Arts and Entertainment

Towards the end of this illuminating book, Larry Siedentop describes a fourteenth century battle between two Christian monastic orders. The Dominicans and the Franciscans were mendicant orders, begging monks who had abandoned the comforts of the cloisters to preach among the poor.

The 10 Best lecture Series

1. Intelligence Squared

Letters: The history of Secularism

The ancient world of disbelievers

The Whores' Asylum, By Katy Darby

Victorian gothic, without the gymnastics

Leading article: No time for MI5 to stand in the way

Deporting Abu Qatada to Jordan was the easy option. After all, the man said to be Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Britain had already been convicted in Amman, in absentia, for his involvement in a plot to target American and Israeli tourists. With deportation facing legal obstacles in the form of a European Court of Human Rights ruling, the most pertinent questions focus on why a trial cannot go ahead in the UK.

Chris Bryant: The Church of England needs to forget its silliness about homosexuality

Anyone who has ever heard Jeffrey John preach, read his poetry or met him knows that he is a man of immense spirituality who should have been made a bishop years ago.

Simon Kelner: Blaming society’s ills on Godlessness is senseless

I wonder what Christopher Hitchens, who died some 24 hours earlier, would have made of David Cameron’s speech, in which he implored Britain to follow the values espoused in the Bible. In fact, there’s no need to wonder. He’d have employed his most excoriating polemic.

Sinead O'Connor, St John-at-Hackney, London
Skrillex, Academy, Bristol

The often controversial singer packs an emotional punch as she lets her powerful voice rip in an east London church

Last Night's TV: Torchwood: Miracle Day/BBC1<br />The Story of British Path&#233;/BBC4

Trying to catch up with a series like Torchwood: Miracle Day is a bit like trying to get up to speed in Sumerian mythology in just 10 minutes. Actually, it's worse, since the cross-series references that produce a warm bolus of joy inside true devotees mean you don't have only one belief system to disentangle. If Enki, the Sumerian deity of crafts, occasionally popped up on Mount Olympus, in ways that were critical to a full understanding of later Greek theology, then you'd be a bit closer to it. I don't have the time (or the inclination frankly) to engage in such an arduous field of scholarship, so I might as well confess right now that I don't have the faintest idea what Phi-Corp is or what the Trickster's Brigade are up to or how Jack keeps skipping around between different time dimensions. What I can say, on just two minutes' acquaintance with the current series, is that it has a great central idea. Everybody has stopped dying, one of those monkey's paw miracles that looks like a blessing but turns out to be a catastrophe. Jack and his Torchwood cronies are currently trying to find out why it's happened, though the urgency of their quest doesn't appear to prevent Jack spending quite a bit of happy downtime with a fetching young Italian immigrant called Angelo.

Errors &amp; Omissions: Battle of the genders claims another victim

Several readers have written in to raise objection to this headline, which appeared above a comment piece on Monday: "At last – a public figure who refuses to deny their past." The public figure in question is the Tory MP Louise Mensch. Why follow the fashion for using "their" in a singular sense, my correspondents demand. Surely it should be "her past". I am not so sure, much as this column hates to be outdone in pedantry by its own readers.

America's first Mormon president?

The Church of the Latter-day Saints is one of the fastest-growing and wealthiest religions in the world. But can the Mormons convince America to vote one of their number into the White House?

On Evil, By Terry Eagleton

"Those who sentimentally indulge humanity do it no favours," argues Eagleton in this brisk, deep and oddly entertaining book about mankind at its very worst.

Jim White, Jazz Cafe, London

"This is a good-looking shirt," says Jim White modestly. "By the end of the night, one of you will be wearing it. It's for sale."

Canon AM Allchin: Theologian who fostered unity between Christianity&rsquo;s major strands

The Anglican theologian AM Allchin wrote prolifically on Christian spirituality and, in particular, the relationship between Eastern Orthodoxy and the Christianity of the West. During a distinguished life as priest and academic, he strove to foster an awareness of the underlying unity between the major strands of Christianity, throwing new light on our understanding of diverse traditions and belief systems. He travelled widely, making available what he had experienced in places like Mount Athos and Romania in lectures, conferences, pamphlets and a score of books that are among the most readable, and stimulating, studies in their fields.

The Gospels: Authorized King James Version, Edited by WR Owens

Though the King James Bible is customarily read for divine revelations, this 500th anniversary edition from Oxford World's Classics tells us much about the book as literature. In his introduction, Owens notes that we are indebted to the King James Version of the Gospels for such everyday phrases as "the salt of the earth", "made light of it", "signs of the times", "in his right mind" and "a den of thieves".

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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