Give me that old time religion?

Tom Kelly outlines the core contribution Catholicism has made to the development of Irish identity and argues that despite the church’s failings the alternatives of secularism and consumerism offer Irishness little. He believes “It is not unfair or xenophobic to want to prevent Ireland, north or south, becoming as secular as Britain.” He argues it is time to reconnect with a Catholic ethos but a reconnection based on learning from past mistakes.

  • Miss Fitz

    FD
    Off topic entirely, but since when has Tom Kelly been known as Tommy Kelly? I have only ever known him as Tom, and have never heard anyone call him this before.

  • Rory

    An interesting link, Fair Deal. I was glad to read the distinction that can be drawn between Irish Catholic and Roman Catholic as indeed the Irish church was often at loggerheads with the Vatican, most notably when Nicholas Breakspear, Pope Hadrian IV, issued his now infamous laudabiliter so apparently sanctioning Stronbow’s invasion. But also more recently in the latter part of the 19th century a Rome/Ireland/Britain crisis beautifully providing the background to Thomas Kilroy’s prize winning novel, The Big Chapel.

    For my own part even when I rejected the Church and embraced Marx and libidinousness with equal enthusiasm I was always assumed to be a “Paddy” in London, which essentially meant an Irish Catholic. “Lapsed”, “non-practising”, “totally rejecting of” simply didn’t cut the mustard.

    Up before the beak on a poll-tax issue the clerk, reading my name and hearing my accent simply said “Catholic” and stuck the Douai bible forward to administer the oath. I was too taken aback to jump on me high horse and demand affirmation. (Much good a temporary, if cosmetic, return to faith did – “Guilty. Wilful refusal to pay. Six months.” and me now The Tottenham One).

    So now I just accept it. I’m Irish Catholic, republican, communist. The latter two are matters of choice but being an Irish Catholic is like being Jewish somehow it’s just a circumstance of being born in a particular place and time, faith doesn’t come into it. Which is not to say that there was much in that faith and the education it brought that stays with me and which I depart from only with feelings of guilt. My rejection of much is no longer the arrogant pseudo-intellectual rejection of my youth but rather a sad admission that I may not be able to fully live up to the exacting tenets and practice, and that is my failure and my loss.

  • Nathan

    An interesting article, Tom.

    The good thing about Ireland today is that although there is an over-saturation of Catholics in the population, they are not necessarily political Catholics. Moreover, they don’t necessarily require a Catholic mask to express their Irish identity as was once the case.

    I want this trend to continue for future generations, and I hope Tom does as well. Nothing wrong with being a citizen of an overwhelmingly Catholic society provided it is unpolitical in thought.

  • Greenflag

    ‘He believes “It is not unfair or xenophobic to want to prevent Ireland, north or south, becoming as secular as Britain.’

    And he’s right . It’s not unfair or xenophobic to want to prevent Ireland -North or South etc –
    The question is however is it realistic ? With about 2 or 3 recruits for the ‘priesthood’ every year and an increasingly geriatric bishopry etc the Irish RC Church is on it’s way to a similar fate/fdestiny as the Anglican Church is in England.

  • Henry94

    greenflag

    Irish RC Church is on it’s way to a similar fate/fdestiny as the Anglican Church is in England.

    I disagree and it is exactly the Roman dimension that will prevent that. It will not be the mass church that it was but it will be at least seious which is not something one could honestly claim for the anglicans.

    Irish Catholicism is over as a historical and political force but Catholicism in Ireland will remain a healthy, albeit minority, alternative to the secular world.

    In this month’s Magill there is an interesting article about how the Church is moving from a parish based model to a movement based one.

    Communion and Liberation, Focolare, Opius Dei, the Latin Mass Society, the Neo-Catechumenel Way etc are the future of the Church.

    The era of the cultural Catholic, batised but left in ignorance of the faith is drawing to a close.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Being an Irish Catholic is about independence and tradition so as it says in Philippians 3:16 ‘Let us go forward on the road which has brought us to where we are’. ‘

    Some roads lead to a dead end -others are one way with no exits to left or right and end in the middle of nowhere . And some roads lead us back to where we started from. For many RC’s /ex RC’s in Ireland and elsewhere – they’d rather not go back to where they were at least in terms of the influence and power which the RC Church exerted in personal , social and political life particulary in Ireland .

    Ireland is on a new road -What place the Churches will have in it in 30 years time I don’t know . But I’d guess it will not be too different from the churches role in England , France or Germany . As long as they keep out of politics .

    ‘Being an Irish Catholic is about independence ‘

    Perhaps but somehow I recall that among the greatest supporters of the Act of Union apart from the bribed politicians of the time were the hierarchy of the Catholic church ,

  • Nathan

    With about 2 or 3 recruits for the ‘priesthood’ every year and an increasingly geriatric bishopry etc the Irish RC Church is on it’s way to a similar fate/fdestiny as the Anglican Church is in England.

    Not necessarily, Greenflag.

    The Catholic Church is more universal, so it attracts more recruits from abroad.

    I attended a wedding for one of my relatives in a Catholic Church in Marino earlier on this yr, and was surprised to learn that it was conducted by a Indian priest. I don’t normally go up to receive blessings during Communion, as it involves putting my right hand on my left shoulder but I fancied it on this occasion because he represented a friendly face. He was a breath of fresh air in a stuffy conservative-minded atmosphere. I hope this trend continues.

  • Rory

    Irish RC Church is on it’s way to a similar fate/fdestiny as the Anglican Church is in England.

    I remember reading an English columnist (it may have been Auberon Waugh but I think not) writing of a friend of his who went to his local Anglican priest and asked some advice on a spiritual matter. The vicar looked at him askance and stuttered, “Oh dear, we don’t do spiritual in the C of E . Best try the Irish fellow across the road in St Pat’s”.

    Brendan Behan was rather more disparaging with his ditty:

    Of your eminent Anglican clerics
    Will ye cease to prattle and prate
    The foundation stones of their temple
    Was the bollix of Henry the Eight’

  • Greenflag

    Rory ,

    Behan’s ditty may be witty but that doesn’t make it historically correct . Henry may have been a ‘bollix’ but he was and remained an RC bollix in all but name. He just resented sending all that money to Rome and decided instead to keep it in England . Queen Lizzie 1 can be said to have been truly the first non RC monarch .

    No I can’t see President McAleese performing the dual role . The RC Church has’nt yet got around to women priests so having a woman Head of Church/Papess will probably remain a bridge too far .

    Re your Auberon Waugh – I remember a friend of mine(RC) Dubliner who had a ‘problem ‘ going to seek advice from a Church of Ireland vicar . I asked him why he did’nt go to his RC priest . His reply was ‘Those ######rs would’nt know the answers to what I wanted to ask ‘ Apparently the question was of a non spiritual nature .

  • Greenflag

    ‘The Catholic Church is more universal, so it attracts more recruits from abroad. ‘

    So ? . This does nothing to change the realities of the modern secular world . I believe the Pro Cathedral in Dublin now has /had a Nigerian priest but this has done nothing to increase ‘attendance’ The RC Church still has a hold on many of the hundreds of millions of Latin Americans but even there they are in competition with various protestant denominations and secularism.

    Roman Catholicism in Ireland is finding it difficult to adapt to a changing world . Democracy , women’s rights ,internet access , less respect for clergy /politicians etc etc . A society which questions and demands real answers/solutions to it’s problems is a far healthier one, than one which responds in mumbo jumbo latin which nobody understands or responds with direct quotes from the Bible a la Paisley and his ilk.

  • For me, the problem arises when politics and religion mixes. All too often, religion is misused, be it in the form of modern-day sectarianism in the north, or the Church-dominated head-in-the-sand politics of the south up until the 1990s (e.g. the problems surrounding Noel Browne’s Mother and Child Scheme are a case-in-point).

    The Church has its place in society, but its place shouldn’t be artificially over-emphasised. If society chooses to secularise, then so be it- that is society’s choice. To flip the argument, it is not unfair or xenophobic to want to allow Ireland, north or south, becoming as secular as Britain.

  • Dualta

    I agree that there is a need for a spiritual life for each of us, but to claim that Irish Catholicism in its traditional form has anything to offer us seems not to be backed by any real evidence.

    If it did have anything to offer us by way of spiritual fulfilment, then why have so many dropped it as soon as it was socially acceptable to do so? I, for one, couldn’t get away from it fast enough.

    Surely if it was of any value to us its place in our society and our hearts would be assured.

    If Tom Kelly wants to live as a Catholic in Ireland, then so he should, but for him to say that we should prevent Ireland from becoming secular by preventing people of other faiths from coming to live here is dictatorial claptrap, and does sound very xenophobic to me to be honest.

    He’ll be on about the repatriation of Protestants next.

  • TAFKABO

    It’s a shame that people don’t aspire to have a republic that is as secular as France, where people are free to hold and practice their faith, yet clear distinctions are drawn between church and state.

    Rather than constantly looking to their British neighbour, perhaps Ireland ought to start looking at their other neighbour, and see how it can be done.

  • TAFKABO-

    Perhaps some of us do aspire to that.

  • andy

    A good link FD.
    However, I have to ask, what has the catholic church ever done for Ireland?

    From the article it seems Tom talks about its contribution to education at a certain point of time. Fair enough.

    In more recent times though I think it has overshadowed the good it has done through its shameful covering up of various paedo scandals.

    Its involvement in the Magdalen homes etc was disgraceful, and its contribution towards a societal consensus that sex was a shameful thing was hardly healthy.

    It also singularly failed to help much in the various struggles for independence. Each new republican movement was threatened with discommunication and censure (admittedly the discommunication bit was missing from the last 30 years) “hell was not hot enough” for the fenian brother hood etc.

    On a related point if I was a Northern Unionist one of the big things that would have put me off an united Ireland was the church-run nature of the Southern State with the consequent long-running bans on abortion, divorce and contraception.

    All in all, a waste of space.Ditch them like bad habit guys, they’ve been nothing but a drag.

    (FWIW I was born a Catholic)

  • Greenflag

    Religion originated from man’s growing awareness of the world as he ‘evolved ‘ from australopithecus africanus/erectus . As man could not answer the how , why , what and where he and the world around him came from , religion provided a ‘simple’ answer . Religion also provided a communal belief system , a formal code of behaviour towards other tribe members , and the shamans/priests became leaders and eventually morphed into priest kings . This evolutionary social phenomenon is found in all societies and throughout history . As societies became more complex with ever increasing stratification between people and their role in society the religious ‘priesthood’ gradually lost out on it’s ‘political’ powers /role. Since the ‘enlightenment ‘ religion has been gradually declining in favour among the scientific and secular minded .

    But there are still pockets of con men everywhere pocketing hard cash from gullibles only too ready to believe that Armageddon is due in Sept 30th -2006 or some other time . If you’ve ever seen some of these ‘televangelists’ preaching the ‘end days ‘ with the fervour of people actually looking forward to imminent mass destruction then you have to wonder is this all that ‘religion’ amounts to ?

    Is there still a role for religion in modern society ? People have an insatiable drive to learn and at one time organised religion provided the means. In today’s world we (some of us anyway) rely on science to provide the answers . The fact that science cannot provide all the answers is no good reason to return to the Latin Mass in the hope of finding them there ?

    Religion and Science share a lot in common . It’s just that the former is faith based whereas in the latter observable facts and provable theses are the order of the day . When Pope Leo threatened to excommunicate Galileo for putting forward his belief that the earth rotated around the Sun he could do so. But the truth eventually out and the Solar System failed to respond or adhere to the Pope’s preferred ordering of the universe.

    Spirituality ? Now that’s something else .

  • cynic

    Given the changing ethnicity of Ireland – never mind the need to integrate 1 million + proddies – isnt it sad that many of us feel the need to mainly define our identity by an ancient religion worshiping a God that a majority dont belive in? Is this all that we are?

  • fair_deal

    Fixed. He became known as Tommy since I crawled out of the scratcher without a Saturday lie-in and tried to do a thread in my a semi-functioning state. The fact I have about half a dozen mates called Tommy probably contributed too.

  • Comrade Stalin

    El Mat :

    For me, the problem arises when politics and religion mixes.

    Religious organizations often insist on interfering where they have no mandate to do so. When people think of the Catholic Church’s contribution to Ireland, they think of the violent abusive Christian Bros, the Magdalene laundries, paedophile scandals (and the associated perversion of the course of justice) and so on.

    I think Greenflag is right in his contributions. The growth of modern religions such as the LDS church, or Scientology etc, give us an opportunity to explore how religions come into existence and take hold. The difference between these organizations and the more established religions can only be measured by time.

    Is the SDLP secular these days ? Last time I read the SDLP policies on things like divorce and contraception it was most certainly not, though that was about ten years ago.

  • Martin

    “It is not unfair or xenophobic to want to prevent Ireland, north or south, becoming as secular as Britain.”

    and

    “It’s a shame that people don’t aspire to have a republic that is as secular as France, where people are free to hold and practice their faith, yet clear distinctions are drawn between church and state.

    Rather than constantly looking to their British neighbour, perhaps Ireland ought to start looking at their other neighbour, and see how it can be done.

    So, correct me if I’m wrong, secularism is a Bad Thing when it is British Thing, but if it is not a British Thing, it ergo is a good thing?

    Offensively implicit in the second post I quote is the assumption that people in Britain are not free to practice their religion. As an English Catholic I would quibble with that. The Muslim Headscarf fiasco, the Dreyfus Affair, St Bartholemews Day and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes are only three reasons why I can’t see why France should be held up as some beacon of religious tolerance.

    I would be the first to admit that we have considerabe faults but debate (political, religious, sporting, ethical, cultural or otherwise)in Ireland will never mature so long as most people, it appears, will argue any position so long as it presents Britain and/or England and the British and/or the English as the negative. Get the McCains Oven off your shoulders. You’re a rich successful country now.

  • Miss Fitz

    Sorry, wasnt being cheeky. I try to remember, coffee first, blog second!

  • TAFKABO

    Martin.

    I think you have misunderstood my point. I was saying that france is an example of a successful secular republic, and it is. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the UK is neither a republic or truly secular, rather a constituional monarchy with the head of state being head of the established church.

    Now I never said that these were neccesarily negative traits, but you chose to see my comments praising France as an insult towards the UK which rather betrays were you are coming from.
    Rather than suggest that people aren’t free to practice their religion, I think there is a far too cosy relationship between some religions and the British state.

    I’d like to see clear water between church and state.

    The Muslim Headscarf fiasco, the Dreyfus Affair, St Bartholemews Day and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes are only three reasons why I can’t see why France should be held up as some beacon of religious tolerance.

    As for France, you seem unaware of what it means to be secular if you can’t grasp that the headscarf fiasco (why was it a fiasco?) was about asserting the secularity of the state.
    And frankly, that you had to go so far back (1890 and 1685 respectively )rather proves my point.

  • garibaldy

    TAFKABO,

    Agree 100 per cent the French model has lots to offer us. Not least in education.

  • Henry94

    One very lucky thing about France is that the state controls the Church buildings and prevented the kind of vandalism that destroyed so many Irish Churches and Cathedrals in the years following Vatican II.

    b TAFKABO

    I wonder why in the separation of Church and State you see the necessity for a state monopoly on education. State monopolies have a poor record and the proper role for the state is as a regulator.

    If a Church wants to run a school it should have to meet the agreed criteria on the same basis as a private company or a parental co-op.

    Banning Church schools is as oppressive as making them compulsory.

  • TAFKABO

    I wonder why in the separation of Church and State you see the necessity for a state monopoly on education. State monopolies have a poor record and the proper role for the state is as a regulator.

    Henry.

    I don’t know where you get the idea that I want to ban church based schools.
    I don’t like church based schools, but if people want to set up and fund church based schools I think they should be free to do so. What I have a problem with is people bringing overt displays of religion into state schools, in a manner which hinders the ability of the staff to do their job effectivley.

  • CS-

    If members of the SDLP are adhering properly to the founding principles of the party, then there should be no problem, regardless of their personal beliefs. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. For instance, their abortion policy is too restrictive and makes no account for the fact that not everyone strictly adheres to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, and I think such conservatism is to the detriment of the party. Sometimes people can be too afraid to speak their minds for fear that it may contravene the teachings of the Catholic Church, even though they disagree sometimes with those ‘teachings’. Doctrine does not take account of changing social moods or realities.

    Your points on what the Catholic Church now means to many people are not wholly inaccurate, although it would be unfair to tar everyone in the Church with the same brush considering the good and charitable work that many of their numbers do.

  • Martin

    As for France, you seem unaware of what it means to be secular if you can’t grasp that the headscarf fiasco (why was it a fiasco?)

    I know exactly what secularism means and I am aware that it was the (IMO) misguided application of secularist principles that exacerbated the isolation of one religious community from the rest of the country. Which, in turn, suggests that their much vaunted secularism isn’t actually that great. Which suggests that on the analysis of many (including many in France) that the French Republican model doesn’t work that well. And if you want more recent examples try parcelling up the Jews for the Nazis and routine institutional discrimination in Algeria and against Algerians in France.

    As for the point about the UK, it was your point Rather than constantly looking to their British neighbour that gave the game away. Show me one example of any Irish commentator here or elsewhere seeking to emulate the UK, ever, let alone “constantly”. How can you seriously suggest that the Modern Republic is “constantly” looking over the Irish Sea for guidance.

    Sure, I can understand why, I can understand wanting clear blue water from the UK given the history involved, but to suggest that people are actually doing the opposite must take some sort of prize for the Most Out of Context dig at Britain Award this year – beating narrowly into second place the recent suggestion I read on these boards that abusive practices in Irish Maternity Wards in the 60s were as a direct result of English Common Law and 2002’s classic idea that he left the Irish Squad as some sort sop to his English Paymasters at Man U.

  • fair_deal

    “Sorry, wasnt being cheeky. I try to remember, coffee first, blog second!”

    I didn’t think you were being cheeky and I am trying to give up coffee coca cola and chocolate at the minute (hence my bad mood this past week or so).

  • TAFKABO

    I know exactly what secularism means and I am aware that it was the (IMO) misguided application of secularist principles that exacerbated the isolation of one religious community from the rest of the country.

    What?

    What religious community is isolated from the rest of France?
    Go on, I’d love to hear you tell me, since I live here and can’t see any particular group that is isolated.

    And my point wasn’t that the irish constantly look to the British in order to emulate them, but that they constantly look to the British when wishing to make a comparison (for better or worse) with other European neighbours, and that perhaps they should really be looking at France on occasion. It wasn’t a negative point in relation to Ireland, the UK or France.

  • Martin

    Well, you may live in France, but here are two commentators (one European, one American) who would lend weight to my argument

    http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2006-05-03-kaya-en.html

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05192/536250.stm

    and one of indeterminate nationality…

    http://www.feminist.com/news/vaw12.html

  • Greenflag

    ‘When people think of the Catholic Church’s contribution to Ireland, they think of the violent abusive Christian Bros, the Magdalene laundries, paedophile scandals (and the associated perversion of the course of justice) and so on. ‘

    The above is the ‘dark side’ of the RC Church and ignores the long history of positives which the RC Church brought to Ireland particulary during the pre medieval period . The great monasteries and schools and centres of urban development . Education , writing , and connections with the Roman world etc etc .

    During the period of the Second Conquest (English 1550 through 1700) the RC Church supported the people in their resistance and during the aftermath of conquest as the native Irish were divested of their language , land and culture the RC Church kept the hopes of the people alive.

    So from that aspect the RC Church merits it’s role as an important part of Irish life as religious and social institution . Once Catholic Emancipation had been won in 1829 and the Church of Ireland disestablished in the 1860’s then the RC Church became largely an organisation , loyal to the status quo i.e Union and Empire and in particular the Irish RC Church was given permission to extend it’s missionary activities to all parts of the Empire .

    When you balance out the pluses and minuses of the RC Church’s contribution in Irish History I would say it’s overall a plus . The same can probably be said for the history of the other main Churches in these islands and elsewhere in Europe .

    The Normans imposed ‘romanisation’ on the Irish Church after the Norman conquest and gradually the Irish clergy were forced to adopt the practice of compulsory celibacy. This practice while beneficial to the Pope in Rome in financial terms, probably weakened Ireland in respect to the later struggle with non celebate English protestantism from the mid 16th century on.

    ‘The growth of modern religions such as the LDS church, or Scientology etc, give us an opportunity to explore how religions come into existence and take hold. The difference between these organizations and the more established religions can only be measured by time. ‘

    Scientology is not a religion -it’s science fiction run by con artists . The LDS seem to be at least from a ‘behavioural’ aspect decent enough people even if their foundation myth is ‘shaky’ .

    The major difference between so called modern religions and the older faiths (Christianity/Islam /Judaism etc etc is that the latter originated at a time when the vast majority of people were illiterate and where any form ‘democracy’ or ‘civil rights’ in the modern sense were for a tiny minority . In that sense once the Emperor became a Christian/Muslim there was no more to be said .

    Today’s world is different . One would think that given access to education , knowledge, science etc etc etc that people in today’s world would not fall for such obvious cons as Scientology etc etc . The Heaven’s Gate , Jonestown and Waco fanatics are the darkest examples in recent history of ‘mad’ cultist religions and testimony to the fact that there will never be a shortage of suckers who can be parted from their cash and in the latter cases their lives 🙁

    Christians who read their ‘Bible ‘ know that Moses not only brought down the Ten Commandments from the mountain but he also had ‘other ‘ rules for non Israelites .

    “And they warred against the Midianites and they slew all the males . And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captive and their little ones , and took the spoil of their cattle — and they burnt all their cities .

    When Moses learned that his soldiers had spared the women and children he was furious .

    ‘Now therefore kill every male among the little ones and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him . But all the women children that have not known a man you can keep alive for yourselves ‘

    Moses Old Testament Prophet and also genocide practitioner !

    Moses had a perfect excuse . They all do these ‘people ‘ who speak directly to God . God who told him to do it 🙁

    And the people of course believed . In the later Crusades and wars of religion in Europe /Spanish Inquisition/ Cromwell in Ireland / St Bartholomew’s Day massacre etc etc etc etc the genocidal example set by Moses was continued .

    And it continues in today’s world in the Middle East 🙁

    Before anyone jumps to conclusions that man’s inhumanity to man is all the fault of religion a word of caution . Nazism and Communism both godless and atheistic philosophies together terminated the lives of 100 million people probably 10 times more than all those ‘killed’ because they picked or had picked for them the ‘wrong’ God !

  • TAFKABO

    Martin.

    Finding a comment piece that supports your view is as difficult as finding a passage in the bible to support your argument, and worth about as much.

  • Martin

    TAFKABO

    Ok, we’ll just turn this into a slanging match with no supporting evidence whatsoever. Or would you prefer we conduct a joint sociological survey of the outer suburbs of Paris to settle the discussion? Next week suit?

    And I guess the events in this piece of reportage were simply the result of youthful high spirits…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4401670.stm

    The comments I posted were worth as much as either of our opinons and I would suggest more.

  • TAFKABO

    Martin.

    I have absolutely no desire to get into a slanging match with you.
    As it happens I am living in the very suburb the photo in your link above was taken in. I remember very well the lazy journalism and misreporting of events that took place, mostly in the anglophone media.

    But even with that, I fail to see the relevance between the link you just provided and your contention that one religious community is isolated in France.
    Which isolated religious community is mentioned in that report?
    Which isolated religious community was responsible for the violence?
    Please tell me more about this isolation, because as I say, I live in one of the very suburbs mentioned, with neighbours of all races and creeds, and I sure as hell can’t see any isolation.

    Maybe living here and getting on with my neighbours has impaired my judgement and I need to start seeing tings from the perspective of a hostile media with an agenda?

    Do you think?

  • andy

    Greenflag
    I agree with a fair bit of what you say – but can you think of any positive contributions to Ireland that the RC Church has made inthe past 100 years?

  • Miss Fitz

    Coffee, coke and chocolate?

    Didn’t know it was Lent

  • Rory

    I do not feel, despite my years, really qualified to quietly comment on this matter with any appearance of reasonable objectivity and that is why I choose rather to speak of all those seeming contradictions, that the topic throws up, in my earlier post.

    Greenflag’s riposte to my (reported) anecdote of the man seeking spiritual solace from a CoE vicar rang so true and highlighted the different levels of development of church and state in Ireland and England. (I will not here attempt to emulate Engels and take rhis further, you will all be glad to know).

    TAFKABO’s contributions warmed ny heart most in that what he said of France and how it treats religion (and perhaps more importantly religions) and state most coincides with my understanding.

    It was La Republique that inspired Wolfe Tone and. for all its faults, I would have it inspire Ireland today.

    The young poet, Rimbaud, got himself in hot water (please, no comparisons with Boris Johnson) for scrawling “Merde a les pretres” (stick in your own circumflex if you must) on his hometown church wall before running off to Paris just in time for the uprising of the communards.

    The problem with Catholic Ireland was, I say, that the revolutionaries shied away from taking on, not the power of the Church, (some were willing to shoot the odd bishop pour encourager les autres and all that) but rather the kindness, support and real christian charity and fearless extension of comfort that was so often administered to their flock by good committed priests.

    The experience of Mexico during what Graham Greene called in his travelogue “” and novelised as “The Power and the Glory” (later filmed by John Ford as “The Fugitive” with Henry Fonda, Thomas Gomez and Dorothy del Rio) suggests to us something of these compelling contradictions in a different land, yet with some similarity.

    To my mind the separation of religion and state is needed to minimise the potential for absolute tyranny. That will not minimise corruption nor the drive towards despotism (witness the US in recent times) but it does allow at least the opportunity for the citizenry to have a breather, a little time for reflection before the rush to madness. Meantime the good guys better be getting their forces together for, if not, they will be lucky to grab their toothbrushes before they are taken away.

  • Harry Flashman

    Rory

    The mindset of Communists always amazes me, they talk so intellectually yet seem incapable of seeing the vast mountains of bullsh!t that are fundamentally inherent in their positions. The above post serves as a case in point.

    The French Revolution, as did the Russian Revolution led directly to mass slaughter, terror and tyranny, these are accepted as concrete historical facts yet for Commies they elicit a tear of fond remembrance. The American and English revolutions led to increased liberties and the creation of the most free societies in human history, yet you would have us return to guillotines and gulags.

    Your comment “the drive towards despotism (witness the the US in recent times)” wins the Most Ludicrous Example of Bush Derangement Syndrome on Slugger O Toole Prize for this week.

  • Dave

    That is a new concept being pushed forward “Irish Catholic” and not “Roman Catholic”.

    When I was a little younger, my Roman Catholic friends were every proud of the fact that they were Roman Catholics.

    As for Irish Catholics being independent, that is a load of nonsense.

    “Less than 200 years ago, Catholics in Ireland won religious emancipation and it was Catholic based religious who stepped up to the mark in terms of providing an education to the masses who would never have found opportunity without their commitment.”

    Was this not the problem, their teachings? About everyone else being heretics?

    Today proper and truthful education has been the down fall of the priesthood.

    In conclusion I would agree that today that Irish Catholics are independent and that Irish Catholics just that and are no longer defined as Roman Catholics.

    All that is needed now is for Roman Catholic signs to be taken down from Irish Catholic schools, isn’t it?

  • Martin

    TAFKABO

    I don’t live in France anymore but I very much doubt that in the 7 years since I did it has turned into the paradise of racial and religious harmony you paint.

    As for an Anglophone press “agenda” I would suggest you read this by Françoise Lazare, reporter with Le Monde in Paris, who said of the French reporting of the riots that the domiestic press reported the underlying causes of the events, which largely support my argument, than the sensationalist coverage of burnt cars the foreign press provided.

    But once the riots broke out, several newspapers, radio and TV reports focused on the poor level of education and the high number of students who drop out of school, a situation that has contributed to an astonishing 60 percent youth unemployment rate in some suburbs. As they worked to report this story, journalists struggled with language problems. Not only do many of these immigrant families not speak French, but the teenagers have developed their own way of talking, using an odd French-Arabic slang and inverting syllables of French words. Nor was it easy for journalists to avoid reverting to “war” vocabulary, especially at a time when it is so much in use in the international debate about Iraq. In addition, those in the press had to figure out how to use some of the inopportune remarks made by politicians. For example, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French minister of homeland security, spoke about the need to clean out the affected suburbs using a high-pressure water machine and referred to rioters as “rabble.

    It was quite frustrating for members of the French press to receive much general foreign criticism about their country and its news media, given that many journalists felt they were covering the issue of the urban violence in greater depth. For sure, if more journalistic attention to specific suburban and immigrant issues could be paid in daily news coverage — rather than addressing them in the midst of violent outbursts — that would likely be a good thing for the future of French society.

    http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/06-1NRspring/p37-0601-lazare.html

    The French press admit there is a problem and are looking for ways to fix it – the final paragraph suggests that many in the press saw it as some sort of catalyst for change. But they admit change to be necessary.

    So when even the French press is reporting a Muslim community so isolated it is developing its own language where exactly is your Anglophone “agenda” save for the Anglophobic conspiracy theories of your own imagination.

    I do not wich to come accross as unduly harsh on France, all Europe (including Britain) have exactly the same problems, but it is a farce to suggest that France should be held up as some sort of beacon of religious tolerance when even the French Press appear to concede there are huge problems, that may or may not stem from the republican model in France, that need to be fixed.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I know exactly what secularism means and I am aware that it was the (IMO) misguided application of secularist principles that exacerbated the isolation of one religious community from the rest of the country.

    Nonsense. People adorn themselves with religious symbols out of choice. That said, I do wonder if French kids are allowed to go into school with ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday ?

    Flashman :

    The American and English revolutions led to increased liberties and the creation of the most free societies in human history,

    Jim Crow … native Americans..

    Weird revisionism where Americans and the British are portrayed as revolutionary soulmates, and the French and Russians as enemies, when the Americans cowered behind the French for help during their own revolution, and gave you a big statue too.

  • Greenflag

    Andy,

    ‘ but can you think of any positive contributions to Ireland that the RC Church has made inthe past 100 years? ‘

    The 100 years 1870 through 1970 will from a future perspective be seen as the RC Church’s most ‘powerful’ historical period. At the beginning of this period the RC Church became ‘triumphant’ in Ireland with the demise of COI as the established Church .

    As the ‘new’ established Church the leaders of Roman Catholicism in Ireland quickly moved to copperfasten their grip on the people . Remember the 19th century in the aftermath of the French Revolution was a period in which anti clericalism became popular in France and other parts of Europe . There was also the rise of ‘nationalism’ in Italy and Germany and elsewhere . Communism was being ‘conceived’ in England by Karl Marx who was ‘revolted’ by the living and working conditions of the British proletariat.

    The RC Church used it’s power and influence to combat any trend in Ireland towards ‘socialism’ and or ‘communism’. The RC Church was an ages old supporter of ‘monarchy’ -the divine right of kings etc. Thus it’s hierarchy’s support of the Union and the Church’s antipathy to ‘republicanism’ etc .

    In the end however the RC Church lost out to the Irish desire for national independence . As Home Rule became popular the Church moved to that ‘political’ position as being the least harmful from an RC perspective. Eventually the RC Church had to accept ‘Irish ‘ Republicanism’s takeover in 1932 when Dev led FF to power. As late as 1966 however the RC church opposed ‘free education’ for secondary education in Ireland fearing it would lead to a loss of control over education .

    In the one hundred years 1870 through 1970 the RC Church showed it’s adaptability in weaving it’s way from being pro Union to being seen as almost a co- partner’ in the running of the Irish State . Since then there has been a decline in the Church’s influence on the Irish State . There are many reasons for this but I’ll mention only one . Power they say corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely .Catholicism in Ireland – Unionism in NI – Communism in Russia -Fascism in Germany /Italy/Spain all had to a greater or lesser extent abused the power they sought and won .

    At the end of the day ‘human’ nature triumphs over those who try to deny it or more accurately try to rewrite it (human nature) in the guise of some all encompassing political or religious philosophy)

  • TAFKABO

    Martin.

    I don’t think I have said that France is a paradise without problems. The riots themselves are proof of that, but what I am saying is that the problems are not caused by religious intolerance or one community being isolated from the rest of society. The problems are the age old problems of all societies, namely poverty and inequality of opportunity, not confined to one group.

    It took you a few posts before you finally said the word Muslim, but you came out with it eventually. The riots were not “Muslim riots”, nor were they the result of just Muslims rioting, but were in fact Muslim, Christian and other religions, all disaffected young people, all colours, standing side by side and protesting against brutality from the state forces.

    The only input from estblished Muslim leaders was when they papers started saying that the riots were “Muslim” riots and they came out to issue pronouncements saying that no true Muslim would be involved in the violence (funny how that never gets quite the same coverage in the press).

    Rather than being a call for an isolated comunity, the exact opposite was the case in that the majority of those rioting were demanding the same opportunities to be included in the system as those in richer areas were afforded.

    Comrade Stalin

    Of course someone would be allowed to have ash on their forehead, just as I taught kids who wore turbans or crosses around their necks.

    It is when some parents wanted their children to have their faces completely covered that it becomes a problem, both with Teachers being unable to identify pupils properly, and in some secondary schools, young men harrasing those girls who weren’t completely covered, calling them whores etc…

  • Greenflag

    The Americans , Russians, French and Irish had violent Revolutions . The British did’nt .

    There are many reasons why ‘societies’ everywhere and throughout history have ‘revolutions ‘ .

    Whether those Revolutions ultimately lead to even more tyranny than what they replaced is IMO often related to the degree of ‘tyranny ‘ exercised by the governing authorities in the pre revolutionary period .

    Of the revolutions mentioned above one which stands out is the Russian . The French guillotine finally petered out when it’s earliest supporter Robespierre had a very personal experience of it’s efficacy. The American and Irish revolutions quickly adopted written constitutions guaranteeing civil and religious liberties and limits to Government power over individuals .

    Russia’s communists quickly succumbed to Stalin’s terror . Many of the leading Russian communists feared Stalin . They were proved right as later history proved .

    In this respect Stalin was a direct replacement of the Tsar’s . Russians had become ‘used’ to despotic Tsarist rule and while Russia was undergoing some movement towards democracy the vast majority of Russians in the early 2oth century were virtually ‘serfs’ in the medieval sense .

    Without World War 1 Russia might well have progressed to the ‘democratic’ model a la USA or Britain .

    Britain had mass movements for Reform in the mid 19th century . The British succeeded in staving off a local revolution for several reasons . One was they had already put an end to the absolute power of their monarchy (Cromwell’s Revolution) and had a small measure of democracy. Also the British Empire was able to siphon off around the world the millions of British and Irish who would have probably supported such a revolution .

  • Comrade Stalin

    Greenflag, you may be a bourgeois hireling of the fascist counter-revolutionary schism. In the old days I’d have packed you right off to Siberia on ice-pick detail.

  • Greenflag

    Comrade Stalin ,

    Whatever happened to Comrade Rubashov? Have a read of Arthur Koestler’s ‘Darkness at Noon ‘ to find out . PS it did’nt end in ice pick detail .

  • Occasional Commentator

    the alternatives of secularism and consumerism offer Irishness little.

    A straw man argument. Secularists don’t necessarily like consumerism. Who would fight for a secular republic just so that people can own big widescreen TVs?

  • TAFKABO

    Who would fight for a secular republic just so that people can own big widescreen TVs?

    Uh, me…

    Surely we all aspire to an society where people are affluent?

  • garibaldy

    Greenflag,

    Not sure how you can say that British didn’t have a violent revolution and mention Cromwell in the same post.

    As for Harry’s points about France and Russia. Counter-revolutionqry violent opposition was what sparked the violence, and foreign involvement and threats. That’s why Robespierre moved from wanting the abolition of the death penalty during the first phase of the Revolution to being in chqrge of the Terror. The Americzns were less than civil to loyalists while we’re at it.

  • Occasional Commentator

    TAFKABO,
    I want everyone to be affluent, and I’m not saying that I want to ban big TVs. But I am saying that there are plenty of uses money can be put to, and that it’s a bit rich (no pun intended) of anti-secularists to presume they would put the wealth and energy of the people to better use than the secularists.

    By all means argue about secularism and theocracies et cetera, but consumerism is unrelated. Some of the more extravagant forms of consumerism, where people buy tat because of a brand name or think less of people based on the brands they choose or avoid, are to be seen amongst religious people too.

    The fact that lots of people go shopping on Sunday instead of to church is almost irrelevant. Just as many people might go for a walk. They might do some community or charity work of some sort. They might tidy up the house.

    The church shouldn’t think that they are fighting against some sort of evil decadent laziness – to do so is just looking for an excuse for their own failure to engage people. Those that don’t go to church have constructive things to do as well. That’s why I said it was a straw man argument to link secularism to consumerism and attack consumerism.

  • Greenflag

    Garibaldy -Are you suggesting that if there had been no counter revolutionary violence then the French /Russian /American ‘revolutions would have been ‘peaceful’ transitions to ‘democracy ‘?

    I have me doubts . I happen to believe that when conditions -economic /social/political no longer make sense /or deliver for the majority or even to a large minority then revolution is on the way .Human nature being what it is i.e the same – for revolutionaries as well as counter revolutionaries and defenders of the status quo – violence is almost a given . The extent of the violence can be mitigated or increased by the particular conditions of ‘tyranny’ prevailing in the pre revolutionary period .

    I take your point re Cromwell’s ‘revolution’. Cromwell’s revolt was based on the restoration of God’s rule following the debauchery, licentiousness and pig headed absolutism of the monarchy of the day. God may have been part of the American and Irish revolutions but if so played only a minor supporting role. The Russian Revolution cast God to the sidelines and the French revolutionaries were decidedly anti clerical .

    As for the leaders of these revolutions ? Robespierre lost his head and the revolution deteriorated into Napoleonic imperialism . Stalin was suffocated by a pillow by his fearful colleagues and some 60 million Russians and other nationalities perished under communism . Cromwell’s ‘rule of God ‘ lasted 10 years ? and 2 years after his death after the Restoration his corpse was disinterred , tried for regicide and his head used as a football by the mob !

    George Washington turned down the offer of Kingship and retired to a respected and honoured place as one of the founding fathers of modern democracy . Ireland’s revolutionaries at least those who survived the Troubles resumed ‘ordinary life’ and many lived long enough to see the dream come true.

    ‘The Americans were less than civil to loyalists while we’re at it.’

    True . What would you expect ?

    Revolutions /Civil Wars /Wars bring out the best and worst in people -everywhere . Best to avoid them if possible . As it’s part of human nature to defend what we perceive we have or is our right to have and as long as men strive to rule over others -war is wired into our nature it seems.

    A

  • Comrade Stalin

    Stalin was suffocated by a pillow by his fearful colleagues and some 60 million Russians and other nationalities perished under communism

    You’re well out of date there. Stalin had some kind of stroke and suffocated to death by himself, no pillow was involved. Recent findings suggest an inordinately large amount of warfarin was in his blood, and there are some suggestions that had medical treatment been administered sooner (the best doctors were being tortured vis. the Doctor’s Plot) he might have survived.

  • garibaldy

    Greenflag,

    Certainly the first several years of the French Revolution suggest that without counter-revolutionary violence, and threats of violence, there would have been nothing like the massive violence that was to follow. Perhaps as few as 6 people lost their lives in 1789.

    People will fight for what they have, unless you can persuade them by some means it would be futile.

  • Greenflag

    Stalin was a paranoid megalomaniac. After his hours long monotonous speeches at Party Congresses the delegates stood for twenty minutes giveing him a standing ovation. Delegates were terrified to be seen to stop clapping for fear they would be marked out as insufficiently loyal and end up with a bullet in the head courtesy of Comrade Beria or be dispatched to Siberia .

    At a Communist Party meeeting during Stalin’s time after an uplifting speech by the Party Secretary , Comrade Rabinovich asks:

    ‘If everything is so good , why is everything so bad ?’

    At the next Party meeting , after a similar such speech another comrade raises his hand and asks :

    ‘If everything is so good , where is Comrade Rabinovitch ?’

  • Greenflag

    ‘People will fight for what they have, unless you can persuade them by some means it would be futile.’

    Not necessarily . Even if you persuade them that it’s futile some will still fight for what they believe is right .(The 1916 Rising’s leaders) as just one example. People will also fight for what they haven’t got . The right to vote /freedom / national independence/ religious freedom etc etc etc .

    It’s part of being human . We can’t escape that simple fact of our nature.

  • Harry Flashman

    Comrade Stalin

    When did the French give me a big statue and where can I pick it up?

    Garibaldy

    Ah yes those pesky “counter-revolutionaries” crop up everywhere you know, need to keep an eye on them, slaughter millions of them that usually does the trick, ask Mao or Stalin or Pol Pot, they’ll tell you, you’ll never create your workers’ paradise unless you’ve murdered at the very least a million men, women and children, but don’t worry they’re only “counter-revolutionaries”, after they’re dead the people will be forever happy, and if they aren’t well we can always murder them too!

  • Greenflag

    Harry,

    ‘after they’re dead the people will be forever happy, and if they aren’t well we can always murder them too! ‘

    Soviet Union 1932 – Ukraine est 2 to 3 million died of starvation as a result of Communist ‘farm ‘collectivisation .

    China 1969 -Southern provinces – est 30 million died due to crop failure . The ‘humane’ Chinese Communist authorities turned down offers of food aid from the Americans . Apparently nobody starves under Communism .

    North Korea 2000 -2003 – An estimated 2 to 3 million people have died from famine and diseases brought about by malnutrition .

    Robert Mugabe claims that his economic policies are based on Marxist Leninist Scientific Socialism . No wonder half the Zimbabwean population is on the brink of starvation 🙁

  • garibaldy

    Harry,

    Like it or lump it, but the facts are that in almost every situation where major societal change or revolution is about to happen or is happening, its opponents react violently, and get a violent response in turn. I missed Chile from your list, and other places where there have been successful and brutal counter-revolutions. Even more recently, and in the full glare of international opinion, such was attempted in Venezuela. Chavez dissuaded them by threatening to arm the masses, and they fled to their Yankee backers.

    Greenflag,

    Let’s not forget the US threatened the Japanese and South Koreans about the amount of aid they were giving the DPRK. That was an act of political genocide if ever I’ve seen one, and again, hardly a peep.

  • Greenflag

    Garibaldy,

    When a Communist Goverment as in North Korea spends it’s resources on developing inter continental ballistic missiles and maintaining the second largest army in Asia while milions of it’s people are starving then who is responsible for the ‘genocide ‘

    Obviously from your point of view not the North Korean Dear Leader Kim Il Sung 2 son and heir of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung 1 .

    Yes it must be those ‘nasty ‘ Americans .

    Take off the blinkers Red Shirt .

  • Harry Flashman

    Garibaldy

    Yes, that damn counter revolution that was called off in Venezuela, was it going to be a big show then? Must have been, after all it would take that to overthrow Hugo Loco, glad he armed the masses, oh he didn’t actually arm them did he? Just threatened to, hmmm, I see, bit confusing that, Communist governments aren’t usually very comfortable when the masses have guns, you know they might get ideas above their station and decide that they didn’t like the guy in charge after all. Always best to ensure only your army and your secret policemen have guns when you’re a Communist. You don’t mind if I call bullshit on your counter revolution theory re Venezuela do you.

    Oh Chile? What three thousand murdered in the opening stages and then twenty years of economic stability followed by a peaceful transfer of government to democratic rule? Just exactly the same as Cuba then, well except for the twenty years of economic stability and the peaceful transfer to democratic rule bit, how many thousand did Fidel and Che murder again (and let’s not mention the Sandinista genocides in Nicaragua)? Still those Latin American boyos were tuppence ha’penny players compared to Pol Pot, Caucescu, Hoxa, the Kims part 1 & 2, The Chairman, Uncle Jo and Uncle Ho and all the other grisly saviours of the working classes.

    I’m no friend of despots Garibaldy, be they socialists of the national or international variety, or just plain ol’ Latino hard men. I’m a big fan of liberal democracy you see, you know boring old stuff like democratic elections, free markets, free presses, liberal markets, independent judiciaries, stuff like that. So I have no shame in supporting my political creed and don’t have inconvenient mountains of murdered men, women and children to make excuses about.

  • Fergus D

    “So from that aspect the RC Church merits it’s role as an important part of Irish life as religious and social institution . Once Catholic Emancipation had been won in 1829 and the Church of Ireland disestablished in the 1860’s then the RC Church became largely an organisation , loyal to the status quo i.e Union and Empire and in particular the Irish RC Church was given permission to extend it’s missionary activities to all parts of the Empire ”

    Isn’t this an example of the RC church’s opportunism? It was agianst English/British rule in Ireland when that rule was bad for the RC church. This was all baout the Protestant-Catholic struggle across Europe. And sometimes it was just about power struggles with little ideology (the Pope supported William of Orange aganist Catholic James II). Priests on the ground may have acted differently – I don’t know, but the role of the RC church in “supporting” the (catholic) Irish seems to have been a complex and murky business.

    Overall, I think the catholic influence on Ireland has been very negative. Sometime I wish Ireland had warmed to the reformation. There were progresive aspects to protestantism *then* – much more democratic, opened the doors ro lts of new ideas (anyone read “the World Turned Upside Down” by Christopher Hill?). And it would hav etaken the religious conflict out of the relationship between Britain and Ireland. Kind of interesting to speculate how things might have been different.

  • Fergus D

    It really gets my goat when catholicism is merged with an Irish identity – surely a big problem with respect to a UI?

    When I was in my mid-20s I had an operation on my nose (for polyps – mushrooms in your snozzle – yeugh!). Sitting in my jim-jams in a ward in Birmingham’s QE II hospital I was visited by a catholic priest (Irish – natch). He had me cornered, I had avoided his type very effectively for the previous 5-6 years. He told me he had noted that on my medical records (how did he get to see those?) I had indicated my religion as “none”, but surely he said, with a name like mine that couldn’t be true?

    I was so mad, for so many reasons, I was vertually speechless with rage. Apparently, for him, religion isn’t something you beleive (or not?) because you’ve thought about it but it’s somehow an automatic result of your “ethnic” background (hum..maybe he had a point, but not in my case!).

    If I spelt my surname with a c in it, would he have assumed I was a Prod!

  • Greenflag

    ‘Isn’t this an example of the RC church’s opportunism? ‘

    You could see it like that . Others might see it as ‘flexible adaptation’ in the light of s changing political environment . The RC Church is a 2000 year old institution after all . But there is’nt a political or religious institution on earth that has not resorted to complex and murky ‘businesses’ in order to prolong it’s existence or justify it’s raison’d’etre.

    ‘Sometimes I wish Ireland had warmed to the reformation. ‘

    Could have happened if England had remained Catholic . The timing of the Reformation happened at an inopportune time as it arose at the very beginning of the Second Conquest (1550 -1690).

    ‘Overall, I think the catholic influence on Ireland has been very negative.’

    It’s still too early to say 🙂

    ‘There were progresive aspects to protestantism *then* – much more democratic, opened the doors ro lts of new ideas (anyone read “the World Turned Upside Down” by Christopher Hill?). ‘

    I agree . Unfortunately the time to embrace your neighbour’s new religion is not when that neighbour is encroaching on your territory in his first attempt at empire building .

    Nowadays if you listen to ranting televangelists preaching the end of the world and fundamentalists like Paisley and his ilk threatening fire and brimstone for all Roman (and particulary Irish Catholics) it makes one wonder whatever supposed connection there was between Reformed Protestantism and the Enlightenment has long since ceased to exist 🙁

    ‘And it would have taken the religious conflict out of the relationship between Britain and Ireland. ‘

    Yes but that would not necessarily have removed political ‘conflict’ . Spain, France , Italy were all Catholic States . They appear not to have allowed similarity of religion stop them from having several wars between and amongst each other. In modern times Iraq and Iran both devout Islamic countries have had a simlar experience .

    ‘Kind of interesting to speculate how things might have been different. ‘

    Plus ca change plus c’est le meme chose .When the wolf wants to devour the lamb an excuse will be found .

  • Greenflag

    ‘I was so mad, for so many reasons, I was vertually speechless with rage.’

    Wrong approach -Never get mad just get even 🙂 In your boots I’d have told him the reason I had no religion was because my father was an ex cistercian monk and my mother had been a Mother Superior in the Ursuline convent and that the former was now in jail for other offences and the lattter was now a lay preacher in the church of the Pink Flamingo in Reno Nevada . He might even have left you in peace with your polyps without as much as a god bless you my son 🙂

    When Jehovah’s Witnesses call and try to persuade me that some day the lion will lie down with the lamb -I always agree that this will certainly happen as long as it’s a new lamb every day .

    BTW -The vast majority of RC priests and Protestant Ministers are good people trying to do the best they can . I’m sure they do a lot of good for a lot of people who need spiritual comfort and can only find it from that source .

  • Fergus D

    Greenflag posted

    “Nowadays if you listen to ranting televangelists preaching the end of the world and fundamentalists like Paisley and his ilk threatening fire and brimstone for all Roman (and particulary Irish Catholics) it makes one wonder whatever supposed connection there was between Reformed Protestantism and the Enlightenment has long since ceased to exist 🙁 ”

    Agreed, the days of protestant, indeed any religion, being progressive are, IMHO, well gone. In fact, some forms of protestantism became more repressive and obscurantist than catholicism. Even today it tends to be protestant sects who are vociferously opposed to evolutionary theory, rather than the Pope (the present one is somewhat circumspect on that issue. But maybe they’ve learnt from history. I suppose Popes got their fingers burnt threatening to burn Gallileo!).

    Nope, at the end of the day all religion is obscurantist. This doesn’t mean I don’t agree there is a problem with today’s materialist ( as in greed) culture (a theme in the original post on this thread). Faith in religion has been lost by the great mass of people in Europe (good thing too) but I think the majority still feel there should be more to life than the “selfish” pursuit of materialst gain. Indeed, we have more pressing needs than plasma screen TVs – like saving the planet from disastrous climate change. Religion can’t help with that, science, technology and politics can.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Faith in religion has been lost by the great mass of people in Europe (good thing too) but I think the majority still feel there should be more to life than the “selfish” pursuit of materialst gain. ‘

    People are individuals . We all share similiar drives but in different proportions . At one extreme are the extremely selfish individuals interested only in personal advancement be it in the form of money , power etc . At the other extreme are the Mother Theresas and those who eschew the material world for the spiritual . Then there are those who want to save the planet – that old time messianic feeling – even if this means telling 2 billion Chinese and Indians that ‘sorry lads ‘ you can’t have what we have because there isn’t enough oil/water/land/natural resources etc etc .

    In between lie the vast majority of people who are probably more in ‘balance’ with their human natures . That nature drives us to acquire as much as we can while at the same time not going to extremes which would cut us off from our other human needs -i.e those that bind family/friends/community /nation /culture etc etc .

    Religion or should I say a religious sense often helps to provide that balance for many individuals . It seems we are ‘wired’ to believe or to want to believe in something greater than ourselves . For some people ‘science ‘ provides that other ‘greater’.

    Politics may or may not provide the answers. If a society ends up with the wrong politics either by choice, by default or as a result of war or conquest or ideology then the ‘answers’ will lead to increased human misery . Nazism and Communism just to mention two examples . Both of these ‘messianic’ philosophies purported to be the be all and end all of human nature /achievement etc etc . We know only two well what they delivered .

    Science and technology can provide many of the answers . They can also provide even more questions which result from their impact on the world . Pre 1945 humanity worldwide did not fear a nuclear holocaust wiping out civilisation.

    More to life than selfish pursuit of material gain ?

    I agree . But there is also more to life than the selfless non pursuit of material gain 🙂