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The Essay, The Retreating Roar Episode 4 of 5

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 17 April 2014

No longer a Catholic or a practising Christian, journalist Madeleine Bunting would nonetheless argue that the decline of Christianity in this country has resulted in losses as well as gains. And one of the most 'damaging' is the loss of the importance of Patience.

Matthew Arnold's poem 'Dover Beach', speaking of 'the melancholy long, withdrawing roar' of the Christian faith, remains important, she believes. It has come to symbolise the dramatic loss of faith over the last century, and with it concepts and ideas central to Christianity. Much has been gained, but much has been lost, and sometimes the replacements are not so very different from the originals - but go by a different name.

Patience, Madeleine argues, is the most counter-cultural idea Christianity offers contemporary society, and as such needs to be rediscovered: 'Our lives now are about an addiction to speed; technology promises to take the waiting out of wanting; a consumer culture financed by debt offers instant gratification of every possible desire...'.



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