Culture Articles

Peace

12 May 2022 | by Voirrey Faragher

'The peace lily in my bathroom has one white flower: it bows down like a white flag.' |

The peace lily in my bathroom has one white flower:           it bows down like a white flag. We have not known peace,             do not know its contours, its colours, whether it is shaped like the earth, like the sky...

Read more

The Gospels: A new translation, by Sarah Ruden

05 May 2022 | by Jonathan Wooding

'Jesus arrives in our imaginations via the word. Our imagination shapes such characters mysteriously and, we find, mysteriously they shape us.' | Book cover of The Gospels: A new translation, by Sarah Ruden

Like Scrooge, Elizabeth Bennett and Sherlock Holmes, Jesus arrives in our imaginations via the word. Our imagination shapes such characters mysteriously and, we find, mysteriously they shape us. They may not have a life without us, but equally we would not be who we are without them.

Read more

Muting for worship, a Shakespearean sonnet from the pandemic

05 May 2022 | by Glenn Oldham

'Yet though that assured silence is thus freeing, We seek a larger, deeper, vital one.' |

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought, By host assigned, I join the breakout room; My sighs and teacup’s clinks make others fraught, If I neglect to mute myself on Zoom.

Read more

Strange meeting (after Wilfred Owen)

28 April 2022 | by Roger Iredale

'...the shattered trees, broken farmhouse, mounting death of comrades and uneasy brooding peace.' | by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

And suddenly we came upon fellow men, sipping tea in a basket of darkness underneath a hollowed gentle moon. Their voices overcame the stillness of the silvered glade, the whereabouts of mystery

Read more

Dowlais Educational Settlement and the Quaker John Dennithorne, by Christine Trevett

28 April 2022 | by David Harries | 1 comment

'It appeals to locals because of its wealth of history; it appeals to Friends as it shows what can be done to relieve distress.' | Book cover (and detail) of Dowlais Educational Settlement and the Quaker John Dennithorne, by Christine Trevett

Merthyr Tydfil has a long, colourful history. The valley is made up of many distinctive communities, including Treharris (with its Fox, Fell and Penn Streets), through Quakers Yard (with Friends’ burial ground), and on to Aberfan and Dowlais. The area was once famous for iron works and coal mines, but...

Read more

The Struggle for India’s Soul: Nationalism and the fate of democracy, by Shashi Tharoor

28 April 2022 | by Reg Naulty

‘The idea of one-person rule in India is absurd.’ | Book cover (and detail) of The Struggle for India’s Soul: Nationalism and the fate of democracy, by Shashi Tharoor

This book was precipitated by Narendra Modi’s second term as prime minister of India. The country is becoming more autocratic, like Hungary and Turkey. The title suggests that something mystical, or at least spiritual, is in danger of being lost, but that is not what Shashi Tharoor is arguing...

Read more

The body of truth

21 April 2022 | by Dana Littlepage Smith

'They looked through mists of blood moon, of flood and drought.' | by Altınay Dinç on Unsplash

Each season the cannibals selected one truth to kill.  We eat its eyes, its lungs, the soft seed of the heart. They spoke to us so honestly we asked, ‘And how do you select which truth to sacrifice?  The truth of hatred or of greed?’

Read more

Paul Among the People: The apostle reinterpreted and reimagined in his own time, by Sarah Ruden

21 April 2022 | by Simon Webb

'Sarah Ruden is a Quaker scholar, and her approach is to set Paul in the context of his time.' | Book cover of Paul Among the People: The apostle reinterpreted and reimagined in his own time, by Sarah Ruden

This book is an attempt to look again at the accusations of homophobia, excessive puritanism and general grumpiness that are routinely levelled against the apostle Paul. Sarah Ruden is a Quaker scholar, and her approach is to set Paul in the context of his time. This is not an attempt...

Read more

Beyond Belief: How Pentecostal Christianity is taking over the world, by Elle Hardy

14 April 2022 | by Reg Naulty

‘The difference between Pentecostalism and Catholicism is that Pentecostalism says you can be happy in this life.' | Book cover from Beyond Belief: How Pentecostal Christianity is taking over the world, by Elle Hardy

Pentecostals now comprise one quarter of the world’s Christians, up from just six per cent in 1980. By 2050, one billion people will be part of the movement. The cliché about Pentecostalism is that it is about health, wealth, and the second coming of Christ. It holds that after forgiveness we...

Read more

Compassion and suffering: Clive Ashwin has some lessons from the arts

14 April 2022 | by Clive Ashwin

‘Before the modern age we were protected from the force and immediacy of much human suffering by both distance and time.’ | Landscape with Man Killed by a Snake, Nicolas Poussin, 1648

Landscape with Man Killed by a Snake, by the French seventeenth-century painter Nicolas Poussin (on display at the National Gallery, and pictured) tells a curious and macabre story. In the foreground a man lies dead at the edge of a lake, in the coils of a huge serpent. A second...

Read more