Something Understood

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20030413

Mark Tully explores the tension between contemplation and action in the spiritual life.

He talks to Philip Roderick of the Quiet Garden Trust and of Contemplatives In Action.

20030316

Whitbread prize winning poet Professor Douglas Dunn wonders why we remember some poems and dramatic moments rather than others.

19970622

Are manners outmoded? Do children suffer if they are not taught good manners and acceptable etiquette? Peter Hobday quizzes columnist Drusilla Beyfus

19970706

Touch is the most undervalued of all our senses, yet it is arguably the most important and useful as we orient ourselves in the world.

Peter Hobday explores the nature of touch with the help of Peter White, the BBC's disability affairs correspondent.

19970727

Denis Tuohy looks at how we derive strength from the simple comforts of life, from food and friendship to music and faith.

19970810

Mark Tully celebrates 50 years of Indian independence and tries to identify the true spirit of India.

Why does India exert such a powerful hold on her visitors, and what, despite her problems, does she still have to teach the West?

19991121

A special edition of the programme to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child.

The UN's special representative for children and armed conflict, Ugandan Olara Otunnu, chooses words and music spanning cultures and continents, including Andrew Motion's visit to Anne Frank's Huis, and an early performance by Yehudi Menuhin

20020630
20020901
20020902
2003021620030222

Crime writer and lawyer Frances Fyfield considers why some paintings affect her profoundly while others leave her stone cold.

20030928

Mark Tully explores the notion of attention.

Why do most of the world's faiths emphasise the need to live attentively, and why do so many people find this so difficult today?

20040307

Famine BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge reflects on what he calls 'the Spirit of famine'.

As he looks back over more than twenty years of reporting disastrous famines, and back, further, to historical accounts, he encounters in every place the spirit of both despair and desolation, and of dignity, resourcefulness and revival.

20040328

Forgiveness Crime writer Alexander Mccall Smith has had much to do with forgiveness.

As a lawyer he has been involved in cases where he thinks victims might have been better off forgiving than seeking recourse from the law.

As someone who has lived in Africa he has seen their way of doing things which is often to find a harmonious solution which all parties can live with rather than pursing rights.

And as a detective writer he explores the complexities of forgiveness through his 'Number 1 Detective agency' and the forgiving woman at the heart of it, Mma Ramotswe.

Here he reflects on the complexities of forgiveness in his fiction and in real life.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

20040418

Bone Of My Bones: Mark Tully considers the sacred and symbolic meanings we give to bones and the historical and forensic information they yield.

20040425

The Promised One In Something Understood this week Mark Tully considers the archetypal figure of 'The Promised One'.

Such figures appear in many faith traditions but also in myth, story and real life.

The saviour, the rescuer, the leader or guru - why do we continue to dream of the one who will transform our lives and fortunes? [Rpt of today 6.05am]

The saviour, the rescuer, the leader or guru - why do we continue to dream of the one who will transform our lives and fortunes?

20040523

Image and Identity: Mark Tully explores the relationship between image and integrity.

Is our external image a superficial construction, or an authentic expression of identity?

20040530

The Good Seed on the Land: Michelene Wandor talks to writer, farmer and sculptor Meir Weiss.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

20040606

Mary Contini juggles a directorship at Edinburgh food emporium Valvona and Crolla with being a mother.

How and why?

20040711

Composer Nigel Osborne has witnessed the power of music to transform lives in his work with children caught up in wars.

20040815

Behind Bars

In Something Understood this week Mike Woodridge explores the experience of imprisonment.

From actual, physical incarceration to mental and emotional imprisonment, what does it feel like to be imprisoned: what hurts, what helps, what crushes and what gives hope?

20040912

Towering Babel

In Something Understood this week Mark Tully explores the meaning, or meaninglessness, of jargon, cliché and babble.

How do words become emptied of meaning and how do new expressions arise.

Is it still true, as Eric Bentley wrote in the early 1950's that instead of language we have jargon, instead of principles, slogans, and instead of genuine ideas, bright Ideas?

20040926

Remembrance of Love

Fergal Keane explores through music and literature the memories we all carry within us of love.

20041024

The writer and broadcaster Michelene Wandor gets to grips with the practical and spiritual aspects of Doing It Yourself.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

20041107

Desert Places

The desert is a metaphor for despair, depression, emptiness.

But it is also seen as spiritual place, where one can be closer to God.

Mark Tully explores those remote places that can be just around the corner, or even inside ourselves.

20041128

Fergal Keane considers the tortured path that can lead people to a place of self-loathing and asks whether this might on occasion be a creative force.

20041205

Poet Professor Douglas Dunn teaches creative writing at St Andrew's University.

He wonders if imagination can be taught, and wishes he could get to his own shed at the bottom of his overgrown garden to write.

20050220

Take My Advice: Mark Tully reflects on the nature of advice - the needs and desires of those who seek it, and the wisdom and motives of those who give it.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

20050320

On the Road Again

Fergal Keane considers the compulsion some people have to travel, and wonders if it's the journey that's important or if there has to be a goal at the end of the road.

20050508

Mark Tully explores what the French philosopher Jacques Derrida called the return of the religious.

In conversation with Alister McGrath, author of The Twilight of Atheism, he considers the argument that science and secularism have not, after all, eliminated the sacred.

20050605

BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge explores the meaning of solidarity.

From the current fashion for coloured wrist bands, to the grass-roots activism which led to the collapse of Soviet Bloc communism, what circumstances give rise to such powerful expressions of human solidarity?

20050619

Mark Tully considers newly emerging ways of understanding and envisioning God.

As many of the old images and metaphors for God cease to carry convincing meaning, what new images are arising from the experience of individuals and the explorations of theologians?

20050807

Mark Tully considers the dignity that can be revealed in suffering, most recently witnessed in Pope John Paul II's last weeks.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

20050828

The Happiest Days of your Life: As a new academic year begins, Roshan Doug reflects on the lasting influence of school life.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

20050911

Weeping and Tears: 'Jesus wept' is the shortest verse in the Bible.

Mark Tully considers what happens when we cry: bitter tears, crocodile tears, tears of joy.

20050925

Kabbalah

Mark Tully explores the ancient, but also very contemporary, mystical Jewish Kabbalah tradition.

He consults Z'ev Ben Shimon Halevi, a renowned authority on the mysteries of Kabbalah, to explore its origins, principles and contemporary appeal.

20051016

Fergal Keane considers what the idea of 'village life' has come to mean in an age where it's no longer defined just by geography and rural associations, but by a sense of community, personal and spiritual identity.

With readings from the works of Edward Thomas, Patrick Kavanagh and Gillian Darley, and music by George Butterworth, Kate Rusby and Baaba Maal.

20051106

Mike Wooldridge reflects on the rich imagery of footprints.

How does something as mundane as a footprint come to carry such a weight of mystery and romance?

20051113

In conversation with retired Lieutenant General Satish Nambiar from the Indian Army, Mark Tully considers the borderline between fear and cowardice.

20051120

Mark Tully explores the experience of meditation and use of mantras.

What are the techniques and benefits of meditation, and why is there an enduring suspicion of the practice?

20051127

BBC World Affairs Correspondence Mike Wooldridge considers the miracle of human survival in extraordinary circumstances.

What conditions and traits ensure that some people survive where others, in the same circumstances, succumb?

20051204

Mark Tully talks to writer David Tacey about how best to read the spiritual signs of our times.

Where are the genuinely prophetic voices to be heard, and what are they saying?

20060122

Mark Tully explores the relationship between spirit and form.

20060212

Mike Wooldridge considers the idea that history is made in The Secret Lives of Individuals.

Is it true that individuals, acting out of private motivations, beliefs and convictions, affect the course of history more profoundly than governments, armies and public campaigns?

20060226

For the beginning of Lent, Mark Tully explores the meaning of feasting and fasting, and the relationship between them in the spiritual life.

In all cultures and all religions to feast is to celebrate and to fast is to purify, bringing mind and body into balance.

Why do these ancient traditions retain their relevance and appeal in a changing world?

20060402

Mike Wooldridge considers his life-long fascination with border places, from the parochial to the exotic, from the romantic to the treacherous.

In his work as an International Affairs Correspondent, he is constantly crossing borders and finds them to be places of risk, challenge and danger - but also allure, aspiration and sanctuary.

20060416

For Easter Day, Mark Tully considers whether the concept of 'enthusiasm' should be rehabilitated.

Literally meaning 'God-possessed', it was enthusiasm that carried the early disciples forward after Easter; and it is passionate enthusiasm that drives most artistic, social and scientific achievement.

Yet enthusiasm is a quality that has always given rise to ambivalence, cynicism and suspicion, with many spiritual writers wanting to distinguish enthusiasm from genuine inspiration.

20060604

Mark Tully considers mysticism for a new millennium.

The theologian Karl Rahner said that the Christian of the future, if he exists at all, will be a mystic.

What did he mean?

Is mysticism today the same or different than in the past, and is the contemporary pre-occupation with mysticism a cause, or an effect, of the so-called spirituality revolution?

20060917

Growing Old Wisely: As autumn approaches, Dr Tina Beattie considers the challenges and opportunities of ageing; especially in a culture that values youth and beauty.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

20061001

Musician and broadcaster Tom Robinson makes a guest appearance to present a programme that considers the 'atmospherics' that accompany our lives.

Starting from John Peel's stated preference for vinyl recordings, because 'vinyl, like life, has surface noise', Tom dives beneath the surface to a place on the brink of silence where meditation, recollection and prayer are more readily possible.

With readings from James Agee, Mother Teresa and Max Reich; poetry by Ts Eliot and Jorie Graham; and music by Brian Eno, Samuel Barber, Morton Feldman and Tom himself.

20061008

Mark Tully considers how hope and transformation can come from loss and grief.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

20061015

Ocean Deep: Rabbi Julia Neuberger explores the spiritual and practical elements of the ever-changing sea.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

20070107

Mark Tully talks to the Abbot of Worth, Father Christopher Jamison, about the hunger for sanctuary amid the challenges and business of modern life.

What help do the ancient monastic orders have to offer, and how can that help be accessed?

20070121

Mark Tully talks to an old friend, policeman and poet Keki N Daruwalla, about gifts and conditions necessary to develop wide-ranging talents and interests, and why it's important both for the individual and for society to resist the lure of over-specialisation.

20070204

Mark Tully talks to Hindu scholar Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad about the strengths and weaknesses of India's historical approach to its religious and cultural pluralism.

What can we learn from India's example of allowing space for many different religions and cultures to flourish?

20070218

Just before the start of Lent, Mark Tully asks 'are human beings basically good, or basically bad'? Taoism and Hinduism suggest we're basically good, but traditionally Christianity and Confucianism have said we're basically bad.

As traditional Christian teaching on original sin is being increasingly challenged, where does the truth lie?

20070311

Fruits of Failure

Mark Tully considers our current obsession with success at all costs and suggests there can be a genuine value in experiences of failure.

Is it true, as the columnist Jane Shilling has written, that a lack of modest failure is a grim preparation for life outside the walls of an educational institution?

20070408

Enduring

Life is sometimes described as an endurance test.

Mark Tully considers the qualities that help people survive its tribulations.

20070422

Lost and Found

Mark Tully considers the experience of losing and finding.

From the lost sheep and coins of scripture to Marlene Dietrich's earring, lost for over 70 years and found in a Blackpool pleasure park, why do we mind losing things so much?

20070527

Waiting in Emptiness

Mark Tully asks why emptiness is regarded as such a high ideal in the spiritual teachings of most of the world's great faiths when it is normally associated with feelings of hopelessness and despair.

20070624

Sent to Spy

Mark Tully explores the psychology of spying.

From the dark days of Cold War espionage to the reality of CCTV cameras on every corner, how are we affected by constant surveillance?

20070708

Mark Tully considers the spiritual dimensions of exercise and sport.

20070715

Little Angels Here Below

Writer and performer Judith French considers the ways of children and angels.

20070722

Good People, Be Civil

Mark Tully asks if it is true, as the Chief Rabbi has recently argued, that we have lost the culture of civility.

How can society survive without such virtues as courtesy, restraint and respect for others, and can those virtues be recovered once lost?

20070729

Madeleine Bunting explores our complex and contradictory relationship with the wild.

20070930

Mark Tully considers claims by scientists and climate change campaigners that we could be on the brink of a Sixth Extinction.

After five naturally occurring disasters in the life of the planet, do we now face a catastrophic and man-made sixth?

20071007

The Dance of Life

Felicity Finch reflects on childhood ballet lessons, adult salsa classes and observations of dance-like movement in everyday life through the writings of Isadora Duncan, Rudolph Laban, Gunter Grass and Gabrielle Roth.

She talks to retired priest Colin MacLean, who considers dance a form of prayer and intends to devote the rest of his life to dancing.

20071014

Mark Tully considers what theologian Paul Tillich called the 'lost dimension of depth' in contemporary life.

What is lost when we're consumed by trivia, and how can this loss be recovered?

20071021

Mark Tully considers why we all need second chances, why we should always be prepared to give them to others, and how one second opportunity can turn a whole life around.

20071028

Katy Radford considers how some people find the resources to survive trauma and escape being victims.

She talks to her own mother Inge about living with the knowledge that she, unlike many of her immediate family, escaped the Nazis.

Irish poet Paul Muldoon talks about the experiences of his country.

With readings from works by Benjamin Zephaniah, Bruce Chatwin and Cathy Stanton and music including Over the Rainbow sung by Israel Kamakawiwo Ole.

20071118

The New Freedom

Mark Tully discovers how networking can empower all of us to bring about change in the world.

20071125

Mark Tully explores the notion of a Cantus Firmus, the musical term translated by former Dean of Westminster Michael Mayne as the enduring melody of a life.

20080113

The Library of Secrets

American writer and broadcaster Dmae Roberts reflects on the enduring allure of secret places, the things one might keep there and the tension that can exist between the secret and the private.

With music by Philip Glass, Victoria Bergsman and Curtis Stigers and readings from works by Sylvia Plath, Lise See and Frances Hodgson Burnett.

20080120

The Good, the Bad and the Dirty

Mark Tully meditates on the realities, ironies and contradictions of our relationship with dirt.

Are our attitudes to dirt innate or culturally determined, and what is gained and what is lost when the battle against dirt is won?

20080323

In a special edition for Easter Day, Mark Tully talks to Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Laureate.

He talks about about the experiences, practices and convictions which have underpinned his vision and given him the strength to work undeterred to bring that vision into being.

20080406

Adjoa Andoh considers how the act of befriending someone in need can change lives.

20080608

Mike Wooldridge reflects on the intensity of the first hour or so after dawn: the hopes and fears, the opportunities and delights, the prayers and rituals of early morning across the globe.

20080831

Mike Wooldridge explores some of the complex and ultimately unanswerable questions about the nature of human perception in conversation with Raymond Tallis, Professor of Medicine, philosopher, poet and novelist.

To what extent do we all see things in the same way? Is it possible to see through another's eyes or to know what another person sees when we look at the same object, scene or action?

20080914

A Sense of Home

Poet Laureate Andrew Motion revisits Stisted, the village where he spent the first nineteen years of his life, and considers the complex feelings associated with a sense of home.

20080928

Freely Given

Mark Tully explores the notion of a gift culture.

How does a gift culture differ from a commodity culture and what are the intrinsic benefits of such a way of living? And is it true, as Lewis Hyde argues in The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World, that art is always gift, not commodity?

20081005

Tomorrow

Classicist Llewellyn Morgan explores how different attitudes towards tomorrow reflect the way in which we deal with our fear of the unknown.

With readings from Derek Mahon, Simonides and Graham Swift, and music by Vaughan Williams, Townes Van Zandt and Richard Strauss

20081012

Family Ties

Mark Tully reflects on how family relationships and responsibilities shift between the generations.

From becoming a parent to losing your parents, how do we experience these changes and what helps ensure that we manage them well?

20081019

Tradition and Reform

Mark Tully considers how tensions between traditionalists and reformers are played out in all the main faith traditions.

He talks to Rabbi Miriam Berger about a new, gender-inclusive, Jewish prayer book and hears how she hopes that the new prayers will allow people to reconsider their concept of God.

20081026

Because of the Fire

Jane Ray reflects on moments and chance encounters which can prove to be life changing, such as the fire at the Royal Marsden Hospital last year that brought together three of her own friends.

With readings from Ezra Pound, Thomas Hardy and Carol Ann Duffy and music by Debussy, REM and Tandie Klaasen.

20081102

Together Alone

The Scottish poet Kenneth Steven reflects on how solitude refreshes the human spirit.

20081109

That Hurts!

Madeleine Bunting explores the complex experience and language of pain.

She considers whether the experience of pain gives us a common language and means of connecting with others, or rather isolate us.

And, if it is impossible to measure pain, either physical or emotional, how do we decide whose pain is most deserving of attention?

20081116

Fullness of Life

Mark Tully talks to Abbot Christopher Jamison of Worth Abbey about his new book on happiness.

They discuss what wisdom the monastic tradition brings to the quest for happiness and fulfilment and what practical guidance it can offer.

20100905

Mark Tully talks to Anthony Seldon, about the loss of trust in public and private life.

Mark Tully talks to the Master of Wellington College, Anthony Seldon, about the loss of trust in public (and private) life.

Are we really less trusting than previous generations? What effect does this have on us as individuals and as a society?

And how a sense of trust can be restored?

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

20101010

Mark Tully looks at the art of parables and fables.

This week's programme celebrates the effectiveness of fables and asks why they are still considered such powerful teaching tools.

Most of the major faiths use stories to illustrate morals, philosophy or ideas.

Mark asks why is this perceived as such a good way of making religious or ethical points and how stories have become such a staple of great preaching for thousands of years.

He looks for the type of the great fable or parable and finds some teaching stories that have a lasting effect on the way we behave and why.

The programme draws on readings from The Bible, the Panchatantra and the novelists Javier Marios, George Orwell and Rabih Alahmeddine as well as poetry by Whitman and Herbert.

Music includes works by Mahler, Alfven and the Soweto String Quartet.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

20101024

Writer Vesna Goldsworthy asks how emigres and exiles find a voice in a foreign country.

In this week's Something Understood, Serbian writer Vesna Goldsworthy asks how emigres and exiles find their voices in a foreign country.

Vesna left her home in what was then Yugoslavia in the late 80s, following love to a rainy London.

She has lived in England ever since, but it took her many years to feel truly at home in the English language.

As a poet, she felt her dislocation from Eastern Europe to the UK meant she had lost her internal voice.

20101031

Mike Wooldridge explores the decision of the conscientious objector.

What drives the decision not to take up arms, often taken in the face of punishment, hostility and broken relationships?

He asks Oscar Wallis, a Quaker who refused to bear arms in the Second World War, and Charles Yeats, the first Anglican to refuse the call-up to the South African Defence Force, why they did what they did, and if they would do the same today?

Presented by Mike Wooldridge

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

20110306

Mark Tully considers Abraham's legacy for Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Mark Tully considers Abraham's legacy for Judaism, Islam and Christianity with the help of composer, Steve Reich and video artist, Beryl Korot.

Using excerpts from their composition, 'The Cave', Reich and Korot explore what Abraham means to modern day Israelis, Palestinians and Americans, and search for some kind of meaning that can cross political and religious divisions.

Choosing readings and music from the three traditions Mark Tully explores what is common to their tellings of the Abraham story and what is unique.

He asks whether there can be any relevance in the story for us, in our everyday lives and whether the trust and unquestioning faith that Abraham shows is always a good thing.

And finally, he considers whether Abraham really can unite people of different faiths, or, in the end, only stand as a symbol of difference.

Presented by: Mark Tully

Produced by: Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

20110327

'Trains are made for meditation' - Mark Tully celebrates the beauty of rail travel.

'Trains are made for meditation', John Betjeman wrote, celebrating slow travel back in 1940.

He was only one of many poets, writers and musicians who have found inspiration in rail travel.

Hypnotised by the rhythm of the train, they find a freedom to think and to dream, inspired by the unfolding landscape outside.

Mark Tully chooses the best train poetry and music and talks to the Chaplain of St Pancras Station, Jonathan Barker, about his work on the station.

With music by Glenn Miller, Anton Dvorak, Villa Lobos and Baron Samedi.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

20110403

Julie Shapiro reflects on the value of old-fashioned letter-writing.

American festival director and broadcaster Julie Shapiro began a long correspondence with her great aunt Lill following the death of Lill's husband fifteen years ago.

It lasted til Lill's own death seven years later.

These letters, read by Irma Kurtz, form the central part of a programme that examines the rituals, intimacies and sustaining qualities of old-fashioned letter-writing.

Julie also draws on 'wise words' to correspondents by Lewis Carroll, read by Jonathan Keeble, and 'audio postcards' from the author Rick Moody and the founder of analogue magazine The Radio Post, Simon Roche, and sets the entire programme to a soundtrack by the Canadian pianist Gonzales - a favourite choice of music to accompany letter-writing.

'Yours Truly' is at once a celebration of an art which technology is in danger of drowning out, a monument to a dearly beloved relative and a 'call to pens'.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

20110710

Mark Tully asks just how far we should go in support of our principles.

In 'A Matter of Principle', Mark Tully discusses just how far we should go to stand up for what we believe in.

Principles are usually, by definition, worth fighting for.

They are high-minded, honourable things and when people stand up for their principles, real, positive changes are often made.

Yet the risk of fighting for a principle can also be very great and can sometimes cause extraordinary pain without achieving anything at all.

In the company of Shami Chakrabarti, the Director of 'Liberty', Mark Tully examines this paradox and asks whether some principles should be more absolute than others.

The subject is illustrated with readings from the works of T.

E Lawrence, W.H.

Auden, Jackie Kay and Claude McKay and with music from Bob Marley, Joan Baez and Mikis Theodorakis.

The readers are Alistair McGowan and Adjoa Andoh.

Producer: Frank Stirling

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

20120812

Most of us like a practical joke, but can it do us good while it's making us laugh? In the week of the Festival of Janasthami, celebrating the birth of Krishna, the Hindu Deity known amongst other things for his practical jokes, Mark Tully discusses the spirituality of the Prankster.

Like it or not, practical jokes and pranks play an intrinsic and important part of life. And our reactions to them can be revealing. A joke played and taken in good part can be an affirmation of friendship. Many initiation rites have pranks at their core. Some religious teachers have used them to make a memorable point.

Yet a delicate balance has to be struck. There must be countless examples of pranks tipping over into cruelty, or friendships being ruined by a misplaced trick. At the same time we can delight in being the butt of an inventive prank and we certainly love to see them played on others.

With the help of Professor Dacher Keltner a psychologist from University College, Berkeley and with music from Dudley Moore, Haydn and the musical "Matilda", Mark Tully investigates the cultural importance of joke playing.

The readers are Helen Ryan and Kenneth Cranham.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Mark Tully asks whether the best practical jokes can serve a social or religious purpose.

A Chain Of Voices20050213

Storyteller Hugh Lupton believes when he tells a story, the person who told it to him is standing behind him like a ghost.

A Cloud Of Unknowing20030803

Mark Tully considers the way clouds affect our lives - from mirrors of mood to harbingers of life itself.

A Fault Confessed20060319

Mark Tully explores the theme of confession in spiritual and secular life.

The practice of formal confession to a priest has declined dramatically in recent years, but some people still find relief and healing in the act of confession.

Has confession, now with a new emphasis on reconciliation, shaken off its reputation for fostering guilt and neurosis and become an effective form of therapy?

A Good Judge20090621

Mark Tully explores how we judge another person's character.

It has been estimated that up to a third of our judgments about other people's characters are wrong, yet many of us pride ourselves on being 'good judges' of character.

On what clues do we base our assessments, why are we so often mistaken and can we learn to read the clues more accurately?

A Hundred Years A Forest:20050410

Writer and story teller, Vayu Naidu, reflects on spring, fertility and the natural cycles of our changing bodies.

A Language That Speaks The Truth20110918

Reflections on language and truth by the late Studs Terkel.

Studs Terkel, the celebrated American broadcaster and oral historian, had, in his own words, a big mouth that regularly landed him in trouble.

But he also passionately cared about politics, social justice, art and culture - and in particular, the way we use language to articulate our ideas about ourselves.

In this special edition of Something Understood, we hear Studs speaking shortly before his death in 2008 intertwined with readings from authors he knew and admired - among them, Bertrand Russell and James Cameron - and music by those he held in highest esteem, including Mozart and Mahalia Jackson.

Produced by Eleanor McDowall and Alan Hall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

A Mirror For The Soul20091129

Mike Wooldridge considers the Sufi tradition - its history, beliefs and practices.

Mike Wooldridge considers the Sufi tradition - its history, beliefs and practices and the mystical experience that lies at its very heart.

The readers are Janice Acquah, Nicholas Boulton and Frank Stirling.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

A Pearl Of Great Price20031214

Joan Bakewell considers gemstones and jewels and analyses the beauty, value and enduring symbolic power of diamonds, pearls and rubies.

A Perfect Pleasure:20060514

Mark Tully explores the double-edged nature of pleasure.

Is pleasure, as Epicurus suggested, the beginning and the end of living happily? [Rpt of today 6.05am]

A Perfect Pleasure: Mark Tully explores the double-edged nature of pleasure.

Is pleasure, as Epicurus suggested, the beginning and the end of living happily?

A Place Within20070225

With Fergal Keane

A Poet's Inspiration:20030406

Asian Poet Laureate Roshan Doug looks at how poets find their inspiration and explores the many connections between inspiration and religious belief.

A Precious Commodity20090927

Fergal Keane discovers that silence means much more than the mere absence of noise.

Silence is something many of us crave in a world full of clamour, but, as Fergal Keane discovers, it means much more than the mere absence of noise.

The readers are Ian Masters and Liza Sadovy.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

A Room Of One's Own20041219

Mark Tully considers the importance of having one's own personal space - physical, mental and spiritual.

A Sense Of Failure20120930

Writer Ian Sansom reflects upon the sense of failure that can accompany human endeavour.

The author Ian Sansom reflects on why it is that some of the most successful people are haunted by a sense of failure and considers his own experience as a writer - a profession that thrives on failure with literature 'emerging magnificently from error and untruths'.

With reference to the writings of Paul Auster, William James and Wallace Stevens, and music by Leos Janacek, Warren Zevon and the Waterboys,

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

A Short Madness20100822

Fergal Keane reflects on the destructive and constructive power of anger.

Fergal Keane reflects on the value of anger.

Is it a force for energy? The inspiration of great art and literature? Or the cause of destructive behaviour?

With readings from Liza Sadovy and Joseph Kloska.

Producer: Ronnie Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

A Spirit Of Adventure20110904

Mark Tully examines the dangers and benefits of having an adventurous spirit.

When we are children we love adventure stories.

As we get older some of us worry about doing anything risky.

Others crave taking bigger risks - explorers, climbers, war correspondents, sportsmen and women - many get addicted to the heightened reality of the adrenaline rush.

Is there a mean line to be struck? What motivates adventurers?

Mark Tully asks what the spiritual benefits of adventuring might be with the help of Ranulph Fiennes, Thor Heyerdahl and Lewis Carroll.

Music is provided by Danny Elfman, John Adams, Elgar and Sibelius.

The readers are Adjoa Andoh and Alistair McGowan.

Producer: Frank Stirling

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

A Spiritual Society20111120

Mark Tully discusses spirituality as a positive force in a contemporary global society.

Mark Tully explores what we mean by 'spirituality' and with the help of Professor Ursula King, author of The Search for Spirituality, he considers whether a spiritual life can transcend the purely individualistic and become a force for social good.

In 'A Spiritual Society' Mark draws on music by Gustav Holst, Carlos Santana and Neil Young, and readings by Dorothy L.

Sayers, Denise Levertov and David Scott.

The readers are Samantha Bond and Jack Shepherd.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

A Sympathy In Choice20100530

Mark Tully asks what triggers our sympathy.

Mark Tully asks what triggers our sympathy, especially for someone we've previously ignored or despised.

What happens when our heart is turned, in a moment, from indifference to compassion?

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

A Taste For The Big Apple20110911

Ten years since 9/11, Irma Kurtz shares her memories of living in New York City.

On this tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centre, the veteran writer and broadcaster Irma Kurtz shares her memories of living in New York City in "A Taste For The Big Apple".

These include sleeping under newspapers in Washington Square Park and frequenting the famous 'White Horse Tavern' on Hudson Street where Dylan Thomas drank, James Baldwin worked behind the bar and the Beat poets dropped in.

Her final memories on the programme concern the events of 9/11.

On that day she was staying with her mother in New Jersey, idly watching the television when in front of their eyes the towers shook and crumbled, billows of smoke unrolled against the sky and they saw the silhouette of a man falling from the top of the towers.

A terrible silence ensued as the traffic in the surrounding streets stopped.

When public transport was reinstated she caught the train to Manhattan and found streets full of smoke and dust and poignant messages pinned on public walls: "Have you any information, please...?" Then she saw a man selling t-shirts printed "I survived 9/11" and youths breakdancing in Herald Square and thought that despite the worst that could be thrown at it, New York was still alive and kicking.

The programme includes writing by Allen Ginsberg, Dorothy Parker, Harvey Shapiro and Damon Runyon.

The readers are Kim Cattrall and Peter Marinker and the producer is Ronni Davis.

Producer: Ronni Davis

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

A Very Special Relationship20050417

Michelene Wandor draws on her own experience to consider the role of grandparents.

A Very Special Relationship: Michelene Wandor draws on her own experience to consider the role of grandparents.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

Achilles Heel20041010

Mark Tully considers the ways in which we acknowledge and deal with the flaws and weaknesses of our own character.

After The Wave20050206

Six weeks on from the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Mike Wooldridge reflects on the questions we should be asking in the wake of such disasters.

After You're Gone20060305

Every one of us will at some time feel the pain of losing a loved one.

But is there any 'best' way to deal with this experience of loss? Fergal Keane hosts.

Ageing Well20080720

Mark Tully considers the wisdom that comes with age, and talks to Sr Pia Buxton CJ about the spirituality of ageing.

How can we grow old gracefully and positively in our youth-obsessed and careless culture?

All The Mornings Of The World20051225

Fergal Keane examines the spirit and joy of Christmas morning.

All The Rage20080622

Mark Tully asks why are so many of us so angry all the time.

Are the roots of anger spiritual or economic and how can it be reined in or even re-channelled for good?

Always The Last To Be Picked20120408

Mark Tully considers the enduring effects that being chosen last can have on us.

Mark Tully considers the enduring effects that being chosen last can have on us and asks whether the negative aspects of competition might out-way the positive.

We often think of those who get picked first as the winners, or the best. But Mark Tully chooses to focus instead on those who are left until the end, whose self-confidence is jeopardised in the name of sport, and in many other areas of our lives.

He also questions the underlying notion that our very existence depends on 'survival of the fittest', a phrase that is often used to justify ruthless competition and the rejection of 'losers'. He discovers that the term originally referred to the survival of species that can best fit their environment, often by cooperation rather than aggression.

So is society better for being competitive, or would life improve for everyone if the pressure to be the best was abandoned? And will the last ever be the first?

The readers are Emily Raymond, David Holt, Adam Fowler and Frank Stirling.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Ambition20080803

Mark Tully asks how ambitious we should be and whether ambition can be detrimental to spiritual growth.

In fields such as politics, can too much ambition be dangerous?

An Opinion Of Dignity20091122

Mark Tully explores the meaning of dignity.

For some, dignity is an innate and noble quality of humanity, for others it is a meaningless notion, and for Dr Johnson it is a complicating factor in human relationships.

The readers are Janice Acquah and Nicholas Boulton.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

An Unexamined Life20020922

`An Unexamined Life'.

Mark Tully considers Plato's assertion that `the life which is not examined is not worth living'.

Animals20110807

Mark Tully explores our relationship with animals, with Jane Goodall.

Mark Tully explores our relationship with animals.

He talks to Jane Goodall, who has spent her life living among chimpanzees, about how apes have changed her way of thinking.

With readings by Jenny Diski, David Constantine, Alexander Pope and Jeremy Bentham, and music by John Tavener, Joseph Haydn and St Francis of Assisi.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

Another Brick In The Wall20021208

Joan Bakewell explores the symbolism of the wall, a barrier which encloses, protects and segregates but sometimes crumbles and falls.

Aphorisms Of Love20030427

Mark Tully talks to an old friend and Indiaphile, Lance Dane, about his lavish new version of the ancient Hindu text, the Kama Sutra.

Together they explore the deep relationship between the sensual and the sacred: a relationship that has been gloriously celebrated in many Eastern religious traditions and almost completely denied in most strands of Christianity.

Apocalypse Now?20100829

Mark Tully reflects on reasons behind the current raft of films with apocalyptic themes.

Mark Tully reflects on the reasons behind the current raft of films with apocalyptic themes.

Why has every age and every culture created myths of catastrophe and destruction? What function do these myths perform?

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Art Of Prediction20110619

Mark Tully polishes his crystal ball and ponders the value of prediction.

Mark Tully polishes his crystal ball and, with the help of prophets ancient and modern, ponders the value of prediction.

Should we be grateful to those who can see the follies of our ways while we are in the thick of them? And should we be more prepared to listen to their foretellings, even if the news is bad.

In an interview for the programme, Julius Lipner, Professor of Hinduism and the Comparative Study of Religion at Cambridge University, explains the prophetic aspects of Hinduism, where the actions of this life can influence the next.

He is sceptical about some of the devices used by soothsayers to ensure that what they say can be interpreted as correct, whatever actually happens.

He has some sympathy, though, for those who make predictions and expose themselves to our tendency to 'shoot the messenger' if we don't like the message.

Tully, himself, wonders briefly if there is any point in trying to prophesize what is ahead:'To those who will be alive in the future, our present, and its prophecies will be irrelevant, as they look to their futures.' But, in the end, he comes down very much in favour of contemplating the future consequences of our current actions.

It's unlikely, though, that all our predictions will be as prescient as Friar Roger in the 13th century, quoted in the programme as foreseeing, 'optical instruments, mechanically propelled boats and flying machines'.

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

As One Who Serves20050327

Mark Tully considers images of service and servanthood.

Jesus described himself as coming as one who serves and this is a constant theme in many of the world?s major faiths.

But are all attempts to understand ourselves as servants doomed to end in either pride or self-pity?

As You Have Lived20090308

Mark Tully explores how the way we live our lives reveals our most powerful beliefs.

Mark Tully explores how the way we choose to live our lives reveals our most powerful beliefs and motivations, whether we are conscious of them or not.

What happens when our deepest beliefs and motivations prove to be at odds with those we profess?

At The End Of The Year20081228

Mark Tully draws on the ancient prayer tradition of the Examen to look back on the year.

At the End of the Year: Mark Tully draws on the ancient prayer tradition of the Examen, a night-time reflection on the events of the day in order to achieve understanding, forgiveness and to express gratitude.

He looks back on the old year and looks forward to the new, guided by the wisdom of the Examen.

Atonement20050227

Mark Tully considers new thinking on the doctrine of the Atonement.

As increasing numbers of people, both inside and outside the church, are repelled by the sense of violent retribution underlying traditional understandings of the death of Christ on the Cross, does the work of philosopher René Girard offer a credible alternative?

Attitude Problem20100418

Mark Tully considers the impact of our mental attitude on situations, events and objects.

Mark Tully consider the impact of our mental attitude on situations, events and objects.

The power of positive thinking has been drummed into us in recent years, but has the backlash begun?

The producer is Eley McAinsh, and this is a Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Be The Change!20060101

Mark Tully considers Mahatma Gandhi's instruction: 'You must be the change you wish to see in the world'.

What sort of change should we aspire to, how do we go about it, and what sort of difference can we make?

Behaving Virtually20090315

Mike Wooldridge considers the questions raised by the expansion of the digital world.

Mike Wooldridge considers some of the questions raised by the expansion of the digital world.

Is it possible to say what is real and what is virtual, or where the line between them lies? Are online communities and relationships 'real', does anonymity make us more or less our real selves in the digital world and is there any room for the spiritual in the virtual?

Being Good20120708

Do we consider a moral life an achievement? Mark Tully explores the value of 'being good'.

Some recent studies have shown that modern obituaries are unlikely to comment on a person's goodness. The phrase, "she or he was a good man or a good woman" is found less often than it used to be. In an edition of Something Understood called 'Being Good', Mark Tully considers why this should be so. Does it mean that we are no longer concerned about personal goodness and, if so, what are we concerned about when we judge a person's achievements in life? Do we undervalue the idea of being good? And is goodness enough on its own? Nelson Mandela has said, "A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special." This programme explores the values of a moral approach to life and the importance of valuing the good in others.

Mark draws on the expertise of Professor Simon Blackburn, Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, and author of the ethical study "Being Good". The programme is also illustrated by readings from the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, E.V. Lucas and Yi Fu Tuan with music ranging from Edward Elgar and Wladislaw Szpilman to the Canadian band Emerson Drive.

The Readers are Philip Franks and Grainne Keenan.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Being Mum20080302

On this Mothering Sunday, Fergal Keane considers some of the aspects of being a good mother.

Believing Otherwise20040919

Mark Tully explores the nature of Heresy, in the light of the Church of England's recent, very close, decision not to re-introduce heresy trials for wayward clergy.

Who are the heretics and what motivates them, and why do so many feel compelled to control and persecute those who, in the words of Hans Küng, 'believe otherwise' than themselves?

Better To Light A Candle20071202

Rabbi Julia Neuberger explores the symbolism of candles at this time of year.

Birth20081221

Poet laureate Andrew Motion considers perceptions of birth.

At the time of the year when we celebrate the most famous of all nativities, poet laureate Andrew Motion considers perceptions of birth.

Bitterness And Balm20050918

Mark Tully contemplates the corrosive effects of bitterness on a life, and those things which offer balm for that pain and open up a future and a hope beyond the bitterness.

Blame It On The Universe20100919

Mark Tully wonders why so many people now talk about The Universe rather than God.

Mark Tully wonders why so many people now talk about The Universe where they would once have spoken about God.

Why is The Universe a more helpful and meaningful concept for some than 'God', when they are seeking guidance, confirmation and blessing.

Where has the expression come from, and what does it actually mean?

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Born Lucky20091227

Mark Tully explores how the circumstances of our birth affect the course of our lives.

Mark Tully explores how the circumstances of our birth - year, era, parents, birth order, star sign, religion - shape our personalities and affect the course of our lives.

The readers are Janice Acquah, Nicholas Boulton and Frank Stirling.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Breathe Easy20100214

The power of the breath as the source of our physical, mental and spiritual health.

Mark Tully explores the power of the breath as the source of our physical, mental and spiritual health.

The readers are Janice Acquah, Frank Stirling and David Westhead.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Buddha20020707

Mark Tully goes in search of the Buddha - who is he and what is his legacy to the modern world?

Building Bridges20091101

Writer Christie Dickason considers the physical and metaphorical significance of bridges.

Writer Christie Dickason considers the physical and metaphorical significance of bridges - connecting peoples, cultures and countries, but also underlining differences.

She talks to violinist Ruth Waterman about the famous bridge of Mostar in Bosnia, and draws upon the poetry of Emily Dickinson and music by Bobbie Gentry and Mozart.

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Building Soul20041212

BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge considers the spirituality of architecture and how a building acquires a sense of soul.

Buying And Selling20090705

Mark Tully examines the relationship between buyer and seller.

Mark Tully examines the troubled relationship between buyer and seller, talking to business guru Charles Handy.

Featuring music by Henry Purcell and Memphis Minnie and commentary from Martin Amis and Montaigne.

By Their Fruits20040801

On the ancient festival of Lughnasadh, or Lammas, Mark Tully asks how we distinguish between true and false, healthy and unhealthy spiritualities.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

Called To Account20060521

Mark Tully considers the impact of globalisation on our attitudes and responses to the disadvantaged within and beyond our own communities.

Is it true, as has been claimed, that in the wake of the Make Poverty History campaign we are, more than ever before, being called to account?

Candles And Curses:20031228

For the last Sunday of 2003, Mark Tully reflects on the saying ""better to light a candle than to curse the darkness"", in conversation with Terry Waite.

Can't Get No Satisfaction20021201

At a time when all indicators suggest that we have never had it so good, Mark Tully asks why there appears to be a growing sense of dissatisfaction.

Care Not Cure20060507

Mark Tully explores the intimate relationship between 'care' and 'cure' that lies at the heart of the hospice movement.

He talks to Harmala Gupta, one of the founders of Delhi's first home-based palliative care service, and discovers that even when the medical prognosis is bleak, with compassionate, sensitive care many patients experience profound levels of healing in their inner lives and in their relationships.

Careless Words20050710

Rosemary Hartill considers the complex relationship between openness and confidentiality.

Careless words can indeed cost lives, or at the very least deeply hurt and cause a sense of betrayal.

But secrecy can be manipulative and repressive.

How do we get the balance right in our private and public lives?

Carried On The Wind20060910

Storyteller Pamela Marre reflects on the invisible power of the wind, drawing on ancient tales which advise us not to fight it.

Carried On The Wind20070909

Storyteller Pamela Marre reflects on the invisible power of the wind, drawing on ancient tales which advise us not to fight it, but instead to bend and remain unbroken.

Cats20121007

Mark Tully investigates the mysterious relationship between mankind and the cat.

Our relationship with the cat is a fascinating and contradictory one. Ancient cultures revered and sometimes worshipped them. Cats have at times been companions to holy men in many of the great faiths and exterminated at others. They are loyal friends and implacable enemies.

Mark Tully asks what it is that makes our relationship with one of our oldest pets so contradictory. He talks to art historian and journalist Caroline Bugler about the intriguing ways cats have been depicted in sacred art and draws on music by Rossini, Scarlatti and Peggy Lee and the writings of Doris Lessing, P.G. Wodehouse and Diodorus of Sicily.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Celtic Benediction20030817

Mark Tully considers the latest developments in our understanding of Celtic spirituality.

What is the reality beneath popular and romantic perceptions of this tradition, and what is its gift to our third millennium world?

Challenging Your Instincts20120304

Mark Tully wonders what might happen if we challenge our instinctive fears and prejudices.

Mark Tully wonders what might happen if we challenge our instinctive fears and prejudices. Some instincts can protect us but others can act as barriers in our lives.

Mark looks at instincts like fear, disgust, hatred and revenge and considers how overcoming them can have positive results.

The programme features examples of people who have gone against the instinct to hate: the white judge in the Southern States of America who, in times of segregation, risked his life to defend Negroes; and the Croatian poet who writes of the need to love our enemies, despite what they have done in the past and continue to do now. In her words: 'only love such as this can save the world... make life come out of death'.

The readers are Samantha Bond and Peter Guinness.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Chance Of A Lifetime20031207

Have we control over our destiny or is our life's journey due to coincidence, error or happy accident? Michelene Wander reflects on the effects of chance.

Charged With Meaning20060219

Mark Tully considers the perennial human quest for meaning, and explores the difference between meaning and explanation.

Charm20090614

Mark Tully investigates the danger and usefulness of charm, with guest Tony Benn

One such example was when film director Michael Korda was cornered by furious investors, wanting to know what had happened to their money.

He would stare at their feet, riveted.

'What simply marvellous shoes,' he would remark - thus defusing the confrontation, and escaping unscathed.

With music from Handel, Gluck and Gerard Souzay and readings from Milton, Plutarch and The Last King of Scotland.

Chasing The Warm Rainbow20020714

`Chasing the Warm Rainbow'.

Fergal Keane reflects on the effect of alcohol on creativity and the human spirit.

Childhood Innocence20101226

Jonathan Charles considers the innocence of children.

Jonathan Charles considers the innocence of children and reflects on the charm of those adults who still retain something of the child within.

Producer: Ronni Davies

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Choosing To Care20110828

Mark Tully discusses the choices facing voluntary carers and those for whom they care.

The choice to care or be cared for is one that faces over half of us and some stage in our lives.

Mark Tully presents an edition of Something Understood to explore that choice and to discuss the emotional, practical and spiritual costs and rewards of caring and being cared for.

He examines the benefits and the responsibilities felt within such relationships in the company of Jean and Geoffrey Almond, a couple living with the consequences of Multiple Sclerosis, and with poetry by a variety of carers as well as music from Shostakovich, Elmer Bernstein and folk-singer Kate Rusby.

The readers are Kenneth Cranham and Isla Blair

The producer is Frank Stirling

A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.

Clowns, Jesters And Fools20030105

Mark Tully celebrates the role of clowns and jesters and considers their purpose and significance.

Colours Of Religion20110410

Mark Tully attends Holi, and asks what is the religious significance of colour.

Mark Tully attends the Hindu festival of Holi in Delhi, gets covered with dye, and asks what is the significance of colour, in religion and in spring festivals.

Recorded partly on location in Mark Tully's home town of Delhi, this programme charts the run up to the festival, with the singing of traditional songs, and the lighting of bonfires.

On the special day itself, coloured dyes and waters are thrown as the city erupts in an explosion of colour, noise and sometimes lusty humour.

Speaking to locals and visitors alike, Tully gets a sense of the importance of colour to this festival, his city and to Hinduism.

Looking to other traditions he asks what different colours mean to different faiths.

And as the rumbustiousness of Holi subsides, Tully is left to consider what parallels he can find in western festivals, music and writing, which might first appear more solemn, but can have their own undercurrents of bawdiness and abandon.

Presented by Mark Tully

Produced by Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Committees20080525

Are committees good or bad for us? Mark Tully asks whether they are an efficient way of making decisions or an excuse for postponing or avoiding difficult problems.

Compassion20060723

Fergal Keane considers the idea of compassion as found in the roots of the great religions, and as experienced in the modern world.

Compassion20110925

Fergal Keane considers the virtue of compassion.

Fergal Keane reflects on the vital human instinct of compassion and how it benefits us as individuals to be compassionate.

He considers how, when faced with evil, a sense of justice can interfere with compassion.

He concludes that although there are times when compassion might overwhelm critical reasoning and propel us into disaster, it can also move us to mercy and the healing of wounds.

To illustrate his argument Fergal Keane draws on the writing of Bernard Schlink and Cormac McCarthy, the poetry of Elizabeth Jennings and Michael Longley, and the music of Leonard Cohen and Morten Lauridsen.

The readers are Liza Sadovy and Patrick Drury.

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Cricket20090802

Mark Tully celebrates cricket as a symbol of an ideal society.

Mark Tully celebrates cricket as a symbol of an ideal society, with historian Ramanchandra Guha.

Crises And Opportunities20040613

Mike Wooldridge considers what it means to confront the onset of disability and the limitations and deteriorations of old age.

What struggles do we have - mentally, physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually - to turn health crises into

opportunities for creativity, renewal and service?

Dark Sanctuary20090628

Fergal Keane explores the physical and fairytale world created by the forest.

Darkness20120520

Poet Stewart Henderson celebrates true darkness, now absent from much of the modern world.

In Something Understood this week, poet and broadcaster Stewart Henderson celebrates the power of true darkness. With streetlamps dominating our modern industrialised world, few people in Britain now have the chance to experience real darkness, but Stewart believes it can have a transformative effect.

Some people fear darkness, others find it disorienting and confusing. These days, we fill our world with electric light and it's only in the deepest countryside that we find true darkness. Yet when we do immerse ourselves in the dark, it can bring another form of illumination, heightening our physical senses and our sense of self. Our surroundings take on new meaning and significance. And the darkness can be inspirational - as Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo in 1888, 'I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day'. Other readings come from astronauts, scientists and pilots, all of whom have embraced the dark and found riches and depth within it.

Stewart speaks to Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. As a child he was fascinated by the natural world, and now his job is to explain the latest discoveries in space to the public. Darkness is essential to Marek's work, but it also has a spiritual dimension for him. As someone who seeks out dark places from which to see the stars, he regrets the light pollution which is driving true darkness out of many places. Marek is a supporter of the International Dark Sky Association which aims to identify and protect those places which still enjoy truly dark skies. Without darkness to heighten our awareness, are we left with a loss of inner sight?

Producer: Jo Coombs

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Dawn20111030

Mark Tully examines the psychological and spiritual significance of dawn.

Millions of Hindus start their day by greeting the sun with a Yoga practice known as Surya Namaskar.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims start their day at dawn.

In Japan Shinto believers bow before the rising sun and clap to get the sun goddess' attention, so that she will dispel evil.

St.

Benedict, the father of Western Christian Monasticism, ordained that monks should say the office of Matins.

Yet not all of us are good in the morning.

Notwithstanding it is difficult to ignore the mystical resonance of the sunrise.

With the help of Henry David Thoreau, Vachel Lindsay and Brendan Kennelly and with music from Carl Nielsen, Bruce Cockburn and Ortolino Respighi, Mark Tully explores the psychological and spiritual significance of this particular time of day.

The readers are Hattie Morahan and Dan Stevens.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Days Of Empire20030713

Mark Tully continues his exploration of the meaning and legacy of Empire.

On location at the new British Empire And Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, he considers the story of Empire: a story which continues to stir the mood, and conscience, of contemporary Britain.

Days Of Empire:20030706

In the first of two programmes recorded at the British Empire And Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, Mark Tully explores the concept of Empire with Gareth Griffiths.

Deadlier Than The Male:20060430

Writer and broadcaster Shazia Khan considers the allure and power of female beauty and explores the place of modesty in religion.

Deeds Not Dared20030504

Mark Tully draws on a line from poet Elizabeth Jennings, to begin his exploration of our fear of giving up our securities.

In Ghosts, Jennings wrote: "The deeds we dared not act they flaunt." Why do we allow such fear, such lack of daring, to stop us living life more fully and moving forward into a more creative future?

Deeper Than Desire20080309

Mark Tully considers the human experience of longing.

Einstein wrote that feeling and longing are the motive forces behind all human endeavour and human creations, but what is longing? Where does it come from, how is it different from other human desires, and can it ever be satisfied?

Degree Of Remoteness2003022320030301

Indian-born Birmingham poet Roshan Doug explores his own journey to define his cultural identity through poetry, prose and music.

Delete! Delete!20050116

Mark Tully asks whether anything is ever truly deleted from the universe.

Is the difficulty of deleting incriminating evidence from a computer hard-drive a metaphor for the nature of creation?

Diamonds And Coal20110626

Llewelyn Morgan examines the ambiguous nature of diamonds.

In this week's Something Understood, Llewelyn Morgan considers how the diamond, a beautiful yet tarnished jewel, is capable of provoking complex responses within us.

With readings from Christina Rosetti, Marco Polo and William Pitt, music from Joan Baez, Bela Bartok and Joni Mitchell, and an interview with bookseller Farrukh Hussain, he examines how this precious stone can bring out the best and worst in us.

Producer: Katie Burningham

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Discernment20050102

Rosemary Hartill considers how we can make the best decisions about our lives, actions and relationships.

Divine Comedy20060618

God, it's generally presumed, is no laughing matter.

Writer and performer Judith French considers the link between God and comedy.

Divine Comedy: God, it's generally presumed, is no laughing matter.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

Doubting Thomas20060813

In conversation with Canon John Shepherd, Mark Tully considers the doubt in people's faith, from Thomas to Jesus himself.

Downsizing20080615

How easy is it to make do with less? Mark Tully considers how we deal with enforced downsizing through financial necessity.

Should we all consume less for the common good, as Gandhi did?

Drawing The Sting20040718

Rosemary Hartill considers those moments of choice when it's possible to alter the course of difficult situations or encounters by a shift in mental attitude.

Drawing on personal experience and professional insights from her work in both journalism and conflict resolution, she looks for those behaviours, attitudes and techniques which can bring creative outcomes to tense, even dangerous, situations.

Drudgery Divine20100228

Scholar and priest Teresa Morgan explores some of the many ways in which we see work.

Dust Yourself Off20070304

Food writer Marguerite Patten, now in her nineties, looks back on a lifetime of love and loss.

She reflects on her wartime experiences as a home economist, the deaths of her parents, her marriage of over five decades and her abiding passion for nature.

Marguerite draws upon the writings of AE Housman, Victoria Hislop and RD Blackmore and music by Puccini, Ivor Gurney and the Japanese traditional melody Sakura (Cherry Blossom).

East/west20080824

BBC Foreign Correspondent Jonathan Charles, who has spent the past two decades journeying to some of the most far-flung parts of the world, reflects on whether travel really does broaden the mind.

Elegy For New Orleans20051002

As the full significance of the tragedy that has befallen New Orleans finds expression, Fergal Keane considers what the city has represented culturally and spiritually.

With extracts from some of the city's writers, including John Kennedy O'Toole, Kate Chopin and Richard Ford and music by some of New Orleans' finest sons - among them, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Wynton Marsalis.

Emerging From The Ruins20070610

Mark Tully considers life after downfall, personal, emotional or financial.

Including a conversation with Jonathan Aitken

Encountering The Desert20050403

BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge considers how an encounter with the desert impacts on the human spirit.

Enduring Love20070429

How does the love between two people survive the disappointments, betrayals and routine of everyday life? With poetry, prose and music, Fergal Keane reflects on what makes a lasting relationship.

Entitlement20090510

Mark Tully explores the complex relationship between entitlement and rights.

Mark Tully explores the complex relationship between a sense of entitlement and the claiming of rights.

What is the difference between entitlements and rights and why is a sense of entitlement so closely related to privilege?

Everything Has Its Place20110424

Felicity Finch reflects on how much we feel the need for order in our lives.

The pursuit of coherence in our lives is often mirrored in the orderly way in which we manage the clutter of our physical environment.

In 'Everything Has Its Place' Felicity Finch reflects on how we express this desire for neatness and order.

Referring to words and music from Carol Shields, Robert Herrick and Daniel Abse, Radiohead, Mozart and Jacques Brel, and in conversation with actress Souad Faress, Felicity explores the comfort we draw from the arrangement of the objects with which we surround ourselves, the chaos thrust upon us by nature and the desire for freedom from the rigidity and limitations that order can sometimes impose.

With readings by Emma Fielding and Jonathan Keeble.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Everything In The Garden20100606

The journalist Madeleine Bunting reflects on the appeal of gardens and gardening.

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Everything Is Music20120422

Teresa Morgan explores how music runs like a thread through our lives.

Scholar and priest Teresa Morgan examines why music is so often used to communicate the nature of our existence - from the Big Bang to the human genome. With readings from Oliver Sacks, C.S. Lewis and Milan Kundera and music from Beethoven, Olivier Messiaen and Aaron Copland.

Producer: Eleanor McDowall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Expanding God20060827

Mike Wooldridge explores how our expanding knowledge of the cosmos challenges us to expand our vision of God.

He talks to Prof Keith Ward, who believes that we must rethink much of our imagery of creation and of Heaven.

There may be millions of years of evolution still to come, he suggests, and God's plan for intelligent life may hardly have begun.

Expanding God20070826

Mike Wooldridge explores how our expanding knowledge of the cosmos challenges us to expand our vision of God.

He talks to Prof Keith Ward who believes that we must rethink much of our imagery of creation and of heaven.

There may be millions of years of evolution still to come, he suggests, and God's plan for intelligent life may hardly have begun.

Exploring Our Own Amazement20040704

In Something Understood this week Mark Tully talks to poetry publisher Michael Schmidt about the relationship - both explicit and implicit - between poetry and spirituality.

Is there a link between our growing appetite for poetry and the wide-spread, well-documented exploration of all facets and dimensions of spiritual experience?

Faith On The Frontline20110605

Jo Fidgen considers the challenges faced by soldiers with religious faith in wartime.

The journalist Jo Fidgen examines how religious belief can be both diminished and strengthened during service on the frontline.

She talks with Padre Simon Rose of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment about his experiences in Afghanistan and with Brian Turner, the American poet who served in Iraq.

And she also draws upon the writings of soldiers who saw action in the First World War, including the Padre Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, and Vietnam (the poet Yusef Komunyakaa).

With music by Bobby McFerrin, Sheryl Crow, Ivor Gurney and Penderecki.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Faithful Cities20061112

Mike Wooldridge explores how the religious landscape of the world's cities has been transformed since the publication of Faith in the City 20 years ago, and how frequently initiatives inspired by religion offer hope amidst the stress, squalor and degradation of urban life.

Familiarity Breeds Content20120902

Mark Tully challenges the popular wisdom that familiarity breeds contempt.

Familiarity plays an important part in life. Familiar people, familiar places, familiar objects can provide us with security, strength and comfort. Why is it then that the most common phrase that we associate with the word familiarity is that it breeds contempt? Mark Tully asks whether it is actually more likely to be a source of happiness and investigates the paradox that causes this common source of contentment to be so frequently overlooked. With music by Lyle Lovett and Sir Henry Wood and with readings from Katherine Mansfield and U. A. Fanthorpe, he celebrates the pleasures of the familiar.

The readers are Philip Franks and Grainne Keenan.

Produced by Frank Stirling

A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.

Fantasy And Imagination20060625

Mark Tully explores the difference between fantasy and imagination.

Is it true, as the Dominican Timothy Radcliffe has written recently, that while imagination creates signs that speak of the future and bring it nearer, fantasy is a form of despair that flees from reality rather than seeking to reshape it?

Fear And Compassion20071216

Mark Tully considers the idea that people rediscover their compassion when they stop being afraid.

Why is fear at the heart of so much cruel and corrupt behaviour and how can it be overcome to release kindness, empathy and generosity?

Feast And Famine20090329

Writer and broadcaster Irma Kurts reflects on the human obsession with food.

Finding Your Father20100704

Nigerian-born Gospel singer Muyiwa Olarewaju tells the story of his search for a father.

British-based Gospel singer and broadcaster Muyiwa Olarewaju tells the story of his search for a father.

He was sent from Nigeria to Britain when he 10 years old.

His father was shot dead in Nigeria and he never saw him again.

Muyiwa recalls standing on a London high street, with all his belongings in a black bin bag, wondering where to turn.

He recounts how he met a church youth leader Emmanuel Mbakwe - now the national leader of the UK Apostolic Church - who adopted him and encouraged him to take up his career as a Gospel singer.

This led to a deeper understanding of his spiritual father and eventual peace.

Muyiwa reflects upon the true sense of fatherhood, drawing on readings ranging from Nigerian author Chinua Achebe's classic "Things Fall Apart", to American Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead".

He also draws on music and songs which reflect the theme of finding a father - including his own hit Gospel song "Safe In His Hands," recorded with his band Riversongz.

Producer: Kim Normanton

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

First Impressions20110417

Mark Tully asks if we should rely on first impressions or take more time to form opinions.

Can we influence the impact we make on others, and can we be manipulated by those who cultivate misleading first impressions for their own benefit.

Using examples of music inspired by the composers' first impressions of landscapes, and poetry written about first impressions of lovers, and even drawing on the conclusions of research into instinctual judgments, Tully discovers that 'snap' decisions can not only prove trustworthy in the long run, but help to protect us from harm.

But should we always trust our immediate responses, or is there an argument to be made for 'proper' consideration? What are the dangers of acting upon first impressions, and when has it all gone wrong.

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Follow My Leader20090816

Mark Tully considers great leaders and the source of their power to galvanise the cynical.

Mark Tully considers great leaders and the source of their power to galvanise the cynical and apathetic on local, national and global levels.

Food For Life20120923

Rabbi Julia Neuberger discusses the complexities of our relationship with food.

That food is not simply fuel is a point conceded by most cultures, but at the same time there are lots of conflicting messages about how it should affect our lives in other ways. As we veer between famine, food mountains, food fads, what Michael Pollan has described as "national eating disorders", religious and spiritual rituals and national feasting, Julia Neuberger attempts to unravel some of the complexities of the modern relationship with food.

She looks at a range of literature from the food criticism of Brillat-Savarin to the novels of Emile Zola and the memoirs of Benjamin Franklin. With music from Kurt Weill and Puccini.

The readers are Neil Dudgeon and Joe Kloska.

Produced by Frank Stirling

A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.

Footloose20120729

Irma Kurtz considers how curiosity and imagination inspire true footloose travellers.

Irma Kurtz considers how curiosity and imagination inspire true footloose travellers to explore.

She reflects that, for her, the important part of travel is encountering others on the road: learning how different we are, and how alike. Irma believes that by extending your view of the world, you extend your view of yourself so that, by the end of your journey, you will have changed.

To illustrate her footloose theme we hear readings from the work of John Keats, Walt Whitman and Mary Morris as well as an extract from her own travel book 'The Great American Bus Ride'. Music is provided by composers Ralph Vaughan Williams, Edward Elgar and Claude Debussy.

The readers are Liza Sadovy and Col Farrell.

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

For What We Give Thanks20041121

In the week of the American Thanksgiving festival, Fergal Keane explores the rituals and meaning of gratitude.

Francis, The Saint Whose Time Has Come20080713

Mike Wooldridge visits the unique Franciscan community at Hilfield in Dorset.

He talks to community leader Brother Samuel SSF about why Franciscan spirituality has such a particular relevance and appeal today.

How might long-hidden aspects of the teaching and example of St Francis be a powerful model for inter-faith peace-making and collaboration for the survival of the planet?

Freedom And Control20110116

Mark Tully considers the paradox that controls can create a sense of freedom and creativity.

Mark Tully considers the paradox that boundaries and controls can create a sense of freedom and creativity.

A sonnet, or a sonata are bound by prescribed form, but in the hands of Wordsworth, or Beethoven they can transcend the rules they depend on.

Using a diverse range of music from Olivier Messiaen, to Ravi Shankar, Humphrey Littleton and the mathematically constructed work of Iannis Xenakis, Mark Tully discovers that structure usually, though not always, allows extemporization which creates something much greater than the original form.

And with the help of the words of others like Bertrand Russell and Stephen Fry who have maintained that constraints enable, or are even necessary for creativity; he suggests that rhythm controls not only music and poetry, but the natural world around us, and can also influence our own spiritual lives.

So do we all need fixed boundaries within which to operate with free will, and is freedom always dependent on control?

This programme is the first of two parts, in the second of which, Freedom From Control , Mark Tully interrogates the opposite view that, for some, true creativity is the result of abandoning all boundaries.

Presenter: Mark Tully

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Freedom From Control20110123

Mark Tully considers that, for some, creativity is only possible when control is abandoned

As an antithesis to the previous Something Understood, Mark Tully considers that, for some, creativity is only possible when normal controls are abandoned.

To jettison the boundaries which shape our sense of reality and of ourselves involves a great deal of risk and, for most of us, this sounds like a dangerous path to follow.

But Mark looks at the artists, writers and composers who have done just that, and assesses whether, in his opinion, their creativity has been enhanced or obstructed by lack of control.

Imagine being given licence to do, say and create anything you wanted, unhindered by what others will think, or how it will affect them.

Is there a truth that you might have within you that might be freed this way, and what would you create to express that truth?

And is this where genius abides, or madness? Or both? Can we function as humans and as societies if this kind of thinking is developed, or will we always just tolerate the few "crazy" artists who push our boundaries for us, while we remain safe and enclosed?

Presented by Mark Tully

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Fruits Of Labour20120603

Melissa Viney reflects on how becoming a mother can affect creativity.

After giving birth recently for the first time, the writer and broadcaster Melissa Viney reflects on how motherhood can affect a woman's creative life.

Does it open up new ways of viewing the world or can it occasionally push them 'to the side of their own lives' as Philip Larkin suggested? Including readings from the work of Esther Morgan, Ellen Bell and Chana Bloch, music from Nina Simone and Clara Schumann and new interviews with the artists Charlotte Verity and Jo Dennis.

Producer: Eleanor McDowall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Fun Is Its Own Reason20061022

Mark Tully contemplates the philosophy of enjoyment.

Advertising and social life is now dominated by the notion of having fun, but is this always desirable?

Future Perfect20070506

Mark Tully considers how far it is possible for us to create the future.

Many denounce the idea that we can forge our own destiny, but some contemporary theologians argue that it is not only possible but also our moral obligation.

Futurechurch20040208

Mark Tully asks what the future holds for the Church as more and more of its members question its central doctrines and structures.

Gardens20110703

Mark Tully celebrates the healing power of gardens.

Mark Tully celebrates the healing power of gardens, and talks to Rev.

Lizzie Hopthrow, Chaplain of the Pilgrims' Hospice in Canterbury, about how her hospice garden brings hope to patients and their families.

With poetry from 14th century Persia, to contemporary writers Karl Capek and Diana Athill, and music by de Falla, June Tabor and Stevie Wonder.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

Genius20090719

Mark Tully explores the nature of genius.

Are geniuses born or made, what sets them above the merely excellent, what conditions do they need to reach their full potential and what are they like to live with?

Getting Away With It20120624

Felicity Finch reflects on the feeling of 'getting away with it'.

Felicity Finch reflects on the balance of insecurity and confidence in our lives which can prompt us to feel we are 'getting away with it'. From the idea that we are impostors in our own lives, pretending to play a role we feel we're ill-equipped to perform, to the deliberate attempt to deceive others without facing the consequences.

Including readings from Paul Dunbar, John Cheever, and Hilary Mantel; alongside music by Bessie Smith, Fritz Kreisler and Matteo Carcassi and an interview with Professor Athene Donald.

Produced by Eleanor McDowall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Ghosts2003020920030215

Mark Tully considers the phenomenon of those who come back to haunt us in spiritual form.

Glimpses In The Garden2005031320050320

As a young art therapist Joyce Laing noticed the intensity of paintings by her TB patients eerily prefigured their bouts of illness.

This led to a lifelong interest in art by people with mental health problems, with Joyce connecting the visions of William Blake to the surrealists and finally to a tiny woven offering she found beneath a holly bush in the grounds of a mental asylum.

On the Road Again: Fergal Keane considers the compulsion some people have to travel and wonders if the importance lies in the journey or the goal at the end of the road.

[Rpt of Sun 6.05am]

God Be In My Head20100404

Tom Robinson reflects on the benediction God Be In My Head.

The benediction 'God Be In My Head' often forms part of funeral ceremonies.

This week's presenter, Tom Robinson, heard it at his own father's recent memorial service, which led him to reflect upon how it's refrain resonates in our lives, both spiritually and in secular contexts.

He draws upon the words of Martin Luther King, John Wesley and Evelyn Waugh, among others, with music by Peteris Vasks, Hank Williams, Ben Harper and Walford Davies.

The producer is Alan Hall.

This is a Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

God's Darling20060820

Rosemary Hartill explores the mysterious, playful, creative and cosmic figure of Sophia - Wisdom - in some of her many guises - Greek, Jewish and Christian.

How does Sophia combine the practical wisdom of women with the ability to guide and counsel with universal wisdom and mystical insight?

Golden Apples Of The Sun20020818

Mark Tully investigates why the simple apple has acquired such powerful connotations of health and wholeness, sin and corruption, beauty and aspiration.

Goodness And Belief20031019

Mark Tully considers whether there is any relationship between goodness and belief.

Does religious faith make people 'better' human beings and what, if any, are the differences between 'good' Believers and good Humanists?

Guardian Angels20050130

Is there someone out there, seen or unseen, watching over us, protecting us? The idea is popular in both Islamic and Christian tradition.

Mark Tully investigates.

Happy Accidents20110320

Irma Kurtz considers how serendipity moulds our lives and influences our lives.

Irma Kurtz considers how serendipity influences and moulds our lives in 'Happy Accidents'.

This propensity for finding something unexpected and useful while searching for something else entirely can be related to science, geography and of course, love.

Serendipity differs from mere coincidence - it doesn't knock at the door and you can't go out to look for it.

We know now that the early explorers who voyaged before there were maps and navigational equipment were masters of serendipity.

We will hear a letter from Christopher Columbus which reveals very clearly that America was a serendipitous discovery which came about while the explorer was actually looking for a route to the Indies.

Presented by Irma Kurtz

Produced by Ronni Davis

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Happy Talk20080210

Mark Tully asks if happiness can be taught.

Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College, is confident that it can, and in 2006 happiness and well-being psychology was added to the College curriculum.

More recently, Education Secretary Ed Balls announced that such lessons will be introduced in all state secondary schools.

So what secrets can teachers share to help students enjoy a happy and contented life?

Hard Wired For Belief20060611

Mark Tully explores the growing conviction among some scientists that human beings are hard-wired to believe in - what Professor Robert Winston has called - The Divine Idea.

Despite firm predictions to the contrary and all that science, consumerism and political ideologies have thrown at it, Faith has not withered away.

Harvest Festival20080921

Mark Tully talks to Prof Michael Northcott about the broken relationship between food production and consumption.

At this harvest-tide, why will so many of us feel only guilt amid the cornucopia of cheap industrial foods in our supermarkets? How can we recover our sense of food as an elemental collaboration between humanity and the Creator?

Hearing And Listening20050814

Mark Tully considers the distinction between hearing and listening and realises that the way we respond to things often matters more than the thing itself.

Henry David Thoreau20120506

Mark Tully assesses Henry David Thoreau's influence, 150 years after his death.

Mark Tully assesses Henry David Thoreau's influence, 150 years after his death. Advocate of the simple life, champion of emancipation, and fervent opponent of government interference in the lives of citizens, Thoreau's 19th century ideals have inspired civil rights leaders from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King.

Mark Tully looks not just at Thoreau's famous writings expressing his remarkable affinity with the American outdoors, but at his political activism too, and the legacy it has left around the world. From tax avoidance, to his opposition to slavery, Thoreau was an ardent supporter of the ordinary person. His passionate ideas inspired thinkers and humanitarians, as well as generations of writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman and WB Yeats.

Musicians and composers too, were moved to pay tribute to Thoreau and the programme includes works by such diverse fans as Charles Ives and Pink Floyd.

In asking what we can learn today from the writer of the American classic Walden, Mark Tully reassesses Thoreau's message for the 21st century.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

His Ancient Tenderness20030601

Mark Tully explores the meaning of tenderness as a rarely considered aspect of the nature of God.

In a newly discovered poem by Siegfried Sassoon, the war poet writes of the prayer of the wounded on the battle field, to know 'a little of His ancient tenderness'.

How does God show his tenderness, and how is divine tenderness reflected in human life and relationships?

Home From Home20120101

Irma Kurtz reflects on expatriation.

Expatriation has a long and sometimes tragic history. From the earliest times people have settled far away from their homelands, sometimes to escape persecution or famine, sometimes simply because other countries hold out the dream of a better life.

Now that the world has shrunk, thanks to planes and boats and trains, places that were not long ago ports of odysseys and mysteries became accessible to everyone with the price of a ticket.

The programme includes readings from the work of Primo Levi, Monica Ali and Henry James, and music composed by Bela Bartok, George Frederick Handel and Ferde Grofe.

The readers are Greg Hicks and Vaneeta Rishi.

Producer: Ronni Davis.

A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.

Homecoming20121021

Mark Tully discusses the concept of divine comfort.

Mark Tully discusses a concept encapsulated in the words of Julian of Norwich - that "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well." Should we all be thinking about belief in a God, who ultimately always comforts us - the god St Paul describes as "the God of all comfort who comforteth us in all tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God"?

It would take courage and faith to trust in God the comforter because of course very often we go through travails which seem endless.

Mark talks to journalist Christopher Howse and introduces readings from Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Donne and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, with music ranging from Handel to Melody Gardot and REM.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Homesickness20090524

Mark Tully explores homesickness, a yearning more complex than nostalgia for homeland.

How true is it that all older people are homesick for the culture of their childhood? With Rabbi Lionel Blue

Hope Against Hope20061029

Although hope is one of the cardinal virtues, it can be hard to maintain in especially bleak circumstances.

Geoffrey Smith explores hope in extremis with help from the poetry of Thomas Hardy and George Herbert, the writings of Primo Levi and Loren Eiseley, and music ranging from Schubert to Big Bill Broonzy.

Hospitality20090405

For Palm Sunday, Mark Tully explores the deeper spiritual meaning of hospitality, with Jean Vanier, founder of the L'Arche community for adults with learning disabilities.

For Palm Sunday, Mark Tully explores the deeper spiritual meaning of hospitality.

Houses Of God20121202

Mark Tully explores the purpose of religious buildings in the modern world.

Mark Tully talks to the Archbishop of Westminster, in Westminster cathedral, as part of an exploration of the contemporary purpose of church buildings.

What is the true function of buildings dedicated to God? Churches were originally built to "His greater glory" but arguably we build them far less now and preserve them far more. Has our relationship with houses of God changed?

Mark Tully visits Westminster Cathedral and, in conversation with Archbishop Vincent Nichols, discusses the tension between honouring God through the creation of beautiful spaces and the duty expressed by all the major faiths to do charitable work.

With readings reflecting the building of great churches and mosques, as well as humble churches and chapels, and music from Brahms, Bruckner and Morton Feldman, Mark examines the benefits and the beauty of religious buildings. The readers are Toby Jones and Emily Raymond.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Hymns20110612

Mark Tully explores the history and enduring power of hymns.

On the 150th anniversary of the first nation-wide hymn book, 'Hymns Ancient and Modern', Mark Tully explores the history and enduring power of hymns.

He talks to pianist and church organist David Owen Norris about why some of those hymns- like 'Abide with Me'- have proved so popular.

With readings by Jeanette Winterson, John Betjeman , Hilary Mantel and D.H.Lawrence, and music by Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and the Huddersfield Choral Society.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

I Don't Believe In Being Lost20101128

Broadcaster Anita Rani explores the significance of being lost, physically and spiritually

Broadcaster Anita Rani explores the significance of being lost, both physically and spiritually.

Drawing on a broad range of music and texts, from the Qawwali of Sufi Islam to the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, Anita illustrates the importance of losing oneself in culture and spirituality.

In some ways, Anita doesn't believe in being lost if there's a map, a signpost or even a person to ask, it's possible to get where you need to be.

On another level we are all incredibly lost throughout our lives.

From birth until death there's no plan and no map, just meanderings and different destinations.

How does this feeling of being lost manifest itself in our existence, physically, mentally and spiritually?

Anita reflects on the nature of being lost with Reverend Peter Owen Jones, priest, award-winning television presenter and author, described by the Times as "the bravest vicar in Britain".

Peter has journeyed deep into the wilderness in the footsteps of St Anthony.

In a hermit's cell in the heart of the Egyptian Sinai Desert, he lived alone.

The experience, he says, withered his illusions and allowed him to see things as they really are.

Producer: Jo Coombs

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

I Got Rhythm20061231

Piers Plowright explores his sense of the need for order, pattern and tradition in human lives.

As one uncertain year ends and another begins, his search for stability takes in the work of poets WB Yeats and Philip Larkin and a community of Cistercian monks.

The programme also features music from Bach, Bob Dylan and Havergal Brian, readings from DH Lawrence and Scott Fitzgerald, and an interview with veteran broadcaster and campaigner Studs Terkel.

I Have A Dream20031102

"A man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?" So wrote Robert Browning, but how true is this? Is ambition essential for true fulfillment in life, or is it in fact a flaw in the human condition? The Asian poet and academic Roshan Doug explores the positive and negative aspects of ambition.

I Want To Be Left Alone20080330

Mark Tully considers our need for privacy and how we balance this with our responsibilities to others.

I Wish You Enough20071230

Mark Tully considers blessings - what do we wish for other people and why? Is there any evidence to suggest that blessings attract the good things invoked or are they simply empty, superstitious and outdated verbal habits?

If Not Together20061105

Mark Tully talks to Abbot Christopher Jamison of Worth Abbey about the essential meaning and nature of community.

Why was St Benedict so adamant that staying the course with other people is essential to the spiritual path, and what might this say to our transient and individualistic lives today?

If Only We Could Bottle It20090517

Felicity Finch reflects on those moments when we feel more truly alive than seems possible

Felicity Finch reflects on those indefinable moments when we feel more completely alive than seems possible.

As an actress, it is something she strives to capture in performance, but in everyday existence these moments of oneness, where an individual is in harmony with surroundings and other people, tend to come spontaneously and unannounced.

With readings from Federico Garcia Lorca and John Burnside and music by Chick Corea and Northumbrian pipers.

I'm A Number, Not A Man20120226

Jo Fidgen explores how modern society challenges our sense of self.

In a society based on managerial principles, is it possible that our numbers count more than our names?

Jo Fidgen explores challenges to our sense of self.

She talks to an American man known as Benjaman who was found suffering from amnesia with no personal identification on him and, without a social security number, no means of re-engaging with society. And she also references the writings of, among others, WH Auden, George Orwell and Jose Saramago, with music by Erik Satie, the Kinks and Shostakovich.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

In Conversation20041003

Mark Tully considers the arguably vital importance of conversation - of talking with each other in a way which is significantly different from discussion or debate.

What conditions are required for true conversation to take place, and what transformations are possible when it does?

In Praise Of Cities20030112

Fergal Keane explores the unique value of the city, from the bright lights to the murky backstreets, as a place where people and ideas fuse and progress.

In Praise Of Shadows20040111

Retired radio producer Piers Plowright uses Tanizakis eloquent and perverse essay on the Japanese sense of beauty to celebrate the magic of shadows.

In Search Of Bohemia20121216

Irma Kurtz reflects on her quest to find bohemia, with a small 'b'.

Irma Kurtz remembers her quest to find bohemia with a small 'b'.

The bohemians had a hunger for art, literature and changing the rules and Irma's personal odyssey in search of a non-materialistic and art-focused society took her from Greenwich Village in Manhattan to the Left Bank in Paris and finally to London's Soho.

She considers the historical background to bohemia and wonders if it exist today. If not, why not and are we the poorer without it?

To illustrate her journey, Irma draws on extracts from the work of Henri Murger, Dylan Thomas and Alan Ginsberg and the music of Claude Debussy, Giacomo Puccini and Juliet Greco.

The readers are Liza Sadovy and Col Farrell.

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

In Such A Hurry20070211

Rosemary Hartill wonders why we all seem to be in a perpetual hurry; why we seem to believe being busy is a virtue and why at least one writer believes almost all the wrongs he's ever made were due to hurry.

In The Company Of Children20111225

Mark Tully asks what we can learn by taking a child's eye view of Christmas.

"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.", Matthew 19

It is an old saying that 'children make Christmas', but in this Christmas Day edition of Something Understood, Mark Tully considers what it is that we can all learn from that. He asks how a 'child-like' attitude to the celebrations of Christ's Nativity can help us get more from the day, both spiritually and socially.

In conversation with children's author Michael Morpurgo he discusses both the importance of Christmas traditions that are handed down the generations and what we can learn from children to make the idea of 'a season of peace and good will' more than just a well-meant form of words.

The programme includes contributions from children, including specially written verse and music and readings from successive younger generations, fictional and real, from the seventeenth century to the present. There's music from Debussy, Johnny Cash and The St. Petersburg Children's Choir and readings from Ronald Searle, Mary Haley Bell and Jean Jacques Rousseau.

The readers are Madeleine Southey, Samantha Bond, Gene Goodman and Jack Shepherd.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

In The Fullness Of Time And At The End Of The Day20121118

Irma Kurtz considers the origins and uses of cliches.

Irma Kurtz considers the origins and uses of clichés.

She finds that, although many of our most often used clichés originated with Shakespeare, newly minted clichés appear every day. She reflects that clichés can be convenient truisms that keep us linked to our heritage and community - but also potentially dangerous generalisations.

To help explain her thesis we hear readings from the works of Shakespeare, Bernard Levin and Daisy Ashford, and music from Ravel, Cole Porter and Frank Loesser.

The readers are Liza Sadovy and Col Farrell.

The producer is Ronni Davis.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

In The Memory Of Love20020825

`In the Memory of Love'.

Fergal Keane explores romantic memories evoked by the music of Prokofiev and Dvorak and the literature of F Scott Fitzgerald and Thornton Wilder.

In The Midst Of Life We Are In Debt20071104

People have always generated wealth from others' need for money.

Judith French reflects on usury.

Infinity20040404

Mark Tully explores some of the meanings of infinity.

Why was Blaise Pascal terrified of infinity, and how do mathematicians and theologians address the Infinite?

Inside A Tree20121125

Mark Tully asks why trees are so important to us.

Why is it that, from childhood onwards, we feel the urge to climb inside their hollow trunks or up into their branches? How does the world seem different from inside a tree?

From Herman Hesse to Seamus Heaney, writers, poets and composers have been inspired by the power and grandeur of trees. The Hindu sacred text, the Bhagavata Purana, celebrates the shade cast by trees and the many uses of their bark, wood, leaves and sap. Their age and majesty inspires respect and, as the Dalai Lama said, "trees echo the Buddha's words expressing his fundamental teaching of impermanence".

With professional tree climber James Aldred, Mark visits the ancient yew tree which stands in the corner of St George's Churchyard in Crowhurst, Surrey. Together they climb inside its hollow trunk to contemplate the protective, comforting presence of a living organism which has stood in one place for four thousand years.

James has climbed hundreds of trees all over the world, even slept inside them. He describes the connection he makes with them and the way each tree he meets seems to have a distinct personality. Being inside a tree is the closest he comes to prayer.

Producer: Jo Coombs

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Intimations Of Mortality20120826

Mark Tully investigates our attitudes to mortality, arguably the last taboo.

Death is a subject we are often reluctant to discuss. It is often considered morbid to do so. It has commonly been described as the last taboo. However, some argue that a sense of our own mortality plays a vital part in our understanding of life. Further, that demystifying the process of death can be essential to getting the most out of life.

Mark Tully considers the advantages of being open to the intimations of mortality which we may come across daily.

In conversation with Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger he discusses attitudes to risk, memento mori and living legacies. With readings from Virginia Woolf, Kabir and music by Nitin Sawnhay and Gustav Mahler, he asks whether being open to intimations of mortality can bring more to life.

The readers are Helen Ryan and Kenneth Cranham.

Produced by: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Into The Unknown20060528

Mark Tully considers the French medical scientist Claude Bernard's claim that we 'can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown'.

For some, perhaps, this might be a statement of the obvious, but the thought is deeply challenging given our hankering for the security of the known and the familiar.

Is it true that we can only learn by giving up the tried and tested?

Is This The Way?20090104

Mark Tully considers many people's new-found reliance on 'sat nav'.

Mark Tully considers many people's new-found reliance on 'sat nav' and wonders what else we lose when we lose the ability to find our way through a landscape.

Jump!20111002

Cathy Fitzgerald explores the terror and sheer delight of taking a leap.

Cathy Fitzgerald explores the terror, bliss and sheer delight of taking a leap.

With readings from Jeanette Winterson, Maud Parrish and Hermann Hesse and music from Rodrigo y Gabriela, Harry Belafonte and Bernard Hermann, Cathy reflects on our fear of jumping into the unknown - and examines the strange and wonderful places we can land when we do decide to take the plunge.

Produced by Eleanor McDowall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Keeping Time20110501

Irma Kurtz reflects on clocks and our need to measure time.

The history of our clocks is practically as long as our history.

Other creatures seem content to hear and obey their inner clocks but from the early days - perhaps when we saw how our shadows changed throughout the day - we wanted desperately to attempt a hold on time.

In 'Keeping Time' Irma Kurtz reflects on clocks, the connection of timepieces to navigation and the way in which we make punctuality a virtue.

The readers are Liza Sadovy and Jonathan Firth.

Presenter: Irma Kurtz

Producer: Ronni Davis

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Kindred Spirits20040314

Mark Tully celebrates the role of Kindred Spirits, those rare and special people in our lives with whom we have a very particular connection: a connection that is more than friendship, and subtly different from love.

[Rpt of today 6.05am]

Kindred Spirits Mark Tully celebrates the role of Kindred Spirits, those rare and special people in our lives with whom we have a very particular connection: a connection that is more than friendship, and subtly different from love.

Knights In Shining Armour20100801

Tom Robinson reflects upon our yearning to be rescued.

Sometimes the figure offering salvation from physical or spiritual peril isn't who we'd expect, as Tom Robinson reflects.

Producer: Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Laugh And The World Laughs With You20090823

Irma Kurtz reflects on laughter and its importance to spiritual wellbeing.

The ability to laugh can help us through the best and worst of times.

Learning To Wait20110821

Tom Robinson reflects on wanting and waiting.

Taking his cue from Richard Church's eponymous poem, Tom Robinson considers what's required of us in 'Learning To Wait'.

The poem's paradoxical observation, 'All that I have grasped at I have lost, All I relinquished won', provokes Tom to explore the work of other writers who have reflected on wanting and waiting, including Milan Kundera, TS Eliot and DH Lawrence.

With music by KD Lang, Shostakovich and Brian Eno.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Lest We Forget20071111

On Remembrance Sunday, Mike Wooldridge considers what happens to our collective memory when we lose our first-hand witnesses.

Dr James Smith, anti-genocide campaigner and founder of the Aegis Trust, explains why is it so important not only to remember but also to learn the lessons of such memories for the sake of generations to come.

Let The Healing Fountain Start2003020220030208

Mark Tully examines the symbolism of fountains and journalist Saeed Naqvi explains their significance in Islam.

Letting Go20121230

Mark Tully asks when it is right to relinquish dreams, and how best to leave grief behind.

Mark Tully asks when it is right to relinquish our dreams and how best to leave grief behind? From sporting defeat to the loss of a loved one, this programme looks at the benefits of knowing when to let go, and the consequences of not doing so.

Readings explore the notion of letting go of worldly successes and status symbols in preparation for retirement; the pain of bereavement as the gradual process of forgetting begins; a Hindu tradition of renouncing material possessions and family connections before death; and the joy of finally accepting defeat.

Music featured in the programme includes an excerpt from an opera unfinished by Claude Debussy which he finally let go of by pretending to have burned the score.

And in poetry, Naomi Shihab Nye suggests that if we don't lose things - let them go - we will never, "learn the tender gravity of kindness".

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Letting Your Hair Down20110717

Mark Tully 'lets his hair down' as he discusses the importance of relaxing with friends.

Mark Tully presents an edition of Something Understood on 'Letting Your Hair Down', in which he goes to the pub, talks with friends and tests the premise that kicking over the traces and relaxing is healthy mentally and spiritually.

In a roistering programme about the importance of celebrating, relaxing and pushing the boat out once in a while, he examines the pros and cons of letting our hair down and asks where we should draw the line and what the types of rest and recreation that we ought to take seriously are: from food and drink to laughter and friendship.

The programme draws on the writings of an eclectic bunch this week, with readings from St Thomas Aquinas, Graham Greene, Casanova and John Masefield and with music from Mozart, Elgar and Fats Waller.

The readers are Kenneth Cranham and Isla Blair.

Producer: Frank Stirling

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Life In A Seminary20120610

Mark Tully explores life in a seminary. How are young men trained for Catholic priesthood?

In Something Understood this week, Mark Tully is intrigued by life in a Roman Catholic seminary. How are young men trained for the priesthood?

At Allen Hall Seminary in the busy heart of London, Dean of Studies and Formation Advisor Father Stephen Wang explains the need for his students to train for their pastoral role within the Catholic community. Seminarians at Allen Hall spend much of their time in local parishes, schools and hospitals preparing for life as a Diocesan priest. And yet it's also crucial that they have the quiet, contemplative space they need to develop spiritually. They must become men of God and men of communion.

Mark explores the history of the seminary system, with readings from Anthony Kenny and Denis Meadows, and hears music written by ancient monks in isolation. He speaks to writer and academic John Cornwell, whose own time at Upholland Seminary in the 1950s left a strong imprint on his spiritual life. The Junior Seminary system he experienced from the age of 12 no longer exists, but John believes that there are still serious flaws in the way the Catholic Church trains its priests. He argues that seminarians are too separated out from the world and from the people they are destined to serve once ordained.

Ultimately, becoming a priest requires huge dedication - what Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe described as a 'falling in love' with God. Perhaps what is also needed is a balance, between the prosaic and the spiritual, between being within the world and being apart from it.

Producer: Hannah Marshall

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Life On Hold20120819

What does it mean for our ordinary lives to be unexpectedly interrupted? When we struggle with a bereavement, caring for a loved one or attempt to recover after being suddenly uprooted, we can feel that time has come to a stand still.

Elaine Storkey reflects on the moments when we experience an unexpected pause in our normal lives and how we learn to set them in motion again.

With readings from John Milton, Anne Enright and Nahida Izzat and music by Paul Robeson, Bach and Mahalia Jackson.

Produced by Eleanor McDowall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Elaine Storkey reflects on the moments when our normal lives are put on hold.

Life's Feast20061210

Judith French considers the pleasures of providing and sharing food and wine.

Light Of The World20040822

Fergal Keane explores the effect of light on the human condition.

Limbo20080706

Mark Tully considers the state of limbo, where time can seem to stand still.

How do we cope with situations where we are unable to move forward?

Listening2010062720100704 (WS)

Violinist Ruth Waterman reflects on the art of listening.

Violinist Ruth Waterman reflects on the art of listening, drawing on the work of Matthew Arnold, William Blake and Goran Simic and the music of Gershwin and Purcell.

Producer: Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Lives Reinvented:20040321

Mark Tully explores how individuals, and sometimes whole communities, rewrite their own pasts.

Why do they do this, and how convincing are their reinventions?

Living And Learning20120122

Mark Tully discovers the benefits of education later in life for students and for society.

Mark Tully meets adult learners with no previous academic qualifications. He discovers the benefits of education later in life, not just for the students but for society too.

Much of the programme is recorded in Oxford as Tully follows a rather unusual group of students as they enrol at the University's Bodleian Library. The "Ransackers" all missed out on education when they were younger, but they all have a passion for a research project of their own choosing. Now, they have been given the chance to pursue their interests by Ruskin College who pay all their costs for an intensive ten-week course of study.

In an interview with the Principal of Ruskin College, Audrey Mullender, Tully encounters the ideals of John Ruskin, the 19th century art critic, painter and educationalist. In those days when the class system was almost set in stone Ruskin believed that, through education, workers could achieve a vital sense of self-fulfilment.

And it's the 21st century passion for the benefits of self-fulfilment that Tully encounters when he meets the founder of the Ransackers, Vi Hughes. She speaks of the fear many older people have: fear of education, and fear that they are not capable of learning or contributing. Over nearly thirty years of tutoring at Ruskin, Vi Hughes has seen hundreds of lives transformed when those fears are overcome. Hughes is a champion of the idea that access to education for all, benefits the whole of society.

Tully also looks at other institutions such as the Open University and ponders if the ideal of education for education's sake can survive the modern emphasis on education to meet the needs of industry.

But the last word is left to the Ransackers, who describe the freedom they have found amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.

Living In The Mind20101121

Mark Tully examines the skill of Living in the Mind, with readings from Lawrence and Keats

Mark Tully examines the skill of 'Living in the mind'.

This programme was inspired by a recent interview in which publisher and author Diana Athill mentioned that now she is in her nineties, she spends much more of her time 'living in the mind'.

Diana is an important figure in the literary world, who took to writing her own novels late in life and still leads a lively existence.

However, as she gets older, she is less active than she used to be and enjoys the time she spends allowing her imagination and her intellect to range free.

But what exactly is the life of the mind? And what are its rewards?

Mark Tully talks to Diana and examines this very particular skill with readings of poetry by Keats, Tennyson and DH Lawrence and music by Haydn, Bernstein and Tom Waits.

The readers are Derek Jacobi and Isla Blair.

Presenter: Mark Tully

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Living Smart, Living Simple20080127

Mark Tully is joined by environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt to explore how we can live better but more simply.

How can technology be harnessed for the good of the planet and not its destruction, and how can we develop new models of progress that will not only help save the planet but enhance the quality of our lives and make our global relationships fairer?

Longing For The Sea20100613

Mark Tully discusses our longing for the sea and its connection with spiritual belief.

Mark Tully discusses our longing for the sea with National Poet of Wales Gwyneth Lewis, who spent a year on a disastrous round the world voyage.

Despite the danger and the loneliness, she still longs for the sea, and reads a new poem Sea Virus".

Lewis is a committed Christian, and she talks about how the experience of being alone on a vast ocean has strengthened her spiritual belief.

Other poets in the programme include the contemporary Welsh poet Menna Elfyn, who speaks of the sea opening her eyes; and the Anglo-Saxon seafarer from before the Tenth Century.

The music includes Britten's Sea Interlude: Dawn, Charles Trenet's evocative song of the 40s "La Mer", and a Bach cantata in which he evokes a storm.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4."

Look Back Upon Anger20040118

From tantrums to righteous fury, Fergal Keane reflects on the different manifestations of anger, and considers its negative and positive aspects.

Looking Back Upon Anger20040229

From tantrums to righteous fury, Fergal Keane reflects on the different manifestations of anger and considers its negative and positive aspects.

Lost For Words20030810

Mark Tully explores the importance of speech, in the light of claims that our unique verbal skills may be in danger of disappearing.

Is it true that long hours in front of television and computer screens are robbing the next generation of humanity's 'most precious evolutionary attribute' - language?

Love Like A Gypsy20030727

Mike Wooldridge explores the history and culture of Europe's gypsy peoples and asks why, down through so many generations, they have been romanticised and demonised.

Love With Strings20060709

Mark Tully explores the nature of conditional - as opposed to unconditional - love, and the damaging effects such love can have for individuals and communities, in families, intimate relationships, and in the Church.

He talks to former priest and family therapist Jeremy Young, who argues that the Church is deeply damaged by its gospel of conditional love.

Making Peace20070318

Mike Wooldridge considers the growing role of international mediators in brokering peace between intractable parties in conflict.

In a business which sees many failures and few successes, who are the people who bring sworn enemies to the negotiating table and what scruples must they swallow to do so?

Male And Female19960225

Producer: J.

JEFFES

Next in series: BEAUTY

Previous in series: POVERTY AND WEALTH

Broadcast history

25 Feb 1996 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1996-01-23.

Manners Maketh Man20120722

Tom Robinson reflects on manners, courtesy and respect.

Manners are the optional, unenforced standards of conduct between humans. Like laws, they set down a means of measuring behaviour, though without a policing service - other than an informal 'punishment' of social disapproval.

Tom Robinson considers how etiquette, politeness and courtesy can evolve into a genuinely well-mannered empathy that embodies full and proper respect in human relations.

With reference to Judith 'Miss Manners' Martin, George Washington and PJ O'Rourke and music by Couperin, David Salt and Aretha Franklin.

Producer: Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Many A Secret Place20030824

Penelope Lively considers the concept of public and private secrecy.

Maps And Charts20021229

Mark Tully looks at the maps and charts - real, metaphorical and spiritual - which we can use to navigate our way through the future.

Mementos20120205

Mark Tully ponders the significance of mementos, not just of the past, but the future too.

Mark Tully ponders the significance of mementos, not just of the past, but the future too. From military trophies to reminders of our own mortality, he examines the objects we imbue with personal meaning.

Mark observes in the programme that mementos keep the past alive in the present and are preserved for the future - so they are important links through time.

Featuring literature from Joseph Conrad, W.B. Yeats and John Donne; and music by Nat King Cole, Arvo Part and the Band of the Blues and Royals, among others, the programme celebrates the comfort we can gain from inanimate artefacts, and the capability they possess to 'speak' across generations.

But Mark also observes that Mementos can be a trap, too, encouraging us to live too much in the past - to indulge our previous sorrows and losses.

Perhaps no institutions preserve their mementos more lovingly than the military, and the programme features an interview with military historian, Squadron Leader Rana Chhina who shows Mark his family mementos of campaigns in India and Pakistan - mementos which mean so much to him, his family and his comrades.

And Mark, himself, shares with us a memento which means much to him and which epitomises the power of mementos to bind us to each other and to the past, present and future.

Presented by Mark Tully

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Mentors20111016

Mark Tully discusses the importance of mentors in our lives.

Particularly in the aftermath of disturbances like the British riots in August, youth mentoring programmes have been much a frequent topic for discussion in recent months.

In this edition of Something Understood, Mark Tully examines the important part a mentor can play in everybody's life.

He also examines some of the attendant dangers in being a mentor, the temptation to exploit, patronize or underestimate a pupil, charge or protege.

Writer and broadcaster Malchi O'Doherty remembers his troubled relationship with his mentor for three years, a Hindu guru in India and we hear about mentors of all types from spiritual directors and schoolteachers to musicians and youth workers.

With music from Bach, Tavener and Bernstein and readings from Denise Levertov and Umberto Eco.

The readers are Hattie Morahan and Dan Stevens.

Producer: Frank Stirling.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Metamorphosis20060716

Mark Tully explores our enduring fascination with the idea of metamorphosis, from ancient myth to contemporary science fiction.

Educationalist Rudolf Steiner spoke of Goethe's discovery of metamorphosis as one of the most important of the scientific age, adding that its importance was still not understood.

Why did he ascribe it such prominence and power?

Mind The Gap20060326

Sarah Joseph is editor of the Muslim lifestyle magazine Emel.

Once a fervent Roman Catholic, she converted to Islam in different times, before the 1989 fatwa was proclaimed against Salman Rushdie.

What can be done to bridge the widening gap between religions and their believers?

Mindfulness20120415

Mark Tully meditates on the art of being still, and the benefits of quiet contemplation.

Mark Tully meditates on the art of being still, and the benefits of quiet contemplation, as medical science borrows from the practices of religious traditions.

He talks to Mark Williams, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford who teaches 'Mindfulness' techniques and whose research has shown that daily meditation can reduce the occurrence of severe depression at least as much as anti-depressants do.

Featuring music by Edward Elgar, Arvo Part and Jules Massenet, and words by Rainer Maria Rilke and Octavio Paz, this programme looks at how else regular contemplative sessions can enrich our lives in an increasingly busy world. For some it is a way of experiencing God, for others a means of coming to terms with their own failures, and for many it can produce profound changes in their lives.

As Mark Tully perceives, through the practice of Mindfulness people can drink from the well of religious insight whether they have a religious faith or not. He even accepts in the end that he should, perhaps, overcome his own reluctance to make the commitment that meditation requires, and curb the distractions that can make our minds rampage, 'like an untrained elephant'.

The readers are Emily Raymond and David Holt.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Miracles Of Thrift20090809

Mark Tully wonders why habits of thrift have been lost in a generation.

Mark Tully wonders why habits of thrift have been lost in a generation, and asks how they can be recovered - and even celebrated once again - in response to the needs of the day.

Mirror Image20091115

Mark Tully reflects on reflections - in mirrors, photographs, film and art.

What particular insight do these different reflectors offer us?

The readers are Emily Raymond, David Westhead and Frank Stirling.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Modern Architecture20120513

Mark Tully despairs for the state of modern architecture in his home city, New Delhi.

Read by: Emma Fielding and Peter Guinness

Mark Tully ponders why the beauty he sees in the traditional architecture of his home city, New Delhi, is not apparent in the spate of modern buildings now being built. He despairs that the new can never match the magnificence of the old.

But to prevent himself sliding into a state of complete reminiscence and nostalgia, he spends a day with the world renowned Indian architect, Charles Correa, visiting inspiring new projects in the city. Correa, whose British Council Building in New Delhi is upheld as a masterpiece, shares Tully's dislike of inappropriate high rise blots on the Delhi skyline, but is more optimistic that a new form of Indian architecture will emerge, anchored firmly in the cultural and mythical traditions of the country. He sees Indian cities as a place of hope, and new buildings as a way of connecting the past to the future.

And with a warning to himself that he must not join the ranks of those who condemned the iconic Eiffel Tower and Sydney Opera House as monstrosities, just because they were different, Tully accepts that some change is for the good, as long as it's good to look at.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique Broadcasting Production for BBC Radio 4.

Money Worries20081123

Mark Tully explores the complexities of our relationship with money.

He asks why we spend so much time worrying about money and why can it have such a corrosive effect on our relationships.

As the financial mood changes, what does money mean for us beyond the practicalities of day-to-day living?

More Than The Sum20050626

BBC World Affairs Correspondent Mike Wooldridge considers the last piece in the creative jigsaw puzzle: what happens when the response of the viewer, reader or listener makes a work of art more than the sum of its parts.

Mothering Sunday20090322

Madeleine Bunting explores the delights, dilemmas and dangers of modern parenting.

Moving On20100411

Mark Tully explores the physical and emotional upheaval of moving home.

In Something Understood this week Mark Tully explores the physical and emotional upheaval of moving home.

Widely recognised as one of the most stressful of life's experiences, moving can be difficult and traumatic, but it can also be an opportunity to de-clutter, reflect and start afresh.

The producer is Eley McAinsh, and this is a Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Music Making20030511

Mark Tully considers the power of music-making to transform chaos and pain in the lives of individuals and communities.

In conversation with Professor of Applied Music, Dr June Boyce-Tillman, he hears how making music can help people realise their true potential and enrich their spiritual lives.

Must The Show Go On?20030615

West End diva, Maria Friedman talks about fallibility and hope, offering examples of music, prose and poetry showing the resilience of the human spirit.

Mysticism And Resistance20090215

Mark Tully considers the link between mysticism and resistance.

He tests Thomas Merton's suggestion that the monk is essentially someone who takes up a critical attitude to the world, and the German theologian Dorothee Soelle's insistence that authentic mystical experience always leads to resistance to the world as it exists now.

Mythos And Logos20100620

Exploring the difference between scientific and mythological understandings of the world.

Mark Tully explores the difference between a scientific understanding of the world and a mythological understanding; between the rational language of science and the poetic language of myth.

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Named And Shamed20070415

Mark Tully explores the complex nature of shame.

Why are we so obsessed with naming and shaming and why is the fear of shame so powerful that it can split families forever and even drive some to murder?

New Leaves20050109

The festive season is over and it's time to take stock and perhaps re-evaluate our course through life.

Fergal Keane explores the concept of turning over a new leaf.

New Life, New Views20120325

Kurdish poet Choman Hardi explores how children help us see things in a better light.

Kurdish poet, Choman Hardi, who has just had her first child, explores how children help us to see things in a different, more positive light in 'New Life, New Views'. Choman recalls her return to Iraq to research the effects of the gas attacks by Saddam Hussein's forces against Kurdish villagers and the torture of her brother. And she explains how, through her daughter, she hopes to make a new beginning in a broken world.

Choman reads her own poem, 'My Children', which looks at the way children adapt to new life more easily than their parents, taking on adopted homelands with shocking ease. The programme also includes a beautiful Kurdish lullaby accompanied on the harp and composed by the musician Tara Jaff. Choman talks to the Hungarian-born poet, George Szirtes, about the shift in life perspectives which he's experienced since the arrival of his grandchildren. He reads a poem on the subject, 'The pram in the hall', written especially for the programme.

A thoughtful and illuminating look at how children can help to bring hope and fresh perspectives after even the most difficult experiences.

Producer: Kim Normanton

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

New Neighbours20020915

`New Neighbours'.

Mike Wooldridge discusses the religious implications of migration with Prof Diana Eck, director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

No East And West In Our Round World20110313

Mark Tully considers Abraham's legacy for Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Dr Nabil Mustapha was born in Egypt and raised in the Baha'i faith which has at its heart the principle of world unity.

He has practiced as a surgeon worldwide and in this programme talks about how he has learned to see unity in diversity and to embrace difference.

The programme includes an interview with Professor Suheil Bushrui who was also raised in the Baha'i faith and who teaches an inter-faith course at the university of Maryland in the United States.

Dr Mustapha recalls the challenge of being accepted in social circles in London in the sixties when he was a young doctor who didn't drink because of his faith.

He draws upon music and literature to illustrate his belief that even without a shared language or religion we have much in common.

He talks about how his search for greater understanding between faiths helped him to establish a multi-faith forum with people in his Borough.

They meet to pray for peace, to break down differences and to highlight commonalities.

Producer: Kim Normanton

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

No Place Like Home?20050717

As we all now seem to move houses several times in our lives, author Michael Morpurgo wonders where home exactly is.

Is it just an idea that has ceased to have any meaning?

Nor Any Drop20080727

Madeleine Bunting explores our relationship with water - practical, cultural, economic and spiritual.

How will we adapt to mounting global anxiety about flood and drought, and how will our relationship with water change in the decades to come?

Nordic Light20030629

Mark Tully celebrates the light of high summer and reflects on one of the most joyous festivals of the Nordic church year.

Not Cute Enough20090118

Mark Tully considers our responses to beauty.

Mark Tully considers our responses to beauty: what our attitudes reveal and to what extent such attitudes are culturally conditioned.

Can conventional responses to beauty be overridden and how much is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?

Not Guilty?20040509

Michelene Wander explores the thought and the deed of guilt through its theological and legal definition, and considers its effect on the human condition.

Not Just A Load Of Rubbish20050821

How do we decide what to keep and what to throw away? How important is it to hang on to objects no longer in use just because they hold memories?

Michelene Wandor explores how our clutter can define our history and who we are.

Nothing Sacred20040215

Mark Tully explores the ideals and limitations of Secularism.

What was the fatal flaw in Nehru's insistence on a secular constitution for an independent India?

Nothing The Same20061203

Mike Wooldridge considers the ways in which lives are transformed.

What are the inner conditions and external events, the circumstances and the relationships which ensure that some lives are transformed for ever?

Old Souls20060312

Mark Tully considers the nature and role of Old Souls.

Originally an Eastern concept, Old Souls are frequent figures in New Age and contemporary esoteric traditions.

On The Edge20110529

Mark Tully considers those on the edge - who don't belong - and the insights they bring.

Mark Tully considers those on the edge: of society, of the arts, of religions, and of perceived wisdom.

People who don't quite belong, but who often offer us new insights.

Tully suggests that we have them to thank for much of the positive aspects of progress.

In the programme he says that, 'being on the edge is often represented as a chaotic state, opposed to an ordered one and, more profoundly, an uncertain state as opposed to a certain one.

More profoundly because certainty can so easily be the barrier to change, development, and adapting to new knowledge.'

But being on the edge can be an uncomfortable place as poet and writer, Mamang Dai explains in an interview for the programme.

She lives at the edge of India, in one of its remotest states, Arunachal Pradesh, set in the eastern Himalayas, with China just across the mountains, the Kingdom of Bhutan to the west, and Myanmar or Burma to the east.

She not only lives on the edge of India geographically.

There are 26 major tribes in Arunachal Pradesh and their cultures, which were protected by geography, by the State's remoteness and lack of communications, are now on the edge of modernity with India's development plans , in particular plans to build dams on the rivers which flow through the mountains.

Mamang describes her fears for her homeland at a time of great change but is cheerfully optimistic that good things will come, and new ways of being will bring undreamt of benefits.

Franciscan Priest, Richard Rohr is quoted in the programme.

He thinks being on the edge, or as he puts it, in a 'liminal place', is essential at times: 'Nothing good or creative emerges from business as usual.

This is why much of the work of God is to get people into liminal space and to keep them there long enough, so they can learn something essential.

It's the ultimate teachable space, maybe the only one.'

Tully himself, while nostalgic for what he feels was a more certain and ordered society in his younger days, recognizes that change, though often difficult at the time, has much to offer.

Most of all, we owe a great deal to those - On the Edge.

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

On This Rock20031221

Mark Tully considers the importance of firm foundations - for buildings, for faith, for life.

On Walking20101212

Melissa Viney reflects on the physical and spiritual benefits of walking.

What many of us take for granted as a rather mundane activity is elevated for others into a creative, spiritual or philosophical meditation.

Drawing on the writings of a Buddhist monk, the artist Richard Long and the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, among others, Melissa Viney explores walking's physical and psychological benefits.

Also, with music from Herb Alpert, Mozart, Ella and Elvis.

And she talks to Mark Hennessy, who's having to learn to walk all over again following a brain injury.

Readers: Emma Fielding and Jonathan Keeble

Producer: Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

One Day At A Time20060108

Mark Tully considers the importance of appreciating the present moment, and of achieving a small goal each day.

One Foot In Front20080511

Mark Tully considers the potentially subversive nature of walking.

While walking may have immense and well-documented therapeutic benefits, it is also about protest and pilgrimage, the creation of landscapes and the shaping of civil society.

One Starfish20041031

Mark Tully celebrates the impact of tiny acts of compassion taken in the face of overwhelming odds.

He explores the theme of a popular fable being circulated in various forms on the Internet.

It tells the story of a young boy saving starfish stranded on a beach after a storm.

He saves as many as he can, though thousands more will perish.

In answer to his companion who asks 'Why bother?' the boy replies: 'It made a difference to that one!

One Starfish

Only Connect20020929

`Only Connect'.

Sheena Mcdonald considers how language and music can help us connect with each other.

She talks to Marshal Rosenberg, who teaches non-verbal communication.

Open20110522

Professor Peter King explores 'openness' - might it enable us to be fully human?

Professor of History at Leicester University, and former social worker, Peter King explores 'openness' - does it play a role in enabling us to empathise, to love and to be fully human? The programme includes a look at some of the things which close our lives down - inability to forgive, fear, money, and the need to protect our often fragile sense of self.

Peter King, a Deacon in the Anglican Church, explains why he feels the word 'open' is sacred and why being open leads to a life of adventure.

Professor King discusses how being open and ready for the new leads to chance encounters which bring fresh insights.

He notes that Jesus' life began with Mary's wild and radical openness, trusting God, even though risking public disgrace.

Producer: Kim Normanton

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Ordinary Time20090531

Mark Tully celebrates what the novelist Marilynne Robinson has called 'the dear ordinary'.

Mark Tully celebrates what award-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson has called 'the dear ordinary', and what GK Chesterton described as, 'the ecstasy of being ordinary'.

Out Of Silence20120909

The poet Sean Street considers what can be found both in silence and in stillness.

Curiously, the word silent is an anagram of the word listen! In this edition of Something Understood the poet Sean Street reflects upon what can be heard in silence and the difference in its nature from stillness - the difference, perhaps, between doing and being.

With reference to the words of Rupert Brooke, John Berger and Rachel Muers and music by John Cage, Bob Chilcott and Miles Davis.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Paradise Sought20031005

Fergal Keane reflects upon visions of paradise, from the sacred gardens of Christian and Islamic tradition and the mythical 'land of eternal youth' in Celtic mythology to the tropical paradise described in Paul Theroux's writings and the brutal reality of failed attempts to create paradise on earth as examined by Michael Ignatieff.

With music from the South Pacific, Joni Mitchell, Haydn and Fauré.

Partition And Democracy20070819

Mark Tully celebrates 60 years of Indian independence with an exploration of the special character of Indian democracy.

He talks to government Minister Dr Ashwani Kumar about how democracy has flourished in India despite its birth in the bloodshed of Partition.

Perchance To Dream20081130

The writer and broadcaster Irma Kurtz considers the complexity of dreams and dreaming.

Pet Theories20031012

Walking his labrador in a Delhi park, Mark Tully considers what we can learn from the the behaviour of domestic animals - and what they can learn from us.

Pilgrim Or Tourist?20100314

Satish Kumar explores the difference between a tourist and a pilgrim.

When you travel what is your aim? Is it possible for the very act of travelling to be important in itself? Satish Kumar explores the difference between a tourist and a pilgrim, and asks whether pilgrimage can become a way of life rather than going to places.

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Place Of Safety20110102

Mark Tully contemplates our need for security, and the places of safety we yearn for.

Mark Tully contemplates the secure environments we construct for our own protection, and the places of safety we yearn for within ourselves.

He is joined by Caspar Walsh, whose autobiography 'Criminal' and novel 'Blood Road', draw on his early life of crime and drug abuse.

Amidst his dangerous environment Caspar occasionally found a sense of safety with his chaotic father.

He talks of his father's violence, but also of their love for each other which created a sanctuary.

Caspar, now free of his addictions, describes his current work with prisoners and his attempts to provide them with an environment in which they can feel safe to express their fears and come to terms with dangerous emotions.

The programme features lullabies, fairy stories, poetry and literature which both comfort and disturb, to evoke our need to immunise ourselves from danger.

In the end, Mark Tully conjectures that true safety lies not in outward barriers, but inner peace.

Producer: Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Possessions And Limitations20070128

Tom Robinson reflects on the idea that 'possessions are our limitations', with reference to writings by Oscar Wilde, Mahatma Gandhi and the Persian poet Rumi, and music by Philip Glass, Maurice Greene and Lennon and McCartney.

Postcards20120129

Sarah Cuddon explores the joys of sending and receiving postcards.

Sarah Cuddon explores the pleasure of the postcard. With reference to authors, such as the Chilean novelist Robert Bolano, composers including Edward Elgar and poets (among them, Charles Simic) who have found inspiration and comfort in the writing, drawing and sending of cards, she celebrates a rare medium.

And we hear the story and the correspondence of two friends, Laura Eades and Retta Bowen, who dedicated themselves to writing a postcard to each other every day for a month.

Producer: Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Prayer Before A Five Pound Note20120701

Mark Tully explores our human relationship with money - do we take it too seriously?

Money occupies a central position in the lives of people around the world - no matter the culture or currency. And yet few of us ever pause in our earning and spending to consider what is it's real role within our society? What is its weight in our lives? In this edition of Something Understood, Mark Tully explores our human relationship with money and asks, given its immense power, what should be our Prayer Before a Five Pound Note?

We hear readings from a broad range of writers, with all sorts of view points on money, from Christian activist Monica Furlong to publishing magnate and poet Felix Dennis. Music includes Michael Head's exaltation of poverty, "Money O!" and JJ Cale's "Money Talks".

Mark speaks to Professor Jacob Needleman, who believes most people ignore the spiritual implication of money in their day to day lives, and do so at their peril. This is a strange attitude to take towards something which has such a singular power over us, as shown by Jacob's own experiments, in which he attempts to hand a five dollar bill to strangers in the streets. Their reactions, and his own feelings on giving away money in this way, reveal great deal about our often fraught interactions with it.

It seems that humanity teeters between the obsessive pursuit of money and often futile attempts to rid themselves of it. Perhaps the most productive way to engage with it is to abandon those two extremes and instead use it as a mirror to show us ourselves - the way we spend reveals our priorities in often surprising ways. Should our prayer before a five pound note be "please, help me to understand myself"?

Producer: Hannah Marshall

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Programme Catalogue - Details: 24 September 199519950924

Producer: UNIQUE BROADCASTING

Next in series: OLD AGE

Previous in series: TX 17.9.95

Broadcast history

24 Sep 1995 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1995-09-14.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Anger19960211

Producer: J.

JEFFES

Next in series: POVERTY AND WEALTH

Previous in series: TX 4.2.96

Broadcast history

11 Feb 1996 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1996-01-23.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Bleak Midwinter19960107

Producer: B.

MCAINSH

Next in series: THE SEA

Previous in series: FRIENDSHIP

Broadcast history

07 Jan 1996 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1996-01-05.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Poverty And Wealth19960218

Producer: J.

JEFFES

Next in series: MALE AND FEMALE

Previous in series: ANGER

Broadcast history

18 Feb 1996 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1996-02-16.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Self19950910

-AWARENESS

Producer: D.

BENEDICTUS

Next in series: TX 17.9.95

Previous in series: WOMEN

Broadcast history

10 Sep 1995 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1995-08-21.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Self Sacrifice19960128

Producer: B.

MCAINSH

Next in series: TX 4.2.96

Previous in series: UNITY

Broadcast history

28 Jan 1996 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1996-01-05.

Programme Catalogue - Details: The Sea19960114

Producer: B.

MCAINSH

Next in series: UNITY

Previous in series: BLEAK MIDWINTER

Broadcast history

14 Jan 1996 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1996-01-09.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Tx 17.9.9519950917

Producer: UNIQUE BROADCASTING

Next in series: 24 September 1995

Previous in series: SELF-AWARENESS

Broadcast history

17 Sep 1995 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1995-09-15.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Tx 4.2.9619960204

Producer: J.

JEFFES

Next in series: ANGER

Previous in series: SELF SACRIFICE

Broadcast history

04 Feb 1996 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1996-01-20.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Unity19960121

Producer: B.

MCAINSH

Next in series: SELF SACRIFICE

Previous in series: THE SEA

Broadcast history

21 Jan 1996 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1996-01-19.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Women19950903

Producer: D.

BENEDICTUS

Next in series: SELF-AWARENESS

Previous in series: DREAMS

Broadcast history

03 Sep 1995 06:10-06:55 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1995-08-22.

Rabindranath Tagore: Unity In Diversity20110731

For the anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore, Mark Tully explores his vision.

For the 150th anniversary of the birth of visionary polymath Rabindranath Tagore, Mark Tully presents a special edition of Something Understood exploring Tagore's vision of the unity of all creation.

Tagore was a Nobel prize winning poet, author, musician artist and philosopher.

He argued for the essential 'oneness' of humanity and aimed to heal the divisions between East and West, science and spirituality and man and nature.

Mark Tully asks what we can learn from Tagore's belief that 'truth implies unity, a unity expressed through many and varied manifestations, a unity which, when we are able to realise it, gives us freedom'.

Mark speaks to Vandana Shiva, a philosopher, physicist, and globally renowned environmental campaigner, who explains her understanding of Tagore's concept of the universal.

We hear music from around the world - from sarode player Wajahat Khan to Purcell's 'Ode to St Cecelia'.

And we learn that Gustav Holst immersed himself in Hindu mysticism and spirituality.

His series of choral hymns from the Rig Veda, the oldest of the Hindu scriptures, was the outcome of that experience.

Readings come from William Cullen Bryant - an American romantic poet inspired by the wildness of the forest, Jean-paul Sartre and, of course, from Tagore himself.

Producer: Jo Coombs

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

Rain20120715

Mark Tully looks at the emotional impact of rain in a programme for St Swithun's Day.

St. Swithun's day is arguably the most British of all Saints days, associated as it is with one of the nations most popular topics of conversation: the weather. More specifically of course, it's associated with rain as the saint is most commonly prayed to in times of drought and tradition has it that, if it rains on St Swithun's day, it will rain solidly for the next forty days.

Mark Tully considers the emotional impact rain has upon us in a summer that has already seen its fair share of it. An edition of Something Understood to splash about in, with readings provided by Longfellow, Tagore and Langston Hughes and a range of evocative music from Chopin and Debussy to Ella Fitzgerald and the Portuguese Fado singer Mariza.

Why go out in the rain, when you can stay inside and listen to it on the radio?

The readers are Philip Franks and Grainne Keenan.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Reason And Desire20120311

Mark Tully considers the eternal human conflict between our reason and our desires.

Mark Tully considers the eternal human conflict between our Reason and our Desires. To what extent should the first regulate the second? And how do we achieve the right balance between the two.

With readings from Aristotle, Fernando Pessoa and Kim Addonizio, and a diverse range of music, from The Rolling Stones to Wagner, Mark compares secular thoughts on the subject with the teachings of various religions.

The programme features an interview with Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Professor of Comparative Religion and Philosophy at Lancaster University who makes it clear that there is no one single attitude towards reason and desire in Christianity or in religions of Indian origin.

But whether bound by secular or religious thoughts on the matter, Mark sees a clear need for our desires of all sorts to be controlled to some extent, however difficult it is to find a balance between desire and reason.

The readers are Peter Guinness and Samantha Bond.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Reflections20080203

Katy Radford considers how individuals and societies relate to their own reflections, from images that dance on the surface of a pool and the theatrical distortions of magicians to the significance of religious traditions such as the Jewish sitting shiva, when mirrors are covered during a period of mourning.

Featuring extracts from the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, JK Rowling and Sylvia Plath and music by Denys Baptiste and Maurice Ravel.

Reinventing Ritual20090920

Mark Tully asks how our deep need for rituals and rites of passage is being expressed.

Mark Tully asks how, in an increasingly secular age, our deep need for rituals and rites of passage is being expressed and nourished.

How do new rituals develop and in response to what needs?

The readers are Janice Acquah, Frank Stirling and David Westhead

Religion Good? Religion Bad?20070325

Mark Tully enters the current debate about the nature of religion.

Is religion dangerous - even a force for evil as Richard Dawkins has claimed - or would the human race be considerably worse off and devoid of hope for the future without faith?

Remembering Merton20081214

Dr Rowan Williams talks about the influential Trappist monk and activist Thomas Merton.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams talks to Mike Wooldridge about the influential Trappist monk and activist Thomas Merton, who died 40 years ago.

He discusses his fascination with this complex and passionate man, who combined a lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church with an increasing openness to the needs of the modern world and to the wisdom of the East.

Remembering The Wounded20121111

On Remembrance Sunday, Mark Tully remembers those wounded in action.

In a special edition for Remembrance Sunday, Mark Tully remembers those wounded in action or taken ill while in the Services.

We rightly commemorate those who have died defending our country, but is there a danger that we sometimes forget those who are seriously injured in the armed services and those who devote their lives to caring from them?

Mark Tully talks to staff and patients at Headley Court Defence Medical Rehabilitation Unit in Surrey and draws on readings from 20th and 21st century wars in a programme honouring the wounded. He plays music by John Adams, Slim Gaillard and the band of the Royal Army Medical Corps and introduces readings of Wilfred Owen and A.E. Housman. The readers are Toby Jones and Francis Cadder.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Resisting The Tug20080907

Mark Tully talks to Simon Small about the importance of rediscovering the lost art of contemplation.

How can we find the inner stillness so crucial to living life fully?

Rhythm20110515

Mark Tully asks why we find rhythm so fascinating and discovers how it governs our lives.

Mark Tully asks why we find rhythm so fascinating and discovers how it governs our lives, from the universal to the microscopic.

Rhythm, it seems, not only sets our feet tapping, but binds us all in relationship with each other.

The programme features an interview with Russell Foster, the professor of Circadian Neuroscience at Oxford University.

(Circadian referring to those rhythmic biological cycles that occur in us, within every 24 hours, such as the cycle of wakefulness and sleepiness).

Professor Foster believes that, in our 24/7 society, we are trying to overpower that rhythmic cycle within us, with damaging and dangerous consequences to our health and the health of society.

So why is rhythm so important, and why does it mean so much to so many people.

As Mark Tully says in the programme:

"We love Rhythm in music, we love it in poetry.

Some discover it in prose too.

Then we rejoice in the rhythm of the world we live in, the rhythm of each day, the rising and the setting of the sun, the rhythm of the seasons, and the rhythm that I particularly love, the rhythm of the sea - the tide ebbing and flowing.

We each have a rhythm of our own too, and if we don't listen to it we will pay a price."

The readers are Samantha Bond, Joseph Kloska and Frank Stirling

Presented by Mark Tully

Produced By Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Risk Assessment20080316

Mike Wooldridge explores the implications of our increasingly risk-averse attitude to life, adventure, decision-making and bringing up children.

Roots And Wings20080420

Mark Tully reflects on the most important gifts that parents can bestow upon their children.

Is it true, as Holding Carter once said, that wise parents give their children just two gifts - roots and wings?

Running Away20070923

Mark Tully considers the human need to escape, whether from the modern world, from other people or even from ourselves.

He asks if religion can provide an escape.

Running On Empty20090201

Writer Blake Morrison considers the physical and spiritual isolation of the runner.

Writer Blake Morrison considers the physical and spiritual isolation of the runner, with reference to fellow writers Haruki Murakami, Alan Sillitoe and Sharon Olds and music by guitarist Bert Jansch, French group Air and Ralph Vaughan Williams

Running With The Crowd20111106

Mark Tully examines the relationship between the individual and the crowd.

Mark Tully considers the idea of 'Running with the Crowd' from the Gordon Riots in the eighteenth century to Woodstock in the 60s or the Arab Spring a few months ago. He asks why it is that being part of a crowd moves individuals in different ways than the same event experienced alone, and examines the positive and negative aspects of being part of a crowd.

With the help of the work of Peter Ackroyd, Dannie Abse, V.S. Naipaul and Shakespeare and with music by J. S. Bach, Malcolm Arnold, Joni Mitchell and Aaron Copeland, Mark Tully picks his way through different crowds and asks whether they are destructive or empowering.

The readers are Hattie Morahan and Dan Stevens.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Sacred Beads20040829

In Something Understood this week, Mark Tully considers the use and symbolism of sacred beads.

From worry beads to Rosaries, from Hindu and Buddhist Malas to Jewish Tefillin and Muslim Tasbih, why, across the world's religions, has the

use of sacred beads been such a powerful and enduring rite?

Sacrifices On The Altar Of Love20060924

Writer Bel Mooney explores the sacrifices we are called on to make during our lives - for children, for partners and for God.

Saying Sorry20120527

Mark Tully asks why apologising is so hard and considers some of the benefits of doing so.

Mark Tully asks why we find it so difficult to apologise and considers some of the benefits of doing so. But what of the false, or half-hearted apology? Should saying sorry always lead to forgiveness?

From politicians to journalists, poets to criminals, and from entire countries to intimate lovers, Mark looks at those who have transgressed but cannot find it in themselves to acknowledge the fact and make amends. Just what benefits to individuals, races and nations would flow if an unwarranted act of war or aggression, or just simple inconsideration, was owned up to? What can we do to make the act of apology easier, and how should we respond to those who do manage to say that hardest word of all?

Who better than a politician to ask about the nature of heartfelt apologies, the ways we find to avoid them, and how we arrive at mealy-mouth substitutions. Mark speaks to Mani Shankar Aiyar, a member of India's ruling Congress Party and an expert on the political - with a small and large 'p' - apology. There are times, he admits, when an out-and-out admission of guilt, acceptance of responsibility and an unqualified and genuine apology is in order - but only when the game is up.

With music from Franz Liszt, Frank Sinatra and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and words by Somerset Maugham, Thomas Hardy, Desmond Tutu and Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mark considers the right and wrong time to seek redemption from those you have hurt, and the appropriate way to respond to the repentance of others who have done you wrong.

The readers are Peter Guinness, Emma Fielding and Frank Stirling.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Scent And Sensibility20030831

Fergal Keane considers the human sense of smell and its power to evoke memories.

Season Of Gifts20071223

Fergal Keane looks beyond the material to the spiritual as he explores Christmas traditions of giving and receiving.

Seeing Stars20020908

`Seeing Stars'.

What do we think about when we look at the sky on a clear night? Mark Tully contemplates creation and infinity with astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Serpents And Doves20080217

Mark Tully considers Jesus's instruction to his disciples to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves as they set out on their mission.

How is it possible to combine pragmatism and guile with openness and transparency? Which historical figures could properly be described as both wise and innocent, and what are their particular achievements?

Seven Words20060409

Mark Tully follows in the footsteps of generations of writers, composers and theologians who have found fascination and inspiration in the 'Seven Last Words' spoken by Christ from the Cross.

He talks to Canon Edmund Newell of St Paul's Cathedral about a contemporary exploration of these sayings, one that has captivated congregations here and in North America, particularly in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Shields20040905

Mark Tully considers the ways we protect ourselves - from misfortune, from other religions, from God.

Side Effects20110724

The writer Christie Dickason explores how we cope with the unexpected.

In this week's Something Understood, the poet and novelist Christie Dickason reflects on how we deal with the unexpected.

How do we recover from the troubles which can shift an individual off-track - like loss, illness or accident?

Featuring readings from Rebecca Solnit, Pablo Neruda and Antonio Machado, music from Louis Armstrong, Peteris Vasks and Radiokijada, and an interview with the writer Simon Brett.

Produced by Eleanor McDowall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Silent Witness20030518

Composer and choral director Antony Pitts listens out for the silent moments in music, poetry and life.

Sleep20100509

Mark Tully asks why sleep is so important to our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

Mark Tully considers the role of sleep.

We spend an average 27 years of our lives asleep, yet it's claimed we're experiencing an epidemic of insomnia, and that children are particularly badly affected.

Why is sleep so important to our physical, mental and spiritual well-being?

The producer is Eley McAinsh, and this is a Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Sleeping On It20101017

Mark Tully asks whether problems are best solved by the unconscious or by rational thought

In 'Sleeping On It', Mark Tully asks how real problem solving is best achieved: by the unconscious or by rational thought.

How can we use contemplation, meditation or objective reasoning to solve our immediate problems and what is the best way to achieve that distance or objectivity that best helps us find solutions.

Mark asks why Archimedes was best able to solve his famous mathematical problem in the bath, why Mozart was happiest composing on a walk and how it is that he himself finds solutions in a traffic jam.

He discusses Eureka Moments, logical thought and wasting time with Professor Guy Claxon, author of 'Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind'.

Readings include the work of Sufi master, Rumi, and the poetry of Eammon Grennan and music ranges from Bizet to Johnny Nash.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Sleepless Nights20060806

When you wake unexpectedly in the night and the mind starts to churn, why do life's little problems and irritations seem much worse than they really are? In conversation with writer and journalist Virginia Ironside, Mark Tully contemplates the perspective of the sleepless.

Small Is Beautiful20020811

Mark Tully explores the virtues of focusing on the smaller things in life and discovers that size really does matter.

Snakes And Ladders2003012620030201

Mark Tully uncovers the Indian origins of the popular board game, and finds that its educational role in spiritual matters has been lost on its journey west.

Snakes And Ladders20101003

The writer Sarah Cuddon explores the ancient notion of Snakes and Ladders.

With reference to Salman Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children', the poetry of Dorothy Porter and the work of filmmaker Maya Deren, she examines the way the game mirrors our experience of life and our attitudes towards fate and morality.

Featuring music by Radiohead, Erik Satie and Alarm Will Sound.

Producer : Alan Hall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

Solitude20100725

Melissa Viney reflects on different states of solitude.

Melissa Viney draws upon her own experience of aloneness to reflect upon different states of solitude.

Including extracts from the writings of Henry David Thoreau, Sara Maitland and Virginia Woolf, music by Emiliana Torrini, Ry Cooder and JS Bach and interviews with the artist Helaine Blumenfeld and former journalist and hostage Anthony Grey.

Producer: Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Speaking Of Praise20060115

In Something Understood this week Mark Tully's theme is Praise.

Why is praise important, in both the spiritual and the secular realms? What is its function and its benefits, and what damage is done when praise is withheld or inflated?

Spirit20060205

Puppeteer Susan Beattie produced a theatre show based on her fascination with ordinary people's spirituality, which had the unexpected effect of shaking her belief in God.

Spiritual Emergency20070916

Mark Tully explores the concept of Spiritual Emergency.

The term was coined by Stanislav Grof to describe a spiritual awakening of extreme intensity.

Why is the relationship between spiritual and mental health so complex, and how can people going through such an emergency best be helped?

Spirituality And Interfaith Dialogue20070805

Mark Tully asks if spirituality would be a more effective starting point for interfaith dialogue than religion.

He talks to the Hindu activist Swami Agnisvesh about his claim that only spirituality can liberate us from our religious ghettoes and dismantle the barriers between the faiths.

Spoiled For Choice20050123

Mark Tully explores the subject of choice.

Whatever the politicians might say, is the freedom to choose as much a burden as a boon?

Spools Of Time20070401

The distinguished Canadian broadcaster Chris Brookes reflects on how memories are captured in the mundane objects we gather around ourselves and how the passing of the years can be traced, as a map of time, in the lines of a face we love.

Spring Forward20090301

Fergal Keane looks forward to Spring, as a season and a metaphor for better times to come.

Fergal Keane looks forward to Spring, both as a season and a metaphor for better times to come.

Square Pegs20070513

Mark Tully considers the lot of those who don't quite fit in.

Stacks Of Wisdom20080817

Mark Tully celebrates libraries.

From the famous to the obscure, libraries are dusty and mysterious, solemn and weighty, dull and boring, chaste and wickedly romantic.

They have contained the collected wisdom of groups and nations, they have enabled the poor to climb out of their circumstances, the poet to survive penury, the revolutionary to plot and the theologian to speculate.

But do they remain as important in the modern media age?

Stages Of Faith.20061119

Mark Tully considers how faith develops from infancy, through childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and maturity.

Is the path linear, with set milestones and cul-de-sacs which some people never grow out of, or is the development a more fluid one influenced by personality and circumstance?

Starting Over20120115

Paul Bakibinga explores loss and how to get going again after a major life setback.

Ugandan born journalist and BBC World Service presenter Paul Bakibinga explores the idea of loss and how to get going again after a major life setback in Something Understood: Starting Over.

The programme includes an account of his own experience of losing a baby, and explores how others have managed to restart their lives after setbacks such as contracting HIV, and an account from an Asian family who managed to get going again after being thrown out of Uganda by Idi Amin. Paul Bakibinga explains how directly experiencing adversity has given him more empathy when covering death or disaster as a journalist.

It also features an interview with South African performance poet Malika Ndlovu who reads a moving extract from her journal, "Invisible Earthquake", which depicts her struggle to regain a sense of inner calm after her daughter was still-born.

An uplifting programme which begins in darkness with Mahler's "Songs on the Death of Children" and moves into the light - ending with the Ugandan Children's Choir singing "Siyahamba - We Are Marching In The Light of God".

The programme is presented by Paul Bakibinga.

Producer: Kim Normanton.

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Steps In Time20111023

Deborah Bull explores the our natural instinct to dance.

Deborah Bull, ex principal dancer for the Royal Ballet and now Creative Director for the Royal Opera House, explores how the the urge to dance is one of the most natural of human instincts.

In 'Steps in Time' she reflects on how dance has been used to serve secular, sacred and social situations, and has evolved into a performance art.

She draws on a range of music to illustrate her theme - Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring', a Klezmer wedding dance, a traditional Raqs Sharqi used for belly dancing, and the soaring romantic music of Prokofiev's 'Romeo and Juliet'.

There is poetry from Rumi, Billy Collins and Laurence Binyon and an extract from Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.

The readers are Liza Sadovy, Greg Hicks and Frank Stirling.

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Stolen Identity20070520

Mark Tully considers the current concern over identity theft.

Stolen identity has been a recurrent theme in myth, literature, film, history and even scripture, but now our long-term fascination with the idea has taken on a more sinister and personal dimension.

Stories From Scraps20081207

Mark Tully considers one of fast-growing social networking activity of scrap-booking.

Mark Tully considers one of the fastest-growing social networking activities in the country - not the much-publicised online communities, but scrap-booking.

As more people discover this powerful method of accessing memories, they are building them into life stories which can lead to a healing sense of meaning, identity and integration.

Stories Of The Nativity20101219

Mark Tully considers the significance of traditional nativity stories.

In a Christmas edition of Something Understood, Mark Tully considers the symbolism and meaning of the traditional nativity stories and asks what they can offer us in a contemporary context.

Some church historians now argue that, given inconsistencies in the Gospels and a variety of other empirical evidence, accounts of the Nativity should be viewed as stories rather than literal history.

If this is the case, what is the significance of the stories that have been handed down to us about the birth of Jesus and what can we learn from them?

Mark Tully talks to church historian Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch about his approach to these 'stories' of the Nativity.

Different approaches to the Christmas tales are found in the writing of novelist Elizabeth Goudge, poets Moira Andrew and T.S.Eliot and the Syrian mystic Deacon Ephrem and music is by Vaughan Williams, Kathy Mattea and the African Gospel Choir.

The readers are Derek Jacobi and Isla Blair.

Presenter: Mark Tully

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Striving For Imperfection20091206

Classicist Llewellyn Morgan considers the problem of aspiring towards perfection.

: Classicist Llewellyn Morgan considers the problem of aspiring towards perfection, and how an acceptance, and even celebration, of our failings may be the better path to follow.

With readings from Orhan Pamuk, Horace and WB Yeats and music from Jascha Heifetz, John Foulds and Alessandro Scarlatti.

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

Superstition20120219

Irma Kurtz explores the human need for superstition.

Irma Kurtz reflects on why humans often abandon common sense and resort to superstition to deal with life under stress. Superstitions, she reflects, originated long before scientific knowledge as primitive tactics in the human war for survival, their origins unknown and having no basis in logic or reason.

Irma concludes that although anyone today living by superstition would probably qualify as having an obsessive compulsive disorder, nevertheless superstitions are still handed down from generation to generation and are stored in our subconscious. We might not believe in them, but we don't forget them.

To illustrate her theme, we hear readings from W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Alexander Pushkin and Rudyard Kipling. The music is by Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner, and Frederick Chopin.

Read by Liza Sadovy and Greg Hicks.

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Sweet Surrender20100321

Fergal Keane considers if serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance.

When should we accept our lot and when should we rage against circumstances? Fergal Keane considers the notion that serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance.

The readers are Liza Sadovy, Frank Stirling and Don Wycherley.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Sweet Thought In Sadness20050522

Mark Tully considers the melancholy benefits of sadness, an emotion that can be appropriate, healing and creative.

He explores how sadness can be meaningful rather than meaningless, and how it can deepen and heighten joy.

Telling Stories20040627

In Something Understood this week Mark Tully explores the way in which telling stories gives meaning to our lives and experiences.

Why does the theologian John Drane suggest that story is central to the contemporary quest for meaning and that no more radical activity exists?

Tempest Tossed20031116

Julian of Norwich reminds us: 'He did not say, 'You shall not be tempest tossed'.

Mark Tully considers the ways we cope with the storms in our lives - spiritual, emotional and physical.

That Is Knowledge20030525

Mark Tully explores the nature of Knowledge.

Is it true, as stated in the Bhagavad Gita, that 'The raft of knowledge ferries the worst sinner to safety'?

The Animal Inside20080518

Poet Christie Dickason reflects on that magical world where humans lived as equals with animals, reflecting on our debt to animals and asking whether we acknowledge our shared past.

Featuring poetry by David Grubb and Simon Armitage, Adam Douglas's study of the myth of the werewolf, and music by Taraf de Haidouks, Olivier Messiaen and Flanders and Swann.

The Art Of Faith, Part 220100815

Mike Wooldridge considers the place of religious art in an increasingly secular age.

In conversation with the Director of the British Museum, Neil Macgregor, he considers the difference between sacred art and religious art, and the place of belief in the creation of art.

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Art Of Faith: Part 120100808

Mike Wooldridge explores the universal principles that underlie all sacred art.

In conversation with the Director and Students of the Prince's School of Traditional Arts in London, he considers the meaning of tradition and originality in sacred art, and asks how the artist's spirituality informs their work.

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Ascent20091004

Writer Sarah Cuddon reflects on her fascination with mountains.

Writer Sarah Cuddon has always been drawn to the mountains - in childhood, to her grandfather's house in the Pyrenees, and as an adult to peaks in more remote and dangerous locations including the Andes and Himalayas.

She reflects on this fascination and how writers and climbers, from Wordsworth to Andrew Greig, Joe Simpson to Robert Macfarlane, have felt about 'the ascent'.

With music by Clogs, Baka Beyond and Anton Bruckner.

The Barbarians20051030

Mark Tully draws on Cp Cavafy's famous poem Waiting for the Barbarians.

He asks if Cavafy was right to suggest that every culture and community needs a sense of the Barbarian outside the gate in order to give meaning to its sense of identity and civilisation.

The Beauty Of Birds20100328

Mark Tully considers the spiritual inspiration poets and musicians have found in birds.

Mark Tully considers the spiritual inspiration poets and musicians have found in birds, and goes bird watching with nature writer Richard Mabey.

The Best Words20100718

Mark Tully talks to Louis De Bernieres about the difference between poetry and prose.

Mark Tully talks to poet and novelist Louis De Bernieres about the difference between poetry and prose.

Is poetry, as Coleridge has said, "the best words in the best order"? Is it true that poetry is really better than prose at expressing emotion?

And can poetry really change the world, as at least one writer believes?

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Better Part Of Valour20120916

Mark Tully looks at the pros and cons of taking a cautious approach. With Rowan Williams.

Mark Tully examines the premise that discretion is the better part of valour. A phrase coined by Shakespeare and given voice by Falstaff in less than creditable circumstances, it is usually associated with timidity and cowardice. Yet sometimes the bold approach, the quick answer or the exhortation to seize the day can have disastrous results. Does caution offer an alternative answer?

Mark Tully discusses the pros and cons of discretion as an approach to problem solving with The Archbishop of Canterbury as he prepares for retirement, with reference to some of the controversies he has had to negotiate throughout his time in office. The programme includes readings from Bunyan and Shakespeare and music that ranges from Bartok to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The poet Lemn Sissay reads from his own work and the other readers are Helen Ryan and Kenneth Cranham.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Blizzard's Dance20091213

Mark Tully explores the lure - for some - of bitter cold and deep snow.

What is this primal yearning for what is described by one writer as 'the thrill of the north coming to visit and staying for a while'?

The readers are Janice Acquah, Nicholas Boulton and Frank Stirling

The Book Of Misers20121028

Mark Tully discusses meanness, one of the oldest human vices.

Starting with Al-Jahiz's 9th century "Book of Misers", Mark Tully looks at one of our old vices and asks whether it can ever bring positive results.

Scrooge, Silas Marner, Ebenezer Balfour, dozens of proudly mean skinflints in Al-Jahiz's great satire, the archetype of the miser is familiar to all cultures and is as old as money itself. Mark Tully asks how we should view it - is it funny, sinful, harmless or a kind of madness - and can it, surprisingly, have benefits?

With readings from Moliere and William Cowper and music ranging from The Beatles to Gounod and Vaughan Williams to Zain Bhika, Mark examines all that is stingy and mean. The readers are Emily Raymond and Toby Jones.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Bullying Circle20091018

Mark Tully considers bullying - the bully, the bullied and the bystanders.

Mark Tully considers bullying - the bully, the bullied and the circle of bystanders and followers who make bullying possible.

The readers are Emily Raymond, David Westhead, Frank Stirling and Jordan Scowen.

The Carer And The Cared For20070812

Mark Tully considers the relationship between people who are gravely ill and the people who care for them.

The Chain Of Memory20041114

In Something Understood for Remembrance Day in the 60th Anniversary year of the D-Day Landings, Mark Tully considers the importance of the transmission of memories from one generation to the next.

What else is lost when memories are lost?

The Chalice Of Being20080601

Mark Tully explores former UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold's exhortation that each morning we must hold out the chalice of our being.

The Choir20111204

Mark Tully discusses the role of the choir as a keystone of so many rites of worship.

Through a visit to one of Britain's best known Cathedrals, Mark Tully investigates the importance of the choir's role in contemporary worship.

With examples from some of the finest choral music ranging from contemporary masses and traditional psalms to the work of Gospel choirs and the New York Cantorial Choirs, this is a programme that explores the communal power of singing.

Why does such music continue to provide a vital and indispensible element of worship and how can it have a wider impact on the spiritual communities its serves?

With special recordings of the Winchester Cathedral Choir in rehearsal and in conversation with the Precentor and Director of Music, this is a celebration of singing to the glory of God.

This edition of Something Understood includes music by Antonio Lotti, Gustav Holst and Samuel Malavsky and readings by Samuel Butler, Wendy Cope and Siegfried Sassoon.

The readers are Samantha Bond, Jack Shepherd and Wendy Cope.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Consolations Of Autumn20091025

Hazhir Teimourian asks if youth, as with spring and summer, is not overrated.

Writer and broadcaster Hazhir Teimourian asks if youth, as with spring and summer, is not overrated.

In the company of sages and poets from the most ancient times to our own era, he draws parallels between the physical 'age of mists and mellow fruitfulness' and the contentment and serenity that can be the gift of old age in these days of greater affluence and better medicine.

From Cicero in Rome 2,000 years ago, through Omar Khayyam in medieval Persia and Shakespeare in modern England, he reflects on both reminiscences of youth and the praise of 'the autumn of life'.

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

The Currency Exchange20090426

Radio producer Chris Brookes explores the nature of exchange in our day-to-day lives.

As the global financial crisis bites deeper, Canadian radio producer Chris Brookes explores the nature of exchange in our day-to-day lives, comparing the value of two currencies that we deal in - money and kindness.

Featuring extracts from Benjamin Zephaniah's What If and the Jewish Lamed-Vavniks.

The Emotions Of Conflict20030323

Joan Bakewell presents a special edition of the spiritual anthology programme looking at the range of emotions we feel at times of Conflict.

As the politicians debate, and the military prepares, how do we feel? And how important is spirituality in such circumstances? This week's programme will focus on the work of poets, musicians and writers who have been moved by conflict.

It will also include a new poem by the Asian Poet Laureate, Roshan Doug.

The Extraordinary Mary Ward20090830

Mike Wooldridge on the life of Mary Ward, who helped to redefine religious life for women.

Mike Wooldridge explores the life and legacy of an extraordinary Yorkshire woman, Mary Ward, who scandalised the Church authorities of the early 17th century by redefining religious life for women.

She walked across the Alps several times to plead her cause in Rome, suffered imprisonment and ill-treatment, and, when she died, her few remaining companions had to bribe a vicar to bury her.

But 400 years on, the Orders she founded are working throughout the world and vast congregations are gathering to celebrate her story.

The Festive Spirit20091220

Madeleine Bunting explores the traditional desire of communities to create festivals.

Since time immemorial special occasions have been marked with a festival in which communities joined together in celebration.

The journalist Madeleine Bunting explores this desire to create festivals.

The readers are Liza Sadovy, James Goode and Frank Stirling.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Fisherman's Dream20021006

Fergal Keane examines the concept of fishing a a quest for both physical and spiritual sustenance.

The Gift Of Vulnerability20021222

Mark Tully considers the nature of vulnerability and discovers it to be a precious asset, possible even essential to our fulfilment as human beings.

The Gloaming20121209

Sarah Cuddon reflects on the 'in-between time' of twilight.

The writer and broadcaster Sarah Cuddon considers the inspirational and meditational qualities of the 'in-between moments' of twilight at the start and end of each day.

Sacred aspects of this time are explored alongside the work of artists and photographers who refer to it as the 'blue hour' and writers who have attempted to capture 'the gloaming'. With music inspired by twilight from, among others, Radiohead and Richard Strauss.

Produced by Alan Hall.

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

The Good Father20040725

Poet Roshan Doug remembers his father and considers the role fathers play in our lives.

The Greening Of God20070701

Mike Wooldridge considers the complex relationship between cosmology, theology and climate change.

He talks to author Judy Cannato about how the latest theological and scientific insights are changing the way we think about caring for the planet.

The Hardest Word20031123

Fergal Keane considers the act of saying sorry.

Bishop Tutu suggests there can be 'no redemption without repentance', but does an apology require penitence?

The Healing Hand20051009

What's in a handshake? Mark Tully considers the potent symbolism of hands and hand gestures, pondering their capacity to both hurt and heal.

The Heart Of The Hunter20030608

Mark Tully examines the culture of the hunter, in ancient times, in myth and legend, and in modern days.

The Horse: A Special Gift To Mankind20110109

Mark Tully looks at the spiritual, symbolic and personal appeal of horses in 'The Horse: A Special Gift to Mankind'.

When God wanted to create the horse, he said to the South Wind, "I want to make a creature of you.

Condense." And the Wind condensed.

- Emir Abd-el-Kader

The horse is an animal with which we have a special relationship- an object of worship, the cornerstone of military culture for a thousand years and powerhouse of agriculture in many cultures for far longer.

Pet, worker, gambler's darling and symbol of beauty and power: this is an exploration of the spiritual appeal of the horse.

Mark talks to art historian Tamsin Pickeral and meets her horse, William.

We hear readings from Siegfried Sassoon, contemporary poet James Wright and the Koran, as well as music by Aaron Copeland, Randy Newman and Paul Reade.

Read by Derek Jacobi and Isla Blair.

Presenter: Mark Tully

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Mark Tully looks at the spiritual, symbolic and personal appeal of horses.

The Hubris Of Science20050306

Mark Tully explores the tensions, problems and situations that arise when the boundaries of scientific knowledge are pushed beyond existing moral, ethical and religious frameworks for deciding what is right and wrong, legitimate or unacceptable.

The Illusion Of Progress20050501

In conversation with Professor John Gray, Mark Tully considers the argument that belief in human progress is a secular myth and a dangerous illusion.

The Insistent Moon20031130

Novelist Margaret Drabble considers the enduring mysteries of the moon - its role in the earth's survival and its haunting powers of inspiration.

The Instinct For Meaning20120805

Writer Jake Arnott believes narrative is a powerful force. In this week's Something Understood, he explores the idea that the instinct to create stories is innate within us all, and is vital to our understanding of the world and our own lives. After all, without a narrative to join everything together, our time on earth becomes little more than a series of random, unconnected events.

As a novelist, stories are Jake's stock in trade, it's his job to engage with them. But he thinks the desire to do so is universal - since our earliest evolution humans have been telling tales. Fairy stories in particular, passed down through an oral tradition, echo across time and across cultures. EM Forster described story as a 'low atavistic form'. Atavistic, yes, and deeply engrained, but Jake argues that Forster's insistence that story is mere causality is wrong. Story occurs without anything having had to happen, it's not just an order of events. Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' is a play in which nothing much happens, and yet it resonates with a powerful sense of story.

Jake speaks to Jane Davis, founder of The Reader Organisation. Jane's charity invites people to come together and read aloud, using narratives from books to engage with their own life stories. Through her work and her own personal experiences, she has found that stories can transform lives. And the telling of our own life story can be a powerful tool.

Readings from Jeanette Winterson and Joan Didion, and music including the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby and Schumann's Fairytale Pictures, help Jake to unravel the potent energy of narrative.

Producer: Jo Coombs

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Jake Arnott explores how a sense of narrative is essential for how we understand the world

The Judas Kiss20100307

Mark Tully explores the conflict between loyalty and betrayal.

What circumstances force us to choose between loyalty and betrayal, and what determines our final choice?

The readers are Janice Acquah, Frank Stirling and David Westhead.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Love Of Good Alone20050724

Mark Tully asks whether human beings are driven blindly by selfish genes or evolving to strive for goodness.

He talks to Professor Keith Ward about what makes humans distinctive amongst all other animals.

Is it, as Ward claims, that we can choose to act for the love of good alone?

The Marks Of Integrity20050731

Rosemary Hartill considers the meaning and importance of integrity in public and private life.

Is integrity an absolute or a relative term?

The Martyrs Of Charterhouse Square20100711

Mark Tully tells the remarkable story of the first martyrs of the English Reformation.

He visits the centuries-old Priory near London's Smithfield meat market and, in the company of the current Master of Charterhouse, uncovers a hidden history with a contemporary relevance.

Mark hears why the Archbishop of Canterbury believes that the Martyrs offer a precious gift to the whole Church.

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Midst Of Life20110130

Teresa Morgan explores ways of thinking about middle age.

In the modern western world, we often imagine life as linear, with 'middle age' as the slightly boring long bit that comes between the more dynamic beginning and end.

Classicist and Anglican minister Teresa Morgan explores alternative ways of considering the midst of life.

She cites ancient Roman and traditional Hindu approaches that break life up into several stages that give a sense of progress through those middle years and she draws upon the writings of those for whom mid-life has taken on a different significance, through a change of circumstance or sudden illness.

And she relates the thoughts of Albert Scweitzer, Monica Furlong, Alan Coren and others to the perception of Heaven as eternal life without beginning or end...

suggesting that middle age is perhaps a foretaste!

With music by John Tavener, Don Henley, Sophie Tucker and Olivier Messiaen.

Producer: Alan Hall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

The Migrant20020728

`The Migrant's Tale'.

Mike Wooldridge considers the forces and impulses which lead people to migrate.

Are humans naturally nomadic or do we only uproot when forced to do so?

The Moon In My Life20120318

The space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock reflects on the influence of the moon.

In 'The Moon in My Life' the space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock reflects on the cultural and scientific effects of the moon, and also on the role the moon has played in her personal life.

She talks to scientist Professor John Sutherland about recent research that indicates that the moon could have been responsible for generating all life here on Earth and chooses readings by H.G. Wells, Carol Ann Duffy and Carl Sandburg and music by Dvorak, Debussy and Carl Orff. The readers are Liza Sadovy and David Holt.

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Mother As Muse20100425

The writer Sarah Cuddon reflects on the idea of the mother figure as a muse.

The Mother as Muse"

With references to writers Collette, Virginia Woolf and Marguerite Duras, the painter Whistler and the dancer Michael Clarke, she explores some of the ways the mother provides food for creative inspiration.

With music from Montserrat Figueras, John Lennon and Patti Smith.

The producer is Alan Hall, and this is a Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4."

The Mystery Of Belief20070603

Mike Wooldridge considers the nature of belief and asks whether it can be taught.

Is belief a matter of the head or the heart, and what traits do secular and religious believers have in common?

The Nature Of Invention20031109

Mark Tully explores the roots of invention, in necessity or elsewhere, and its relationship with creativity.

The New Age Of The Engineer20100926

Is it true that the contribution of Britain's engineers has gone unrecognised?

Is it true that the creativity and contribution of Britain's engineers has gone largely unrecognised and unappreciated.

If it is true, why is it true?

And is this about to change?

With Readings by David Holt and Emily Raymond.

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Other Great Leveller20060423

Mental illness is no respecter of education, class or creed and can have a devastating effect on the lives of people with mental health problems and their loved ones.

But sometimes sufferers have a strong sense of spirituality and creativity.

Rabbi Julia Neuberger considers how spirituality can provide a new sense of meaning for people with mental health problems.

The Outsider20020804

`The Outsider'.

Mark Tully explores the power of detachment and the pain of exclusion of the outsider.

The Outsider20111113

Fergal Keane considers the place of the outsider in society.

Fergal Keane considers the Outsider both as a force for good and progress, and also as a more malign being.

He reflects on the psychology of the individual writer, musician or painter and their need to create an outsider image for the public; on outsiders who are consigned to exclusion because of their social circumstances, and on more sinister outsiders who keep dark secrets.

The programme includes readings of work by Colin Wilson, William Trevor, and Anton Chekhov, and music by Gustav Mahler, Ismael Lo, and Rufus Wainwright.

The readers are Jonjo O'Neill, Gina Peach and Frank Stirling.

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Past Is A Foreign Country20080413

Mark Tully considers how we look back on the past.

Do we feel regret or joy about what is behind us? What do we have to do, both personally and institutionally, to move on to the future?

The Path Of The Convert20071209

Guardian columnist Madeleine Bunting meets Yahya Birt, who converted to Islam as a student.

What leads someone to convert to another faith? Why do some make the decision with joy and delight while others, like the famous Christian apologist CS Lewis, kick and struggle against it? Why are some converts so admired and others so hated?

The Pearl Of Great Price20100207

Mark Tully considers the enduring symbolism and mystical properties of pearls.

Mark Tully considers the enduring symbolism of pearls and the mystical properties with which they are endowed in myth and religious tradition.

The readers are Janice Acquah, William Gaminara and Frank Stirling.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Philistines.20040222

The sculptor Alexander Stoddart will never win a Turner Prize.

His work cannot be summed up in a witty one liner.

Official contemporary artists scoff at his busts of people like the queen.

By analysing the characteristics of the philistine, Alexander gets closer to the indefinable mystery that is art.

The Pleasure Of Work20060730

Mark Tully considers the pleasures of working, whether it be digging the garden or writing a script.

The Poetry Of Healing20101205

Poet Kenneth Steven reflects on poetry that brings healing to the heart.

Kenneth Steven selects poems by Edwin Muir, Robert Frost, WB Yeats and others to explore the idea of why people are drawn to poetry at moments of crisis.

With readings by Emma Fielding and Jonathan Keeble and musical extracts from Handel's Saul, Mozart's Piano Sonata in D (K.448) and the African-American spiritual 'There is a balm in Gilead'.

Producer: Alan Hall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

The Power Of A Name20091011

Mark Tully considers the power of a name to shape our sense of self.

Mark Tully considers the power of a name to shape our sense of self, our wellbeing, our relationships and our path through life.

The readers are Emily Raymond, Frank Stirling and David Westhead

The Power Of Song20051211

At school, Mark Tully was told that he couldn't sing and would not be able to join the school choir.

Many others before and since have been told the same thing.

What have they missed out on? To find out, Mark talks to Joan Taylor of the Can't Song Choir at Morley College, London.

The Power Of Three20040411

Mark Tully explores our enduring fascination with three-fold patterns and structures.

How far does the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity reflect a much more ancient understanding of "The Power of Three" in both nature and religion?

The Problem With Passion20100516

What do self-help manuals really mean when they advise us to 'discover our passion'?

Mark Tully asks what the self-help manuals really mean when they advise us to discover our passion" if we want to live a fulfilled life.

Is this advice well-founded, rooted in the spiritual notion of vocation, or rather a route to self-obsession and confusion?

Producer: Eley McAinsh

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4."

The Project Of Individuality20061126

No one sees, feels or meets the world from the same place.

The Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue considers individuality's possibilities.

The Project Of Individuality20061217

No one sees, feels or meets the world from the same place.

Irish poet and philosopher, John O'Donohue considers the possibilities of individuality.

The Psychology Of Outrage20020623

Mark Tully considers the psychology of outrage.

What makes a scandal, and what do our reactions to scandal say about us?

The Puritan Gift20080810

Mark Tully talks to Will Hopper, one of the authors of The Puritan Gift.

Where does the Puritan work ethic come from and why has it had such a major global impact, both culturally and economically?

The Real Me20050515

Guyanese-born teacher and musician Lionel McCalman, who has lived in London for 30 years, explores his identity.

The Religious Requirement2003030920030315

Mark Tully considers a recent remark by the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, that ""The great religions are more than spirituality".

The Religious Requirement20030310
The Rescuers20090726

Mark Tully explores the theme of rescue.

A mainstay of myth and fairytale, adventure and romance, why is the longing for rescue so pervasive, and the need to rescue so powerful?

The Road Taken20090222

Mike Wooldridge explores what happens when we choose between different paths in life.

Mike Wooldridge explores what happens when we have to choose between different paths in life.

How are our lives shaped by such decisions, and how are we changed by what we say 'yes' to and what we turn away from? He talks to Hollywood composer Matthew Ferraro about the decisions that have shaped his life and which have helped to bring about his massive new work The Tension of Opposites.

The Sacred Heart: Mark20030914

Tully considers the enduring symbolism of the heart in literature, art, music and faith.

The Science Test20090125

Mark Tully considers the purpose and scope of science.

What are the big questions that it can and cannot answer? If science can tell us 'what' and 'how', can it not tell us 'why'?

The Sculptors Of Peace20100221

Mike Wooldridge talks to the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks.

Mike Wooldridge talks to the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, about the particular - and unprecedented - challenges that confront religion and society in the 21st century.

The reader is David Holt.

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Second Coming20080629

Writer and performer Judith French considers why almost every culture has a legend of a second coming, be it a Messiah, King Arthur or even a Superman.

The Seventh Commandment20030622

Joan Bakewell considers the consequences of adultery, contrasting passion and excitement with pain and confusion.

The Singing Manifesto20090111

American radio producers The Kitchen Sisters on their distinctive approach to interviewees

Recorded in San Francisco, American public radio producers The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, talk about their distinctive approach to interviewees and why they always ask their guests to sing a favourite song.

They explain how they have found that singing achieves an 'accelerated intimacy' that cuts to the heart of a person and results in 'composed radio'.

The Solace Of Routine20040125

Mark Tully considers the effect of routine on our lives.

The Spirit Of Africa20050703

In a week of unprecedented attention on Africa, Mark Tully explores the idea that the answers to Africa's problems increasingly lie with the continent's spirituality rather than with politics.

The Spirit Of Jazz20120617

Mark Tully improvises on the spirituality of jazz, one of his favourite forms of music.

Mark Tully improvises on the theme of spirituality in jazz, one of his favourite forms of music. He is joined by trumpeter, Ian Smith who evangelizes about the links between jazz and faith.

Together Mark and Ian identify the roots of jazz, deep in the church and in religious experience, as well as in the lives of ordinary black Americans in the first half of the 20th Century. Ian maintains that jazz provided the only forum in American public life where black creative artists could be respected and could articulate a culture specific to their own experiences. More than that, he maintains that jazz, "is a meditative form which circles around certain fundamental truths without pretending that the limited human personal experience can solve them."

Mark Tully also celebrates the sheer joy of jazz with readings and music which lift the heart. He is even given permission by Ian to enjoy some of his favourite jazz pieces by musicians who are sometimes regarded by jazz buffs as not quite the genuine article.

The readers are Frank Stirling, Emma Fielding and Peter Guinness.

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Theft Of Time20060129

Mark Tully considers the strange distortions of time to which modern technologies give rise.

Why do so many inventions designed to give us more time actually deprive us of time: time to stand and stare, time to reflect, time to create, time to be?

The Things We're Handed Down20070617

On Father's Day, Fergal Keane considers how we can instil in our children a sense of values in a world of materialistic cynicism, in which we ourselves frequently fail to live up to the mark.

The Tree Of Life20090607

Mike Wooldridge considers 'The Tree of Life' - one of the most enduring and universal symbols of life and connectedness - from Genesis to Darwin to DNA, in conversation with geneticist Professor Steve Jones.

Mike Wooldridge considers 'The Tree of Life', in conversation with Professor Steve Jones

The Trouble We've Seen20021215

Fergal Keane examines the literature and music of suffering and asks whether the experience offers the opportunity for a deeper spiritual life.

The Two Sides Of Hope20110508

We think of hope as such a positive thing but Mark Tully considers the dangers of optimism

We think of hope as such a positive thing but Mark Tully considers the dangers of false optimism, and the despair that can follow the collapse of great expectations.

He takes two examples.

On New Year's Eve 1918, the ship, the Lolaire (Pro: You Lair Uh) was bringing over 300 survivors of the First World War back to their loved ones on the Hebridean Island of Lewis and Harris.

This return was one of great hope - for those returning, for those waiting, for the Island, and for the world after such a catastrophic war which had ended just six weeks before.

The following day would be a New Year.

But in the small hours the ship was caught in a storm as it approached the harbour and sank within sight of the crowds on the shore.

Most were drowned.

It seems the amount of despair is sometimes exponentially linked to the amount of positive expectation.

And Mark Tully also looks at a contemporary story of infertility, where regular hope is followed by regular despair, and there can often be a desire not to hope, at all, for fear of the disappointment that follows.

But it's not all doom and gloom.

Mark Tully also looks at how enduring hope can be a respite, and one that can be continually reached.

And the words of Martin Luther King, and the music of Frank Sinatra add another positive note in favour of Dreams, and High Hopes.

Presented by Mark Tully

Produced by Adam Fowler

An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Unresolved20111127

Poet Stewart Henderson explores how sore unresolved issues in us can find a resolution.

Poet Stewart Henderson questions whether the agitated, complaining presence of the unresolved - in the form of disappointed hopes, continuous regret, or hideous trauma - can be stilled, even silenced, bringing the individual to a contemplative and functioning resolution.

Stewart talks to Julie Nicholson whose daughter Jenny was killed in the London bombings on 7th July 2005.

At Horfield Church in Bristol, where Jenny is buried, they talk about her struggle with this cataclysmic event - the shock, the loss of her priestly vocation and the search for reconciliation.

Julie says: "Jennifer was a vibrant, joyous human being, a 24 year old young woman on the cusp of fully adult life.

At the time of her death Jenny lived with her partner in Reading, had recently completed a Masters in music and worked for a music publishing company in London.

She had so much to look forward to.

Jenny's death and circumstance of her death will always contain elements of the unresolved, how could it not? So much was lost.

The unresolved is a reality I live with and within that state attempt to live well.

Jenny's passion for learning and her love of music and literature is reflected in a charitable trust established in her name.

Jenny is gone but her name and the essence of her continue to make a difference and to inspire others." Julie Nicholson's book about her daughter, "A Song for Jenny" tells the story of her loss and grief.

The programme includes poetry from George Herbert, Rainer Maria Rilke and Carol Ann Duffy and music from Christian Forshaw and Charles Ives.

Perhaps that which seems to bankrupt us at the time, leaving us naked and numb, is not necessarily the final reckoning?

Producer: Jo Coombs

A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

The Violence Within20090208

Mark Tully explores the relationship between inner and outer violence.

Mark Tully explores the relationship between inner violence experienced as anger, repression and envy, and outer violence, expressed as cruelty, aggression and greed.

If it is true that we are all, by nature, prone to violence, why are some people able to contain their violence and act peacefully in the world?

The Vital Green20090906

Mark Tully explores the many-shaded nature of Green.

Mark Tully explores the many-shaded nature of Green, from green imagery in myth, literature, art and faith, to green's crucial biological function as 'the cornerstone of all life on Earth'.

The readers are Adjoa Andoh, Janice Acquah, Frank Stirling and David Westhead

The Wandering Minstrel20101107

Writer Irma Kurtz reflects on the medieval troubadours and how they have evolved.

The troubadours of the medieval period carried news, good and bad, in song and gossip and were members of an exclusive court community.

The writer Irma Kurtz reflects on their importance in court society and considers how the role of the troubadour has evolved in modern times.

Presented by Irma Kurtz

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

The Way Of All The Earth:20051023

JM Barrie's Peter Pan called it an awfully big adventure but we're not all so sanguine about our eventual demise.

Rabbi Julia Neuberger considers how we might think about establishing a good death, and what it means spiritually to be able to look back on one's life and reflect.

The Window Of Vulnerability20120401

Hardeep Singh Kohli reflects on the vulnerability of falling in love.

For April Fool's Day, the comedian and broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli reflects upon the possible vulnerabilities to which we're exposed when falling in love.

He draws upon poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Edward Dorn (The Window of Vulnerability) and Carolyn Kizer, writings by Milan Kundera and Neil Gaiman and music by Laura Marling, Elbow and Billie Holliday.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

The World's Well20080224

Mike Wooldridge explores the meaning of health and well-being in a world increasingly divided by economic inequality and increasingly united by accessible information.

Has ancient wisdom about health been lost in our obsession with keeping pain and disease at bay?

Theatre In Worship20110814

Mark Tully examines the role of performance in acts of religious worship.

In 'Theatre in Worship', Mark Tully investigates the role theatre and performance can take in acts of worship and examines the arguments both for and against theatricality in religious ceremony and ritual.

From the Puritan movement of the seventeenth century to the extravagance of baroque ecclesiastical architecture, from the vibrancy of religious festival and the popularity of religious theatre and dance to the single-minded pursuit of spiritual simplicity, performance in religion has often been controversial.

This edition of 'Something Understood' looks at some of the reasons for this with the help of theologian and writer Theo Hobson and the work of seventeenth century poet George Herbert, nineteenth century novelist Stendhal and twentieth century playwright Anthony Minghella.

The music is by Spanish bagpiper Hevia and Japanese composer Toshi Tsuchitori.

The readers are Kenneth Cranham and Isla Blair

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.

This I Have Learned20040104

Mark Tully explores the old saying that with age comes wisdom.

What does experience teach us about love, life and faith?

This Is My Body20090412

With guest Father Timothy Radcliffe, Mark Tully explores the physical, emotional, legal and spiritual meaning of Jesus' words at the Last Supper.

Mark Tully explores the meaning of Jesus' words at the Last Supper.

This Is My Vigil20121104

Mark Tully asks why people hold and participate in vigils.

There are many different types of vigils; from waiting at the bedside of a loved one who is ill or dying, to peacefully praying for peace in a conflict. Sometimes we choose to keep vigils, but sometimes they are thrust upon us - like waiting for someone to return from being in danger. In this edition of Something Understood, Mark Tully asks why people hold and participate in vigils.

Mark Tully speaks to Dr Shelia Cassidy, who believes that vigil is part of the very fabric of life. Her own life has been full of vigil. We hear about her most important personal experience, when she was in jail in Chile and threatened with execution or life imprisonment. That night she stayed awake, arguing with God. She explains how, in this personal vigil, she tried to abandon herself to the will of God - like Jacob wrestling with the angel.

A pioneer of the hospice movement and of palliative medicine, Dr Sheila Cassidy has also helped many people to keep vigil as they die. She explains that she has learned we all have to keep vigils during our lives.

Sheila also sees prayer in general as a type of vigil; it's a time to leave one's mind open to whatever comes, and to wait for God.

With readings from Rabindranath Tagore on patience and Christopher Reid on the vigil he held at his dying wife's bedside, and music from John Tavener and Joan Baez, Mark Tully explores what role hopeful "watching and waiting" can play in our lives.

The readers are Gareth Armstrong, Emily Bevan and Simon Tcherniak.

Produced by Jo Coombs.

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

This Too Will Pass2003030220030308

Mark Tully considers the old tale of a king who sought a phrase which would be true and appropriate in all circumstances.

This Twilight Gap20041226

Mark Tully considers the limbo-like days between Christmas and New Year and suggests that they offer a special opportunity for reflection and reorientation.

Those Who Can, Teach20040808

Turning George Bernard Shaw's infamous adage on its head, Mark Tully reflects on what it takes to be a good teacher.

Tiny Survivals20100912

Classicist Llewelyn Morgan reflects on the importance of fragments of the past.

Classicist Llewelyn Morgan has a knack for piecing together the past through disparate objects and fragmented bits of information.

So when he stumbled across an old Russian samovar in his grandmother's attic, he was compelled to track down its owner by trawling through the thousands of names and places that appear in the census.

In this edition of Something Understood, Llewelyn Morgan recounts his search to identify the samovar's owner and explores how objects that seem to tell us little when taken at face value can in fact reveal a rich and vivid picture of the past.

With a contribution from the late Flemish philosopher Jaap Kruithof (courtesy of VRT), readings from John Donne, Keith Douglas and Lionel Shriver and music by Maurice Ravel, Alfred Schnittke, and Fridge.

Producer: Katie Burningham

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

To Change Or Not To Change20080504

Mark Tully explores the difference between changing and adapting, and asks how we can strike a creative balance between staying true to our essential nature and adapting to new needs and circumstances.

To Fashion20120429

In 'To Fashion' Irma Kurtz explores the notion that the garments we wear are a costume of choice. Once beyond the nursery, modesty orders us to cloak our skins, and sometimes our heads and faces too. To wear strategic covering in public is required practically everywhere by law as well as modesty. But we dress for more reasons than modesty and protection. The garments we choose are our costume, and sometimes a uniform, too. What we wear displays if not precisely where we originate and who we are, certainly who we wish we were and want to be seen as being.

To illustrate this theme we hear readings from Robert Herrick, Sebastian Horsley and P.G. Wodehouse. The music is by Sergei Prokoviev, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin and Paul Durand. The readers are Liza Sadovy, Col Farrell and Frank Stirling.

Producer: Ronni Davis

A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.

To Feel Another's Woe20040620

Mark Tully explores the nature of empathy.

How far can we enter into the subjective experience of others? Do we really feel the pain of those we love? What evolutionary purpose might empathy serve? And is it true, as Harper Lee wrote in To Kill a Mockingbird, that you never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it?

To Forgive Divine20030420

In Something Understood for Easter Day, Mark Tully's theme is the power of Forgiveness to release and redeem.

Resisting trite exhortations to forgive and forget, he considers the difficulties and complexities of forgiveness: the struggles and the setbacks on the way to the freedom forgiveness can bring.

To Part Without Regret20070114

Mark Tully explores the meaning of detachment and weighs the positive and negative aspects of this spiritual principle.

Encouraged across the whole range of faith traditions, detachment at its best is an act of spiritual freedom and openness to God, but what happens when detachment leads to coldness and an unwillingness to engage fully in relationship and action in the world?

Touch Me, Touch Me Not20120108

Mark Tully considers our sense of touch and how we take it for granted. Somehow our other senses seem more active, even more important to us. We might fear the loss of our sight, or our hearing, but seldom do we worry about losing the ability to touch. But how would we cope without being able to feel anything through our skin? Or, indeed, how would we function if we could not feel our limbs? Tully relates the case of Ian Waterman who had to face life without the sense of touch when he lost all sensation below the neck at the age of nineteen.

He also looks at different cultural attitudes to touch, from the reserved Anglo-Saxon handshake to the more "touchy-feely" ways of greeting in Latin countries. What do our ways of touching, or not touching, say about us?

The programme also considers the notion of inappropriate touch, but at the same time explores the dangers of avoiding touch for fear of being accused of wrong-doing. Tully quotes from author, Judy Rigby, who maintains: "All too often, when we hear about touch, it's in the context of pornography, abuse and violence... we are afraid of touching because our actions might be misinterpreted. Hence children are deprived of appropriate touch at a very early age. Our response has been analogous to that of a person, who having eaten some bad food, decides that the best course of action in the future is not to eat at all, rather than ensuring what is eaten is healthy."

With poetry from John Betjemen and Michael Ondaatje; and music from Irving Berlin, John Dowland and Rachmaninov, Mark Tully wonders at the seeming simplicity of touch, but its power to transmit and transform. And he celebrates the fact that we need to go on touching if we are to go on caring.

Producer: Adam Fowler.

A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.

Translation20100523

For Pentecost, Mark Tully explores the process of translation.

Mark Tully presents a programme on the theme of translation to mark Pentecost, when Jesus' disciples spoke in different tongues.

He talks to Bible translator Father Nicholas King about the process of translating the New Testament: what is the most impossible passage? Does it matter if people find spiritual inspiration from texts which are actually mis-translations?

The programme includes poems and thoughts on translation by Keats, A.S.Byatt, Eva Hoffman, Vesna Goldsworthy and Kei Miller.

The music comes from Allegri, John Tavener, JS Bach, and Ella Fitzgerald - Let's Call the Whole Thing Off".

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4."

True Blue20020721

`True Blue'.

Fergal Keane draws on examples by Sylvia Plath, A E Housman and D H Lawrence to consider the meaning of the word `blue'.

True North20080106

Mark Tully explores the claim that the deepest craving in the human spirit is for knowledge of the right direction.

Why does this longing run so deep, why is it so universal, and how can true orientation in life be found?

Truth Lies Somewhere20060903

Mark Tully tackles truth.

Is there such a thing as absolute truth or is truth always relative?

Truth Lies Somewhere20070902

With Mark Tully.

Can there be such a thing as absolute truth or is the concept always relative?

Turmoil And Tranquillity20050904

Mark Tully considers the most fertile conditions for creativity in the arts, in nature and in the spiritual life.

Twilight Time20030907

Mark Tully considers how the fading light of day influences our thoughts and mood.

Including a conversation with Indian artist Anjolie Ela Menon

Twins20050424

Mark Tully explores the special features and fascinations of the Twin relationship.

From Castor and Pollux, to Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and even Jesus and Thomas, what does twinship symbolise and embody?

Unbending Belief20060702

Mike Wooldridge asks what drives fundamentalism and rigid religious orthodoxy and what is the essential connection between unbending belief and behaviour.

Do fundamentalists in all traditions have more in common with each other than they do with liberals and reformers in their own communities?

Unbending Belief

Unclean! Unclean!20040201

Today is the Feast of Candlemas, which once celebrated the Purification of Mary.

Mark Tully explores the notion of uncleanliness from a range of perspectives.

Understanding Prayer20090913

Mark Tully talks to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, about his personal understanding of prayer, once described by the poet George Herbert as 'something understood'.

The readers are Frank Stirling and David Westhead.

Mark Tully talks to the Archbishop of Canterbury about his understanding of prayer.

View From Above20080427

Felicity Finch reflects on how the space above us and the heights we strive to reach can affect how we perceive our earthbound lives below.

View from Above

Voice, Story And Consciousness20031026

Mark Tully talks to writer David Lodge about the source of our best insights into the nature of human consciousness.

Is it in the explorations of science, philosophy, psychology, theology - or is it in literature?

Voices Of Brass20101114

A programme for Remembrance Sunday on the power of the military band.

What is it in the sound of brass that appeals to our emotions so viscerally? And how it has become the chosen accompaniment to military life? From the walls of Jericho to the last Trump and from Reveille to the Last Post- a programme for Remembrance Sunday.

Mark himself played the Tuba and this music has always fascinated him.

He talks to members of the Minden Band of the Queen's Own regiment about their experiences playing for troops near the front line in Afghanistan and looks at the enduring emotional appeal of a huge variety of band music

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Volunteer Vision20090712

Mike Wooldridge celebrates the role of the volunteer with Glyn Roberts.

Mike Wooldridge celebrates the role of the volunteer in the company of Glyn Roberts, whose own voluntary organisation has sent over two million reconditioned tools to help poor craftsmen and women in Africa and Asia to help themselves.

Walking Backwards To God20111009

Mark Tully asks how best we should learn from our mistakes on the journey to God.

"We advance to the truth by experience of error; we succeed through failures - we walk to heaven backward."

The words of Cardinal Newman, academic and leader of the Oxford Movement, provide the starting point for this edition of Something Understood, in which Mark Tully asks how best we should learn from our mistakes.

"Make a mistake learn from it and move on" is common advice, but what does that actually mean? When do we stop making mistakes - and should we be actively trying to make them? Newman's assertion is tested in conversation with the writer Canon Stephen Cherry from Durham Cathedral and with the help of literary work by Robbie Burns and James Fenton and musical works by Frank Loesser, Shirley MacLaine and the Choir of Kings College, Cambridge.

The readers are Adjoa Andoh and Alistair McGowan.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

We Are Stardust20040502

In Something Understood this week Mark Tully explores the relationship between image and identity, and integrity.

Is our external image - the face and character we present to the world - a superficial construction, or an authentic expression of our deeper, internal identity?

We Are Stardust20040516

In Something Understood this week, Mark Tully explores our developing knowledge of the essential elements of life.

Once thought to consist of air, earth, fire and water, life is now understood to be made up of myriad forms and particles, and to have originated, in the words of the 1960s anthem, in Stardust.

Weaving20090503

Mark Tully explores weaving as a metaphor for how we should live our life.

Mark Tully explores weaving as a metaphor for how we should live our life, beginning in Gandhi's house.

He believed that weaving was a necessary spiritual discipline and, perhaps surprisingly, many western poets and musicians echo this view.

With poetry by William Blake, Henry Vaughan, Walt Whitman and DH Lawrence and music by saxophonist Jan Garbarek

Weaving Dreams20030921

Mark Tully considers the colourful history, symbolism and fantasy woven into the threads of carpets and tapestries.

Westminster Abbey20100502

Mark Tully explores the sacred spaces of Westminster Abbey with the Very Rev Dr John Hall.

Mark Tully presents a special edition of Something Understood from Westminster Abbey, which this month celebrates the 450th anniversary of its establishment as a collegiate church by Elizabeth I.

The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, guides us through some of the Abbey's most sacred spaces, and talks about the inspiration he finds in the 'prayer-soaked walls'.

Prayer is the main theme of the programme, and The Dean talks personally about how and why he prays, including an admission that before any great State Service involving the Queen, he sends up a quick 'stiffening' arrow of prayer.

The programme includes prayers by some of those who are buried in the Abbey, like Charles Dickens, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Sir Isaac Newton.

The music too is by the great musicians commemorated there: Handel, Purcell, Stanford, and Noel Coward, whose moving wartime song 'London Pride' celebrates the spirit of the Blitz.

Other readings include an account of Charles II's coronation in the Abbey by Samuel Pepys - as always just as interested in the fine ladies as the spectacle going on round him; and a sharp satire on prayer by John Betjeman.

A programme which evokes the awe of a very beautiful sacred space - but which is also witty, and lively, never too solemn.

The producer is Elizabeth Burke.

This is a Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

When An Angel Passes20121223

Alan Hall reflects on those moments in life 'when an angel passes'.

William Blake's childhood vision of a tree on Peckham Rye filled with angels, 'bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars', offers a starting point for Alan Hall's reflections on the angelic in the everyday.

He makes reference to a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez about a 'very old man with enormous wings', poems by Rainer Maria Rilke and John Agard, and an extract from the moving conclusion of James Agee's novel about the death of his father.

The programme also includes music by Sufjan Stevens, Gillian Welch and Johannes Brahms and a clip from the Powell and Pressburger film 'A Matter of Life and Death'.

Produced by Eleanor McDowall.

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

When The Chips Are Down20120212

Mark Tully asks what gives us courage to do what we ought to when things go badly wrong.

Mark Tully asks what gives us courage to do what we ought to when things go against us. How do we decide what we should stand up for, and how do we cope if we fail to do so?

Using examples from 9/11, South African Apartheid, Nazi Germany, McCarthyism in the United States , the New Testament and his own experience, Mark gives examples of those who did meet their own expectations of how they would behave under pressure, and those who let themselves down. But he warns against any judgement against those who fail to stand up and be counted when the chips are down, asking "what would you have done under the circumstances".

In an interview with Vaughan Roberts, author, and Vicar of St Ebbes church in Oxford, Mark seeks the Christian perspective on how we might like to behave in extremis, and our responses should we fall short. And drawing inspiration from literature, as well as music from the likes of Simon and Garfunkel, JS Bach and, surprisingly, Tex Ritter he asks if we can really ever be truly heroic when the chips are down. And can we forgive ourselves if we are not.

Presented by Mark Tully

Producer: Adam Fowler

A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Where Water Comes Together With Other Water20030720

Fergal Keane looks at the meeting of water - the journey from the physical to the spiritual.

Water is tangible and essential for human life, but it also has a mystical quality that inspires poets and nurtures the human spirit.

Whether Morphine Or Idealism20050529

Mark Tully considers the nature of Idealism and Idealists: the positive, visionary and transforming potential of idealism, and the often naïve, obsessive character of many idealists.

Who Do You Say That I Am20061224

Mark Tully asks 'Who is Jesus for the 21st Century?' In conversation with Catholic theologian James Alison, he explores the enduring significance of traditional understandings of Jesus and the contribution of new interpretations.

Why Do We Sing?20050612

Professor Arnold Maran was a leading surgeon who specialized in the voice.

He operated on some of the world's leading opera and pop singers.

But why should we be able to sing in the first place? And how did we get from squeaks, grunts and barks to being able to sing so beautifully?

Will To Life20041017

In Something Understood this week, Mark Tully explores the 'will to life' that is so powerful throughout the created order.

Socrates said that anyone who thinks deeply will instinctively 'go for life', but this drive is dramatically evident throughout nature; where does it come from and what does it tell us of the meaning and purpose of creation?

Words My Mother Taught Me20091108

Pamela Marre looks at how ancient wisdom is passed down through families.

Pamela Marre, a storyteller from a non-orthodox Jewish family, looks at how ancient wisdom is passed down through families - what we choose to remember, what we carry with us from the previous generation and what we create for the next.

A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

Work, Rest And Play19970824

For the Bank Holiday weekend, Mark Tully's theme is `Work, Rest and Play'.

Drawing on archive recordings from the 20s, 30s and 40s, he looks at the changing face of work and leisure.

Working For The Man20121014

Mark Tully explores the ethics of the relationship between employer and employee.

In an economic climate where the jobs market is under more extreme pressure than ever, Mark Tully examines the moral issues of the working contract, with reference to both employer and employed.

What are the responsibilities of an employer - do they go beyond honouring a contract? Does an employee have greater duty to work hard to help keep a business afloat? These and moral questions like them have been thrown into sharp relief by the economic downturn.

With readings from Frank Sonnenburg and the poet Robert Service, music ranging from Shostakovich to William Walton and in conversation with Will Hutton, Mark Tully charts the increasingly choppy waters of employment ethics.

Readers are Samantha Bond and John MacAndrew.

Producer: Frank Stirling

A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.

Working Out Salvation20051218

Mark Tully considers different understandings of Salvation.

All the worlds religions have, at their heart, teachings on salvation, but how are some of the traditional answers to the question: "What are we saved from?" now being challenged?

Yearning To Be Heroes20090419

Mark Tully asks if we all have it within us to be heroes.

Mark Tully asks if we all have it within us to be heroes, and how the heroic can be awakened within us.

Is it possible to train ourselves to act heroically in a once-in-a-lifetime moment of crisis and how are we shaped by the heroic archetypes of myth and legend?

0199 Words -20111211

Liz Gray asks, 'If you had breath for no more than 99 words, what would they be?'.

When Liz Gray found herself limited, forced into a strange period of enforced retreat by a whiplash injury the following question came to her mind: if you had breath for no more than 99 words, what would they be?

She began asking friends, colleagues, artists and political figures she admired, gathering together a collection of 99 responses.

In the first of a pair of programmes, she describes the genesis of her '99 Words' project and introduces contributions from, among others, Jeanette Winterson, Robert Wyatt, Scilla Elworthy and Diana Athill.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

0299 Words -20111218

Liz Gray asks, 'If you had breath for no more than 99 words, what would they be?'.

When Liz Gray found herself forced into a strange period of enforced retreat by a whiplash injury, the following question came to her mind: if you had breath for no more than 99 words, what would they be?

She began asking friends, colleagues, artists and political figures she admired, gathering together a collection of 99 responses.

In the second of a pair of programmes, she introduces contributions from, among others, the artist Keith Critchlow, the human rights campaigner Helen Bamber, the writer Ariel Dorfman and film maker Sally Potter.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.