religion

The Blake Prize 2018

May 31, 2018

It’s been seven years since I last wrote about the Blake Prize, which seemed to have reached a point where it couldn’t get any worse. The good news is that it hasn’t gotten worse: it’s just as bad as it was seven years ago. When it was founded in 1951 the Blake Prize was intended … More


The Other Side of Hope & Paul: Apostle of Christ

April 6, 2018

In pre-Enlightenment days ‘history’ was a mass of tall stories, myths and rumours. Authors were happy to recount tales of miracles and supernatural events, readers were happy to believe them. In the mid-1800s it was still scandalous when writers such as David Strauss and Ernst Renan began to challenge the historical basis of the Bible, … More


Mary Magdalene

March 23, 2018

Of all the figures in the New Testament, Mary Magdalene has been the most misunderstood. This is partly because early commentators found it hard to distinguish between Mary of Magdala, Mary of Bethany, and the ‘sinful’ woman in the Gospel of St. Luke, who anoints Jesus’s feet in Simon’s house and dries them with her … More


White Rabbit: Ritual Spirit

October 6, 2017

Last week I was in China meeting artists from each end of the contemporary art spectrum. In Suzhou I saw a breathtaking show of brush-and-ink painting by Li Huayi (b.1948) an artist who has divided his life between China and San Francisco. In Shanghai I visited Xu Zhen (b.1977), one of the most successful artists … More


The Innocents & Things to Come

April 29, 2017

There’s no category in contemporary cinema more demeaning than the ‘chick flick’. It suggests a sloppy romance of the Barbara Cartland variety, or a superficial, feel-good movie with a ‘girl power’ theme. Either way the term eliminates one half of the human race as a willing audience, and patronises the other. This week two very … More


Esteban Bedoya

January 11, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I met the Paraguayan ambassador to Australia, Esteban Bedoya, after having read his short novel, The Apocalypse Acording to Benedict. It seems to be a minor Latin America tradition to have diplomats who are also writers. Octavio Paz was Mexican ambassador to India, while Pablo Neruda was Chile’s ambassador in … More


Where Do We Go Now?

June 30, 2012

“A pretty silly film,” said my spouse, as we left the theatre. This was a damning verdict, as Where Do We Go Now? is essentially a chick flick with political pretensions, designed to appeal to educated, middle class women of a small-l liberal persuasion. When the target audience declares the movie a failure this makes … More