Columnists

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?

Glimpses of Eden Premium

27 April 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
Tall and gnarled, the crab apple tree leant over the path. Its white and pink flower buds were just hours from opening, perhaps even minutes.

Symbols seem to work in an odd way. There is little obvious reason why roses should represent love or lilies purity, and eggs for Easter have long baffled folklorists and semiologists. Does the empty shell represent the empty cave-tomb? Does the shape re-call the stone rolled away from the grave mouth?

Among the hardest things a Catholic priest has to do is to bury a member of his family. While by law or custom most professions are discouraged from looking after their own family, a priest is often expected to minister to his. And on the whole we want to. Baptisms and weddings are joys. Funerals, however, are tough gigs.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

20 April 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
The blackthorn was in bloom, turning the hedge into a bridal procession. At my feet, the beck sang over gravel.

Eggs have legs. They produced a story last week that kept on running. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was in Saudi Arabia when, as The Daily Telegraph reported, she took the National Trust to task for publicising the “Cadbury Egg Hunt”, omitting the word “Easter” before “egg”. “I’m not just a vicar’s daughter – I’m a member of the National Trust as well,” she told ITV news. “Easter’s very important. It’s important to me, it’s a very important festival for the Christian faith for millions.”

Mistakes are strange things. They have the capacity to make us feel intimidated, incapable, useless. Depending upon the nature of our personal or professional lives, errors have the potential to be damaging, dangerous or even fatal.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

13 April 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
Sitting by the garden pond, I read my way through the afternoon. I wasn’t alone for long. The sunshine soon brought our neighbour’s honeybees to drink.

Let’s consider the predicament of a Catholic head teacher who is told by the mother of an enrolled student that her child is transitioning to the other gender. They’ve already contacted doctors, and hormone therapy has begun.

I was disappointed to discover recently that St Euphrosynos, a patron saint of cooks, was not a man who loved food. He seems to have cooked “from obedience”, rather than from a genuine love of the thing.

Song of the Earth Premium

06 April 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
As the weather warms and flowers begin to bloom, a search through The Tablet archives reveals how we caught up with Pope Francis in our approach to the natural world

I am writing this column on the most poignant day I have ever spent in Parliament either as a journalist or as a member of the House of Lords – one day after the attack on the Palace of Westminster, the carnage on Westminster Bridge and the murder of PC Keith Palmer just inside New Palace Yard.

I blame Jack Lerole, the lead performer of Elias and his Zig Zag Jive Flutes. He meant no harm, but their hit in 1958 with the instrumental “Tom Hark” provided a rhythmic melody for generations of football chants.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

30 March 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
Our cherry plum tree is in blossom. All at once its brittle twigs are lit with white. Sparrows plunge in and out of the gently scented branches like children playing in a fountain. A blackbird sings from the very top – a single silhouette in the brilliance.

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.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

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.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

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.

Glimpses of Eden Premium

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.”

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