Without children, politics is childish

Without children, politics is childish

Television historian Lucy Worsley recently said that she has “been educated out of the natural reproductive function” and that as a result “I get to spend my time doing things I enjoy”. Worsley, who has a degree from Oxford and has written several books on the aristocracy, said that she had “become the poster girl for opting out of reproduction”. She is certainly not the only woman too bright to breed. In Germany up to 50 per cent of women… Read on

Why political views are shaped by our inner bee

Why political views are shaped by our inner bee

A few weeks ago hundreds of Afghans went on a violent rampage after some American troops accidentally burned a copy of the Koran. These protests dwarfed those that followed the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians two weeks later. To educated westerners this behaviour seemed primitive, to atheist ones positively bizarre. Yet as evolutionary psychologist Jonathan Haidt explains in this fascinating study of morals, politics and religion, this appeal to sanctity is innate, normal human behaviour. Humans, Haidt says, are “90… Read on

‘I can see God is working through this’

‘I can see God is working through this’

Few articles in The Catholic Herald have moved readers as much as an interview we ran two years go with the American seminary applicant Philip Johnson, who in 2008 was told he had an inoperable brain tumour and just 18 months to live. The interview prompted many people to write heartfelt letters, and one reader even wrote to us offering to pay the cost of his priestly training. At the time of that first interview the young man (he was… Read on

Church as state

Church as state

The Canadian-born, British-educated, American-based Mark Steyn is the biggest of the big beasts of the Anglosphere conservative commentariat. He is one of the wittiest, most original and erudite of writers of this era, even if one of the more pessimistic. As one of the reviews of his last book put it, he’s the only person who can make the impending apocalypse laugh-outloud funny. That publication, America Alone, looked at the demographic implosion facing most of the western world; the sequel… Read on

‘Tolerating intolerance is not a virtue’ 



‘Tolerating intolerance is not a virtue’ 



Slight of build and 

dressed in the stylish manner of the European-influenced Arab middle class, Nonie Darwish could be any wealthy Levantine in Paris or west London. 

But behind the veneer of Egyptian elegance is a onewoman anti-jihad machine, a Christian convert from Islam, founder of a group called Former Muslims United and author of two books highly critical of Sharia law, Arab policy towards Israel and Islamists’ ambitions for global conquest. Darwish is often compared to Ayaan Hirsi Ali,… Read on

Man is not great

Man is not great

God is having a hard time of it right now. With Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion already top of the British book charts and Michel Onfray’s In Defence of Atheism leading the French bestsellers, Christopher Hitchens now wades in with his own attack on the Almighty. A recently naturalised American, Hitchens comes from a mildly Anglican Hampshire family and was educated at a Methodist school, so he hardly suffered the sort of bells-smellsand-beatings upbringing that makes good misery memoir. Yet… Read on

Mine’s a zappuccino

Mine’s a zappuccino

However much everyone envies the 1960s generation, part of me suspects I would have hated them – because cool, trendy people always annoy and depress me. After a few days of hanging around hippies I would have been practically begging the military to take me to Vietnam. At university I was baffled by the romantic success of a man who could name all the “trip-hop” acts around, spoke with a cool trans-Pacific inflection, knew every happening night club in town… Read on

The blunting of Becky Sharp

The blunting of Becky Sharp

Making a screen version of Vanity Fair is the director’s equivalent of invading Russia; however confident you may feel in your powers, remember the land you tread over is littered with the dead careers of producers, actors and financial backers from campaigns past. So Mira Nair’s fans must have hoped she had good counsel before embarking on her first major Hollywood production, perhaps the type of lackey who used to whisper “remember you are just a man” in the ears… Read on

The death of swords and sandals 



The death of swords and sandals 



Alexander the Great was a force of nature, one of only a handful of men to change the course of world, rather than national, history. He finished classical Greece before destroying the Persian Empire, conquering 90 per cent of the known world and bringing the whole of Eurasia, west of the Himalayas, into one cultural mass. His conquests spread Hellenic culture as far as India and his decisions reverberated like ever shrinking shockwaves throughout centuries. And his brief existence inadvertently… Read on

The Bard without the luvvies

The Bard without the luvvies

If Shakespeare were alive today what sort of film, and no doubt he would be involved with the medium, would he be making? Well, according to Mackenzie Crook, who plays the role of Lancelot Gobbo, Michael Radford’s production of The Merchant of Venice is exactly that. It is a bold statement to make. At any rate, Shakespeare would certainly be pleased as a writer that little of his script has been tampered with. Sure, the play has been cut by… Read on