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June 15th 2018

Cardinal Francis Arinze was baptised into the Catholic Church on November 1, 1941, his ninth birthday…
A friend is trying to decide whether he would prefer to retire to a small town or continue living in a big city, and I have been asked to proffer my advice…
Four hundred and fifty-six people dead…
The pattern is now fully established: public figure says homosexual acts are sinful and public figure is forced to resign…

The Irish paradox

The outcome of the abortion referendum in Ireland in May was obviously a huge shock to the pro-life movement in Ireland and overseas…
When I first heard it last September, I didn’t pay it much heed…
It is easy to become disenchanted with politicians…
My daily habit of logging on to the Times of Malta website has become depressing of late…
Belgium’s second goal in their World Cup quarter-final against Brazil was an explosive counter-attack – a display of ruthless pace and power…
About 15 years ago I went to a gym with my wife…
Since 2012, when it knocked Citizen Kane from the top spot, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo has been deemed “the greatest film of all time” in Sight & Sound’s authoritative poll of international film critics…
In a 1980s lecture Iris Murdoch made the telling observation that “in good art we do not ask for realism; we ask for truth”…
Frank O’Connor was, as some would have it, Ireland’s master storyteller…
From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty, Weidenfeld, 272pp, £15 At the outset of this book, subtitled “Travelling the World to Find the Good Death”, Caitlin Doughty quotes the psychiatrist Irvin D Yalom: “Adults who are racked with death anxiety are not odd birds who have contracted some exotic disease, but men and women whose family and culture have failed to knit the proper protective clothing for them to withstand the icy chill of mortality.” This is the second book I’ve reviewed in recent months based on this very premise: the modern world’s failure to provide rituals and practices that help us to face up to death…
Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray, Allen Lane, 170pp, £17.99 In his best-known book, Straw Dogs, the political philosopher and career misanthrope John Gray whittled away at our most cherished liberal beliefs as he sought to undermine almost 2,500 years of Western thought…
Christianity in the Twentieth Century by Brian Stanley, Princeton, 504pp, £27 A cynical old priest of my acquaintance, long dead, and so politically incorrect as to be, perhaps, scarcely quotable in 21st-century print, once said to me: “I never take much comfort from those who tell us that the Church is flourishing in Africa, even if it is declining in Europe…

The greatest miracle

Ralph Waldo Emerson calls the stars in the night sky “envoys of beauty, lighting the universe with their astonishing smile” and submits that if they appeared for a single night only every thousand years, we’d be on our knees in worship and would cherish the memory for the rest of our lives…