Speaking whale backwards

Let’s take a look at Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop (her company) and ‘wellness’. What is wellness, you may ask? You’d think it would be just the obverse of sickness, but apparently it’s much more than that … much more and much less, because a lot of it is about pretend-remedies for non-existent conditions and fantasy […]

Closer to the edge

We in the US lurched some big steps closer to full-on authoritarianism and even fascism this week (as we do most weeks). Am I sure we’ll end up there? No, but nor am I confident we won’t. We’re terrifyingly helpless to do anything about the relentless lurches. The nightmare of the children grabbed away from […]

A landslide!

Amnesty UK on the facts about abortion in Ireland before the vote to repeal the 8th amendment (convert all verbs to the past tense): Any woman who has an abortion in Ireland faces up to 14 years in prison. The only case in which a woman is legally allowed to terminate her pregnancy, is when her […]

Removed in the dead of night

Back in October 2016, a US group that monitors far-right hate groups – think KKK and similar racist fomenters of violence – issued a new report/field guide on what it called ‘anti-Muslim public figures’. And on that list it included Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, above – a liberal Muslim reformer and a conservative […]

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: […]