...was the subject of a fascinating talk at the Catholic Writers' Guild last night. Speaker was Father Ian Ker, whose books include The Catholic Revival in English Literature. As always, it was a great evening - lively conversations over supper, good questions and discussion following the talk. Debate about Greene's beliefs - the great drama of his best novels focuses on the question of Hell for those who die in mortal sin, the Church's ministry of dispensing absolution, the hugeness of God's mercy which is beyond what we really deserve...Guild members present included writers, columnists, a young sub-editor who has dealt with some of my features for the Catholic press, a young visitor from Germany working on texts at the British library...all made for very lively and interesting discussions. Novelist Piers Paul Read who knew Greene well gave the vote of thanks.
On the way to St Mary Moorfields I stopped to enjoy a great pealing of bells at St Paul's Cathedral...various important-looking people were standing around on the steps and I ran up to ask one what was happening "It's the annual seafarers' service". Golly, I didn't know we even thought about seafarers these days...and how nice that the old name is still used on such occasions.
But few people stopped to watch the Lord Mayor arrive with mace and dignitaries and all the trimmings, and as I cycled away I felt vaguely sad - we still have the trimmings, and things are done in style, but the heart has gone out of traditional London events somehow.