Every weekday at around 7:45 BBC Radio 4 broadcasts a three minute sermon by a religious personage. The speaker is usually a Christian although, from time to time, they’ll have someone with a different religion do the talking. This segment of the Today programme is known as Thought for the Day and has been running under its current name since about 1965 and under other names since before World War Two.
Usually the sermon makes no sense whatsoever although just occasionally someone will appear who really does have something to say and such is normally the case when someone like Indarjit Singh appears. It used to be that Lionel Blue made some kind of sense but, unfortunately, these days he often seems to have left half his brain in the glass by the side of the bed.
I say the sermon usually makes no sense because it will start off on one topic and then make a leap to a different one which the speaker attempts to illustrate with references to the first one. This morning’s speaker was the Reverend Tom Butler who just happens to be the Bishop of Southwark. That’s the same Bishop of Southwark who was allegedly discovered rather drunk a year or so ago having attempted to get into a stranger’s car and proclaimed
I’m the Bishop of Southwark, it’s what I do when asked what he was doing.
But I digress. This morning Bishop Tom started his sermon by explaining that scientists had discovered that ants have been found to change their role in ant society as they get older. An ant who, as a youngster, is a worker may take on a less energetic role later in life and that, furthermore, the other ants will look after her in her dotage. So far, so good but then the Bishop makes the great leap and seems to try to suggest that perhaps we humans should copy the ants. Instead of leaving our old folk out to rot we should look after them and value their great knowledge and wisdom. This is, of course, also fair enough but has no connection whatsoever with the example of the ants. It may seem like there is a connection but really there isn’t and the reason for this is simple: we humans are not ants. Ants are ants while people are people. If we were to behave like ants then we would be ants.
Anyway, this scribbling is meant by way of an apology to my neighbours. I suspect I may have woken some of them up this morning wandering around the flat shouting ‘I am not an ant!’ at the radio. That’s the real problem with Thought for the Day: even though the speaker is on the radio I am still tempted to heckle and, indeed, to rant and rave. The trouble is that my neighbours can’t hear the radio. All they can hear is my ranting and some of them are probably convinced that they have a nutcase living next door. Oh dear.
Posted 6 November 2007, 23:30 GMT