In an increasingly unbelieving world of humanism and secularisation, not to mention the jarring dissonance of a sharia-compliant caliphate and all the fuss over women bishops, religion has become a turn-off. God is bothersome: atheism rules the new enlightenment and Dawkins reigns supreme. Mention the Bible or Church, and eyes glaze over. But say “biblical epic”, and something numinous energises the spirit. You might not believe in the irruption of God into the affairs of man, but you will surely be drawn and compelled to all that is theatrically holy. Even Professor Dawkins might admit to being mystically gladdened by the ancient legends of transcendence and omnipotence. Continue reading →
“I am more confident than ever that I will be the next European Commission President,” tweeted former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker on 4 June. Quite how he knew with such certainty so far in advance of the EU’s elected national leaders is something of a mystery. Until, that is, you consider the continuing dominance of the Franco-German axis in the European Union, and the historical absurdity of believing that a British prime minister could ‘take a lead in Europe’ or ‘grasp the agenda of reform’ – with or without a handbag. Continue reading →
I’ve noticed over many years in the classroom that when students enter the physics or chemistry lab, they expect to be taught facts, and the teachers duly oblige by providing copious evidence from textbooks. But when those same students come to me to consider matters of theology, politics and philosophy, they generally take the view that they can choose what they like best, because just about everything that Hilton goes on about is mere opinion or speculation, if not total fabrication. If it feels good and brings serenity, it must be good and serene. Whatever they choose to believe is true, and truth is consecrated in the mind, just above freedom. Continue reading →
According to George Eaton, writing in the New Statesman, “Tories have stopped talking about the NHS” because “election strategist Lynton Crosby has warned them that it helps Labour, which has a double-digit lead on the issue”.
I’ve almost ceased caring which party “leads” on this issue: I’m now at an age when I just want a healthcare service that delivers tender mercy and dependable consistency. Continue reading →
In the wake of Ofsted’s alleged (and vehemently contested) ‘Trojan Horse’ plot by certain zealous Muslims to infiltrate and take over a number of schools in Birmingham, Michael Gove has insisted that all educational establishments must ‘actively promote British values’. In a rather ungracious response, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt told BBC2′s Newsnight: “I’m not sure Michael Gove would know if British values came and bit him on the bum.” Continue reading →
The 1970s were a dispirited, discordant and fractious decade of industrial unrest, strikes, blackouts, three-day-weeks, piles of unburied corpses, and kerbsides strewn with mountains of uncollected rubbish. I didn’t care: I wasn’t even really aware. I used to love power cuts because they meant darkness and adventure. I was far too young to worry about wages, fuel shortages, Commie unions and inflation. I didn’t know that the country was on its knees, but I loved the warming glow of candles, and the wonder of carrying one “up the rocket” to bed. Continue reading →
“This week I set out new plans to improve services for patients, guaranteeing a same day GP appointment for anyone who needs one and within 48 hours or anyone who wants one. This will save hundreds of millions within the NHS by taking the pressure off hospital services and help ensure it there for the next generation as it was for ours.”
So writes Ed Miliband on this site during a local and European election campaign, when Primary Health Care has nothing to do with either, except, perhaps, the Working Time Directive, which MEPs are powerless to change. Unfortunately, Miliband makes the same silly mistakes as all the other politicians who prefer sound-bites to evidence-based policy and refuse to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Continue reading →
The wide-eyed wait is over, anticipation satisfied and rumours confirmed or quashed. (Actually, they’re invariably confirmed, simply because any orchestra, conductor or classical artist that publicises a scheduled appearance at a “major British/London summer festival” has invariably been booked for the Proms but simply isn’t allowed to say so, which, in this day and age, is a bit silly really). But it all kicks off on 18th July, and there are proms for families, proms for poets, proms for singers and proms for children; there are midnight proms, chamber proms, proms in the park and proms for stage and screen. If none of this creeps into your ears, you have no soul. Continue reading →
“Fascinating Twitter exchange between @MoAnsar and @Adrian_Hilton on education,” tweeted the BBC’s Nicky Campbell during a rather disheartening dialogue I was having with everyone’s favourite Muslim social commentator.
And fascinating entertainment it may very well have been for the steadily-swelling Twitter crowds who were gathering to RT, ‘favourite’ and butt in on the commotion. But educationally enlightening it was not. And I wouldn’t be writing about it now but for the peculiar fact that Mo Ansar hastily deleted a whole string of his tweets when he realised that he was being monitored not only by his adoring fans, but also by the eminent historian and author Tom Holland. Continue reading →
“Able-bodied actors should not play disabled characters,” says film critic Scott Jordan Harris, writing on the website of the late Roger Ebert. “That they so often do should be a scandal,” Harris submits.
He develops his argument from the anti-discriminatory moral perspective of social equality, advancing that the modern world should no more entertain the able-bodied playing a disabled character than we would a white man playing the Moor of Venice or a chap in Ptolemaic drag prancing around the stage as Egypt’s Cleopatra. Indeed, audiences would most likely find justifiable grievance in a pale actor donning “the Thick-lips” of Othello, or having to watch “Some squeaking Cleopatra boy (her) greatness / I’ th’ posture of a whore”. Nowadays black people play black characters and women play Shakespearean heroines, so there is a certain logic in the belief that disabled roles should be reserved for disabled thespians: in Harris’s terminology, the “performance is automatically authentic”. Continue reading →