Columnists

There is a phrase, almost a cliché, that keeps coming up in spiritual direction, in conversations with friends (if you are lucky enough to have friends with whom you can have such conversations) and even in the confessional: “Be kind to yourself.” It makes me uneasy and, sometimes, cross.

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23 March 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
The toad was waiting at the front door. Warty dry skin, golden-eyed, the amphibian crawled inside, and headed for the sitting room. We’ve had toads in the house before, but never such a determined guest.

Joni Sledge, who died a week ago aged 60, and her sisters sang their biggest hit for the Pope when he visited Philadelphia. The Daily Telegraph obituary noted that “in 2015 footage of them singing ‘We Are Family’ for Pope Francis went viral when nuns in the audience danced along”.

Years go I was chatting to a priest in the north of England when the subject of second marriages came up. His parish was full of them, he said, as it was of co-habitees. Yet neither of those types of relationship is blessed by the Catholic Church.

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16 March 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
I love walking beneath the Scots pines where the rooks nest. A busy road runs close by, but when you pass under the trees you’re lifted up and immersed in the sound-world of these glossy, purple-black members of the crow family.

According to Pankaj Mishra, the defining characteristic of our age is anger. For him, the revolutionary movements of the eighteenth century hold the clue to understanding the present: a massive groundswell of ressentiment, “resentment”, by the have-nots against the haves.

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09 March 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
At last the spring flowers are blooming. The first I’ve noticed this year are the lesser celandines. For weeks I’ve been watching their heart-shaped leaves growing gradually glossier, until yesterday their bright yellow flowers suddenly burst into life.

We returned to the House of Lords this week for another great two-day set-piece Article 50 Brexit debate, when the bill reached its committee stage in the upper chamber.

Thirty years have passed since Andy Warhol’s death,” wrote Jonathan Jones, The Guardian art critic. “Surely it is high time for him to be made a saint.”

I feel I have been rather nobly restrained about my strong dislike of the new translation of the Mass. “You’ll get used to it” people told me, and by and large they were right.

The Church of England is once again in disarray over its teaching on homosexuality. Or to put it another way, it has declined to put forward any teaching on homosexuality at all, because there is not enough agreement among its members about what that teaching should be.

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23 February 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
I stopped at the gate. Rain drilled on my hood; the wind soughed through the telegraph wires. From the farm, the tethered collie barked.

I was surprised to see The Times describe Phil Shiner (the human rights lawyer instrumental in bringing cases against British servicemen, who has now been struck off) as a “devout Catholic”.

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16 February 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
The lambs’ tails wagged in the wind. Not the woolly variety, but the catkins on the hazel tree.

In 1994, after I had spoken at a conference entitled “Women and Men and the Future of the Church”, I received a letter of rebuke from the local bishop.

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09 February 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
We buried my father here five years ago. Today I have returned to the lime trees and wreaths of Thirsk Municipal Cemetery.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

02 February 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
The train stopped. I looked through the window. It wasn’t a particularly promising sight, just a junk yard with a wall-eyed dog barking at us from a small mountain of crushed cars.

One day in February 1988, John Hurt the actor was having a quiet pint of Guinness in the Coach and Horses in Soho when one the regulars there who had the not negligible title of its drunkest denizen turned to him and said: “You’re just a bad actor. All you want is fame.”

Kenneth Baker, who served in several Cabinet posts during the Thatcher and Major years, said to me just after Donald Trump won the US presidential election: “We know already that 2016 will be one of those years, like 1939 or 1945, of which we will come to say, ‘before 2016’ or ‘after 2016’.

One lesson of the annual remembrance of the Holocaust, which happens each year on 27 January, is to remind us of the consequences when democratic politics fails.

Last month I had the surgery I had been waiting for – and for the past six weeks have been recuperating. In addition to being deeply grateful to the NHS – first, just for existing, and, second, for its excellent care – I have been thinking a lot about love and friendship.

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25 January 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
They call it Blue Monday, the mid-January Monday said to be the most depressing date on the northern hemisphere calendar.

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