By RUPERT SHORTT
Written nearly forty years ago, The Half-Shut Eye by the late John Whale is an elegant broadside with a twofold argument. First, that much television output holds up a distorted mirror to the world; but second, that this doesn’t matter because the medium itself is of little importance. Though a former ITN Washington correspondent, Whale was happier as one of Harold Evans’s chief lieutenants on the Sunday Times. Aware that his highbrow stance could constitute a blind spot of his own, he later acknowledged that only the first of his theses held water.
Faith is one of the subjects which has not been well served by television. This blog is a cautionary tale about the start – and likely end – of my career as a small screen pundit last Sunday. I’ve lately published a tract of my own, God Is No Thing, which doubles up as a reply to the New Atheists and a defence of Christian belief. Frustrated both by New Atheist stridency and a more general air of condescension among secularists, I set myself the task of explaining in a hundred pages how you can be philosophically and scientifically literate, yet still go to church without leaving your brain in the porch. That, presumably, was why I was invited to appear on The Big Questions, the discussion programme hosted by Nicky Campbell that follows Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning interview on BBC1. A small studio audience sits behind ten or so guests who debate the issue of the week. Last Sunday’s pre-recorded item was entitled “Did man create God?”