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.

Red Tory, By Phillip Blond

According to Phillip Blond, there has been "a wholesale collapse of British culture, virtue and belief". It has led to " increasing fear, lack of trust and abundance of suspicion, long-term increase in violent crime, loneliness, recession, depression, private and public debt, family break-up, divorce, infidelity, bureaucratic and unresponsive public services, dirty hospitals, powerlessness, the rise of racism, excessive paperwork, longer and longer working hours, children who have no parents... seemingly immovable poverty, the permanence of inequality, teenagers with knives, teenagers being knifed, the decline of politeness, aggressive youths, the erosion of our civil liberties and the increase of obsessive surveillance, public authoritarianism, private libertarianism, general pointlessness, political cynicism and a pervading lack of daily joy". It is a dire litany, but in this book about "how the Left and Right have broken Britain and how we can fix it", Blond is confident that nearly everyone will accept this calamitous diagnosis: "When I say that British culture has collapsed, we - whatever our political beliefs - almost immediately recognise the truth of it." He is no less confident that the calamity can be reversed, if only his analysis is understood and acted on.

Great Debates: When politics gets gladiatorial

As the leaders of Britain's political parties limber up to take part in an unprecedented series of TV discussions, John Walsh explores the history of oratorial combat, from the deadly logic of Socrates to the killer charms of JFK

Letters: Televised political debates

Election debates? A real clash would be more honest

Islamic scholar says suicide bombers will 'go to hell'

A respected Islamic scholar will publish a seminal fatwa tomorrow that unequivocally condemns terrorism and warns suicide bombers that they will “go to hell” for their attacks.

After Lives: a guide to heaven, hell and purgatory, By John Casey

The after-life is a pretty well-explored destination, both in the sense that, if most of the world's great faiths are to be believed, all of us end up there, and in that it has been the subject of some of the most enduring works of literature known to humankind. They include Dante's Divine Comedy, Milton's Paradise Lost, the Book of Job, Swedenborg's New Jerusalem and, juxtaposing traditional Christians evocations of heaven and hell with the modern era, James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Reverend Peter Thomson: Anglican minister who was a crucial early influence on Tony Blair

Peter Thomson, Anglican minister and social activist, was noted for being a key influence on the young Tony Blair, a committed Christian socialist and a particularly irreverent reverend.

Leader signals end of Methodism

Reverend surprises general synod by suggesting that his Church should consider merger with Anglicans

Leading article: Happy Christmas

Take Christ out of Christmas and all you are left with is M&S, some wag quipped this week. It is not, of course, true. Even for people with no religious faith there is something about this traditional festival that transcends the consumerist frenzy.

Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri: Ayatollah Khomeini's designated successor who fell out of favour with Iran's revolutionary leader

The most important turning point in the life of Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri came in the late 1980s, when the authorities in Iran brusquely ordered his picture taken down from mosques and government offices.

Dominic Lawson: It's no wonder some Christians forget that Jesus was Jewish

Jews do not come knocking on your door at an unlikely hour like some Christian evangelicals

Oral Roberts: Evangelist who pioneered the charismatic style that came to dominate American Christianity

Oral Roberts was one of the most remarkable religious figures to have appeared in North America in the 20th century. A faith healer and pioneer of a new, informal style of religious broadcasting that became fashionable in the 1970s, he was at the forefront of the charismatic movement that became a powerful, even dominant, force in mainstream Christianity during the 1980s and 1990s. The founder of Oral Roberts University and Faith City, a medical school and hospital complex at Tulsa, Oklahoma, he will be remembered as one of America's most enterprising and colourful religious entrepreneurs.

Pope to address MPs in Westminster during state visit

Pope Benedict XVI will preach to MPs and peers in Westminster Hall when he visits England next September, Vatican sources said today.

Speaker's wife admits to 'ladette' past

Speaker John Bercow's wife confessed today that she used to be an "argumentative, stroppy drunk" who had a series of flings and put herself in danger through making bad judgments.

One Minute With: Ian Blair

Where are you now and what can you see?

In my study, looking out at a very sodden garden. It is, however, brightened up by a winter-flowering cherry, which has suddenly broken out into intense white blossom.

Bishop Werner Krusche: Bishop who played a crucial role in reconciling the two halves of Germany

Werner Krusche was a bishop in the East German Protestant Church who clashed with the ruling SED, Communists as he sought to gain concessions for Christians in the German Democratic Republic, but was eventually credited for his part in advancing Germany's re-unification.

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Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone