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Radio review: AntiSocial, The Current Thing, and The Now Show

26 April 2024


On AntiSocial (Radio 4, Wednesday of last week), Adam Fleming examined minority-stress theory

On AntiSocial (Radio 4, Wednesday of last week), Adam Fleming examined minority-stress theory

ON THE face of it, Professor David Frost’s definition of “stress” seems to confirm all one’s worst fears about snowflakery. Stress is “anything that causes you to be extended beyond your basic abilities to cope”. The academic, from King’s College, London, went on to equate stress with anything that might constitute a challenge. Professor Frost’s contribution to AntiSocial (Radio 4, Wednesday of last week) prompted questions that, no doubt, would be answered at more leisure in the context of lectures on his specialist field of minority-stress theory. But here the statement unwittingly revealed the antagonism underpinning the whole question under discussion.

The case of Felix Ngole is currently being heard by an employment tribunal. A pastor who trained as a social worker, Mr Ngole’s offer of a job with the charity Touchstone Support was withdrawn when his public views on homosexuality were discovered by his employer-to-be. The presenter, Adam Fleming, was joined on this occasion by an Evangelical pastor, Keith Waters, and Helen Pluckrose, a self-confessed “liberal humanist”, to debate, but Fleming found that there was no head-on collision of views, instead, Mr Waters and Ms Pluckrose came at the subject from right angles.

Ms Pluckrose is also, it truned out, a trenchant opponent of what the unversed might call “wokery”. Her beef with Christians is that, as people holding a recognisable faith position, they have legal status under the law. There is no such protection for people who wish to oppose, for instance, trans ideology from a secular, scientific, or philosophical standpoint.

And so to Mr Ngole and the accusation that his attitudes would cause stress to those LGBT clients for whom he would, in his new job, have responsibility. Both Mr Waters and Ms Pluckrose seemed to agree that Mr Ngole, as a Christian, was himself being subjected to “minority stress”. The question was: which minority suffered the greater?

Now that BBC religious broadcasting has retreated from theological inquiry, the podcast The Current Thing (released Mondays), presented by Nick Dixon, deserves credit for showcasing the expository qualities of the Revd Dr Jamie Franklin, whose own Irreverend podcast was mentioned here last month (Radio, 15 March). Episodes of it are now regularly topping the UK Christian podcast charts.

Seventy-five minutes into last week’s episode, Franklin provided an admirably lucid and scholarly survey of the case for God as a necessary being, and the philosophy of infinite regress. Dixon and Franklin are regular collaborators on the podcast, and are releasing commentaries on the Bible which are part hermeneutics and part banter.

The Now Show, Radio 4’s long-running Friday evening news comedy, is no more. Those of us old enough to remember Week Ending, which, at 28 years, lasted even longer, will recognise what one might call the Punch syndrome: that the newness of news does not guarantee freshness of humour.

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