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Images of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory loom large in popular culture, but less so in Scripture. The human imagination bridges this gap and creates music, films, games and novels that help us to make sense of our lives
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Cardinal George Pell was never the most popular man in Australia, not even among his fellow bishops – which means it was extraordinarily shrewd of Pope Francis to put him in charge of the Vatican’s finances. They were in such a mess, and in such a need of a shake-up, that only somebody prepared to tread on toes and who was not too bothered about being popular would be equal to the pressure.
Immigration remains one of the public’s prime concerns in the run-up to the general election, reinforced by the latest figures which show it to be running at a higher rate – nearly 300,000 a year – than at any time since the 2010 general election. This has gravely embarrassed the Conservative Party because it foolishly promised that by about this time the figure would be limited to below 100,000.
In the third of her reflections for Lent, Joan Chittister suggests that we have a ‘spiritual reflex’ in us that recoils from corruption and injustice
Compared with the fate of other former disc jockeys, elderly pop stars and motley faded celebrities who have recently been sentenced for child abuse, the 16-year term handed down to singer Gary Glitter, real name Paul Francis Gadd, doesn’t seem out of line. If it departs from the sentencing guidelines and tariffs currently in force, no doubt the Court of Appeal will correct it.
After he led the John Main Seminar, “The New Creation in Christ”, I took a plane with Bede Griffiths. He was then in his eighties and recovering from a near fatal stroke. He was grateful for the spiritual benefits of it. He had been sitting in his small hut at Shantivanam when, he said, it was if somebody had punched him hard in the head and his vision went blurred – like the old televisions when they went wobbly.
“We will conquer Rome by the will of Allah”. This bravura statement, coming at the end of the ghastly video showing the slaughter of Coptic Christians in Libya, may have been missed by people in the rest of the world (focusing, rightly, on the human tragedy shown on the film), but it wasn’t missed in Italy.
I stepped off the bus and stopped dead. There was chimney smoke on the wind. The acrid tang carried me instantly back to childhood. Both sets of my grandparents had open fires.