1. Can Catholicism save British Christianity? It's our Easter issue this holiday weekend, so we're trying out a new artist on the cover (left). And in the magazine is one of the very best pieces we've run since I've been in the editor's chair. It's by Matthew Parris, and is a denouncement of the Catholic Church - but on the grounds that it defies what Jesus stood for. Now, I disagree with his argument - but when he made it, during our debate on Catholicism last month, I was blown away by its power and force. It reads just as well as it sounds. If Jesus of Nazareth did not live, he says, the Catholic Church would not have invented him. As he puts it:
"Jesus of Nazareth is a colossal embarrassment to the Catholic Church. To all the pomp and circumstance, to the chanting and ring-kissing, to the rosary beads, and indulgences, and prayer by rote, to the caskets and relics and the reverencing of inanimate objects, the idolatry and the mumbo-jumbo, Jesus of Nazareth represents a permanent reproach."
In reply, Piers Paul Reid - a Catholic author - says the Church's message may be grim but it's the perfect remedy to the open society. With the lurid stories coming out of Ireland and Munich, and the Pope's visit due this September, the Church - and its place in British society - will be one of the main cultural issues this year. We have it fully covered in the Easter issue of the magazine. 2. The romance of Islam. Paul Goodman, who's stepping down as a Tory MP at the election, is a well-know opponent of Muslim extremism. But as a convert from Judaism to Catholicism, he writes about the attraction of Islam and the beauty of the faith in its classical form, unpolluted by politics. An informative and humane article, which broadens a debate all too often defined by a handful of nutjobs.
3. Blood and religion. It may be kulturkampf in Britain but it's full-on war in Nigeria. Peter Oborne reports from the frontline - the city of Jos- which has become the scene of a bloody struggle between Muslims and Christians. Peter's reputation iis built on his political commentary, but he also has this moth-to-the-flame love of dangerous countries, where politics is, literally, a matter of life of death. From Pakistan's tribal areas to Zimbabwe, his dispatches are always unmissable,
4. Rod Liddle takes on the Press Complaints Commission. It ruled against him for that now famous blog he wrote a few months back. So now Rod wonders who far the PCC will go. If he writes about the existence of Hell, would he be required to prove it?
5. Joan Collins at Easter. For our readers, Joan Collins' diary - when we can get her - is always a treat. She describes how she was at the Oscars party, only to find everyone Twittering away about who they had seen rather than talk to each other: "I am truly bored and stumped by this technology and the people who are doing it are even more boring" she writes. "You’re seated near Kirk Douglas, Jay Leno, Jane Fonda, Jackie Collins (and that’s just those I could see), and you prefer to hunch over your contraption... go figure."
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