SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Melanie McDonagh

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May 05, 2020
The humanist ideologies have taken over the culture, and it's not a worldview that welcomes dissent
May 04, 2020
If all the hierarchy had condemned the regime, the effects on German Catholics would have been incalculable
January 23, 2020
Graveyards are, for those of a sombre bent, a useful way of reflecting on mortality. And the older they are, the better, though there’s an awful melancholy in the number of little graves of children in these places: “died young”, they say with heartbreaking brevity on gravestones in my home cemetery. But being buried in
December 12, 2019
One of the most striking policies of the government of Hungary, under its controversial prime minister, Viktor Orbán, is that it encourages couples who want to have children, to have them. At a time when young woke people make principled decisions not to reproduce lest they damage the environment (see Prince Harry and Meghan), Hungary’s
November 07, 2019
My only experience of Buddhism was during a visit to Bhutan years ago, to visit a friend who was doing voluntary work there. We travelled through as much of the country as we could manage in a fortnight. Inevitably we visited Buddhist monasteries. Some things have remained with me: the spectral vision of giant hands
September 19, 2019
The best known of Blake’s works is that bit of his poem on Milton which we know as Jerusalem – the anthem of the Women’s Institute, the raucous bit of the Last Night of the Proms. And being familiar, it’s quite probable we don’t actually register the words: “And did those feet in ancient times
August 29, 2019
My mother received the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick last Sunday. I was away when she was anointed but her carers were there and they noticed that she tried, with a faltering hand, to make the Sign of the Cross … less successfully than Lord Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited, on his deathbed, and
August 15, 2019
Once, you couldn’t move for people talking up the Sunday Assembly. These are secular gatherings, first held in London in 2013, which replicate church services in most ways except a faith in God. Yet they have all the trappings: a Sunday service in which there are the equivalent of hymns or at least communal singing,
July 11, 2019
Just in time for the publication of The Mirror and the Light, the third and final volume of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell later this year, my old friend Richard Rex, a history professor at Cambridge, has delivered a lecture in Dublin on the first volume, Wolf Hall. It should be required reading
February 14, 2019
One of the nice things about Pope Francis is that he’s not at his best with VIPs; in their company, he takes on a lugubrious look. With ordinary people, he’s different. When he said Mass at a sports stadium in Abu Dhabi for a congregation made up largely of migrant workers from southern India and
December 20, 2018
Forget the panto; the classy destination in the run-up to Christmas in London is Simon Callow’s terrific one-man rendition of A Christmas Carol, in which he takes all the parts, but notably that of Scrooge, with just chairs for props, and got a standing ovation the night I was there. The story itself has become
September 20, 2018
Commonly, a book or a play about a historical character follows on from what historians have had to say about him. Think of the musical Hamilton, based on Ron Chernow’s biography of the Founding Father. In the case of Thomas Cromwell, the chief author of the English Reformation under Henry VIII, the reverse is true.
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