SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Michael Duggan

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December 07, 2020
Seamus Heaney drifted from the Church, but his poetry offers a link to the past
November 27, 2020
A new study is full of imaginative sympathy
November 15, 2020
Long before its collapse became evident, three writers foretold the decline of the Irish Church – and worried about what would come next
September 25, 2020
The Enchantments of Mammon By Eugene McCarraher Elknap Harvard, £31.95 Eugene McCarraher detests capitalism. Yet, to his immense credit, and to the great benefit of his book, he keeps polemic and manifesto-making largely at bay until the epilogue of a 700-page exploration subtitled “How capitalism became the religion of modernity”. Then, while twice approvingly quoting
September 21, 2020
On a Saturday morning in July, I stood for a few moments on the edge of the main road that runs from Slough to Maidenhead, somewhere between the site of the Taplow Giant Car Boot Sale and the Nike Factory Shop. And then, turning heel, I began walking south, away from the hum of traffic,
August 21, 2020
The Worlds of JRR Tolkien By John Garth Frances Lincoln, 200pp £25/$29.95 Early in his new study of the places that inspired Middle-earth, John Garth draws our attention to the painting Tolkien made for the cover of The Hobbit, with its glacial colouring and snow-capped mountains dominated by one forbidding peak. Garth then directs us
August 21, 2020
Some readers may remember a couple of Herald pieces in recent years highlighting the grip Catholic football managers seemed to have assumed over the Premier League, with one winning team after another being coached by a man reared in the faith and often devoutly practising it as well. This run has just been interrupted with
June 25, 2020
Vexed: Ethics Beyond Political Tribes By James Mumford Bloomsbury Continuum, 224pp, £16.99 Beware of “package deal ethics”. They are ruining our capacity to think and converse about the world we live in and the world we are heading towards. This is the message at the heart of James Mumford’s Vexed. The packaging up of ideas
May 29, 2020
Notre-Dame: The Soul of France By Agnès Poirier Oneworld, 240pp, £16.99/$26.95 I lived in northern France for two years in the early 1990s. Among those I knocked around with, in the newspapers I read, and in the films I watched, I don’t recall noticing much evidence that the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris was so
May 29, 2020
Catholics know all too well the banishment from the higher things in life – indeed the highest – incurred by the coronavirus lockdown. But like others we endure the more worldly deprivations of these strange times as well. Much ink has already been spilt on the loss of one forbidden zone in particular: the pub.
January 16, 2020
Notre-Dame By Ken Follet Harper, 80pp, £9.99/$17 Before he has reached the 10th sentence of his new book, Notre-Dame, the bestselling novelist Ken Follett has claimed the cathedral on the Île-de-la-Cité as “one of the greatest achievements of European civilisation”. Watching it aflame on his television screen on that momentous night last year, and hearing
January 02, 2020
The Northumbrians By Dan Jackson Hurst, 320pp, £20/$34.79 Dan Jackson grew up on the banks of the Tyne to parents from Newcastle and pit-village Northumberland. Later in life, he came to realise that not everywhere was like the place he had grown up. “Why were the pit villages so close-knit, and where did that instinctive