4 thoughts on “Robert Beckford, Professor of Climate and Social Justice, University of Winchester

  1. Overall, the Prof’s piece this morning fulfilled the TFTD brief; so, well done. However, the ‘faith perspective’ amounted to no more than observing that, in any given situation where a response is required, Christians have an additional option – prayer to Jesus.

    The news element – tackling racism – is of course (and sadly) thoroughly current; not least the question of ‘taking the knee’ and BLM. Prof Beckford might have delved a little deeper, I thought, and questioned how much ‘faith,’ and religion, and his in particular, have been the cause of racism. The origins of racism are complex, and arise from a number of political, social, and faux philosophical sources – but Christianity is definitely in there somewhere, and still current, as manifest in strongly religious areas of the USA.

    In concluding, Beckford declined to say whether or not he believed his mother’s prayers had been as effective as his father’s practical intervention. There was a doubtful tone in his voice, which critically undermined – even nullified – his (only) ‘faith perspective,’ more so because there would have been plenty of listeners (me included) who could happily have given him the correct answer.


  2. From a religious point of view I think you summed it up perfectly there Peter, but I also thought it was good editing from Today to slot in the Dear England letter from Gareth Southgate just before, allowing the listener a rare chance to hear a TFTD that was about something in the news rather than another religious festival.
    Southgate’s letter tackles what it means to be English today. Imagine the challenge for a patriotic, racist football supporter over the last 40 years seeing their local and national team fill up with young black English men who their upbringing has taught them to fear, or even despise, simply because of their skin colour.
    Southgate asks a simple question, “Why would you choose to insult somebody for something as ridiculous as the colour of their skin?” Beckford’s teacher did the same thing. Instead of looking at what the person was capable of both Beckford’s teacher and the racist football fan miss what may be the best in the person they are insulting simply because of their own ignorance.


  3. Robert Beckford came across as rather more confident about the effectiveness of his dad’s direct intervention with the unthinking schoolteacher than that of his mum’s prayers. That is not a surprising conclusion for most of us here; but surely it is quite significant given that Beckford has spent his entire professional life in the world of theology (indeed, a lot of it in the world of Black theology), where taking problems ‘to the Lord in prayer’ is a key part of everyday routine. Suppose he applied this relative sense of confidence (or lack of it) to the other issues he has to deal with? Where might he end up?

    Incidentally, he does get around. Less than two years ago he was still at Christ Church, Canterbury; then he became Professor of Black Theology at The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham; now he’s moved on to Winchester. Still, onwards and upwards!


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