Alongside the Easter Week story of sacrifice and salvation runs a second narrative – the story of Christ's body. Each stage of Jesus's spiritual journey – from the entry into Jerusalem to the Ascension – has its corporeal counterpart. As the last few days of his earthly life passed by so his physical appearance deteriorated: he was stripped, scourged, crowned with thorns, crushed by the weight of the cross, crucified and pierced by a lance.
Thor Andersen is something of a pariah, or so you would think, to read the denunciations that have been heaped on his head recently. His actions, we were told, were 'abhorrent', their consequences 'tragic'. He was conscienceless, selfish. How, wondered one commentator, did he sleep at night. What had he done, this dreadful specimen of humanity? Well, save his own life, actually.Mr Andersen, a 33-year-old London-based property developer, had suffered complete kidney failure.
The Iraqi information minister, Said al-Sahaf, was still telling Western journalists that the treacherous infidel jackals of the US army had, in fact, killed themselves by swallowing poison, at the time the first looting of antiquities in Baghdad took place.For some Iraqis, clearly, it was not enough to celebrate liberation from Saddam's cruel and iniquitous yoke simply by throwing garlands of flowers at advancing US marines.
A few weeks ago, Denis Cochrane, the choirmaster of a leading Roman Catholic school, was found guilty on seven counts of indecent assault against boys under 16. He was sought after as a music teacher (one of his pupils was Richard Branson's son) and had a reputation as an organist. Cochrane was also something of a world expert on the Titanic, giving lectures and exhibiting his huge collection of artefacts from the wreck.
In the late 1990s, the US Postal Service identified 75,000 members of a Texas-based paedophile website named 'Landslide'. Credit-card references showed that 7,272 of the subscribers were British. In the naive belief that their personal details would be secure, they had paid £21 a month to download pictures of children being seriously abused. Once they had collected images on their hard drives, they began to trade them with like-minded people.
In what used to be thought to be the gentleman's game of cricket, a brisk handshake was usually enough to end any disagreements. With the Zimbabwean team scheduled to arrive here on 29 April to play two Test matches, various one-day internationals and games against some counties, you might think that doctrine was once again in operation. After all, it was only a few weeks ago that England threw world cricket into what the sports pages call 'turmoil' by refusing, for security reasons, to play a one-day match in Harare.
By accident the war in Iraq has given Britain the opportunity to rethink and to recast its relationship with Europe. It has shown that an understanding between two nations provides and, since the mid-1950s, always has provided the emotional core of the European Union. This is an understanding between its two leading original members – France and Germany – to create a new power with a distinctive voice in world affairs.