Spirituality Shopper, Channel 4

by | Jun 6, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

An innovative and inventive guide to self-improvement for those too busy to think for themselves.

What to say if you didn’t like it

The very worst of cultural barbarism as enduring faiths are treated with the same disdain as corpses on the battlefield being looted for their valuables.

What was good about it?

• Jonathan Edwards (the medal-winning hopstepandjumpalist) was an engaging host who not only guided and accompanied this week’s subject, 29-year-old Londoner Michaela, as she tried on the juiciest facets of various faiths to improve her life, but also participated in some of exercises she was more embarrassed to perform.

• The elements of Buddism, Sufism, Christianity and Judaism which were explored delivered an intriguing, if somewhat superficial, insight into those religions.

• And the advice given was often apt such as the Christian instruction that encouraged Michaela to give up some luxuries so other things in her life became more prominent.

• The Sufi dancing in which disciples whirl about the room in a Dervish fashion to a plucked guitar melody which sounds like the theme from The Deerhunter.

• Michaela did seem to get some benefit from the programme she undertook (“I feel calm and very confident”), but we’re not sure if this was genuine or a ruse to quickly dispose of Jonathan should he put her through more humiliating or awkward exercises.

What was bad about it?

• It was never really revealed what had driven Michaela to seek a change of direction in her life, and as a consequence her search for spiritual fulfilment lacked a beguiling determination. As she herself admitted she had a great job (media account manager) and great friends, but she was bereft of a boyfriend; something which Jonathan rather predictably picked up on: “There’s something missing in Michaela’s life. Is she looking for ‘Mr Right’?”

• We’re sure we’ve mentioned this before but the concepts of ‘Mr Right’ or ‘The One’ are illusions perpetuated by the hordes of women’s magazines to encourage you to pick up the next month’s issue, which is without fail a clone of this month’s issue, and the

issue before that ad infinitum. You have the free will to make your own decision rather than be tethered to some irrational dogma, use it.

• The vicar needed to explain the meaning of Lent.

• The necessity to introduce Aaron Goldstein as a “liberal” Jewish rabbi.

• The cherry-picking of composite parts of religious practices seems to defeat the purpose of the religions themselves. Surely a more devout follower of Sufism

will gain much more from the dancing having fully been immersed the faith, and accordingly, a Buddhist will glean a greater satisfaction from meditation than a

faithless advertising industry executive.

• The challenges Michaela was set, even appreciating the idea of a number of little changes enacting a big change in her life, were hardly difficult – walking to the tube station instead of catching the bus, meditating for 20 minutes a couple of times a week,

going to talk to old people and to direct Friday night dinner party conversation on to more secular issues – and as a result made for very dull television.

• Jonathan’s comment: “The Sheik thinks the dancing could make Michaela more positive.” We once went for a job and were interviewed by a bloke who abbreviated

the word “positive”, in its nebulous pseudo-new-age sense, to “pozz” in every sentence and since than we’ve had an aversion to it with the same horror as being skewered by a pitchfork.

• When Michaela and her pals tried to recreate the ambience of the Jewish Shabbat on Friday evening, they successfully navigated the conversation away from shoptalk, but only into the turbulent waters of stultifying, trite clichés. Her pal James piped in

with this gem worthy of Nietzsche when he revealed his granddad once told him: “You can count your true friends on one hand.”

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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