01 November 2023, The Tablet

Invited to joyful rebellion

by John Casson

The Tablet Lecture 2023

Invited to joyful rebellion

John Casson with L’Arche core member Zoe


Jesus calls on us to live life to the full. People with learning disabilities show us how

I want to talk about a group of people on whom modern life takes a heavy toll. Not people with learning disabilities: they will come later. And not people manipulated by artificial intelligence (AI). They’re later too. First (and if I can quote the ­musical Hamilton), let’s talk about all those people who’ve “gotta be in the room where it happens”. People like those I knew when I worked as foreign policy adviser in 10 Downing Street, and among ambassadors and world leaders. People, in fact, like me.

Have you ever wondered why shows like The Thick of It and Yes, Minister make great TV? It’s not because ­people in power are special, but because places of power spin us like a centrifuge, and tease out what we are, for examination. In Downing Street, you live between two incompatible forces: the illusion that you should have an immediate answer to everything, and the reality that you control very little. This makes for a frenzied way of being.


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