From the archive: TV’s galvanised my faith




Throughout the UK lockdowns, I often spent my evenings lying down in the house – trusting in God’s care. Suspended in that strange season, I buried my nose in more books, consumed more online productions and viewed more TV than ever before.

Now as the night’s draw in and a new sofa season is rapidly approaching, I sense broadcasters tempting me with their creative offerings once again. But before I recline with the remote, let me tell you what the telly has taught me about God:

Visualising Deconstruction: The Repair Shop (BBC)

Observing the skilled experts of The Repair Shop thoughtfully assess, lovingly deconstruct and carefully conserve all manner of precious family heirlooms is quite something. With patience and courage, they undertake the lengthy surgical deconstruction process. They remove every single shard of rust, every fleck of baked on glue, varnish, paint, oil or grime. All carefully executed without inflicting further damage on the already fragile artefact. Every trace of these ancient contaminants must be removed as they hold the potential to undermine the strength, structure and function of the object. Original materials which have been lost to the sands of time, or become too delicate, are either replicated or reinforced.

The BBC team is eager, excited and engaged. Its conservation work generates joy. Watching the individuals at work, wholly immersed in a dedicated campaign of total restoration, forges a deeper understanding of how my Heavenly Father is at work in me. I’ve learned that God too is a cheerful, diligent craftsman who delights in the work of His hands. Every aspect of my life is being lovingly restored by Him.

Understanding Bounded spaces: Gardeners’ World (BBC)

Watching expert gardener, Monty Don, working in his own garden is an exercise in both beauty and peril. His garden, Long Meadow, seems idyllic. There is shade and sun; friendly dogs; a writing garden; a cosy shed. It’s worth noting that this garden, as in the *garden of Eden described in the Bible’s Book of Genesis, is a bounded space.

I’ve thought a lot about bounded spaces lately. This is mostly down to Walter. He lives under my neighbour’s shed. I kid you not. Walter the Weasel is furry, cute and deadly. A cunning agent of chaos and destruction. A vicious predator, Walter can easily kill a creature twice his own size. Lately he has begun chewing holes in the base of the boundary fence, sneaking in, and helping himself to the unsuspecting bird life in my garden. I’m not happy about the vandalised fence and the slaughtered birds. If the holes are blocked up he chews a new one. Walter can be held at bay but he can’t be kept out.

Much human effort goes into creating bounded spaces of both the physical and abstract variety. In our primal quest for safety and certainty, our guts instinctively communicate that there’s something that needs to be kept out. So we build boxes. And bigger boxes. We build businesses. And we build belief systems. But here’s the thing, even the sagely Monty Don is unable to keep agents of destruction out of his bounded spaces. He can only hold them at bay. Sometimes pests and pestilence utterly destroy the plant he’s nurturing, invoking an inner savage with the secateurs.

And if God’s perfect garden, a holy bounded space, was breached (by design or default) by an agent of chaos and destruction (a snake) what chance have I against such foes? I’ve learned that no matter how secure my bounded physical or abstract spaces seem, my perimeters are permeable. Metaphorical weasels may be held at bay, but because weasels are so very weasely, they will surely weasel their way in. I need not fear them; they’re not dragons; they’re just weasels. I must expect them. I must not let them blow me off course. I must stand against them. It would be naïve of me to think otherwise.

Valuing Journalism: Endeavour (ITV)

The dynamics between journalism and law enforcement can be tense.

In the fictional crime drama, Endeavour, the tension is mostly played out between two central characters. Newspaper editor, Dorothea Frazil, (Abigail Thaw) works to pursue and publish the truth. DC Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) works to prosecute the perpetrator. Both strive to hold the powerful to account, both play their respective parts as citizens in a nation under law. Nowadays journalists and ‘the media’ are frequently despised and subjected to considerable criticism. I’m often disheartened by this, but when I study Abigail Thaw’s character it renews my hope in the value of good journalism. Through her, God reminds me that He’s in the business of recruiting outliers to become scribes, prophets, truth-tellers and jobbing journalists. I think God gets behind writers, and the act of writing, because it’s one of the ways He brings things into the light and gives a voice to the voiceless.

Experiencing Gratitude: The Victoria Slum (BBC)

This fly-on-the-wall series follows a group of modern people transported to a replica Victorian slum deep in the bowels of London’s East End. I expected to be more prepared for the scummy horrors of slum dwelling. My personal narrative casts me as an unspoilt, humble, working-class northerner. But while viewing this series God revealed a shed full of muttering ingratitude, generously daubed with a splodge of low-level resentment. God insisted that I let this go. And so I did. Now I’m grateful that I grew up with a freezing brick privy at the end of our yard because it was private. I’m grateful for that terraced house because it wasn’t occupied by the whole street. I’m grateful for that cold bed because I didn’t have to share it. I’m grateful for that hand-me-down doll because I could play instead of work. I’m grateful for that wafer-thin slice of Hovis bread because I got one every day. I’m grateful that I was the last child dunked into that shared weekly bathwater, because it was clean(ish) and warm(ish). I’m grateful for my ancestors, who grafted in mines and mills because their past investment rewarded me with a future. I’m grateful to my Heavenly Father, more than ever before, because he has revealed more of His goodness towards me.

Closing thoughts…

As the liberty and liveliness of summer gives way to the warm embrace of autumn, consider the leaves changing and falling. Observe the drifting clouds; slow your thoughts down to the subtle speed of the sky; and watch as night gently falls. Though dark evenings will soon envelop us, God can communicate through the stillness, if we’re open to hearing from Him.

If you do only one thing, Allow yourself to lie down in the evening, and be open to receiving God’s care for you.

Main Photo Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via Unsplash

Val Fraser

Val Fraser is a trained journalist with over 12 years’ experience working on staff in various demanding media environments. She has authored/edited thousands of articles including news, travel and features. Val has authored/contributed to nine non-fiction books. A regular columnist, she stepped up to the role of Digital Editor in September 2022 and is responsible for the Sorted Magazine website.

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