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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
Most Read Articles
Manage my subcription hereManage
Sign up for our newsletterSign Up