- Exodus of biblical proportions
Hounded out of their homes by Islamist violence, Iraqi Christians face what many fear may be their final festive season in the land of their fathers as many prepare for exile
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One of my childhood Christmas Day rituals was morning Mass, clad in whatever awful anorak or jumper Santa had left under the tree. Each time the church door would creak open, I’d peep over my shoulders during a chorus of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” to see which of my friends had just come in, trussed up in their new togs, and evaluate at a glance how terrible (or cool) they were.
Christmas is the time of year when you want to break a stout stick over the head of the first person who says that the whole thing is over-commercialised. Or at least I do. It is not only that it is a cliché, but, like every reader of The Tablet, I have already worked out ways of finding space in the Yuletide froth. It is a technique, like stopping a saucepan of milk from boiling over.
I love having four children, but every once in a while I encounter someone who is critical of my big family, and rude enough to tell me. It is irresponsible, they say, to have more than two kids, which is the “right” number because that replaces my husband and myself on the planet when we die.
Back in 2012, a star of the global commentariat declared that oil prices would “skyrocket to permanently higher levels”. Since then, the price of a barrel of Brent crude has plummeted by more than 40 per cent, proving yet again the folly of making predictions.
A REPORT INTO the apostolic visitation to the nuns of the United States published this week should have been out before the Year of Consecrated Life began on 30 November, but was slightly delayed. A separate report into American nuns accused of “radical feminism” is likely to be delayed far longer as the panel is having difficulty reaching agreement.
Up and down the country, and indeed across the whole world, robins have been recently flying through letter boxes and landing on doormats. It is no surprise that these little birds are a favourite on our Christmas cards.
If I were Chancellor of the Exchequer, I would pray for a rapid return of trade- union militancy. George Osborne’s management of the national finances has been torpedoed by falling tax revenues and rising welfare bills. Both are caused by the same phenomenon: income levels are failing to keep pace with the cost of living.
Recently I have been reading a fascinating book called A Flourishing Practice? by Peter Toon, published by the Royal College of General Practitioners, which is an attempt to apply the “virtue ethics” of Alasdair MacIntyre to the NHS, both structurally and personally in the sense of enquiring about what would make a “virtuous” doctor.
THE EXTRAORDINARY Synod on the Family has left the Church bruised and 2015 promises to be a tough year for Pope Francis. The Pope’s supporters did not expect such strong resistance to his vision for a more compassionate and less judgemental Church. In recent weeks they have been urging him to make a faster and more radical reshuffle of senior positions in the Vatican.
A sharp wind scoured the fields. The afternoon was lengthening. Heading for home, a raucous cacophony began behind me. It grew louder: a flock of rooks was making for its winter roost.
Frequently I am asked about my preferences with regards to popes. It is most likely due to the job I once held in Rome. But it is a question that often confuses me, especially when asked by Catholics, as I fear they are inserting democratic norms and principles into the papacy.
I met the other day, in Latin America, a remarkable group of young people. They had discovered the contemplative dimension of life at an early stage thanks to a teacher who had discovered it later in his life. They were waiting sedately in the chapel, in their pews, when I arrived to meet them.
A tiny picture 21mm deep of Pope Francis apparently rubbing noses with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople went with The Times’ report on Monday of their meeting in Istanbul. In The Daily Telegraph a picture 215mm deep showed the Pope’s face in profile, looking a little like Alec Guinness,...
Anyone moving to live in Rome (as I did six months ago to work at the Anglican Centre) gets a full-immersion baptism into the delights and absurdities of Italian life, writes Marcus Walker.
Gales of laughter gusted down the lane. What was it? Not human. Was a hyena loose among the rain-sodden sheep? The green woodpecker’s call is surely among the most striking in the animal kingdom.
Like Ukip’s leader Nigel Farage, I too have sat on a train from London’s Charing Cross hearing every language except English, at least until we reach Grove Park in Lewisham. But my reaction could not be more different from his, which may be summarised as “how dare they come over here and speak their language in our trains?”
One of the few near certainties in a fluid political scene – with a Rubik’s Cube’s worth of outcomes possible after next May’s general election – is that in a year’s time we will be in the midst of a strategic defence and security review (SDSR). By my calculation, it will be the twelfth such review since the end of the Second World War.
The river is calm; it flows gently into the North Sea. But the sea beyond the wide welcome of the harbour arms is wild. Waves crash against the Tynemouth headland; shredding on the crags, the foam flies as high as the ruins on the promontory above.
The daily struggle for control of Jerusalem’s holy places has been waged at least since Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the first Jewish Temple in 586 BC. Often, this ceaseless battle takes the form of Jewish settlers clubbing together to buy a house in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City,
The headline in The Sun summed it up: “Jesus wed hooker and had two kids.” If the language in the headline was a little rebarbative, the reporter adopted a more decorous tone in the relative amplitude of a 130-word report: “A lost gospel has been translated to reveal Jesus married prostitute Mary Magdalene and they had two children.