Yours Faithfully – now showing on TVNZ on demand
Making a TV series about faith in Aotearoa is a surprising and yet very helpful venture.
Surprising because New Zealanders don’t talk about religion. It is seen as something private, not to be discussed in polite company. And helpful because we really need some education in religion.
Following the Christchurch mosque massacre New Zealanders have had a window into the inside of a faith community not normally given in the public square. Often those who profess a faith can be criticised pretty harshly, seen as weak followers of “fairy tales.” Interviews with Moslem survivors and leaders have shown us something else – a people of compassion and forgiveness, who draw strength from their communities and their faith disciplines.
Following Christchurch we all promised to do better and get to know our neighbours of all backgrounds. This programme can help us do this.
Yours Faithfully gives a window into some of the many and varied faiths to be found in Aotearoa. James Nokise, the son and grandson of clergy, takes on the task of examining faith communities. He does so with a laid back easy going style that invites us into each faith.
We learn the basic tenets of the faith groups and some of their practices and rituals.
For those who might know nothing about Islam the first episode explains the basics of the Moslem day, the prayer routines and the discipline of Ramadan.
The second episode about Ratana explains the vision Ratana had for his people that was not just religious but bound up in the wellbeing and political future of the Maori people.
Looking ahead on the list of episodes we will enjoy similar windows into the communities of Hindusim, Judaism, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Buddhism,Pentecostal Christian, and Sikhism.
While I am sure each episode will be interesting and valuable there is a glaring omission from this list – the “mainstream” Christian church such as Presbyterian, Anglican or Roman Catholic. The majority of New Zealanders who practice any faith belong to these churches and it would have been good to see them included in the programme. Your average viewer knows as little about the churches as they do about the faiths in Yours Faithfully. Perhaps there is a second series to be planned.
The promo from Greenstone TV says “Yours Faithfully is a chance for all New Zealanders to embrace and understand each other’s differences while simultaneously finding the core beliefs and principles that connect us all.” A great goal to have and it certainly can achieve that, next time let’s include the mainstream churches who are to be found in every community up and down the motu quietly getting on with serving their communities.
Watch and learn though from this series so we can be more educated about people’s beliefs and understand each other better.