Ian Hunter

Ian Hunter

Ian Hunter is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Law at Western University in London, Ont.

In 1975 I was five years into a career teaching law and had written two law books. I had also struck up an improbable friendship with the internationally known British author and journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, who had recently written an unlikely bestseller called Jesus Rediscovered.

When the disciples questioned Jesus about the end of the world (Matthew c. 4), Jesus described signs and portents, and then related what has since become known as the last judgment. The people of Earth are assembled and the King renders a verdict based on each person’s conduct: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.”

Ninety-five years old, in failing health, evangelist Billy Graham has summoned his energies to write what will almost surely be his last book: The Reason for My Hope. As I read it, I was struck by the extent to which Graham’s prose carries out the “new evangelism” to which Pope Benedict XVI insistently called the Catholic Church.

Cradle Catholics sometimes miss the wonder of the universality of their Church: universality in two senses — the “here comes everybody” that overpowers the new convert, and the geographic universality of the Church being everywhere in the world so no one is ever without a home.

Just about my least favourite question (unfortunately, often posed these days) is: “What do you think of the new Pope?”

In his Songs of Innocence William Blake wrote: “The strongest poison ever known / Comes from Caesar’s laurel crown.”

One of the capital sins recognized in the medieval Church was acedie (or accidie, the older spelling) which the Catechism misleadingly equates with sloth. Actually, acedie is worse than sloth. The Oxford dictionary defines sloth as “laziness or indolence” but defines acedie as “spiritual torpor” or “black despair.”

One of the capital sins recognized in the medieval Church was acedie (or accidie, the older spelling) which the Catechism misleadingly equates with sloth. Actually, acedie is worse than sloth. The Oxford dictionary defines sloth as “laziness or indolence” but defines acedie as “spiritual torpor” or “black despair.”

Firing Line, the PBS public affairs program hosted by the late William F. Buckley, Jr., not only won an Emmy Award (in 1969) but set a broadcasting record as the longest-running television show: 1,504 episodes over 33 years. The last Firing Line was in 1999.

Wonderful, wonderful news! John Paul II, the globe-trotting Polish pope who led the Church for 27 years will be canonized by Pope Francis, probably before the end of the year. So, too, will Pope John XXIII, best remembered for calling the Second Vatican Council. But it is John Paul “The Great” who is my subject.

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