Lived Religion in Call the Midwife

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Lived Religion: Promoting Acceptance and Care for the Community

Lived religion refers to the embodied and enacted forms of spirituality, which can influence and shape the cultural understanding of various issues in the community such as disability and problems people face. People need to understand that every human being deserves to live and access basic necessities in life. However, the world has become unfair to some groups such as people living in disability, the unborn babies, as well as women. Religion plays a role in promoting acceptance for the human race regardless of the cultural, social, economic, or political aspects. In the BBC Drama series, Call the Midwife, the nurses, midwives, and the nuns live and devote their lives in providing care to the community (Takeshita, 2017). The play portrays lived religion through observation of morals and religious practices in helping the community to cope with life challenges. The women in the convent provide midwifery services in a religious way such as prenatal care, deliveries, and antenatal care for babies and mothers. Modernization is setting in but the area around East of London is experiencing economic difficulties due to inequality in distribution of government resources. The community thus encounters scientific and religious views on health, diseases, disability, and childbirth although the two are not in conflict. Other residents also receive care including people with disabilities thus the nuns and other laywomen represent influential religious and medical expertise for the people they serve. The drama series depict the lived religious theme of women spirituality and duty o the society in various ways through acts of love, charity, sanctity of life as well as care for people with disabilities through different characters.

The Attitude Towards Disability and Response to Suffering

The theme of women spirituality is depicted by the attitude towards disability and response to suffering through various characters who take part in the play. The nuns, nurses, and the midwives are keen on promoting the quality of life for people in the community in line with their spiritual vows. The role of religious women in serving people living with disabilities is well depicted as the plot is constructed around the daily experiences of nurses, the midwives, the patients, and the community. The society faces several problems including inadequate resources making their lives quite difficult (Wilder, 2017). Accessing health services especially for expectant and nursing mothers is a significant challenge. However, the women in the convent are determined to promote living conditions and give the community some hope as a way of their spiritual life. One can understand the challenges parents of children with disabilities go through, and the role of religious leaders in bringing up such children. The impairment is analyzed using a medical model although healthcare setting is influenced by the culture of the society including their history. The child can only live for a short time and will endure mobility and other impairments. The episode portrays the religious reflection of the nuns who feel that the child should live with the family instead of being confined in an institution for the people living with disabilities. The love of God is manifested through the nuns who keep reminding them that God loves the patients and that they have a role to accomplish through providing compassion to the people. Nurse Lee encourages the parents that life is never without hope thus they should continue being supportive of the child and giving the best care possible. The midwives provide a counter-narrative to Ruby's arguments that God is punishing them with the baby's disability (Wilder, 2017). Clearly, medical conditions do not have a relationship with people's sins thus parents are not responsible for their children's suffering. Therefore, impairment is not associated with evil although the situation becomes an object of spiritual reflection. Disability is also constructed as needing segregation as people are removed from their homes and taken to care centers. This has an effect of breaking family ties, but the nuns suggest that the best thing is to ensure that the baby lives with his parents. Some individuals are socially marginalized, stigmatized, and segregated in residential homes and prisons threatening the family ties. Misguided religious beliefs have also been depicted leading to stigma in the society as some people think that disability is a punishment from God and a reward for being evil. The locals have a different view of suffering by associating it with some happenings such as sicknesses in their lives. The nuns influence a positive attitude in the people's lives making them see the world in a religious way instead of focusing on their daily troubles and associating them with the Devil. The community remains hopeful about the baby's future and affirms his identity as a child of God. Raising the child frequently and presenting him to the village enable the parents to appreciate life and to honor God as the sole giver of life. Religion and disability are clearly depicted in the series allowing the community to learn ways of living with physically challenged persons.

Women Spirituality and Commitment to Sanctity of Human Life

The theme of women spirituality as a lived religion is depicted by commitment to the sanctity of human life as portrayed in different scenarios involving childbirth, raising children and women's health. The doctor describes home birth in a horrific way as he likens it to bloody scenes during World War 1 (Scott, 2014). Comparing the experience of baby birth to a bloody battle reveals that saving life is very important. The religious teachings on the importance of life are depicted in various scenes that involve small babies. For instance, a grandmother rushes through the streets to save an unconscious baby to the doctor for treatment thus there is consolation and hope in various individuals. The women that give birth in this series are termed as heroes as many scenes are filled with motherhood and suffering. However, babies born with malfunctions emerge as villains or as long-suffering heroes due to challenges that they face throughout their lives. The parents also go through great pain trying to give their children suffering from disabilities a quality life. Heroism is rooted in women and their experiences, especially their reproductive health and the challenges that they experience. The traditions of the community hinder the understanding of some problems facing them, especially physical illnesses since they associate suffering from sin. However, the nurses and other medics make it clear to the patients that diseases are not caused by people's past actions. Therefore, there are no conflicts between religion and science. The sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus perform their nursing duties throughout the community, helping with the birth of between 80 and 100 babies every month (Wilder, 2017). The strength of women and importance of life are brought out clearly in the series as the nursing community works to promote safe birth as well as help women in looking after their newborns. Sister Julienne treats the patients with ultimate dignity through her non-judgmental approach. Whenever other sisters quarrel, she is there to help in mediation and bringing them together. Life is sacred and must be respected by ensuring quality living conditions, nutrition, and healthcare. Although the government seems reluctant to provide the necessary resources for the people living in East London, the religious people chip in to offer assistance. The young and the old have the right to basic needs such as food, clothing, and housing facilities. Discriminating against some communities is highly discouraged by religion as it goes against the teachings of love for one another. The country was recovering from the impacts of the world wars, and the communities needed to move on with life. The death of thousands and physical incapacitation from the wars was still haunting the nation (Wilder, 2017). The drama thus tries to teach about respecting human life by avoiding activities that can lead to the loss of lives and property. By incorporating persons with disabilities in the play, the producers want to remind society about their duty in protecting their ailing colleagues. Thus, the sanctity of life and respect for every human being regardless of class, age, or position in society is quite evident in the drama.

The Services Offered by Nuns, Midwives, and Nurses

Lived religion is also evident through the services offered by the nuns, midwives, and nurses. The central characters composed of the nurses and nuns have dedicated their entire life to help the less fortunate in society according to their vows (Jennings, 2017). The free health and midwifery services to women and children in the community show acts of love and commitment to human life. The idea is to promote quality life through improving hygiene, medical services, as well as fostering modernity in society. The local feminized values have to be addressed in a community dominated by masculinity perspectives. The hospitals and courtrooms are filled with arrogant male professionals thus the nurses and midwives from the Nonnatus House bring some hope to the people. The nurses and nuns have compassion for the people instead of adhering to the laws of the state. The play is full of refugees seeking solace and wanting to rebuild their lives. The nuns and nurses try to give the local people quality life as well as promote cross-cultural relationships. The low-income earners benefit from services of charity from the practice of self-sacrifice from the nuns. The services include spiritual guidance, maternal care, general health services, and food to promote their living conditions. Religious people have a significant role in taking care of the sick and those living with a disability as a way of showing love. The convent has changed people's lives in the community by making them appreciate modernity and the need to protect as well as respect life. Tinckenel (2013) argues that the drama also portrays important issues of identity that affected women in the 1950s. Bridging the past and present is one idea that is emphasized throughout the drama as the nuns encourage the community to adopt modernity for more quality life. Despite the financial challenges they face, the stakeholders ensure that services reach the needy by use of bicycles. The need to serve the community and supply the needed assistance promotes the living conditions of the people.

The Theme of Love and Compassion for the People

The theme of lived religion involving love and compassion for the people is also evident since it is compatible with religious beliefs that God created human beings in His own Image and His love is everlasting. The church tradition also appreciates love for everybody regardless of gender, age, or disability. Childbirth is seen as a rite of passage as a mother moves to motherhood even if the child has some kind of disability (Takeshita, 2017). The love accorded to baby Ruby despite his disability helps the relatives and friends in their emotional healing. Refusing to place him at St. Gideon's home shows that the parents and the rest of the community members cherish him even in his current condition. Although the family is not financially stable, Ruby gets a wheelchair to help him move and make life more bearable. The parental love and determination to improve his living condition are proof of great love and commitment. Cultural limitation may hinder family closeness, but religion is capable of uniting every individual on earth. Love and affection are given freely in the convent, and the community enjoys the proximity with the religious people, including the nuns. Religious values can be difficult to understand; thus, the society keeps on questioning the existence of various issues. However, people need to realize that God is merciful, loving, and caring to everyone, including children and the elderly. Depiction of people suffering from disability in popular culture helps in shaping cultural views about disability and the need to appreciate them. Several narratives exist about infants born with body issues who end up being discriminated against because of the challenges. People do not understand the cause of some deformities in children due to ignorance of medical technology. However, religion tries to explain to society that health issues are not caused by human sins. Love, as taught by religion, reduces stigma and prejudice against different individuals by promoting affection across different people regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Race and class intersect in issues relating to human suffering, but the medical model has a different explanation for the existence of some health conditions. Religion helps people to overcome barriers though love and affection for the people that are suffering. The television show helps shape the beliefs of people in the community by revealing the theme of love according to religious views. The nuns have left their families for the sake of the needy in the community as a show of respect. Offering free services to the people in the community facilitates a change of lifestyle for the community. The government does not provide sufficiently for its citizens; thus, the church needs to do something to promote the living conditions. The love the midwives have for the people enables them to face every challenge they face with great courage to ensure sufficiency.

Spiritual Growth of the Community and Connecting to the Society

Spiritual growth of the community serves to provide a way of connecting to society. Nurse Jenny Lee embarks on the new life in an unfamiliar place and has to endure the challenges, especially when dealing with people in the slums (Tincknell, 2013). Some people in the drama are in their transition to new life involving spiritual growth. Europe, midwives, were honored and valued for their works in the natural process of childbirth. Call the Midwife is set in the 1950s when the nation health service was established in the UK. It enabled the midwives and nurses to offer health services to women throughout the nation, including in the London east where the series is set. Currently, childbirth occurs in hospitals and rarely at home; thus, does the drama facilitate women to give birth safely. Modernization has paved the way for treatment and understanding of religion and its role in shaping human values. The series highlights the working lives of nurses in a cross-cultural situation with the aim of reducing maternal deaths (Hamad, 2016). There are several scenes of delivery revealing God's work of creation. Although women experience pain and uncertainty, the spiritual nourishment they receive from the nurses, nuns, and midwives give them more hope. The drama is about a remarkable moment of transformation of various individuals in many individuals, including the sick. The women are caring and compassionate in their mission of promoting quality life and spiritual guidance. The religious drama combines scientific values in the treatment of patients in a poverty-stricken region in East London (Tincknell, 2013). Traveling on bicycles, the midwives of Nonnatus are committed to the promotion of physical and spiritual healing of the people in the region. People need hope to survive their daily troubles provided by the spiritual readers. Call the Midwife centers on traumatic deliveries as well as medical care provided by the nuns, sisters, and midwives. The team of midwives works tirelessly to ensure that the poverty-stricken women have safe deliveries. Other services offered include prenatal and postnatal care as well as spiritual welfare enabling the community to appreciate life and daily challenges. The drama focuses on an essential period in the history of London, shedding some light on the medical practices of the era. The drama encourages natural childbirth through midwifery-assisted home births as well as showing their collaboration with physicians in providing maternal care (Takeshita, 2017). The show celebrates the entire scope of life beautifully and conventionally to promote human existence. The audience traces women during their pregnancy, after birth, and the care they receive from the sisters and nurses. Human life is valuable; thus, the drama reveals the importance of helping others live quality lives. Infant mortality is high in the community; therefore, continuous follow-ups assist in ensuring that health standards are followed. The nurses also have concern for their colleagues as depicted near the ending when they take care of sister Monica who is idiosyncratic.

Promoting Love, Hope, Spirituality, and the Value of Human Life

The show Call the Midwife covers several themes involving life, including religious issues of love, hope, spirituality, as well as the value of human life. The nuns, the nurses, and the midwives are keeping in ensuring that the community receives quality life. Faith plays a prominent role in the works of charity that the nuns do to the community. They take vows to show their commitment to the city and the people by exhibiting acts of mercy. Although several challenges emerge, the society appreciates the work by the midwives by believing in the new system. The midwives are kind, compassionate, skillfully capable of handling pregnancy, and robust. The activities of the midwives, nurses, and nuns depict religious teachings on humanity.


Hamad, H. (2016). Contemporary Medical Television and Crisis in the NHS. Critical Studies in Television, 11(2), 136-150. From

Jennings, R. (2017). Ageing across Space and Time: Exploring Concepts of Ageing and Identity in the Female Ensemble Dramas Tenko and Call the Midwife. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 14(2), 179-195. From

Scott, A. O. (2014). A War to End All Innocence. New York Times. From

Takeshita, C. (2017). Countering Technocracy:“Natural” Birth in the Business of Being Born and Call the Midwife. Feminist Media Studies, 17(3), 332-346. From

Tincknell, E. (2013). Dowagers, Debs, Nuns, and Babies: the Politics of Nostalgia and the Older Woman in the British Sunday night television serial. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 10(4), 769-784.

Wilder, C. (2017). Television Dramas, Disability, and Religious Knowledge: Considering Call the Midwife and Grey’s Anatomy as Religiously Significant Texts. Religions, 8(10), 209.

August 01, 2023
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