western art that was largely consumed with refractions of Christian themes. Channel Four had programmes on an assortment of contemporary spiritual mores. True, the accent had moved from ‘religious’ to ‘spiritual’ across the spectrum of broadcasting output; but the sacred was well represented. And then there were the advertisements. Not everything at Easter needs a bunny to sell a product; not even chocolate. Hence the advertisement for a Modern Believing 55.2 2014 doi:10.3828/mb.2014.19

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Author details

Percy, Martyn

Chandler, Andrew

Bray, Suzanne

Dandelion, Pink

Rock, Hugh

Brierley, Michael

Pennington, Emily

Isherwood, Lisa

Thatcher, Adrian

Nichols, Bridget

Echlin, Edward

Woodward, James

Maslen, Elizabeth

Gardner, Fiona