Culture and Society

Closing session of GC36
And unexpectedly, it is over.All votes are cast. All documents written. All jobs that were complete-able are complete. We suddenly find ourselves on the last day, with a last Mass this evening and tonight the goodbyes will begin.We only knew it yesterday.It is slightly unreal. I will see some of the Jesuits from the Aula next week in London; some I will never see again. We are pilgrims on the road, creating community as we travel, breaking and re-creating communities at the next cross-roads,...
Fr Provincial (right) in conversation with other delegates at GC36
I have an armed guard outside my bedroom. Two soldiers and an armoured car.At first I thought that it might be to protect the Brexit Provincial from the hordes of angry Roman Pro-Europeans, but I was assured that this was not the case and this strategy was part of a generally heightened security around Italy following the terrorist attacks in France and Germany. For the last five weeks, the Italian Army has been sitting under my first-floor window, an impressive presence, amiably restricting...
Group CEO Sleepout - a picture of the group
“Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection”.You should always meet your heroes; true heroism requires the reality test. That is why Thomas needed to put his fingers into the holes in Jesus’ hands. The ultimate things in life – and death – can only be faced with the confidence of a tested truth. And, as it happens, I met one of mine this week. I was doing a sponsored sleep-out for a homeless charity at Lord’s cricket ground. (When I was a teenager, my...
One human family and refugees welcome banners
As the days really shorten and darken in the nations of Britain and of the northern hemisphere, the monthly Universal Intention of the Holy Father, commended to the church though his Prayer Network, keeps us mindful of the awful suffering of refugees, many of whom have come to these nations to escape persecution and violence. We are invited, through prayer and reflection, to grow in compassion for all displaced people, most of whom experience great need and pain. We have a powerful reminder of...
'Crimson Tide': a taut, claustrophobic thriller
The late Tony Scott was a movie director who was somewhat overshadowed by his more acclaimed Oscar-winning film-maker brother, Ridley Scott; but the corpus of Tony’s movie work, if more populist, is not slight. 'Top Gun', with Tom Cruise, was Scott’s breakthrough movie; and others ( e.g. ‘Enemy of the State’ and ‘Déjà Vu’) are certainly worth an evening of popcorn and thoughtful entertainment.My favourite Tony Scott movie is a taut, claustrophobic...
Two groups of young men gathered in a huddle
The first time I ever read this Gospel in Church, it was when I was working in the Caribbean. And it was to a youth Mass in a place called Albouystown - a very bad part of Georgetown in Guyana - a rough area, full of poverty, disease, violence and drugs.So, I read them the Gospel and I asked the young people to think of an image of what it would be like for Jesus to walk into their town and into their lives, the way He walked into Jericho and into the life of Zacchaeus.They thought for a bit...
Pope Francis addresses GC36
After a concert at Carnegie Hall, the wonderful comic pianist, Victor Borge, had an unexpected visitor to his dressing room: a Secret Service agent for the US Vice President, who had been in the audience that night.The Secret Service man said: “The Vice President will be with you in 30 seconds, and you can ask him anything you like.”This caught Borge off-guard… ask anything at all??With such a blank agenda, Borge found that he was fixating on one question… “Mr...
A close up of a set of rosary beads
“God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”The one patient for whom no doctor can do anything is the patient who doesn’t think that he has a problem. I have a good friend who is an alcoholic. Since you will never meet him, I will tell you that his name is Tom. He has now not drunk alcohol for ten years, but he still knows that he is an alcoholic. Before that, his drinking destroyed his family, his job, his home and very nearly killed him. One day during Lent ten years ago, the...
British cinema poster for Moonraker, illustrated by Dan Gouzee © United Artists
Over the last year, I have been reading and enjoying the James Bond novels. It is good to get beyond the famous movie franchise and see Bond and the narratives as they were originally portrayed by the author, Ian Fleming.Fleming’s prose is wonderfully visual and crisp. As the story-line in the novels develops, Bond matures: the tightly-coiled 007 of Casino Royale is simple, harsh and unforgiving; but as his friendships grow, he becomes more complex and thoughtful towards the final...
Old books
“It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.”When the Falklands war started, I was about 18 and we happened to be living next door to the Argentinean naval attaché. My mother heard the news on the radio and (being that kind of woman) immediately went next door to ask him what it was all about – and what in particular the Argentinians wanted with what she thought were some semi-detached bits of Scotland. He was horrified at the news, “...

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