7 February 2003
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Could we be on the brink of a religious revival? In this month’s 80-page magazine – our first ever monthly issue – John Gray asks whether the secular faith in progress and “humanity” can survive the pandemic. Elsewhere, Tim Stanley looks at the signs of a renewed interest in God, and Katie Ascough tells the story of a conversion in lockdown. It’s too early to say what kind of world will emerge from the crisis; but for many people – teachers and parents, church musicians, priests giving the last rites – things have already changed utterly. We hear their stories, along with some rather lighter conversations. TV presenter Philip Mould joins us on pilgrimage, Heather Tomlinson explains why, quite unexpectedly, she feels the pull of Catholicism, and Constance Watson hears how a London parish nicknamed “the United Nations” is restoring a church’s stonework to its former beauty.
Almost forgotten amid the pandemic was a major literary anniversary, the 250th birthday of William Wordsworth. The poet was fascinated by monasteries, and his search for the sacred has shaped Christians as well, writes Michael Tomko. For readers who prefer fiction to poetry, Eamon Duffy recommends some novels about the 16th Century, in an extract from his forthcoming book on the Reformation. Melanie McDonagh guides us round some favourite paintings in online art galleries. We review new books on Notre-Dame and Galileo, and a surprisingly sympathetic TV series about the Catholic activist Phyllis Schlafly.
May is Mary’s month, and our writers have some suggestions for how to mark it. Fr Lawrence Lew explains the custom of May crownings, Fr John Zuhlsdorf takes us through the month’s liturgical highlights, Fr Michael Rennier explains the link between Our Lady and flowers, William Newton casts light on the doctrine of Divine Motherhood, Eleanor Parker revives some seasonal customs and Michael Foley dedicates a cocktail recipe to Our Lady of Graces.