BBC: Confused about the difference between a bishop and a book writer

It seemed like a dream interview: BBC wanted to quiz our GetReligionista-on-leave Dawn Eden on a revised version of her 2006 book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On.

The pre-recorded interview was cut to a five-minute segment, then spliced onto a discussion with several British panelists who were to react to Dawn’s words and chat about whether people could realistically be expected to be sexually abstinent in this day and age.

And everything was going just right until the voiceover by host Audrey Carville that identified Dawn as “a former rock journalist hoping to be a bishop.”

Problem is: Dawn, a very doctrinally traditional, observant Catholic woman, has no plans to become a bishop. That would be, you know, an act of rebellion against the church.

What she had explained to Audrey is that she’d privately consecrated herself to lead a celibate life and that she hoped to formalize her vow in a future ceremony with a bishop. I’m assuming what she has in mind is something similar to the consecration of virgins ceremony recently explained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dawn has made it very clear she is no virgin, so a different rite would be called for.

Anyway, BBC got it completely wrong as you’ll see from the following Twitter feed:

This is Exhibit A on why one needs an editor or someone knowledgeable about religion to oversee content that has anything to do with morality, beliefs, values and so on.

BBC does have a religious affairs correspondent, but she apparently wasn’t part of the production team for this broadcast. Anyone with an ounce of religious knowledge would know that a Catholic woman would not be entertaining ideas of becoming a bishop.

I’m guessing that Audrey Carville was thinking of the Anglicans, who in Britain just consecrated their first female bishop earlier this year. But that’s a big mistake to make.

Listen to Dawn’s interview (one must skip ahead to 1:01:44 for its beginning), and try to figure out how anyone listening to it would think she wants to become a bishop. Unfortunately, Audrey didn’t probe – at least on air -- into what Dawn meant by a consecration. Had she done so, that might have prevented this mess.

I'm assuming you read Audrey's breezy response to Dawn. Radio stations can -- and do -- make corrections just like print media does. Why didn't this talk show host offer to air a correction?

Listening to the interview a second time, it strikes me that what Dawn had to say about personally consecrating herself to a celibate life went right over the reporter's head. Audrey didn't follow up on such a leading phrase with the obvious question: What does such a consecration entail? Nor did she seem to know much about books on the topic.

(I would gently argue with Dawn's contention there were no other books out there for adults trying to be chaste. Actually, there were some books out there. I wrote such a book back in 1988 in an era when there really wasn't anything. These days, there's a lot more out there, but it's still slim pickings, especially for a Catholic readership. Thus, Dawn's updated version was retooled for that market.)

Stay tuned at Dawn's Twitter feed (@mypeacebook) for updates on this saga. All commentators thus far have urged BBC to do the right thing. As one tweet said, BBC can simply re-record that sentence. But will they?

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