An Easter special that breaks through the cancellation of Christianity in the public media

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

Some commentators have begun to notice that the media is more enchanted with Eid than it is with Easter. Humza Yousaf was able to hold a celebratory Islamic prayer meeting moments after he had been elected leader of the SNP. We might take a moment to imagine what would've happened if Kate Forbes had been elected, and conservative Christians had fallen to their knees in gratitude to God and publicised it on social media.

What Easter is and what it means, is increasingly losing its grip on the public imagination of these islands. It hasn't had much of a grip in the last 20 or 30 years, but such as it is, it's beginning to disappear. The media seems strangely complicit at the silencing of the best news there ever could be.

In this context it matters all the more when the one mainstream outlet that will give Christianity any kind of voice offers a platform to Rev Calvin Robinson to give some serious, mature and engaging thought to the resurrection of Christ.

In a small but evocatively beautiful church in Tottenham, London, an Easter celebration hosted by Calvin Robinson that GB News is streaming on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, brought together four gifted, competent and attractive exponents of the Christian faith.

The editorial set up for Calvin's promotion of major Christian festivals (he did one at Christmas as well) is simple and effective. A quintet of singers performs some of the more powerful, Christian hymns, deep poetry, profound beauty, and interspersed with interviews.

You do have to credit Calvin and his producers with good judgement. They picked four very powerful and compelling voices. Monsignor Michael Nazir-Ali, one of the most compelling Catholic voices in the Church today; Paul Kingsnorth, a former eco-activist and Wiccan, who become an Eastern Orthodox writer of some profound philosophical weight; Professor Robert George of Princeton, who in his book Orthodoxies, analysed the coming religious power of wokery over two decades ago, and Professor James Orr, the theologian from Cambridge who got Jordan Peterson back to Cambridge after he had been cancelled.

Beginning with Monsignor Michael Nazir-Ali, Calvin managed to pitch the questions in a way that went to the heart of some of the contemporary issues that we are dealing with.

Because Fr Michael has left Anglicanism to become a Catholic just at the moment when both churches are swamped with LGBTQ+ propaganda and all the emotional blackmail masquerading as theology that accompanies cultural pressure, it would have been remiss of Calvin not to ask him what the difference was between the way the two churches were dealing with the issue of LGBT+ blessings.

Nazir-Ali was as polite and measured as he always is and brought a diplomatic but sharp analysis to the problem. The problem for the Anglican Communion was that it lacked the ability to know how to make decisions of universal significance and make them stick; and that was why they were getting into a schismatic mess they would find it difficult to get out of.

Without precisely articulating what was going to happen to the Catholic Church, he suggested that given the weight of the Magisterium, even if problematic decisions were to be taken by local agencies, they would not affect the teaching of the Catholic Church at all times and in all places. They would not stick.

Professors Robert George and James Orr were both heavyweight Christian intellectuals who brought the power of rationality and the highest ends of the Western Academy to the defence of the reality and integrity of Easter, the Resurrection and faith in Christ.

If only the mainstream media would allow voices of this calibre some platform to represent the faith as GB News does, the popular misinformed impression that commentators like Richard Dawkins or Stephen Fry have anything profound to say either about faith, or about Christ and the quest for meaning, would be exposed as the shallow populist rhetoric that it is. Calvin and GB News deserves the thanks and the support of the open-minded and faith-sympathetic community for breaking through the cancellation of Christianity in the public media.

But the star of the show for me was Paul Kingsnorth. Here was a man speaking for Christ compellingly for all seasons, especially for this one.

He explained the journey he had taken to find his faith in Christ; "I began as a Dawkins-esque atheist, and finding my way to being an environmental activist, protesting against the scarring of the environment. And then signed up to be a pantheistic pagan, after which I developed into a Zen Buddhist and finally a Wiccan."

Kingsnorth's spiritual and intellectual journey took him through the whole range of popular and populist alternatives to Christ that are constantly presented as cool, essential, real, true and better than Christianity.

He explained: "In 2021 I became a Christian – what I was looking for was not to be found in politics, activism, or culture or novels – I found I was on a search for God. I was disturbed to find that He was what I wanted, but He was.

"I searched through a lot of places, and found Christ came to me.

I felt pursued – and I was wanting to run away for a while, but then I gave up, and he found me."

He had since found himself reading the Orthodox Monk, Fr Seraphim Rose: "I discovered through him the important realisation that the Truth was not an idea, but a Person."

He continues, "When I was a student I believed we were in the middle of an environmental, economic, political crisis, and whilst that may be true, at the heart of it is the deeper analysis that we are living through a spiritual crisis.

"It is almost like God is our jilted lover, and we have decided to run off with his enemy. Modern people are trying to replace God with our own ego and becoming gods in his place.

"Christianity is the answer to everything. God takes human form and intervenes in history and gives us another chance, sacrificing himself rather than sacrificing anyone else."

But as is so often the case, it wasn't just what he said, but the way he said it.

You can judge for yourself by watching the GB News Easter Special being streamed on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday at 6.00 pm.

Gavin Ashenden is Associate Editor of the The Catholic Herald and a former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II.