It is almost exactly 10 years ago that my wonderful builder and I started work on the derelict shepherd’s house high up a single track road over a Scottish moor that is now my home.
Since I inhabit the Westminster bubble, my local church is Westminster Cathedral in which is displayed the masked body of St John Southworth. It occasionally makes casual tourists jump a bit as they dawdle round taking selfies.
We should be worried about the survival of parliamentary democracy, our best and possibly only protection against tyranny and arbitrary government.
I have been reading this week about modern martyrs, and finding as I always do that the gospel they exemplify is the oddest and most unappealing thing.
As he sacks civil servants and locks up generals, Turkey’s embattled president has made one gesture of conciliation.
I may be the only Jesuit who will tell you this, but St Ignatius Loyola, whose feast day we celebrated on 31 July, was an obsessive-compulsive neurotic nut.
There’s a strain of news coverage at the moment that is very down on the Olympic Games, for which there is much scope. In The Sunday Times, Neil Oliver, who says he hates sport, recruited God in his campaign against the Games.
In 1930, Winston Churchill said: “The compass has been damaged. The charts are out of date.” He was speaking as a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the aftermath of the Great Crash of 1929.
As the academic year draws to a close, thousands of anxious teenagers, and even more pensive teachers, are awaiting their examination results.
Recently I had a discussion (it was not quite an argument) with someone of a loosely atheistic persuasion, who felt that believing in God infantilised people – it stripped us of responsibility and autonomy and therefore of maturity.
Are we in the midst of a historical upheaval, where old structures or orders appear unable to control events or respond to challenges, or are we just witnessing random events? From events in France, to Brexit, to Turkey and American politics, we have symptoms while the underlying causes have yet to emerge.
“She favours Ottolenghi cookbooks, likes walking holidays, goes to church,” wrote Clare Foges in The Times this week about the new Prime Minister, Theresa May. “This is fine – but no more, please. The prime ministerial sphinx should stay that way, guarding her secrets.”
Resistance to migration is nothing new. African-Americans freed from slavery after the American Civil War migrated north to seek work in the Yankee industrial heartlands. They were soon competing for jobs, thereby creating tensions with the white working class. Many of those were Irish immigrants, who had themselves been treated with hostility when they arrived.
The aftermath of Chilcot was distressing in many respects. Not only because of the painful reminder of lives lost, or because of the continuing tragedy that is Iraq. These are necessary needles to our consciences, which keep us honest and stop us forgetting. But it was also distressing in a less salutary sense, by providing a stage for yet another of the witch-hunts that dominate so much of our media.
Can we please stop pretending that children are not politically aware? It would also be great to stop the unthinking rhetoric about apathetic young voters. Unhampered by adult inhibitions and free from the “no politics over dinner” convention, teenagers are some of the most dynamic and persuasive public speakers I have encountered
“Everyone ignored the Somme,” Camilla Long complained in her Sunday Times column about the week’s news coverage. It wasn’t quite so. Like a sound of distant gunfire, the centenary of the Battle of the Somme rolled on in the background to political events in Britain of the most surprising kind.
Over the last week a revolution has taken place; a revolution whose ramifications will have a profound impact on the United Kingdom and its future. I have witnessed this revolution in my own home, but it will have been taking place in houses throughout Britain.
I have never before been ashamed of being a Briton.
When they come to analyse major shifts and changes in society, cultural theorists speak of “fault lines”. They sometimes apply the London Underground’s famous safety warning: “Mind the gap”. Two recent events made me aware of contemporary Catholicism’s major fault lines, and how we need to very carefully mind the gaps.
China has its pandas, India its tigers, and the River Ouse its tansy beetles. The size of an abacus bead, its shining green body imprinted with a rainbow, the tansy beetle is just as endangered as those better known species. Once widespread across the UK, they’re now limited to a 30-mile stretch of Yorkshire’s River Ouse.
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