The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (Books 2020, 5)

    I’ve never read Greene before, except for I think one short story, and a chapter or two of his autobiography. This is fascinating. It’s the story of a Catholic priest in Mexico at a time when the church was banned. I had no idea that such a time existed: I think of Mexico as a very Catholic country, so such oppression is surprising.

    The genius of it is that all the characters are so convincing. From the “whisky priest” himself – sinful, still believing, considering himself damned, yet trying to do what he can for people he feels are his parishioners; through to the hardline atheist lieutenant of police that is trying to find him. No-one is entirely good or bad, but there is sympathy for them all.

    It’s justly considered a classic.

    Nutters, "Emigration, Death, Regret and Substance Abuse"

    I see that Tony Blair has become a catholic. No surprise there. But as an ex-catholic atheist myself, I'm feeling down with Nick Clegg.

    In other catholic-related news, there’s a fine analysis of ‘Fairytale of New York on the BBC website, after the Radio 1 farrago. And I hadn’t realised that Shane McGowan’s birthday is Christmas Day. So as well as Newtonmas, we can also celebrate McGowanmas on Tuesday.

    Rationalism and excess: what a fine seasonal combination.