Gavin Ashenden

Former chaplain to the Queen.

The Christian mental health crisis

34 min listen

Is the mental health of Christians beginning to collapse under the strain not just of Covid and its effect on worship but also the bottomless contempt of progressive ideology for religious belief? This week’s Holy Smoke is a conversation with theologian Dr Gavin Ashenden about a crisis of morale that is robbing some Christians of

The Greek Orthodox ancestry of Prince Philip

40 min listen

What were Prince Philip’s religious beliefs? The Duke of Edinburgh had Orthodox Christian ancestry, but how was he drawn to its traditions, was he influenced by the Queen’s faith, and why was he critical of Catholicism? Damian Thompson speaks to Gavin Ashenden, chaplain to the Queen from 2008 to 2017.

Is Jordan Peterson about to move from Jung to Jesus?

44 min listen

Is Dr Jordan Peterson about to convert to Christianity? If so, it’s a big deal. The earnest but sardonic Canadian psychologist is already the most effective advocate for the moral precepts of Christianity in the English-speaking media. But, until now, his penetrating exposition of the Bible has been inspired more by Jungian symbolism than by

The death of the English parish – and the politics that killed it

27 min listen

The English parish has been a source of spiritual consolation, and a certain amount of social comedy, for more than 1,000 years. So it’s very old – and, it turns out, frighteningly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Countless parish churches, both Anglican and Catholic, will quietly shut their doors forever over the next few months. Bishops

Is it time for Christianity to go underground?

38 min listen

Boris Johnson’s package of Covid restrictions announced this week included a rule that weddings will be limited to 15 people and funerals to 30 – numbers plucked out of thin air that will have questionable effect on the transmission of the virus. You might think that a ruling that affects only weddings and funerals isn’t

Westminster Cathedral and an act of spiritual vandalism

17 min listen

Damian Thompson is joined by Dr Gavin Ashenden, regular Holy Smoke contributor, former chaplain to the Queen and former boy chorister at Canterbury Cathedral. Damian considers the ongoing row in Westminster Cathedral over a small number of new admissions, and asks why the quality of its music has declined in recent years.

Have the churches been betrayed by their bishops?

23 min listen

Last week I was sent a copy of a devastating 7,000-word letter accusing the Catholic bishops of England and Wales of grossly mishandling the coronavirus crisis by lobbying the government for a complete shutdown of their own churches, even for private prayer. The author called herself (or, more than likely, himself) ‘Fiona McDonald’ – and

As we confront mortality, why do our bishops have so little to say?

29 min listen

Do you sense that something is missing in the churches’ response to the coronavirus? No one can fault them for ignoring the dangers of spreading the virus: bishop after bishop has taken the difficult decision to suspend public worship, and offered sensible advice about precautionary measures their flocks can take. And, in many cases, that’s