Faith and culture

Edmund Campion and Evelyn Waugh
How did the patron saint of the Jesuits in Britain, who was martyred on 1 December 1581, transform the life of one England’s most celebrated authors nearly 400 years later? Gerard Kilroy, the co-editor of a new edition of Evelyn Waugh's Edmund Campion, describes the motivations behind and evolution of Waugh’s ‘work of imaginative literature’.  Thomas More and John Fisher were canonised by Pope Pius XI on 19 May 1935; in the same month, Evelyn Waugh finished writing his gripping...
Window into garden
‘Reading Alice Oswald’s poetry in the middle days of Lent feels like stopping in a place of spiritual lushness,’ suggests Nathan Koblintz as he spends some time in the fertile landscape that emerges from the words of the award-winning poet. Traditional Lenten concerns of conversion, renewal, and watching and waiting all find new expression in her poems, which entice us to see and contemplate change. One of Alice Oswald’s poems is called ‘For Many Hours there’s been an Old Couple Standing...
Anthony Burgess
25 February 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of a celebrated author whose complicated relationship with Catholicism shaped his life and particularly his writing. Anthony Burgess, best known for A Clockwork Orange, was fixated on the Church, says Jim Clarke – how did that fascination manifest itself in Burgess’ body of work? His most famous work is a moral fable about Original Sin and free will. In his finest novel, one of the protagonists is a larger-than-life pope who...
Still from 'Silence'
Martin Scorsese’s ‘passion project’, Silence, based on the novel by Shūsako Endō, has been in the making for some twenty years. The story of Jesuit missionaries in Japan is rich with questions and Ignatian themes – Frances Murphy suggests what viewers should look out for when the film comes to UK cinemas on 1 January. Shūsako Endō’s novel, Silence, tells the story of two 17th century Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in Japan in search of the truth about what happened to their much-admired...
Drawing of Daniel Berrigan Sj
American Jesuit Daniel Berrigan died on 30 April 2016. As well as being an influential anti-war activist, he was a celebrated poet, and Emily Holman has relished having the opportunity to ponder Berrigan’s words in recent months and reflect on ‘the closeness of poetry and life’ that he communicated so creatively. In his poems we journey into and through darkness, are challenged by encounters and, above all, are guided by the hand of God. Death can be serendipitous. I hadn...
Photo by Jack Dorsey at flickr.com
‘The size of Shakespeare’s vocabulary was a direct reflection of what he wrote about – which was virtually everything.’ For the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death, David Crystal explains why counting the number of words in the Shakespearean canon can never be an exact science. Nevertheless, we can still identify the semantic field of which Shakespeare made more use than any other: religious language. There is a striking numerical parallel between...
Photo of Pope Francis
When Pope John Paul II visited Chile in 1987 he was welcomed as a ‘messenger of life, pilgrim of peace’ – Nathan Stone SJ remembers it well. How did Pope Francis live up to these same accolades on his visit to Cuba and the United States? I was there in April 1987 when Pope John Paul II visited Chile. It was quite the affair. Chile was small, far away and off the beaten track. Whenever an international figure of any stature came to town, it was a big deal, but John Paul was the Vicar of...
Photo of Pope Francis
In recent decades, the dynamics within the Catholic Church in America have grown increasingly to resemble those that define the U.S. political scene, writes Vincent Rougeau. Pope Francis’ refusal to align himself with either liberals or conservatives on his recent visit was a challenge to all those who accept such divisions, inside and outside of the Church. A five-year-old girl breaking through security to offer Pope Francis a letter and a t-shirt was probably the most iconic image...
Photo of rugby union players
Rugby union fans counting down the hours until the Rugby World Cup gets underway on 18 September probably need no convincing of the value of sporting pursuits. However, you might be more inclined to join the poet James Kirkup in asking: ‘Is all this courage really necessary?’ If so, Daniel Kearney has some advice, with a little help from a 16th century martyr and a 21st century philosopher. Watching grown men ‘roll each other,/ In the mud’, the poet James Kirkup...
Still from Disney's Bolt
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earthMeekness doesn’t necessarily sound like something to which many people would aspire, says Edel McClean, but perhaps that’s because we’re thinking about it in the wrong way. It’s not about weakness, but about ‘a discerned and appropriate use of power’, and who better to demonstrate this than…a cartoon dog who thinks he’s a superhero?! We add Disney’s Bolt to our Beatitudes on Film series...

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