Hell: real or fake?

Barry has already reported on the recurring story of “the pope says there is no hell … or does he?” but I want to point out some Profound Theological Questions the issue raises. Let’s start with the Catechism, via the Washington Post: The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The teaching of the Church affirms the […]

Most eminent citizens

The American evangelical preacher and publicity hound Billy Graham died last week age 99. Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune reported, people were lining up to ‘pay their final respects to a man who reached millions with his message of salvation thorough Jesus Christ.’ A secular reader might wonder what ‘his message of salvation thorough Jesus Christ’ […]

What Jesus never told Caesar

Jerry Falwell Junior, son of the more famous religious fanatic of the same name, tweeted a profound religious thought a couple of days ago. Jesus said love our neighbors as ourselves but never told Caesar how to run Rome – he never said Roman soldiers should turn the other cheek in battle or that Caesar […]

Be merry, god damn it!

Well Baby Jesus’s Pretend Birthday is over for another year, so now that everyone is busy scrubbing gravy stains off the ceiling and wrapping up the leftover spam and chestnut pie for the week’s lunches, let’s refresh ourselves with dispatches from the War on Christmas. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of it. It’s headline […]

Identity and its discontents

I’ve been thinking about what we mean when we talk about identity and ‘identity politics’. It needs thinking about because it’s a muddled conversation: identity has more than one meaning yet the label ‘identity politics’ is treated as if everyone means the same thing by it. I think generally “identity politics” is a name (sometimes […]

Living in an Age of Anger

Let’s talk about anger. We seem to be living in an Age of Anger, so it seems like a good idea to try to understand it better. It’s central to a lot of literature and stories, including movies and television dramas. The Iliad starts with it. Robert Fagles translates the first few lines like so: […]

Don’t get too excited

Big excitement – we’re told that Saudi Arabia has decided to let women drive. Did you ever hear the like? Next we’ll be told they can actually leave the house without a male guardian. Or at least, we’re told that women will be allowed to get driver’s licences, which of course is not quite the […]

A very bad man

We in the US have been feeling a little overwhelmed lately, what with a racist president and racist marches in the streets and a racist president pardoning a racist sheriff who was famous for his sadistic treatment of prisoners. Let’s learn a little about that racist sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was elected six times to […]

Worshipping an evil god

In Pakistan a village council ordered the rape of a 16-year-old girl because her brother had allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl. “A jirga [village council] had ordered the rape of a 16-year-old girl as punishment, as her brother had raped a 12-year-old,” police official Allah Baksh told AFP. He said the village council was approached […]

Escape the monolith

The day after the terror attack near Finsbury Park Mosque, the BBC interviewed Massoud Shadjareh, chair of the ironically named Islamic Human Rights Commission. The IHRC is in fact not so much a human rights organization as a public relations firm with one client: a reactionary theocratic version of Islam. In 2015 it distinguished itself […]