Gerry and the art of moral relativism…

Gerry AdamsIt’s true that often it is the slow ball delivery in the context of a interview with a public persona is more revealing that the short sharp shock tactics of the preferred modern form. David Frost’s 1977 interviews with Richard Nixon took the format of four programs, each of which were ninety minutes long. In the end, Gay Byrne’s interview with Gerry Adams was disappointingly short. But as I note in my piece over at the Guardian this morning, it is interesting for what it reveals about a man who’s political career has forced him to be evasive about almost everything that was close to him.

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  • Adams says: “I would like to think that if there is a day of judgment, the judge would be the small woman in Ballymurphy, you know, or someone who represents that type of natural justice, as opposed to a punishing, vengeful, righteous, negative. You know, we shouldn’t fear God.”

    What if God is a small woman from the Shankill?

  • …prays fervently knowing some Ballymurphy women

    Oh, God, please let me pick the ‘small woman’ from Ballymurphy to be the judge of Gerry Adams…

  • heh heh

    malachi I thought you didh’t believe? Or are you hedging your bets?

  • kensei

    Personally I think any article about anyone form here that includes a quote or discussion of any kind of with grand sweeping statements about the nature of Catholics and Protestants should be punishable by torture of the worst kind. Death isn’t good enough.

  • Veritas

    “a punishing, vengeful, righteous, negative.”

    Is Gerry saying that he’s God?

  • Mick Fealty

    Kensei,

    Put that rock down, now!

  • kensei

    Mick

    Put that rock down, now!

    No. I think this one is well aimed. I appreciate the programme was on religious beliefs but the fallbackk of explaining people here in generals terms of Catholicism or Protestantism (neither of which is entirely homogenuous anyway, particularly the latter) is appalling hackery.

    It would help if there was some decent insight it in it, but these thinsg never do.

    One may say, broadly speaking, that Protestants like to be good and have invented theology to keep themselves so, whereas Catholics like to be bad and have invented theology in order to keep their neighbours good. The chief distinction that one notices is that in the Protestant type departure is primarily intellectual, whereas in the Catholic type it is primarily practical.

    I think of my grandfather who had as quiet and honest faith as anyone, and the organisations he was in – the Pioneers, the Legion of Mary. Those were social organisations but they weren’t there to their neighbours good, they were there for themselves. I think of the protestant fundies here and elsewhere that want to ban just about everythig in sight: they aren’t simply about keeping themselves honest.

    And pragmatism, intellectual curiousity and doubt are universal. Lots of Catholics have intellectual doubts and are led away based on intelelctual or faith base ddoubts. “The dark night of the soul” could fall under this category.

    There are differences of course. But this seems crude.

  • John O’Connell

    You know, we shouldn’t fear God. Not God.

    The crass hypocrisy of a man who spent his life ruling ghettos through fear and intimidation.

    ‘I did my best. And here I am. And let me in.'”
    – Adams to God.

    God to Adams: I think we’ll try eternity elsewhere first. Then we’ll see. I think you’ll find that we in heaven are not afraid of your bully boys.

    Or a moral relativist who plans to confront his maker with his own moral autonomy still firmly intact?

    Waken up, Mick. No one with Gerry’s record is going to be confronting his maker with his own moral values. Screaming for forgiveness, yes. His own moral values are Antichristian and would lead to a mass evacuation of heaven were he to encroach on that space.

    Gerry answered a lot of questions in the interview with the reply “I don’t know” and I think that those were political answers designed to avoid having to say “I don’t believe.” That would be a more appropriate conclusion to draw from his life.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ach Ken, you say the sweetest things:

    “…appalling hackery.”

    By defence of Russell (or my selective quotation of him), he did say ‘broadly speaking’…

    That said, I was confronted with a subject that most others who wrote about it chose the quicker route of quoting Adams on the Protestant thing.

    Truth is there are big cultural differences, none of them by all means consistent across different societies.

    In my experience, Russell’s view that the Protestant dissenting tradition was what created the liberal instinct of the modern British nation, and is understood less generally anywhere in the modern UK than it is amongst ‘some’ Ulster protestants.

    His concern is not the preservation of Protestantism so much as a liberal open society. He notes towards the end of the same essay that “I fear the decay of liberalism will make it increasingly difficult for men to refrain from adherence to some fighting creed.”

    I won’t mention the government move to ban blasphemy in the Republic at this stage… But seriously, although I instinctively understand there are outliers, you cannot credibly argue that there are no cultural differences between Cs and Ps…

  • dunreavynomore

    “In my experience, Russell’s view that the Protestant dissenting tradition was what created the liberal instinct of the modern British nation, and is understood less generally anywhere in the modern UK than it is amongst ‘some’ Ulster protestants.”

    Mick, is there something missing from this paragraph or have I gone completely stupid (which is quite probable)?

  • kensei

    By defence of Russell (or my selective quotation of him), he did say ‘broadly speaking’…

    Yes. See initial point on that. But he is still wrong, even ignoring the Irish Church is not the AMerican Church, or Latin Church and so on.

    That said, I was confronted with a subject that most others who wrote about it chose the quicker route of quoting Adams on the Protestant thing.

    It was a beautiful piece of media manipulation by Grizzly.

    Truth is there are big cultural differences, none of them by all means consistent across different societies.

    In my experience, Russell’s view that the Protestant dissenting tradition was what created the liberal instinct of the modern British nation, and is understood less generally anywhere in the modern UK than it is amongst ‘some’ Ulster protestants.

    The “Liberal instinct” is merely one strand of Protestantism, one strand of the British State (I think you’ll find Irish Catholics may have been on the receiving end of some of its less than liberal tendencies there, Mick) and I simply cannot buy applying it too broadly to the other tribe here. Particuarly when I just have to go to the front page and wait a bit until Turgon will go on a fairly authoritarian rant.

    His concern is not the preservation of Protestantism so much as a liberal open society. He notes towards the end of the same essay that “I fear the decay of liberalism will make it increasingly difficult for men to refrain from adherence to some fighting creed.”

    And this is my problem everytime someone pulls out a quote like this. They are not interested in the question in itself, from a sociological perspective. They are interested in some grand or political point and everythign they say is coloured by that.

    I won’t mention the government move to ban blasphemy in the Republic at this stage…

    I will. It is appalling and I despair there doe snto seem to be many true republicans anywhere near the politics of this isalnd to atatck it. But it hardly needs pointed out that unfortunate terminology aside, there is not an awful lot of difference with the “Incitement to religious hatred” Act already passed by the impeccabley Protestant Liberal UK Government….

    But seriously, although I instinctively understand there are outliers, you cannot credibly argue that there are no cultural differences between Cs and Ps…

    My grandfather was not an outlier. As much as there was the image of the loveable Irish rogue, there was the image of the quiet, tee total, upright Irishman. Many of my grandfather’s peer’s were members of various Catholic institutions, and for a long time they were very strong in Ireland. His generation is probably the last where theology seems relevant to the discussion. Similarly, the Prodiban strands of thought are not outliers. They are a important part of the mix here.

    I am not arguing there are no differences, just I am unconvinced but much of what has been presented, it is unvariably used a basis for discussion on people form here (particularly if they are political) on the topic and the effect is also overplayed. To some 1. try and find a new angle 2. if you must, try bringing your own insight on the topic rather than quoting sweeping statements that are trivially wrong.