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Pilgrimage Moments: The Lack of Faith

Length - 05:02
Published - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to the Scottish Isles.

At the end of Will’s first day on the Pilgrimage, he is invited to share his personal beliefs with the group after dinner. Will opens up about his journey away from church attendance after his grandfather’s death, and his own battle with non-Hodgkin’s blood cancer as a child. He fondly recalls the comforting prayers he received during his hospital stay, highlighting the role of faith during times of hardship.

The discussion moves on to experiences of faith, not only during life’s trials but also during moments of joy and contentment.

Monty challenges Laurence about his lack of faith, despite his remarkable knowledge of religion. Laurence defends his position, saying he is happy with his “mechanical universe”, but willing to take part in religious ceremonies for his own non-religious reasons.

Shazia also reflects on her upbringing as the only Muslim and person of colour in a Roman Catholic school.

Together, these conversations help the Pilgrims to deepen their respect for each other’s faiths and personal beliefs.

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: The Lack of Faith

Narrator:  Over dinner. The group are keen to learn more about their newest pilgrim.


Laurence: Will, you've been parachuted in to join us, and it's wonderful to have you here, but we have all declared where we stand in terms of our personal beliefs, our faiths. Which religious fence do you sit on?


Will:        I'm pretty much on the fence. When my grandad died, my mum moved away and then we never went to church or anything. It was like one extreme to the other.


Shazia:    If you were drowning, would you pray to God?


Will:        Probably. I've never been in that position. You know where I've literally been fighting for my life or anything like that, apart from when I was like seven years old. And it's different when you're at that age, isn't it? You don't really know what's going on.


Louisa:    What happened when you were seven years old?


Will:        Well, I had non-Hodgkin's blood cancer. I was in Great Ormond Street, so that's when I had people in coming in praying and stuff like that. It was kind of comforting to know that they were like, they cared so much for me, and I'd like that.


Shazia:    Did they work?


Will:        Well? Yeah, I'm still here. So I guess it's strange, isn't it? Like when you're in desperate need you. I think you do need a faith. Or you need something like a god like. Because without sounding too morbid. But when you're when someone your son's on death's door or something, you want to hope that they go somewhere or that it's not the end.


Shazia:    Yeah.


Louisa:    I've never been in a situation where I've had to pray to God for something negative. I have only ever like, thank you for what, you know.


Laurence: That's so powerful because so many people don't do that. When it goes well, they just take it for granted. Mhm.


Monty:    Yeah. But Lawrence, I wanted to ask you a question. Since you've been here, you've been very theoretical. Right. Whenever I'm speaking to you about faith it doesn't come from your heart. It doesn't, it comes from the mind.


Laurence: But I completely get that. You intellectualise everything.


Monty:    I do intellucatualise everything. It's all coming from the books. It's not coming from your personal experience and heart. When you had a successful time, did you ever pray to God? Did you ever say to God, thank you for that great deal or something like that?


Laurence: Uh, no.


Monty:    I think you can have a very great understanding of faith without having faith.


Laurence: Absolutely, absolutely.


Laurence: I think you can read as many books as you like, and I'm sure that Lawrence has read most of them, but he hasn't got faith.


Monty:    No, I think you have strong faith within you, but you just don't know it.


Laurence: Monty, Monty. But the thing is that, you know, as I said right from the outset, I'm really happy with my mechanical universe.


Louisa:    Tell me something. You christened your children. Yes. For the purpose that it would be easy for them to. Administratively much easier. Okay. You got married yourself in a church. I did, yes. You did. Why?


Laurence: You know, the the mise en scene of getting married, the, you know, the kind of the art direction of getting married for me had to happen in the church.


Nick:       I think your your Christianity really is sort of the English middle class is a prayer.


Laurence: It is rather.


Nick:       It's a social thing.


Laurence: It is. We know absolutely everybody in our village and we meet at church. I mean, not every Sunday.


Monty:    So why do you go to church?


Laurence: Because we are all there together.


Louisa:    We are all together.


Louisa:    A certain type of religion is, as I said.


Laurence: Community.


Laurence: It's community.


Monty:    I don't believe that. I believe you have inside you. You have strong faith. As we stripping away the hat, the scarf and everything.


Laurence: You can't lose the scarf.


Shazia:    What he says. He's really happy the way he is. And I think you.


Laurence: Need to watch out slightly. I mean, I'm so fond of you, but one of the big things that we've almost really, really, you know, decided on as a family now is that we all respect each other's faiths, but we're not evangelizing. No one is trying to sell their faith to anybody else, I think. So, I mean, I love you to death, but you're not going to find a faith in me.


Laurence: I think there's a difference. And I think Monty grew up with a distinct community, and so did you.


Shazia:    But the thing is, I went to a Roman Catholic school. I was the only Muslim in the whole school.


Laurence: But you stuck to the culture that you grew up.


Louisa:    Can I ask you something? Were you the only person of color?


Shazia:    Yeah.


Louisa:    So there was no Hindus? There was no. No, I was the only Muslim.


Shazia:    And I was the only brown girl in the whole school. And I had to go up every Friday and do mass, take Holy Communion. Did you feel different? Yeah.


Laurence: Did you feel different? Is it?


Shazia:    And the thing with me is I'm used to being an outsider. Yeah, yeah.


Laurence: Um. Well, welcome to the merry band.


Will:        Cheers, guys. Thanks for having me.


Laurence Very good. Well.


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