Cranmer has posted on this programme, aired last night on Channel 4. It was Big Brother meets The Retreat, but worse. The programme makers had selected a group of people who were as un-Muslim as you could get (the beer-swilling taxi driver who has bacon sandwiches for breakfast and sits alone at Harrogates only pole-dancing club; the soft porn model with 2 small children; the alcoholic homosexual cross-dresser), and then giving a local mosque 3 weeks to make good Muslims out of them.
The programme illustrated all sorts of things. Some of the Muslims clearly didn't realise that they were being set up for ridicule - the guy in the Arab scarf walking round the town talking to women in the hope of finding wife for the gay man just looked silly. The imam himself came across very well - he was unfazed by what he found out about the participants, but still very clear on what Sharia law said about things, as he carted of crates of booze, pornography, skimpy clothes and bacon from their houses.
The 3 things that struck me most forcibly were
1. that the programme showed what a depraved society we've become. Soft porn, or pop videos to give it another name, is accepted front page material in newsagents and on the screen. This programme was even pre-watershed, for goodness sake. As well as obvious stuff like drink and sex, the Brits were foul-mouthed, intolerant, proud, argumentative, and unable to accept that they might possibly have something to learn.
2. What a major culture clash there is between Islam and what's become accepted Western values. Islam itself is of course much more strongly cultural than Christianity, being bound up with the Arab tongue in the Koran, and having a conversion model that is much more about assimilation into a particular culture, rather than breaking down cultural and race barriers.
3. How much Christians have bailed out from presenting a discipleship of everyday life. Seeing the imam talk about clothes and how what we wear affects our spirits brought me up short, because the church has abandoned teaching on the small things of everyday life: clothing, food, spending, what we read, what we watch, mobile phones, punctuality, etc. So if people want a faith that makes spiritual sense of, and incorporates, the nitty gritty things, we have left the field wide open for others. That's not to say we need lots of laws, heaven forbid, but we need perhaps to do a bit more work on what a distintively Christian lifestyle looks like.