Categories: Rector's Corner

Desert Island Discs

When the war was on in South Africa, began having refugees to deal with…And then various ministers came and said, ‘All who belong to the United Something, follow me.’ And then another one would say, ‘Everybody who belongs to the Such and Such, come with me.’ And the [Salvation] Army captain who was a youth at the beginning of his career, in the end, he stood up and said, ‘Everybody who belongs to nowhere, follow me.

Desert Island Discs is a radio program broadcast on the BBC, first broadcast in 1942. Each week a guest (or “castaway”) is asked to choose eight recordings, a book (the Bible and the works of Shakespeare already included) and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island, while also discussing their lives and the reasons for their choices. More than 3,000 episodes have been recorded. In February 2019, a panel of broadcasting industry experts named Desert Island Discs the “greatest radio programme of all time”.

By far the one I return to the most time and time again is a 1980 interview with castaway Commissioner Catherine Bramwell-Booth of the Salvation Army. Born in 1883, Catherine gave this lively and inspiring interview at the age of 96, and then lived on until 1987 when she died at 104 years of age. The granddaughter of the Salvation Army’s Founder, General William Booth and his wife Catherine Mumford, known as the ‘Mother of the Salvation Army’, Catherine devoted her life to mission work and being a minister. In her later years, she became well-known through her books and various radio and television appearances. I commend this precious gem of an interview to you all in the hopes that you, too, may find it as uplifting and motivating as I have.

Returning to this interview again, I struck by the similarities between those trapped in quarantine and those pretending to be stranded on desert islands in. We could just as easily create a new program for this time and ask each other with far more sincerity and truth, “What eight recordings, single book, and luxury item would you most want to be stranded with?” Funny enough, I just might choose this particular recording.

Honorable mentions: You might also appreciate their interviews with Princess Margaret, Tom Hanks, Judi Dench, Archbishop Justin Welby, and Whoopi Goldberg.

St. John’s deacon intern, Ethan Bishop-Henchman, is curating a special YouTube playlist on Christian, Anglican, and Episcopal identity and formation. Each week he will reflect on one of these resources, commending a video to our community during this time of isolation and introspection. This playlist can be accessed here.