Good, even great things happen every day in individual lives,
in religious communities, and in ecumenical and interfaith
encounters. Most of those stories never make it into the evening
news. Then, too, issues facing people of one faith may sometimes be
difficult for those of another to understand.
A news magazine hosted by television journalist Bob
Abernethy, "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly," intends to help change
all that, taking a good, long look at religious issues as they
affect our lives and communities today. A production of WNET in New
York, the program premiered Sept. 5 and airs Saturday or Sunday on
PBS (check local listings).
Mr. Abernethy (see story, right) lets us know off the bat
that this is a news show - there will be no preaching. He has the
kind of genial, genteel intelligence that inspires confidence. His
reasonable tone assures viewers that his handling of the subjects
he investigates will be balanced, respectful, and generous.
He is not out to promote any one's religious agenda. The show
will concentrate on the issues, exploring a wide variety of belief
systems, and will not attempt to tell listeners what to think.
The first two programs' biggest strengths were the variety of
issues Abernethy and team delved into, and their canny ability to
show why religion matters so much to so many. In the first show,
Mother Teresa's legacy was tastefully handled with affection.
The persecution of Christians around the world, though not as
fully explained as one might wish, opened up a can of worms the
public seldom sees - even showing the reluctance of some Christians
to face what is happening head on. Solutions were suggested,
experts consulted, and the changing tide of opinion discussed.
But the sentiment that remained is that speaking out against
human rights violations (whether in China, the Sudan, or elsewhere)
is the only thing that will help protect Christians who are being
In another segment, Abernethy visited the new gospel music
for the 1990s - hearing from those young people who respond to its
message, as well as from adults who do and don't approve of its
Appreciation for Diana
One of the most touching sequences dealt with the public
outpouring of grief over the death of Diana, Princess of Wales,
focusing on what people loved about her and how various religious
faiths would both answer questions about death and comfort grieving
relatives of the princess. …