If you haven't seen any of the episodes, it was a great premise for a TV series...one guy travelling around the World experiencing, or should I say skimming, many "faiths" and "religions"....
Unfortunately, it turned into an embarassing, condenscending, parochial, blinkered, patronising and exceptionally vacuous piece of dross, thanks, no less, to the presenter, Anglican Vicar - Peter Owen Jones, who you felt, at any moment, might utter the words "they're all barking mad" in one of his condenscending asides to camera.
In brief, a superb premise was turned into a programme that was about as enlightening as a soggy biscuit.
Somebody really needs to take the same premise and do it properly. If I was in charge of the license fee coffers, I would nominate Hitchens and Dawkins to travel across the globe and do it properly.
There are two moments in Friday nights episode that had me apoplectic...one was the scene in Russia where they "covered" Atheism. Just off the Red Square in Moscow, Jones shared a coffee with a Russian atheist who was giving Jones the backstory to why so many churches had sprung up in Russia since the fall of communism. Jones couldn't contain his blinkered and short sighted glee over that fact.
The Russian chap was doing his best to explain that under communism, Russian people had very strict boundaries, rules and regulations they had to abide by...for generations. They were groomed not to question anything. If they did, they would be punished. Now that communism was gone, Russians turning to religion was simply the replacement of one regime with another rather than the miraculous awakening Jones blubbered on about, in one of his many irritating asides to camera. I was shocked he didn't break into "Religion rules the Waves" to the tune of Rule Brittania.
Another teeth grinding moment when he was with a curious cult/group/faith in Italy called The Damanhur Experiment (there's a clip here: They generously showed him their stunning temple, which included a massive hall surrounded by little alcoves containging a stained glass depictiion of all the main world religions...from christianity to buddhism. In one of his annoying asides to camera, he noted how uncomfortable he felt that his religion was just one of many many other religions depicted in this hall. At that moment, I thought.."at last...the penny has finally dropped"....but no..he went on waxing lyrical about something else and the whole jaw-droppingly obvious point to the whole premise was lost.
To put it into context....it would be a bit like Darwin going to the Galapagos, being surrounded by all these curious yet familiar creatures and turning to camera and saying..."hmm...that's interesting...now...I wonder what's for tea?" Or David Attenborough...in the midst of the jungle, surrounded by Orangutangs in their natural habitat, turning to camera and saying "I used to have a teddy bear, just like that when I was a boy"!.
If there was ever a nobel prize for cognitive dissonance, Jones would be a shoo in for a nomination.