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BOOKISH BANTER IN BELGIUM

Canon Jack McDonald writes; “St Martha and St Mary's, our parish in Leuven, Belgium, goes strikingly quiet in the summer, with the two local universities KU Leuven and ETF Leuven on vacation and deserted. But this year our CEMES intern Annie Bolger has organised a summer book club. Voting took place to choose the book and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (recently turned into a major TV series) was selected. The group met 4 times on Wednesday evenings to unpack and unpick the book.

“Our photo shows the final meeting, when students from Belgium, Holland, America, Hong Kong-China and Romania gathered to talk (Annie isn't on the photo because she took it!). Among our conclusions: that our democratic rights and privileges, so hard won, are in theory and in practice easily stripped away; also that closed societies rely on a toxic mixture of violence, intolerance and fake purity to coerce their subjects into submission, and that the Christian churches have the calling to oppose this totalitarianism by modelling and embodying a totally open and barrierless welcome in the name of Jesus Christ, who stands for us and with us all.”