THE post-Christmas season has, for centuries, been a topsy-turvy time. The Roman Saturnalia, the tradition of boy bishops in medieval cathedrals, and lords of misrule in Renaissance courts — all enacted a conceit in which the world was temporarily turned upside down
CHRISTMAS can look after itself; but what of the feast days that get “buried under the pine needles”? The phrase was Tim Montgomerie’s, who, in Slaughter of the Innocents (Radio 4, Wednesday of last week), made an appeal for greater recognition of the feast, which, more than any other, has in its favour the benefit of unavoidable contemporary resonance
THE futurologists got it wrong. We all got it wrong. When, almost a year ago, the BBC’s correspondents gathered to predict the main events of 2016 (in Correspondents Look Ahead, Radio 4, January), the worst that they could foresee was falling house-prices. Perhaps that is because, as we have ...
WHEN a couple divorce, the altar weeps. So it is said among the Orthodox Jewish Haredis. But, as Faith or Family (Radio 4, Tuesday of last week) revealed, that is not the half of it. Intimidation and stalking might also be the result if you get on the wrong side of the community.
In this documen...
THE internet can be a sinister place. That much we knew even before the post-Truth era descended like a pea-souper on our consciousness
IN HIS last book, Apocalypse, D. H. Lawrence writes of the “oriental” mind-set “whose image-thinking often followed no plan whatsoever . . . flitting from image to image with no essential connection at all”. It is the mind-set of the Psalmist, and of whoever was responsible for the book of Revelation
REFUGEES from the post-Brexit, Trump-ruled world are seeking better worlds to live in. But, if the Canadian immigration website crashes on you, then look no further than Liberland: a state of 7km² that welcomes citizens — from any country — who love liberty
THE debate in France over immigration has become “hysterical”. This was how the editor of Charlie Hebdo described the situation, one year on from the attack on the Bataclan Theatre in Paris. And he should know what “hysterical” looks like
ALL of us, at one time or another, have misheard song lyrics and thought the absurd to be authentic. Take two of the Beach Boys’ lines from “Cabinessence”, a song from their late period: “Over and over the crow cries uncover the cornfield / Over and over the thresher and hovers the wheatfield."
BEAUTY is not so much in the eye of the beholder as in the lips of the speaker. For all the passionate and sincere and rhetoric invested throughout Radio 2’s Faith in the World Week, in the notion that outer beauty is entirely contingent on inner beauty, few saw fit to unpick what we mean by the distinction between these two forms
Edward Wickham listens to The Essay: All my presidents