This week’s New Statesman magazine is guest-edited by Rowan Williams and features contributions by Philip Pullman, A S Byatt, Gordon Brown, Richard Curtis, Jonathan Sacks and other surprise guests.
For this 80-page edition of the magazine, Dr Williams has commissioned a wide range of essays, articles and reports, interviewed a senior cabinet minister and written the leading article.
The issue examines all the complexities of David Cameron’s flagship policy idea of the “big society”, with analysis and commentary from the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, Maurice Glasman and Iain Duncan Smith, among others.
There are contributions from two vicars — Rev Lucy Winkett recounts visiting a casino in a dog collar, and Rev Mary Bide relives the highs and lows of minding the church next to the tennis courts at Wimbledon — as well as an actor who plays a vicar on television: Tom Hollander, star of the Bafta-winning sitcom Rev.
There are atheists and secularists in the mix, too. Among the other writers in this bespoke issue of the New Statesman are: Philip Pullman, who explains why he’s a “Church of England atheist”; Terry Eagleton on secularism; the award-winning film director Richard Curtis, who writes about the scourge of malaria; and Victoria Coren, who addresses the vexed question of faith versus poker.
The Booker Prize-winning novelist A S Byatt contributes a new short story, “The Lucid Dreamer”, written specially for the issue.
Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, said: “I have long admired Rowan Williams as a thinker and public intellectual. His previous contributions to the magazine under my editorship have been both thoughtful and thought-provoking. We agreed that he would guest-edit the magazine over lunch at Lambeth Palace in January; we have been working on the issue ever since.
“Although the New Statesman is a secular magazine, we recognise Dr Williams’s contribution to public and political debate, and this is an important intervention from him. I’m delighted with the issue.”
Dr Rowan Williams said: “This is not a platform for the establishment to explain itself — any more than the New Statesman ever is. The hope is that it may be possible to spark some livelier debate about where we are going, perhaps even to discover what the left’s big idea currently is.”
The issue, cover-dated 13 June, will go on sale in London on Thursday 9 June and in the rest of the country from Friday 10 June. International buyers can obtain copies through our website.