SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Bonnie Lander Johnson

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September 23, 2020
We are in a season of protest. Taking to the streets or the picket line is an ageless method for communicating our disapproval. But everything else about protest in the digital age is quite new. Try taking a stand without a Twitter account. Four hundred years ago another radical development in communication technology introduced a
September 18, 2020
Locked in a Victorian terrace for three months dreaming of green fields, we began to imagine we could cut it as survivalists. Long nights were spent reading online about the merits of the Kelly Kettle compared with an open fire. We bought a mountaineering tent and lightweight titanium plates that double as frying pans. “Flamers”
August 25, 2020
Have you visited your Mother lately?
July 27, 2020
Damascus By Christos Tsiolkas Atlantic, £16.99 Gen X is growing up. Christos Tsiolkas, once the pin-up boy of 1990s Grunge Lit, has turned 50 and written an intimate first-person account of St Paul’s conversion. Damascus exposes the reality of an ancient pagan society riven with sexual violence, enslavement, brutality and child-abandonment. From within this world
June 26, 2020
In late spring with the bluebells and apple flowers also come the first cockles, throwing themselves up onto the British and Irish coastlines like so many orphans, desperate to be collected by passing adults. The homegrown recipe would be cockles in cream with bread and butter, but I prefer Spaghetti Vongole. Possibly the best thing
May 29, 2020
The Queen hopes that “in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge”, but I can’t say there is much noble suffering in these long sunny days idled away in pyjamas, exploiting the labour of a normally absent spouse now at home to help with
February 20, 2020
In one of his Lenten sermons, St Augustine extolled the importance of frugality. To avoid food all day and then eat a plate of delicacies is not fasting; eat in moderation, he said, but when you do eat make sure it is “ordinary” food “readily to hand”. Frugality of this kind poses certain challenges to the
April 04, 2019
Cooking with the Saints By Alexandra Greeley and Fernando Flores, Sophia Institute Press, 352pp, £27/$35  ‘When food is prepared as a gift by one who loves [and that food is received in love], the original plan of God for the communion of His people is restored.” Cooking with the Saints offers this kitchen table communion
October 04, 2018
Bonnie Lander Johnson on the strange 21st-century cult of Fridolatry This summer we took our children to the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum where, with hundreds of thousands of others, we hoped to delight in Kahlo’s mad floral scenes and stare through glass at her prosthetic legs and perfume bottles. Fridolatry
August 23, 2018
Food and garden writer Lia Leendertz is about to release her Almanac for 2019. An Amazon bestseller, it claims to “revive the tradition of the rural almanac”. Well, maybe. It certainly meets the ancient need for annual, practical information about the seasonal and planetary changes of the coming year but it does so with a
June 07, 2018
As the jubilant party-goers wandered away from Dublin Castle in the early hours of their new dawn, the true agenda of the Repeal the 8th campaign began to assert itself. Within moments of Ireland’s vote to remove from the constitution the right to life of the unborn, abortion campaigners levelled threats at the North. Marie
May 17, 2018
“While he was with us, we were given a chance to serve and comfort Christ in him.” In the final chapter of Caryll Houselander’s 1947 novel The Dry Wood, the priest of Riverside, a poor docklands parish in London, consoles his listeners for the loss of their terminally ill child, Willie Jewel. Houselander (1901-1954) was