What I’m reading

02 November 2006


Stephen Bates, religious-affairs correspondent of The Guardian

‘I receive a huge number of books on religion each week; so I tend to read books that are journalistically useful. Opus Dei is by John Allen, an American journalist and a pundit on Vatican affairs. This is the authorised version of Opus Dei. Was it commissioned as a response to The Da Vinci Code? It may be accidental that the cover is designed by the same man.

It’s a very thorough work; and, as a Roman Catholic, I found it inter-esting. It establishes that the organ-isation is much smaller and much less sinister than its reputation, and is less powerful in the Vatican than the conspiracy theories would have us believe. The author clearly had assistance from Opus Dei. He is gently critical of it, but tends to look on its good side, particularly its promotion of spirituality in the everyday life of its members.

As an American, he sometimes doesn’t quite get British nuances (he refers to The Manchester Guardian, which it hasn’t been since 1959). But I do believe in his stance. It is responsible journalism.

Gays and the Future of Anglicanism is a very jolly polemical study from the revisionists. Though books are published on both sides of the argument, the entrenched positions are impervious to dialogue: there isn’t a possibility of compromise. I sense that those involved are shouting into a wind tunnel, and that the books are read by those who already agree with them. It doesn’t say much for Anglicanism, really.’

John Allen, Opus Dei, Allen Lane £20 (£18), 0-713-99901-2; Andrew Linzey and Richard Kirker, eds, Gays and the Future of Anglicanism, O Books £17.99 (£16.20), 1-9050-4738-X.

To place an order for these books, contact CT Bookshop

 Allison Ward

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