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Religion

Hobson

The Church of England needs a compromise on gay marriage. Here it is

27 April 2013

It is a wearyingly obvious observation, but the Church of England remains crippled by the gay crisis. It is locked in disastrous self-opposition, alienated from its largely liberal nature. Maybe… Read more

Atheist advertising campaign launched

Richard Dawkins has lost: meet the new new atheists

13 April 2013

The atheist spring that began just over a decade ago is over, thank God. Richard Dawkins is now seen by many, even many non-believers, as a joke figure, shaking his… Read more

Devil

Satan is back

23 March 2013

It used to be said by Catholic priests back in the 1950s that the Devil was delighted when human beings decided that he did not exist. In those days it… Read more

A.C. Grayling

9 March 2013

My friend and colleague Roy Brown has just sent me the draft of a statement he will submit to the UN Human Rights Council this spring, on behalf of the… Read more

Priests and pagans

9 March 2013

The Catholic tradition of priestly celibacy (Latin caelebs, ‘unmarried’), by which Cardinal O’Brien was bound, is not a dogma, but a discipline. In other words, it can be altered at the… Read more

The Spectator’s Notes

2 March 2013

On the BBC television news on Monday night, the first three items concerned alleged misbehaviour by the famous — Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Lord Rennard and Vicky Pryce, the ex-wife of… Read more

Vatican State Secretary Cardinal Tarcisi

Sex, lies and the next Pope

2 March 2013

In a corner of the Sistine Chapel, below Michelangelo’s hell, is a door to the little chamber they call ‘the room of tears’. Some painter-decorators are in there, frantically doing… Read more

AC Grayling vs God

2 March 2013
The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism A.C. Grayling

Bloomsbury, pp.269, £16.99, ISBN: 9781408837405

‘Atheism is to theism,’ Anthony Grayling declares, ‘as not collecting stamps is to stamp-collecting’. At this point, we are supposed to enjoy a little sneer, in which the religious are… Read more

Long life

2 March 2013

Eight years ago I was in Rome for The Spectator to write a piece about the election of a new pope after the death of John-Paul II. Within two days,… Read more

The frontiers of freedom

28 January 2012
You Can’t Read This Book Nick Cohen

Fourth Estate, pp.224, 12.99

The problem with Nick Cohen’s very readable You Can’t Read This Book is the way that you can, glaringly, read this book. This isn’t quite as glib an observation as… Read more

Helping our unbelief

21 January 2012
Religion for Atheists Alain de Botton

Hamish Hamilton, pp.320, 18.99

Over 125 of the 320 pages in this book are either blank, or taken up with black-and-white illustrations, of subjects as various as Madonna and her former husband Guy Ritchie,… Read more

Friendships resurrected

3 September 2011
Lazarus is Dead Richard Beard

Harvill Secker, pp.263, 14.99

A fact which often surprises those who pick up the Bible in adulthood, having not looked at it for years, is how very short the stories are. Adam and Eve,… Read more

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The gay Lambeth way

9 July 2011
As Good as God, As Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Benson Rodney Bolt

Atlantic, pp.362, 22

Archbishop Edward Benson was the ideal of a Victorian churchman. Stern and unbending, he was a brilliant Cambridge scholar and a dreamily beautiful youth. Older men fell over themselves to… Read more

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When wailing is appropriate

7 May 2011
The Good Book: A Secular Bible A.C. Grayling

Bloomsbury, pp.597, 25

This is a strange exercise. It is a commonplace book of quotations from great authors, assembled by the philosopher A. C. Grayling. The extracts from the great books, how- ever,… Read more

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Great among the nations

9 April 2011
The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible, 1611-2011 Melvyn Bragg

Hodder, pp.370, 20

The King James Bible, while uniting the English-speaking world, gave birth to centuries of radicalism and Dissent. On its 400th anniversary, Philip Hensher examines the translation’s legacy Considered as a… Read more

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Sins of the fathers

26 March 2011
The Popes: A History John Julius Norwich

Chatto, pp.506, 25

The Journey of the Popes Gerard Noel

Catholic Herald Ltd, pp.382, £15 UK, Euros 23, $24 US

The trouble about writing a history of the popes is that there are so many of them. Usually elderly when elected, most of them have only lasted a few years.… Read more

So farewell, John Bull

26 February 2011
The Passing of Protestant England: Secularisation and Social Change c.1920—1960 S.J.D. Green

CUP, pp.333, 60

His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Fisher, keen to counter the dreadful spectre of the atomic bomb in the 1950s, observed that the very worst it could do would… Read more

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The battle for the holy city

19 February 2011
Jerusalem: The Biography Simon Sebag Montefiore

Weidenfeld, pp.638, 25

In a tour de force of 500 pages of text Simon Sebag Montefiore, historian of Stalin and Potemkin, turns to a totally different subject: the city of Jerusalem. Founded around… Read more

Can it be described?

12 February 2011
A Thousand Darknesses Ruth Franklin

OUP, pp.256, 18.99

Treblinka Chil Rajchman, translated by Solon Bienfield

Maclehose Press, pp.183, 16.99

Where was God in the Holocaust? This question confounds even learned rabbis, so let’s not linger there. Where was God in the Holocaust? This question confounds even learned rabbis, so… Read more

Sweeter than honey

25 September 2010
Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language David Crystal

Oxford, pp.336, 14.99

The only thing I can remember about a Tesco advertisement on the television the other night is the line: ‘No rest for the wicked.’ It was meant ironically, of course.… Read more

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Amid the encircling gloom

4 September 2010
The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief V. S. Naipaul

Picador, pp.325, 20

Africa is the setting for several of V. S. Naipaul’s finest fictional stories — In a Free State, A Bend in the River, Half a Life. Africa is the setting… Read more

Physical and spiritual decay

7 July 2010
The Misogynist Piers Paul Read

Bloomsbury, pp.257, 16.99

The most striking thing about Piers Paul Read’s early novels was their characters’ susceptibility to physical decay. The most striking thing about Piers Paul Read’s early novels was their characters’… Read more

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Mystery of the empty tomb

2 June 2010
Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint John Cornwell

Continuum, pp.273, 18.99

John Henry Newman was an electrifying personality who has attracted numerous biographers and commentators. John Cornwell, in his excellent guided tour around this well-ploughed field, recalls the young woman in… Read more

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

2 June 2010
The New Testament Rabbi Sidney Brichto (translator)

Sinclair-Stevenson, pp.480, 20

Two hundred years ago Jeremy Bentham wrote a tract which purported to demonstrate that the Christian religion was in effect manufactured by St Paul and not by Jesus. This was… Read more

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Not every aspect pleases

2 June 2010
The Making of the British Landscape Francis Pryor

Allen Lane, pp.848, 30

Half a century ago I read W. G. Hoskins’s book, The Making of the English Landscape, when it first came out. It was for me an eye-opener, as it was… Read more