“What good do you reckon these snippets of religion are doing? I admit that I people will watch a Sunday half-hour session on the pros and cons of the Christian faith, but who is going to listen to a three minute sermon?”
Certainly not the vast army of ordinary men and women who stand outside the church and press their noses against the windows, like the famous Bisto twins, to smell what is going on inside. It is slightly embarrassing to walk out of church, but not in the least to get up and stretch yourself and turn a knob and go up to bed.
Epilogues and Thoughts for the Day are aimed primarily at the “fringe”, the sort of people who don’t get their religion in large doses each Sunday, but are nevertheless looking for some answer to their personal problems. To get them to look in you must catch their attention and hold it. Not — may I add hastily — that I am under the delusion that I always do, but that is the object of the exercise.
It seems to me plain common sense that if you want to catch someone’s attention you must start where they are. Most people have worries, frustrations or problems and, on the whole, will listen to someone who combines the anonymity of the television screen with the intimacy of feeling that he is in your home and talking to you personally. That, incidentally, is what so many people have said: “We felt that the Epiloguist was sitting chatting to us in our own living room and that is what we want to happen”.
I am not stupid enough to imagine that in three minutes or so anyone can solve the deepest problems of life, but you can ring a bell, give a lead or stop someone dead in their tracks. If, after that, they pray, or go to church, or ask the parson, then you have done your job by setting them on the right road.
There is a wide scope in what can be said. Some people want soothing and reassuring while others need jerking out of their self-satisfaction. You cannot do both at once and obviously some men are more able to do the one than the other. It is essential that the speaker is “himself”, for nothing is more apparent than when someone is churning it out.
I am sure that some men get an enormous “fan-mail”. I don’t, but I get a steady flow of telephone calls and letters, most of which come from people who are genuinely in trouble and who feel they want to ask someone about it. Most of the interviews and correspondence have been very worthwhile.
Television is a terrifying experience until you have mastered the technique of cameras, lights, studios and so on. After that you are back in the position in which you always stand as a priest or minister.
You are a man on whom God has laid the tremendous responsibility of presenting Him and his Truth to those who are listening, a responsibility which grows rather than lessens with time.