Paisley and forgiveness

Language and its use are of course vitally important in politics. Variations in how people use language are often instructive. The change in language by the DUP has of course been breath taking. I can well remember people like Ian Paisley saying “Never” and William McCrea telling us that forgiveness can and should only be granted if people repent of their past wrong doings. This is inspired by a religious position common amongst fundamentalists. In this context the recent remarks by Dr. Paisley in the debate on victims with him apparently replying to Naomi Long that he hoped people would be “soft enough to forgive, but wise enough not to be taken in” are very surprising and instructive. To suggest victims forgive without the repentance of the perpetrators (if that is what Paisley is suggesting) is an interesting new departure in Paisley’s ethical analysis, and seems to suggest a very different world view to that which Paisley used to hold. Unless that is Paisley now regards Adams’s self proclaimed “regret” over these actions as constituting real repentance. That also would be an interesting new position for him; one which not all the victims and their relatives would agree with. Of course the second part of the sentence is also interesting; is Paisley wise enough not to be taken in? Again that suggestion will probably produce very different opinions.

  • steve48

    Of course as comments below point out forgiveness
    is only for those you share your office with and not your constitutional outlook

    Stormont 4th Feb 2008
    D. Burnside
    Will the First Minister at least stand firm by saying to the House that there is no equivalence between the victims of the terrorist insurrection and those who perpetrated it over the past 40 years?

    Ian Paisley
    Looking at the man who asked the question and looking into his past, I think that he would be better keeping his mouth closed on that issue.

    One wonders now just how closely we can look at Paisley’s past and some of the activities that were happening in Northern Ireland during the mid-late 1960’s.

  • Ignited

    Consistency is not exactly Paisley’s strong point at the minute. It also strikes me as similar to sentiments expressed by Adams – “don’t worry about the past lets just move on” – to deflect questions over HET etc. One of the basic tenets of Paisleys faith is only through repentence can forgiveness be found.

    This type of talk is very similar to the South African truth commission model of thinking – encouraging people to forgive when they are told, in detail, the act of gross violence that resulted in death; told to forgive because things had to move on. It was not about justice (as amnesty was granted) and the nature of the ‘truth’ that came out of it has been debated.

    I hope it does not go down that direction here.

  • red branch

    paisley has completely lost the plot. While I never followed his brand of politics or religion many did. His current actions and statements simply prove, either he has seen the errors of his ways, or he only previously held those hardline positions to gain power or he has acquiesed in his new position.

    We shouldn’t forget that Ian paisley recently took part in an ecumenical service (my and everybody else definition). This from the man who protested outside the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church year in year out because certain liberals of that church did the same!

    Consistency was and is not now his strong point but the question I want to ask, with him rejecting so many of his previous views surely his conversion at St Andrews has made his past 40 years a nonsense.

  • interested

    Another theological analysis?

    Didn’t think Chairman Jim was a fan of too much of the religious aspect. But I suppose he has to keep Roy Gillespie and co on board….

  • At the risk of sounding like a Protestant (I’m not even a christian!), perhaps Paisley has created political space for himself by deciding that a politician’s pragmatic need to achieve temporal aims (non-violence) preclude public statements, and that it is presumptuous to assume that they wouldn’t have made a private penance?

  • John East Belfast

    Turgon you raise some very important issues.

    I always interpreted Paisley’s opposition to the Belfast Agreement as being founded in his fundamentalist biblical interpretation of Forgiveness only being followed by Repentance.

    Indeed at the time of the Enniskillen bombing I heard him say just that when he was quizzed on his reaction to the forgiveness being expressed by Mr Wilson who had lost his daughter.

    Paisley was Black and White – you either destroy your enemy or they come on bended knee in sack cloth and ashes.
    Cease fires, even disbandment would not have been enough to share with them in Government.

    This appeared to be his view his entire political life and most significantly in his rabid opposition to the post 1997 UUP position.

    There must be some very disillusioned followers out there who listened to his nonsense in so many spheres over the years.

    In terms of saying sorry and receiving forgiveness IMHO he should be top of the guilty queue for both – perhaps as he prepares to meet his maker he has recognised that himself.

    Although my view is he simply wants a combination of power and also, before it is too late, be remembered in history in a more favourable light than he deserves.

    A truly awful man with a lot to answer for

  • The Dubliner

    I think that if someone exhibits behaviour associated with being a sociopath (and 3.6 percent of the population are sociopaths), then there is a strong probability that that person is a sociopath. And if that person is a sociopath, then, in addition to having complete disregard for the rights, feelings, or safety of others, they are devoid of a conscience and, ergo, devoid of the capacity to repent for transgressions. That is where science beats theology: not all ‘sinners’ can repent. Paisley is most certainly a sociopath – just like Adams and Paisley’s fellow Chuckle Brother, McGuinness.

  • Greenflag

    ‘surely his conversion at St Andrews has made his past 40 years a nonsense.’

    Not at all . Its the abnormal role of religion in politics in Northern Ireland that has given rise to this situation. Given the nature of and the demands of political life in a ‘developing’ democracy such as NI – people who are ‘religious ‘ be they fundamentalist protestants or catholics end up having to ‘renege’ on their principles or water down their beliefs etc or risk losing the limited power they have won . Worse than that is the risk of a deeply divided sectarian society such as NI returning to widespread conflict.

    Paisley is being pragmatic . That’s what NI needs . One sympathises with all the victims and their families but life does go on . Those who oppose Paisley based on the latter reneging on his ‘former’ principles have a point but that’s all they have -that and sad memories .

    Politics as we all know can be /is a dirty business . Was’nt it Jesus Christ who said ‘render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s ? Sounds to me like a cast iron case for keeping religion out of politics. It’s not good for politics and it’s even worse for religion and the truly devout religiously minded people of all denominations .

  • Dr Strangelove

    Stevie 48 –
    ” Ian Paisley
    Looking at the man who asked the question and looking into his past, I think that he would be better keeping his mouth closed on that issue. ”

    What has David Burnside done in his past to warrant that statement from Paisley. Has Burnside a bit of the Willie McCrea about him when it comes to Loyalist paramilitaries ?

  • red branch

    greenflag

    Thats the difference between politics and religion, pragmatism is available in politics not religion. Paisley portrayed all his campaigns as part religious part political therefore its up to the observer by which standard they wish to judge him.

    You seem to have taken the political standard therefore pragmatism is acceptable.

    Paisley never gave his opponents that luxury, he always judged them religiously, – Molyneaux being Judas etc. So he can expect to be judged the same way.

    In that light he fails

  • steve8

    Dr Strangelove

    Certainly didn’t think that Burnsides past had any skeletons that would warrent such a statement.

    However if the Big man can raise such issues in this manner then why does he allow Martin Maguiness to answer questions in the chamber on victims issues. Has Ian forgiven Martin?

  • Greenflag

    ‘Paisley is most certainly a sociopath – just like Adams and Paisley’s fellow Chuckle Brother, McGuinness. ‘

    Reaching the top in NI politics requires talents of a kind which can best be developed in a divided society . I suppose it’s possible to mistake those ‘talents’ for sociopathy in an environment like NI .

    That is where science beats theology: not all ‘sinners’ can repent.

    True . Unfortunately neither of the three sfaik have ‘scientific ‘ qualifications .

    But they do all go to church. They all believe in a God. And presumably they all believe in a heaven and hell and some perhaps even a limbo and purgatory. God one presumes would forgive ‘sociopaths’ because they are his ‘natural’ creation and can’t be other than what they are. You might as well not forgive a lion for eating a lamb !

    Paisley’s perceived strong anti catholic- anti republican stance probably kept a lot of fearful protestants in his political ambit, who might otherwise have joined the ‘gunmen’ and thus provoked even more retaliation from armed republicans .

    Northern Ireland can consider itself ‘lucky’ . The troubles should not have happened, but given that they did Northern Ireland should consider itself lucky that they were not a whole lot worse -IMO.

    I prefer the present ‘principleless’ Paisley to the earlier ‘black and white ‘ version .

  • The Dubliner

    I think it’s a bit dodgey to try to make a virtue out of someone lacking principles or moral character by claiming that degeneracy is an advantage in politics and public life. Pragmatism isn’t a licence to do whatever you want as long as you can get away with it or get something out of it. If people think it that sociopathy is a requirement for doing the job, is it any wonder they elect sociopaths? Geez, try electing folks of quality to rule over you and you just might start to see the results in your society.

  • Dec

    Certainly didn’t think that Burnsides past had any skeletons that would warrent such a statement.

    Didn’t Burnside offer his services, in a PR capacity, to the UDA in the 70s ( a legal organisation at the time) but later withdrew his offer when the money wasn’t right?

  • flaminglip

    Paisley was in a no-win situation it seems, damned by commentators if he went into power-sharing, likely damned if he didn’t.

  • The Dubliner

    Dec, I may be erring in memory, but I think Burnside’s dubious past relates to Vanguard – something he has in common with Trimble.

    By the way, given that the State has a history of murdering its own citizens, I’d be more inclined to elect people of unimpeachable integrity to public office rather than unmitigated scoundrels. 😉

  • Greenflag

    ‘Thats the difference between politics and religion, pragmatism is available in politics not religion. ‘

    Eventually even organised religions have to become ‘pragmatic’ if they are to function . Sooner or later when their credos or beliefs are contradicted by scientific discoveries – religions find a way to accept the new ‘truth’ . The RC’s adventure with ‘evolution’ being only one example .

    ‘ if the Paisley portrayed all his campaigns as part religious part political therefore its up to the observer by which standard they wish to judge him. ‘

    True .In the highly charged politico/religious environment that was/is Northern Ireland would it have been ‘productive’ of Paisley to campaign in any other way and hope to be successful ? As it was it ook him almost 40 years to get to FM.

    ‘You seem to have taken the political standard therefore pragmatism is acceptable.’

    True . If it works don’t break it . If it’s not working fix it . People are people . We all make mistakes . Some of us grow up and mature faster than others and some of us never learn . People resent/accept change to varying degrees and unlearning is a difficult process and for many not an option .

    ‘Paisley never gave his opponents that luxury, he always judged them religiously, – Molyneaux being Judas etc. So he can expect to be judged the same way.’

    Fair enough except that ”judging’ is 40 years too late not that IP is top of the heap . Molyneaux btw was no Judas more of an blind ostrich really . A good man and a decent one but politically he (Molyneaux) could never have reached ‘agreement’ with his constitutional opponents. Molyneaux also favoured complete integration of NI within the UK (a latter day Carsonite) which had virtually no support from either of the parties in the HOC. Paisley was/is a politcal realist as against Molyneaux’s idealistic pandering to HMG.

    ‘In that light he fails’

    True . But when seen from beneath the blue skies of a prosperous Republic the perception is one of late political success.

    He is after all FM and will probably get to pick his successor .

    What can his unionist political or religious opponents offer ?

    A return to 1969 ?

    I’m not saying it’s impossible to return to 1969 . Progress is not inevitable . But if that’s what Paisley’s opponents want they can have it but it will be without the 47% of NI that is Nationalist/Republican so in effect Paisley’s opposition can only achieve ‘repartition’ . Perhaps that’s what they want ?

  • The Dubliner

    Dec, I assume this is what Paisley is refering to:

    “The Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party, also known as the Vanguard Ulster Progressive Party (and several variations of word order), was a unionist political party which existed in Northern Ireland between 1973 and 1978. It was closely affiliated with several loyalist paramilitary groups.

    Several prominent current Ulster Unionist politicians were members of Vanguard, with those elected for Vanguard in 1975 including future UUP MP David Burnside (who was Vanguard’s press officer) and future UUP leaders David Trimble (who briefly served as Deputy Leader) and Reg Empey. Rev. Martin Smyth later a UUP MP (and Grand Master of the Orange Order) was deputy leader of the Vanguard movement but declined to join the party.”

    Vanguard supported loyalist paramilitarism.

  • BonarLaw

    “Molyneaux also favoured complete integration of NI within the UK (a latter day Carsonite) which had virtually no support from either of the parties in the HOC”

    Deep irony then, now that devolution is the new integration.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Geez, try electing folks of quality to rule over you and you just might start to see the results in your society.’

    We’re talking Northern Ireland here . One of their best forgotten Unionist PM’s -Lord Brookeborough 1943 to 1963 lived in a mansion in Fermanagh. His first question on being shown his PM’s office at Stormont was ‘What am I supposed to do ?’. After a spell as PM and partime cattle smuggler across the border, he eventually retired having done mostly nothing.

    At least Paisley/Robinson /McGuinness /Adams give the impression that they may be an improvement on what went before !

  • BonarLaw

    Greenflag

    actually a government that does nothing is actually preferable to one of the interventionist kind. Belgium still worked in the absence of a government why shouldn’t anywhere else?

  • Dec

    Dubliner
    A story emerged a few years ago that he approached the UDA, then under the leadership of Andy Tyrie, with regards to a PR position within the organisation. Clearly, he never fully broke all his ties with them.

  • Greenflag

    ‘actually a government that does nothing is actually preferable to one of the interventionist kind.’

    This can be true particularly in societies which function well and where there are no deep divisions of an ethnic, class,income, or religious kind places like 1960’s Scandinavia etc etc . Unfortunately in Northern Ireland in 1968 it was too late to do nothing and had been too late for a long time . When you’re sitting on a political time bomb with a lighted fuse it’s probably not a good thing to continue to sit on said bomb and contemplate your navel . Movement would for most people be a given .

    ‘Belgium still worked in the absence of a government why shouldn’t anywhere else? ‘

    Northern Ireland is not Belgium -in fact nowhere else is Belgium apart from Belgium .

  • Dec

    Apologies

    The links in post 22 are mixed up.

  • red branch

    Green flag,

    Yep late political success, but Paisley himself always said that politics for him was secondary, religion was first. So judged relligiously he has lost his church, he has lost his principles and some would say he has lost his integrity.

    Therefore he has failed in his primary purpose.

    As for alternatives, nobody wants to return to 1969 or 1989 what most people would like is honesty and integrity in public life, I know abit much to ask, but if our politicians were wrong in the pst maybe as good christians they could admit and apologise for the hurt and damage they caused. then if the community was truely lead by its leaders you never know the rest of us may just get round to forgiving each other!!

  • If anyone is planning a post on their own blog about this, I think that a reference to Machiavelli would be in order.

    The Rev. Dr P and Machiavelli are probably not comfortable bedfellows, I think. But everyone would be better off if they were.

    The only downside would be that a discussion about the principled place of penitence would be entirely redundant.

  • The Dubliner

    Greenflag, nice anecdote but I’d find it more reassuring if you could find an example of a country which acheived success sans the formation of policies rather than using NI as an example of what results from useless government.

    A bad government can wreck a country in record time. I refer you to the Fine Gael/Labour ‘tax and spend’ government of 1982-1987 for the supreme example. On the other hand, a good government can work wonders. For example, the free market reforms and economic policies devised by FF and implemented by McSharry, Reynolds, McCreevey, Ahern, et al, which have earned Ireland a ranking as the 3rd ‘freest’ countries in the world in the Index of Economic Freedom. These are not European policies devised by socialists in the EU since Ireland is only one of two European countries with a top 10 ranking (if it was harmonisation, all EU countries would rank the same, whereas France, for example, ranks 48 and Italy ranks 64).

    The best thing for NI to do is to remove power-sharing and go back to normal politics. Since no party will get an overall majority, a voluntary coalition will emerge. As that will involve a right-of-centre government, there is then a slim prospect of NI getting down to proper fiscal management in regard to cutting public spending and stimulating growth in private sector. NI will then have a proper opposition, and a prospect of sanity befalling it. I can’t see the socialists going for it or the nationalists (who are the socialists) since they both put their own selfish interests before national or the public’s interests. If that doesn’t happen, then it is best for the Nannystate to nanny the Nannystate, i.e. for the British government to give them plenty of ‘helpful’ advice.

    Anyway, I’m exiting Ireland on Tuesday until march 2011, and I doubt that I will give a flying feck about the North after that. As Bob Dylan said, “This place ain’t doing me any good. I’m in the wrong town, I should be in Hollywood.” 😉

  • Paul P

    Turgon how do you interpret the following?

    Mt 6:14 “Forgive people when they sin against you. If you do, your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you.
    Mt 6:15 But if you do not forgive people their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

    Mk 11:25 26And when you stand praying, forgive anyone you have anything against. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins.”

    Forgive me for quoting from the N.I.V (nearly inspired version to some fundies)

  • Turgon

    Paul P,
    My blog was to highlight the change in position of Dr. Paisley not my own views.

    However, it is a very valid question and one I will attempt to answer. I will ask you to go to this link where I have previously outlined my thinking on this issue.

    In summary I feel that Christ’s command is to forgive anyone who truly asks for forgiveness. I believe this is a position held by not merely fundamentalists but indeed the Roman Catholic church (hence the existence in the RC church of confession as a prelude to forgiveness, any RC theologians my apologies if I incorrectly paraphrase your doctrine). In essence practically all churches teach the need to confess and repent before forgiveness is provided; the basis being passages such as 1 John 1:19 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (Sorry to use KJV, what I am used to).

    As I noted in the link forgiveness is not the same thing as avoiding justice. My personal view is that if one was involved in politically motivated murder etc. and one came to faith then that person should really avoid all further political involvement; no specific biblical injunction but I would submit common sense backed up by a number of theologians and ministers I have known.

    P.S. We could have a fun debate about versions of the bible some time. I was not that into the KJV till I got “got at” by the wife. It might cause some of the anti religious to get a bit cross though so perhaps not.

  • Greenflag

    ‘A bad government can wreck a country in record time.’

    Of this I am aware .

    ‘The best thing for NI to do is to remove power-sharing and go back to normal politics.’

    In theory absolutely correct . In practice did they ever or can they ever have ‘normal politics’ given the province’s demographic make up ?

    ‘Since no party will get an overall majority, a voluntary coalition will emerge.’

    You might think that -but I would’nt bet on it . People who have attained some ‘power’ now will not be anxious to a) give it up or b) share it with anybody else . Not for a long time and more particularly with a DUP/SF carve up.

    ‘then it is best for the Nannystate to nanny the Nannystate,’

    Probably so for the forseeable future . At some point the nannied may develop a backbone and insist on less nannying from mother and will look over their shoulders carefully to see if they can emerge from their sectarian past . But don’t worry it won’t happen before 2011 maybe 2111 ?

    On you point re ‘harmonisation’ this is one aspect of the EU that I am concerned about particularly re ‘economic freedom’ . I’ve long known from personal experience the ‘statist’ nature of some of the central european countries .

    bon voyage 🙂

  • Greenflag

    ‘but Paisley himself always said that politics for him was secondary, religion was first.’

    I’m aware of what Paisley said but as I’ve said often on this blog -never mind what they say just watch what they do ! Paisley is first in politics such that it is in NI – First Minister in fact .

    ‘As for alternatives, nobody wants to return to 1969 or 1989 what most people would like is honesty and integrity in public life, I know a bit much to ask ‘

    So do we all even people in the Republic , the UK , the USA etc etc etc . Look upon it as an aspiration 🙂

    ‘but if our politicians were wrong in the past maybe as good christians they could admit and apologise for the hurt and damage they caused.’

    IF ??? of course they were bloody wrong but so were the people who elected them . Some of them caused more hurt and damage than others I’ll admit but in the final analysis politicians reflect the society that they come from . They too are human yes even Paisley and McGuinness .

    ‘if the community was truely lead by its leaders you never know the rest of us may just get round to forgiving each other!’

    Political leaders come and go and usually with more frequency than your experience has been in NI and now that I think about it Bertie is stretching it a bit 🙂 . I’ve never been one to adore too much or expect a lot from the ‘leader’ anyway . Perhaps you are placing too much hope in a ‘true leader’ be he/she political/religious or economic ?

    As for the ‘rest of us getting around to forgiving each other ‘ my advice would be not to wait to be ‘truely led’ whatever that means, but get on with it right away starting yesterday if 40 years ago is no longer possible or practical:)

  • lib2016

    The Newsletter reported yesterday that the Rev. Roy Cooper, Methodist leader speaking at the National Liberal Club in London yesterday, said he believed Churches in Ulster may not have spoken up soon enough about injustices against Catholics. It’s been reported on Newshound so most of us know about it yet we have this tedious anti-Dup wordsplitting exercise.

    Given the ongoing practice, in Slugger as elsewhere, of minimising anti-Catholic discrimination here this was a lightning bolt of honesty far exceeding Trimble’s single scripted sentence acknowledging that NI was ‘a cold place for Catholics’.

    Modern day loyalists feel no guilt nor responsibility for that discrimination and maybe that’s why they are able to acknowledge the facts in a way that more traditional unionists still can’t bring themselves to do.

    Whatever the reason traditional unionists are losing their voice and place in the New Northern Ireland. Republicans have acknowledged and apologised for their guilt whether one accepts it or not. Given the difficulty unionists have in reaching that point maybe unionists might consider that it hasn’t been easy for republicans to confront their past and at least accept their sincerity.

  • BonarLaw

    “it hasn’t been easy for republicans to confront their past”

    yet Adams can’t bring himself to admit being a Provo god father…

  • aquifer

    ‘forgive those who trespass against us’

    Paisley seems to be acting as a christian. There was no call for repentance by the perp tacked onto the Lord’s Prayer, and who has time to scour the backwoods of the bible for exclusive dogma?

  • lib2016

    Bonar Law,

    No-one knows exactly what goes on inside the republican movement, then as now. We do know that they have secrecy oaths which they take very seriously and it may well have been some kind of decision was reached by which his position in the republican movement was to be deniable.

    Most of the unionist leadership have been involved in dubious relationships with the loyalist paramilitaries, books still available in the outside world have been written about it, loyalist leaders have spoken about it, but for NI readers that truth is considered inconvenient. History will reveal the truth.

    In the meantime pragmatism demands that you deal with our chosen leaders. We pick ’em, not you! and more to the point the British won’t prop you up for much longer.

  • Greenflag

    ‘the Rev. Roy Cooper, Methodist leader speaking at the National Liberal Club in London yesterday, said he believed Churches in Ulster may not have spoken up soon enough about injustices against Catholics.’

    Eh ? may not ? The Rev Cooper would have earned far more respect had he used the word DID NOT and be done with it.

    But then again I can think of a much larger Church on this island which kept it’s collective trap shut for decades re some of the injustices perpetrated on innocent children :(.

  • lib2016

    Greenflag,

    As usual I agree with you. The thing is that huge changes have taken place in nationalism and particularly in the relationship between Irish nationalism and the Catholic church. The cover-ups about child abuse may have been the most obvious trigger but the distance between church and state has never been wider. We are now more like European Catholics, better Protestants than the Protestants. What has remained is the ideology of republicanism as a political glue to hold identity politics together.

    The relationship beween unionism and the Protestant Churches is coming under similar strains. I have seen estimates of the total number of fundamentalist christians as only 2/3 hundred thousand with many of them nor being especially interested in politics. The political committment to being ‘simply British’ depends entirely on the committment of the English and Scottish people to the union, not a very sound foundation as things stand. And ideology is a dirty word hence the need to describe every negotiating tactic as a hallowed principle which must never be betrayed.

    The thing that is important to me is that the Rev. Cooper was able to raise his head above the parapet without having to start looking for a new job. There are obviously other less public voices who share his opinions. That they are finally emerging is a very positive if belated sign that the ice has broken.

  • Ben

    Don’t lose the thread Dubliner, it will be the same conversation when you get back, more or less!

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Mat 5:29-And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell.

    Mat 5:30-And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell.

    Therefore, if thy big trouble maker mouth offend thee, stick a sock in it!

    Maybe Big Ian was fearful that his sharp tongue would finally cut off his own head!

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    For Big Ian was not a model Christian!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Certainly didn’t think that Burnsides past had any skeletons that would warrent such a statement.

    I believe Burnside had at least one article published in a UDA magazine in the late 1970s. I cannot remember the exact text, but it was essentially (without referring to anything specifically) exhorting readers to step up to the plate.

    When he was an MP Burnside met the UDA several times, claiming it was part of an effort to stop violence and attacks going on in South Antrim at the time. He does have a history of associating with them.

    Paisley’s warning is quite apt. It’s not really in the interests of unionism to poke the sleeping dog of their own relationships with paramilitaries.

    Turgon,

    I am not a Christian, but the part I remember doing in school was where Christ said that if your enemy strikes you on the cheek, you must offer him the other cheek also; and in response to a question about how often forgiveness should be offered, he responded all the time (“seventy times seven”). I do not remember any aspect of my RC religious education suggesting that forgiveness is something that should be withheld until certain conditions are met, and I’m not aware of a specific part of the bible that suggests this. Then again, the bible isn’t exactly known for it’s consistency on these matters, and beliefs are, to a large extent, down to the parts of the bible a person chooses to emphasize.

  • Greenflag

    ‘As usual I agree with you.’

    Always a good start 🙂

    ‘ The thing is that huge changes have taken place in nationalism and particularly in the relationship between Irish nationalism and the Catholic church. We are now more like European Catholics, better Protestants than the Protestants.’

    I agree re the huge changes but I’d phrase your last comment differently . I’d say that we are becoming more like the English in our religious practices .

    In respect of attitudes towards religion i.e there is a huge generational difference with the older part of the population still in the ‘traditional’ mould but with the young population much more open minded and in many cases open mouthed 🙂 As for being better Protestants ? I would say that there is more consideration and understanding of the ‘protestant’ i.e non catholic mindset among most of the younger population. The knee jerk association of protestant with West Brit has broken down .

    ‘I have seen estimates of the total number of fundamentalist christians as only 2/3 hundred thousand with many of them nor being especially interested in politics.

    I can’t comment on the numbers but I’d presume then that these people are the real Christians in the sense of not being especially interested in politics ?:)

    ‘The thing that is important to me is that the Rev. Cooper was able to raise his head above the parapet without having to start looking for a new job. ‘

    True but then ‘Methodists’ were always less bombastic than the more flammable varieties ? IIRC the Rev Cooper is not the only Protestant cleric to have spoken out of turn? Revs Kenneway and Newell also come to mind .

    ‘Modern day loyalists feel no guilt nor responsibility for that discrimination and maybe that’s why they are able to acknowledge the facts in a way that more traditional unionists still can’t bring themselves to do.’

    Good point and probably accurate enough . As I said ‘unlearning’ is a very difficult thought process particularly in relation to what we all ‘learn’ in our formative years .

    It’s more than a bit pointless to berate a present day 85 year old for failure to surf the web or i phone etc etc back in 1912 :)? If we are to make a correct assessment of people in the past we have to look at them from the perspective of the age they lived in. We may laugh at Sir Isaac Newton’s later pre occupation with Alchemy and call him an ‘idiot’ for not knowing better. Yet without question Newton was probably one of the most if not the most intelligent minds that have ever graced the planet .

    In 500 years years time assuming there are people still extant no doubt those future people will look back at the 21st century and say and think the same things about us as we say and think about some of the beliefs and customs of our 16th century forebears .

  • Greenflag

    ‘I am not a Christian, but the part I remember doing in school was where Christ said that if your enemy strikes you on the cheek, ——- Then again, the bible isn’t exactly known for it’s consistency on these matters, and beliefs are, to a large extent, down to the parts of the bible a person chooses to emphasize. ‘

    Amen with the emphasis on ‘choosing to emphasize’
    In the real world as opposed to the ‘biblical ‘ world the uber Christian President Bush has not been known to turn a cheek . Quite the opposite in fact . But then throughout history the number of Catholic and Protestant political leaders/Kings/queens /dictators/ etc etc who have ever turned a cheek in response to Christ’s teaching is undoubtedly miniscule in comparison to the number who have done as the incumbent President has . It’s the human being in us all.

  • Greenflag

    Meanwhile the Paisley -Ahern partnership of peace -reconciliation and progress moves on !

    ‘IAN Paisley last night issued a plea to major businesses in the Republic of Ireland to help boost the Northern Ireland economy.

    Sustainable economic growth will be key to maintaining a peaceful community in Northern Ireland, Dr Paisley told business leaders at the annual Dublin Chamber of Commerce dinner in the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

    “We can be of help to you and you can be of help to us,” he said.

    “The whole world is changing. Our country is changing. Your country is changing. Our jobs are changing. Our outlooks are changing. Are we prepared to rise to the challenge that confronts us?”

    Improving the infrastructure network between the two jurisdictions and attracting potential holidaymakers from the Republic will be key conquests, he said.

    “We have got to promote a growing economy and join Dublin as a world leader in business,” he said.

    In a fulsome tribute to Dr Paisley, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern last night said there was “no greater advocate of progress and change” than the Northern Ireland’s First Minister.

    Issuing a word of caution, Mr Ahern insisted that in today’s globalised economy Ireland, North and South, cannot compete as a low-cost place to do business.

    “Of course, minimising our cost levels remains important, but our real competitive advantage is our knowledge base and capacity for innovation,” said Mr Ahern.

    “In simple terms, we have to be smarter, quicker and more adaptable than our competitors.”

    Returning to an old source of bitterness, Mr Ahern told business leaders that he still had reservations about the new Lansdowne Road stadium.

    On comparing the 82,000 capacity of Croke Park to the proposed 50,000 Lansdowne Road, Mr Ahern concluded: “Sometimes, people don’t listen to me. Anyway, I never give up.”

    He also criticised ardent economic experts who have predicted that the economy will soon begin a meltdown.

    “Don’t listen to too much of the doom and gloom for 2008. They’re usually wrong,” he said

    Bertie got one thing right . With Irish Rugby internationals now commanding attendances of 75,000 what was the IRFU thinking when they opted for renovating a 50,000 seater ?

    Given a minimum of 3 home internationals a year multiplied by a shortfall of 25,000 each game equals 75,000 or one international’s gate receipts per year . With that extra revenue the IRFU could be in a position to promote the game all across the island . Oh ye of little faith 🙁

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Good points made by both Paisley and Ahern but will anyone listen in Northern Ireland.

  • Greenflag

    ‘but will anyone listen in Northern Ireland. ‘

    Listening isn’t enough . It’s the doing that matters. Either way the world will move on even if NI chooses not to listen .

  • The Dubliner

    “Paisley seems to be acting as a christian. There was no call for repentance by the perp tacked onto the Lord’s Prayer, and who has time to scour the backwoods of the bible for exclusive dogma?” – aquifer

    I’d rather hear a politician say ‘The law will punish them, and I, as First Minister, will do all with in my power to ensure that justice is done’ rather than say ‘let g-d deal with it because I have f*ck all intention of stirring up that hornets’ nest – more than the job’s worth, gov.’

    This is Caesar saying, “Render onto g-d that which is Caesar’s.”

  • Jo

    I have previously highlighted to certain unforgiving people that the Lord’s prayer contained no requirement for repentance but was advised to “go and read my Bible”.

    I’d pose 2 questions:

    Would it be such a terrible world, or worse than the one we’re in, if everyone – simply – forgave?

    Is it coincidence that those who won’t or can’t forgive are those who are unhappy with our political settlement and would be satisfied with a return to our conflict being expressed violently?

  • The Dubliner

    “Looking at the man who is asking the question and looking at his past I think he would be better keeping his mouth closed about past issues.”

    I think it is revealing that Paisley would proffer that advice to another ‘establishment unionist.’ Paisley is de facto saying that that politicians with embarrassing histories should ensure that the victims are ignored and that no effort should be made to resolve “past issues” lest the role of the ‘establishment unionist’ in creating victims is highlighted. In short, politicians with something to hide have a vested interest in ensuring that the victims are shafted. I am sure Paisley is following his own advice.

    This affirms what many have said would be the consequence of promoting those who are most responsible for creating victims to public office, i.e. that they would put their own selfish interests before the interests of the people and ensure that a Truth Commission never saw the light of day.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Would it be such a terrible world, or worse than the one we’re in, if everyone – simply – forgave?’

    From what the psychologists tell us -forgiving is part of full recovery . As people are all different in their capacity to feel/empathize or stand in the other’s shoes it’s natural that a number on all sides will never forgive nor forget. Most will eventually . They have to -for the sake of their own lives and that of their remaining families.

    ‘ Is it coincidence that those who won’t or can’t forgive are those who are unhappy with our political settlement’

    There seems to be a connection but it’s not just simply that . There is resentment at seeing how others formerly from their ‘side’ are now working with the ‘other’ side . Feelings of having been betrayed perhaps mixed with a realisation that the ‘world’ has changed and they are being left behind. All understandable and for the people stuck in that frame of mindset probably inimical to their long term state of health both mental and physical .

    It’s natural that people go through stages on their way to forgiving and even more natural that some people don’t get to the end stage . Some die early from ill health exacerbated by an unforgiving ‘mindset’.

    ‘I’d rather hear a politician say ‘The law will punish them, and I, as First Minister, will do all with in my power to ensure that justice is done’ ‘

    Where there is law there is injustice. Where there is no law there is even more injustice . Law is not the same thing as justice as any lawyer will tell you.

    I’m not sure if a Truth Commission would help or hinder the victim’s families or society at large ? On the surface it may seem to -in practice a lot of the legal fraternity will make a lot of money and the dead and maimed will remain dead and maimed .

    This situation re victims and forgiveness and ‘justice’ is the inevitable outcome of a 35 year conflict which we all somehow know now when it’s too late – should never have happened . The best thing the NI politicians can do is to make sure through their governance that it never happens again .

  • Jo

    I think perhaps instead of a Truth Commission, that every household should receive a copy of “Lost Lives” – eloquent, extremely moving testimony to all those that we (in the broadest sense) have lost.

    Where a lot is known, a lot is shown, where little is known, little can be said.

    Read – and rage

    or

    Read – and regret.