Thursday, 12 November 2009

Strange Thought for the Day

This morning's Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4, is one of the weirdest I've heard for a while. The author is named as Rhidian Brook, but without any details of his affiliations.

He begins with a story about receiving £1000 in a brown envelope through his letterbox from an unknown donor which he used to pay off his rent arrears. He says "The anonymity of the giver left me with no one to thank but God". He says nothing about reporting the find to the police, or how he decided it was meant for him. Might it have been put through the wrong door? Might it have been protection money, or a blackmail payment, or from a drug deal?

Then he goes on to the recent big lottery winners. "I found myself wondering who or what they would thank for the millions they had randomly won." and "The lottery almost certainly transgresses the 1st 8th and 10th commandments." Later he says: "they are people experiencing a shocking unmerited favour". Is he trying to make them feel bad about their luck?

Then he comes to the theology: "While lots were drawn in biblical times they were always a means of determining the will of god and underpinned by a belief that nothing in the universe is down to chance." Does he mean to claim that this is still the case, that nothing is due to chance? Surely this is the belief of fortune tellers and astrologers. This is simple reversion to primitivism.

He then talks of God's "amazing grace" whatever that is. If God is responsible for deciding who wins the lottery he is presumably also responsible for deciding who loses, in life as well as in the lottery. Religion seems unable to come to terms with the undoubted role of Chance in the universe.


  1. Yes, I listened to that too - I thought he was a jabbering loon.

    I also pretty much decided the cash story was a fantasy, devised to make some sort of point - it just doesn't make any sense.

  2. A quick google search had him as "writer and Christian"

    He's written a couple of books, some TV screenplays and seems to have done some work with the salvation army.

    Sorry I missed TFTD (I often do). This one sounds like a scream!

  3. There's another take on it here. This is always a good site to go to if you miss TftD. I wonder if the messages will be any less platitudinous if Humanists are allowed to contribute, as seems likely soon.

  4. Sadly, I'm just listening to PM now - there's no change to TftD likely any time soon.

    Are well - we don't have to give up.

    Thanks for the link.

  5. Here's the details of the BBC Trust's decision on Thought for the Day and non-religious content generally, for those who want their blood-pressure raised.