Sarah Sands: Thugs killed my favourite tree. But a new one is growing

Compared with the desecration of the Cenotaph, the chopping down of an old hawthorn tree in Glastonbury is low on the emotional Richter scale. There are no statements from the Prime Minister, no counter-reproaches from youthful revolutionaries. It is just a tree of no great beauty, which was significant to people of no interest to the famous or the fashionable.

Don't invite the boss to the Christmas party

Many workers do not want their boss at the Christmas party, fearing his presence will spoil the fun or even spark a violent reaction, a study has found.

Minor British Institutions: The office Christmas party

The roots of the Office Xmas Party, you won't be surprised to learn, are pagan. It's a celebration of the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun (25 December, as it happened), of the old Yule, always observed most enthusiastically in these islands, and uninterrupted by the coming of Christianity.

Vandals destroy sacred thorn tree

One of the UK's most important symbols of Christianity has been destroyed by vandals.

Queen warns of 'painful' times ahead for church

The Queen spoke today of the "difficult" and even "painful" choices facing the Church of England as she formally opened the Church's national assembly.

Adoption doctor loses religious bias claim

A Christian paediatrician who was dismissed from an adoption panel over her belief that children should not be placed with same-sex couples today lost her claim for religious discrimination.

On stage at Glastonbury, a natural light show

In the mists of dawn yesterday it looks even more mysterious, but Glastonbury Tor in Somerset has an enigmatic air however you see it. For some people these days it may be merely the hill that looks over the world's biggest music festival, but for others, for hundreds of years, this has been the site of Avalon – the legendary river-island in the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Wanted: bankers willing to give up Mammon for God

Swiss order of Catholic monks advertises for recruits in magazine for financial alpha males

Can the movies do God?

Faith-based films are proving to be big box-office in America. Kaleem Aftab asks if pushing religion on screen will appeal to cinema audiences in Britain

Active Autumn: This lough marks the spot for hidden wildlife treasure

Anywhere but Northern Ireland and this place would be overrun by tourists, says Mark Rowe

DVD: Black Death (15)

The bubonic plague is laying waste to Middle Ages England but one village remains oddly unscathed.

Michael Day: Dwindling faith spells greatest trouble for the Church's coffers

As a global religion with a billion followers, many of whom are in the richest parts of the world, the Roman Catholic Church is naturally a multi-billion-pound enterprise.

Trail of the unexpected: The M25

Leave rush hour behind for a day out on London’s mighty ring road. Simon Calder fires up the Focus

Archbishop of Westminster urges Catholics to be more visible

Catholics are being urged to make themselves more visible by making the sign of the cross and saying "God bless you" more often.

Leading article: Benedict spoke to Britain

Many will remain angry and aggrieved after Pope Benedict's visit to Britain, just as many will continue to ask why a country with an established Protestant church in this secular age was hosting a four-day state visit by the head of the Roman Catholic Church at all. We ask that question ourselves. But there will be many, too – mostly, but not exclusively, British Catholics – who will have found consolation and encouragement in the pastoral aspects of his stay, which, after all, constituted by far the largest part.

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game