It’s summer drinks party season in west London: but the parties are muted, and there’s an air of faint embarrassment that the champagne corks are popping in the shadow of Grenfell Tower.
When serious things happen it proves hard to keep God out. After the attack against Muslims at Finsbury Park, when a van drove into a crowd in the early hours of Monday, The Telegraph included a brief round-up of MPs’ reactions.
A Protestant friend told me once that he could never contemplate becoming a Roman Catholic “because you are Eucharistic cannibals”. He was sincere. I was speechless – and that rarely happens.
It has been a harsh month – full of darkness and sadness and death and division …
I use a wheeled suitcase to take my marking home every evening. An actual suitcase. I had previously bought a specially designed contraption, but it quickly collapsed under the weight of the paper that had been over-ambitiously crammed into it.
Less than two months ago, on 11 April, “heartbroken police pals” as the Daily Star put it, “paid their respects to courageous terror victim PC Keith Palmer”.
I was in the gym when I first saw the news about the Manchester attack. Sitting on the bike, lost in some thoughts about my thesis, my eyes suddenly focused on the TV above me.
At general election times, the British political market propels itself into a choreographed frenzy, with opinion polls scanned avidly as the equivalent of a floating exchange rate of political value at a particular moment.
These days, in marketing, buzzwords and taglines are everything: short, immediate disclosures that pique interest or point to a larger message. Whether it is intentional or not, Pope Francis is a master of this communication.
I was once chatting with a group of senior Church of England clergy when an elderly priest passed by. He was a devout Anglo-Catholic – more Catholic than the Pope, some said – and loved and revered for his holiness by all who knew him. “The trouble with him,” remarked one of my companions as we watched him walk away, “is that he doubts the validity of his own orders.”
The last lazy Berkshire bee had long since sucked the sweetness from the spilled drops of champagne bedewing the grass of Bucklebury when The Sun excitedly reported online that the Duchess of Cambridge had drawn a picture of St Mark’s church, Englefield, for the front of the order of service for her sister Pippa Middleton’s wedding.
I find myself darkly baffled by the – to me bizarre – conviction held by clearly honest and profoundly faithful Catholics – including many theologically well-trained highly placed clerics – that the teaching of the Church cannot change. I am baffled on two levels simultaneously: in the first place it is patently untrue, and more seriously I don’t understand why anyone sane would want it to be true. Sara Maitland
It’s not often that a Pope sides with a woman who’s at loggerheads with the Vatican. But when Francis was passed the mike at 30,000 feet in one of his regular in-flight press conferences last weekend on his way home from Portugal, that’s what happened. Joanna Moorhead
In a flash of rueful self-knowledge, I was struck recently by how much nicer it would be to serve Mammon. I know, obviously, that it would not really be nicer. But we have an immense range of different subjectivities within ourselves.
“I was ashamed when I heard the name,” The Sun quoted the Pope saying. The name was Mother of All Bombs, as the Americans call their GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast, weighing 21,600lb, which they dropped on an Isis tunnel complex in Afghanistan. It killed 94, the Afghan army said.
Jeremy Corbyn, “when his party sweeps to power in June, says he will introduce bank holidays to mark the patron saints’ days of all the component parts of the United Kingdom”, observed Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph.
Why don’t people trust politicians? Could it be because they rubbish their opponents while praising themselves, contradicting two of the basic principles of polite good manners? If X says Y is a disgrace to humanity and Y says the same about X, aren’t we tempted to disapprove of both?
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