Beginning in mid-September, the PBS television network will bring to American viewers “The Long Search,” a thirteen-week series on world religions. The series was coproduced by the BBC and Time-Life Films and has already been shown in Britain. It received a number of critical plaudits. A reviewer commented that “The BBC can safely regard it as a triumph and a breakthrough, the discovery of that rare thing, a new technique for making sense of an almost impossible subject.”
It’s hard to see what the shouting is all about. A basic interview technique is used in the series. Both religious professionals and laymen from each religious tradition are interviewed. Each group is shown at worship and work.
The reason the series seems so unusual probably lies in the fact that television has generally shown itself incapable of dealing with religious faith in any meaningful or realistic way. This self-imposed theological eunuchhood makes the series seem more virile than it really is.
Technically the films are well done. The photography is sensitive and effective. Producer Peter Montagnon has used natural settings with natural light. The occasional loss of photographic sharpness is more than offset by the sense of sharing in an intimate conversation with another about his religious faith. Ronald Eyre, British stage producer, who is the host-narrator, is a sensitive, polite, companionable guide.
My first concern in viewing a selection of eight of the thirteen episodes was: How is Christianity treated? I wondered if the Christian faith would come across in a fair and recognizable manner. I think it does.
The producers cannot be faulted for the answers given by the adherents of any religious faith. If Christians give ...1
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