Although Buddhism has been one of the greatest passions of my life, I almost never talk about it. Few of my colleagues are aware that my first research degree was in Buddhist philosophy. Few of my Christian friends are aware that my first religious practice was Zen.

You are in a foreign country if the streets are named after unfamiliar dates. Not that many British streets are named after dates even of the most familiar kind, though one or two, thanks to the bad joke played on the inhabitants by city planners, might suitably be renamed “1st April Street”.

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19 January 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
I had climbed the stile and was halfway up the hill when the covey broke cover. Clucking in alarm, wings whirring, the grey partridges bulleted directly above my head.

Two weeks into 2017, and the top executives who head the FTSE 100 companies have already earned an extraordinary £80,000 apiece.

It is almost a year since Laurian Bold, a 31-year-old chemistry teacher at Hollingworth Academy in Milnrow, Rochdale, died after falling to her death from a motorway bridge.

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12 January 2017
Who would have expected to find an orchard here?

When the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” was released in 1966, there was uneasiness about how the public would take its invocation of the Deity. Tony Asher, who co-wrote it, later remarked: “Unless you were Kate Smith and you were singing ‘God Bless America’, no one thought you could say ‘God’ in a song.”

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04 January 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
A night of freezing fog was falling. Our breath steaming, my nephew and I paused at a gate. In the field, bunched together for warmth, sheep munched on a pile of fodder beet.

The swift rise of Daesh in northern Iraq and Syria in 2014 took many in the West by surprise. That element of surprise and the delayed reaction cost many religious minorities (including Muslims) dear. Many fled and many were slaughtered.

A late entry for the most strained religious metaphor of 2016 came from The Sun, in a profile of the Chelsea footballer Victor Moses. It was as if the postman had snagged one of those ubiquitous Royal Mail elastic bands on the letterbox and was left wondering why an inexplicable force was dragging him back from his attempts to leave by the garden gate. It was that strained.

Christmas cards are now arriving. I do not get very many, because I send very few, but I get enough to generalise a little about the iconography.

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15 December 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
Outside, fog was gathering. Inside, we were putting up the Christmas decorations. Looking through the window, I was amazed to see a glinting bauble on a leaning spear of teasel.

Pope Francis has a mutiny on his hands. Not only have four senior cardinals publicly demanded that he prove to them he is not a heretic, but in various parts of the world leaders of the Church have openly defied him, signalling that they, too, think he has betrayed the faith. The internet is humming with denunciations and petitions along similar lines.

Among the traditional counsels of this season, the theme of waiting plays a prominent role. We look for the birth of the Messiah and for his second coming with prayerful expectation and pregnant hope.

John Osborne, in A Better Class of Person, his wonderfully downbeat memoir of a suburban upbringing, remembered that after the turkey and pudding had been eaten, someone would always announce: “That’s another Christmas done with.” It was part of a family trait of exhibiting “a timid melancholy or dislike of joy, effort or courage”.

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08 December 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
The Kestrel came just as afternoon was fading into night. Head hunched, quick wings cutting through the silence, it quartered the woods.

Few people have seized the imagination of their own and subsequent generations of Catholics like Francis Xavier, whose feast day is celebrated today.

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01 December 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
If you were a castaway on a desert island, which “recordings” from nature would you take with you? My first choice would be the cries of the herring gulls that actually start the radio programme, Desert Island Discs.

Eleven pm. The only word on my planning sheet so far is “death”. After 15 minutes of staring at the page and doodling in the margin, the only other word added to the document is “complicated”, underlined several times in now blunt pencil.

It’s hard to adjust to the new post-sanity political landscape. The Times (of London) devoted the top half of page three on Saturday to “one of Donald Trump’s most prominent and provocative supporters”, Milo Yiannopoulos.

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24 November 2016 | by Jonathan Tulloch
The dog fox slipped out from the woods just in front of me. Oblivious of the human, he dandered on along his path; sleek, red back catching the low sunlight, long thick tail streaming behind. I followed.

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