Ireland’s win  in Italy puts the achievements of Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King in the ha’penny place.  Photograph: Ryan ByrneINPHO

Are you old enough to remember the conveyor belt on the Generation Game? No? Well, a bunch of fabulous prizes whizzed by under the contestants’ noses (...)

Stephen Fry: ‘Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?’ Photograph: Ian West/PA Wire

The English comedian, actor, writer and presenter Stephen Fry has described God as “quite clearly a maniac”, “monstrous, utterly monstrous”, and “tota(...)

 ‘Influenced by Zen and eastern spirituality, Thomas Merton defined contemplation as seeking God, coming to know one’s true self, and learning one’s relationship to the world. He regarded contemplation as the highest form of awareness.’  Photograph:  Archive Photos/Getty Images

The Seven Storey Mountain, which recounts Thomas Merton’s spiritual odyssey from disbelief to faith, opens: “On the last day of January 1915, in a yea(...)

Chelsea Clinton watches as her father, former US president Bill Clinton, thanks a gospel singer for his performance at a health clinic funded by the Clintons in South Africa. Photograph: Joao Silva/The New York Times

Martin Scorsese has tackled the mob, the Dalai Lama and the real-life Wolf of Wall Street. But he appears to have met his match in Bill Clinton. The f(...)

The Dalai Lama, flanked  by Rome’s mayor Ignazio Marino, arrives at the opening of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, Friday December 12th. The pope declined to meet the spiritual leader. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis has denied a private audience to the Dalai Lama because it could harm the Holy See’s already fraught relations with China, the Vatican sa(...)

‘The relics attract the faithful and faithless, and children and animals seem especially affected.’ Photograph: maitreyarelictour.com

Imagine if you could leave behind in your cremation ashes a scattering of crystal pearls that embodied all your best elements; a sort of epitaph in(...)

 Protesters sleep overnight at the protest site as the standoff continues and authorities threaten to clear the site in the early morning hours in Hong Kong. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Hong Kong testing China

Hong Kong’s leader Leung Chun-ying’s announcement on Thursday that he is willing to open talks with representatives of the thousands of students and y(...)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Ashamed to call this lickspitle bunch [the ANC] my government.” Photograph: Reuters

A planned summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates is not to go ahead in Cape Town this month because of the refusal of the South African government to g(...)

The South African government’s refusal to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to enter the country next month for a Nobel peace laureate summit has prompted a number of participants to pull out of the event in protest. Photograph: Ashwini Bhatia/AP

The South African government’s refusal to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to enter the country next month for a Nobel peace laureate summit has prompted(...)

Illustration: Thinkstock

Q I am a man in my mid-40s, married for more than 18 years, with two beautiful daughters. My wife and I met at a very young age, so we have been to(...)