SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Books
September 24, 2020
Sam Leith
V2 By Robert Harris, Hutchinson, 312pp, £20 Robert Harris’s new novel starts with a bang. A young WAAF called Kay Caton-Walsh is in a flat in Warwick Court, central London, rearranging her smalls after a tumble with her married lover when a V2 bomb lands next door and, wham, blows everything up. The lover, injured,
September 24, 2020
Francis Phillips
Many people in this country don’t know about the significance of the apparitions at Fatima that took place in 1916 and 1917. Thus Fatima: 100 Questions and Answers about the Marian Apparitions by Paul Senz (Ignatius Press) is to be welcomed. It is aimed at the general reader, for whom the name Fatima (unlike Lourdes)
September 23, 2020
Francis Young
The Book in the Cathedral By Christopher de Hamel Penguin, £9.99 The year 2020 marks the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, but all events planned for the year – including the loan of the martyr’s bloodstained shirt by the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to Canterbury Cathedral –
September 23, 2020
Francis Phillips
It was the feast day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe on 14th August. Coincidentally, I was at Mass that morning to hear our parish priest, the son of Polish refugees after the War, speak very movingly of the Saint’s life, his apostolic work as a Franciscan friar in Poland and Japan, and his heroic death in
September 22, 2020
Francis Phillips
I read William Cash’s article in the July Herald magazine, Canterbury Trails, with pleasure. I feel a slight but enduring affinity with St Thomas Becket when, as an undergraduate, I joined a troupe called the Pembroke Players who performed TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral in Germany and Poland during one long vac. I had
August 28, 2020
Stephen Mirarchi
What a time it was to be an American Catholic artist in the 1940s and 50s. Joyfully Catholic films like Leo McCarey’s The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) won Academy and Golden Globe Awards left and right. Writers as theologically and aesthetically diverse as Thomas Merton and Flannery O’Connor captivated secular and religious audiences alike
August 25, 2020
Francis Phillips
When someone we love dies, it gives us an instantaneous and stark reminder of what mortality actually means – for us and for our loved ones. Reading Norman Lebrecht’s book, Why Mahler? when on holiday last week, it was hard to reconstruct the composer’s grief at the harrowing death of his young daughter from diphtheria
August 24, 2020
Sophia Waugh
The Pull of the Stars By Emma Donoghue Picador, 295pp, £16.99 Although The Pull of the Stars opens with nurse Julia Power’s early morning journey to her work in an understaffed hospital, most of this novel takes place in one room. But the room in this novel is very different from the “Room” which made
August 24, 2020
Niall Gooch
Science Fictions By Stuart Ritchie Bodley Head, 368pp, £18.99 When I gave talks on bioethical issues for the charity Life, for a while a staple of our discussions was the work of the Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk, who achieved international fame in 2004 for his apparent breakthroughs in embryonic stem cell technology. However, our presentations
August 21, 2020
Michael Duggan
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 17, 2020
Philip Jeffery
Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World By Tara Isabella Burton Public Affairs, 320pp, £20/£28 Religious revivals are a frequent occurrence in American history. Some, like the so-called Second Great Awakening that largely took place in New York state during the 19th century, saw thousands clamour for charismatic spiritual experience, whether through traditional Protestant
August 14, 2020
Francis Phillips
Recommended to me several years ago, I have at last got round to reading the late historian John Lukacs’ Last Rites, published in 2009 when he was aged 85 (he died in 2019, aged 95). I hesitate to use the word “maverick” of  Lukacs as it is overused and imprecise, but it is safe to