Nicola Barker

Is the Virgin Mary being sidelined by Rome?

The Catholic church has always venerated Mary (‘Mother of God’) above other saints. But in recent years there has been a slight (a very slight) cooling in the church with regard to the inclusion of Mary in the liturgy of the mass. It’s been an English custom since medieval times to recite a Hail Mary

The End of Times and the coming of the Antichrist

Two things it may be wise to know before picking up this relatively short and surprisingly cheerful brand spanking NEW biography of the Antichrist: (1) the meaning of the word ‘eschatological’ (it’s fairly critical); (2) the fact that the Antichrist is not the devil (a common misapprehension). The Antichrist is actually the son/spawn of the

The downside of mindfulness

Way back in 1996 Norman E. Sjoman published a book called The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace, in which he contested that much of what we now (in the West) consider to be yoga — a practice apparently steeped in millennia of ancient Indian tradition — is actually a veritable hotchpotch of disparate influences,

A never-ending mystery

In an age where ‘authenticity’ is prized above all things (even if what this actually means is that — like, say, Trump — you are just celebrated for being authentically narcissistic), it seems a rare kind of delight to investigate a spiritual/mystical philosophy of which it is airily claimed that: ‘It’s meaningless to speak of

A Muslim’s insights into Christianity

I’m not a critic, I’m an enthusiast. And when you are an enthusiast you need to try your best to keep it in check when writing reviews, just in case your prodigious levels of excitement and, well, enthusiasm, threaten to overwhelm readers and only succeed in putting them off. Because people generally need a bit

Strategies for seduction

The rough English translation of Kamasutra is pleasure (kama) treatise (sutra). In the West, since it was first (rather surreptitiously) translated and published back in 1883, the book has generally been associated with a series of beautiful, ancient illustrations of a couple determinedly coupling in a variety of fascinating — and often utterly improbable —

The holy sinner

Many of the great faith narratives (the Holy Quran being a notable exception) are clumsy, rough-hewn things; makepiece amalgams of different texts from an abundance of sources that have been gradually hacked together over hundreds — sometimes even thousands — of years. Most have been found useful or resonant (spiritually and politically) at various stages

Love it or loathe it

At the heart of the eschatological ideology of the Islamic State is the belief that when the world ends (and the world ending is a good thing in their estimation) the final conflagration will take place in northern Syria, in an unremarkable town called Dabiq (which Isis presently occupy). It is here that the Armies