76 episodes

The most important and controversial topics in world religion, thoroughly dissected by a range of high profile guests. Presented by Damian Thompson.

Holy Smoke The Spectator

    • Christianity

The most important and controversial topics in world religion, thoroughly dissected by a range of high profile guests. Presented by Damian Thompson.

    The Vatican's sinister deal with Beijing

    The Vatican's sinister deal with Beijing

    Next month, the Vatican will talk to Beijing about renewing its 2018 deal with the Chinese Communist Party that effectively allowed President Xi to choose the country's Catholic bishops. He has used this power to force Catholics loyal to Rome to join the puppet Catholic church set up by Chairman Mao in the 1950s. They can no longer refuse on the grounds that they recognise only the Pope's Church because Francis himself has validated the orders of Xi's party stooges. 

    But the Holy Father has done more than that: he has ostentatiously failed to condemn China's savage assaults on human rights, the worst of which is its attempt to eradicate the country's Muslim Uyghurs ethnic minority by herding them into concentration camps and forcing Uighur women to have abortions. 

    As I say in this episode of Holy Smoke, the Pope's behaviour is not just a disgrace but also a mystery. The Catholic Church has gained nothing from the 2018 pact. On the contrary, it has given Beijing a handy excuse to intensify its harassment of Catholics. So why is the Vatican apparently keen to renew a deal that so badly reflects on it? 

    One plausible explanation is money. Rome hasn't got any. China enjoys nothing more than buying influence. This year, claims surfaced that the Communist Party is quietly slipping the Vatican £1.6 billion a year in order to buy the Pope's silence about the Uyghurs, the subjugation of Hong Kong and the demolition of churches. But no evidence has been produced to support this conspiracy theory. 

    My guests are the journalist Catherine Lafferty and Fr Benedict Kiely, a campaigner on behalf of persecuted religious minorities.

    • 23 min
    How a ‘biblically illiterate’ generation can discover Christian art

    How a ‘biblically illiterate’ generation can discover Christian art

    The new Holy Smoke episode is a significant departure from our usual formula. It’s a discussion about the profound and neglected meaning of Christian art. Professor Ben Quash of King’s College London is interviewed not by me but by Carmel Thompson – my sister, who has appeared twice on Holy Smoke to talk about her battle with ovarian cancer but is determined not to be defined by her illness.

    This is a truly engrossing episode inspired by Carmel’s conviction that art depicting Christian subjects – and that includes most of the great art produced in the West up to and including the Renaissance – is too often examined from a purely aesthetic point of view.

    Obviously you’ll get far more out of this discussion if you can see what Carmel and Ben are talking about with such infectious enthusiasm, so here (https://www.spectator.co.uk/podcast/how-a-biblically-illiterate-generation-can-discover-christian-art) are the artworks chosen by Ben.

    • 38 min
    The woke new Archbishop of York

    The woke new Archbishop of York

    Archbishop Stephen Cottrell made the headlines even before he was enthroned last week, when he ‘revealed’ that Jesus was black. This came as news to everyone except the far left, race-baiting fanatics of Black Lives Matter.

    This week, I talk to Dr Gavin Ashenden, a former chaplain to the Queen, about the implications of this disastrous appointment, which means that for the first time in the history of the Established Church the sees of Canterbury York and the London are all occupied by intellectually challenged bureaucrats with an adolescence enthusiasm for wokeness.

    Subscribe to the Spectator's first podcast newsletter here (https://www.spectator.co.uk/podcast-highlights) and get each week's podcast highlights in your inbox every Tuesday.

    • 31 min
    Who will be the next Pope?

    Who will be the next Pope?

    Damian speaks to Edward Pentin, a veteran Rome correspondent whose upcoming book, The Next Pope, runs the rule over the runners and riders for Francis's successor.

    Click here (https://subscription.spectator.co.uk/?prom=A521B&pkgcode=03) to try 12 weeks of the Spectator for £12 and get a free £20 Amazon gift voucher.

    • 31 min
    The creepy doctrines of Black Lives Matter

    The creepy doctrines of Black Lives Matter

    With Professor Richard Landes, an expert on millennial or apocalyptic movements.

    Presented by Damian Thompson.

    Click here (https://subscription.spectator.co.uk/?prom=A521B&pkgcode=03) to try 12 weeks of the Spectator for £12 and get a free £20 Amazon gift voucher.

    • 17 min
    Suicide by secularisation: how the churches are dying

    Suicide by secularisation: how the churches are dying

    Today’s episode of Holy Smoke exposes the extent to which ordinary Christians have been betrayed by their own bishops. This is a process that began decades ago – but it is only this year, during the coronavirus pandemic, that we’ve seen just how corrupted church leaders have become by secularisation.

    The need to close churches for public worship during the lockdown meant that, for the first time in many decades, Anglican and Catholic bishops were able to exercise a small but significant degree of secular power – something they desperately crave. In doing so, they displayed a mixture of ruthlessness, vanity, hypocrisy and stupidity that will accelerate the decline of their own institutions.

    This episode will tell you things that bishops – in Rome and America as well as Britain – are anxious to conceal from their flocks. Please tune in!

    • 34 min

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