Journey Towards Healing: Do Acknowledgement and Apology have a Role to Play in Northern Ireland?

My last post was about Prof. John Brewer’s lecture at the conclusion of a conference called ‘Journey Towards Healing: Trauma and Spirituality – an International Dialogue,’ held 10-11 March at the Europa Hotel in Belfast.

I chose to focus on Brewer’s provocative talk in my first post about the event, but his critique of the institutional churches was not the whole story of the conference. In fact, my post could overshadow the quality and the variety of public debate that was facilitated at the conference.

You can get a taste of that in the discussion with key speakers at the conference, which was broadcast yesterday on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence (chapter 6, Dealing with Trauma Conference).

As Brewer remarked, the conference itself is an example of what has been rare in Northern Ireland: cross-fertilisation between the churches, other civil society groups, journalists, and academics.

Friday’s workshop by local group Healing Through Remembering (HTR), co-presented by Kate Turner, Alan Wardle, Kieran McAvoy and Geraldine Smyth, focused on the role of acknowledgement and apology in Northern Ireland’s post-violence transition.

In 2006, HTR prepared a discussion paper and proposal, ‘Acknowledgement and its Role in Preventing Future Violence.’ Much of the presentation drew on this paper, which read, in part:

We propose that all organisations and institutions in civil and political society [for example, churches, political parties, the media, the business community, trade union and voluntary and community sectors, health services, judiciary, police, educational bodies and republican and loyalist organisations], as well as the UK and Republic of Ireland governments, should engage in a process of acknowledgement. The overall aim of such a process should be to help prevent the re-emergence of violent political conflict. The process should seek to:

  • produce a diverse but realistic and practical series of commitments to building a new, peaceful society;
  • increase self-confidence for participating organisations in moving forward to a new society;
  • produce narratives that are realistic and explicit about the impact of the violent conflict and that emphasise the need to avoid it in the future;
  • encourage the two governments to give a realistic and sensitive account of their roles during the conflict;
  • mark definitively the end of the violent conflict; and
  • increase knowledge and understanding of the range of perspectives on the conflict and the desired nature of future society.

The HTR paper has a much more detailed discussion about what acknowledgement is and is not. Suffice to say here that the authors define acknowledgement as ‘organisations throughout society … take[ing] responsibility for their actions during the conflict’ (p. 1), believing that as part of a wider process this can promote the healing of individuals and communities.

HTR’s recommendations echo what happened in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where institutions were invited to submit accounts of their actions during apartheid. Some of these accounts, such as the one produced by the Dutch Reformed Church, acknowledged the institutions’ responsibility in supporting apartheid. As of yet, HTR’s recommendations have not been taken up by similar institutions in Northern Ireland.

But Northern Ireland has had some public acts of acknowledgement and apology. Kieran McAvoy, Professor of Law and Transitional Justice at Queen’s, has been counting apologies, and presented the following figures:

  • 13 by state agencies
  • 15 by the provisional IRA or Sinn Fein
  • 3 by loyalist paramilitary organisations
  • 1 by a unionist politician

He noted that not all of these apologies are effective or sincere, indeed – some of them come off as ‘apologies of justification’, which serve the interests of the organisation rather than promote healing among victims and survivors.

Dr Geraldine Smyth, Head of the Irish School of Ecumenics, took up the question of what the churches have done in the areas of acknowledgement and apology. Like Brewer, she was critical of the churches’ behaviour during the conflict, saying that:

‘Christians were not sufficiently self-reflective and did not relate to those around us with sufficient depth. … There was no room for ambiguity or self-doubt … and religion functioned as a [political] ideology.’

She claimed that it is vital for the churches to acknowledge this publicly, but said that if the churches embark on this project separately, it will not be as powerful.

For instance, a particular denomination might produce an analysis demonstrating how its theologies supported (or at the very least, did not challenge) division and conflict.

But Smyth said this would still perpetuate the churches’ tendencies to see only their own partial perspectives, and that they would still ‘fail to see the other’s face.’

She recommended that if the churches were to begin a process of reflection and acknowledgement that it should be done together, ecumenically, if you will. This would not just give the process more credibility, but, I would add – would be a more authentically Christian option.

  • “cross-fertilisation between the churches, other civil society groups, journalists, and academics”

    it really says it all. These are the only people actually interested. It does not interest ordinary people. Most of us took no part in violence. Most were not affected to the ultimate degree.
    Most of us have nothing to apologise for. Nor do we want to listen to angst ridden apologies from former terrorists down at the local Kneebreakers.
    They will of course issue as many apologies as they want……providing the taxpayer or some gullible foundation in Europe or North America writes a cheque to facilitate their journey of discovery.

    No courses are needed. No seminars. No working papers. No conferences. The Conflict has been resolved…to most ordinary peoples satisfaction. Time that other people academics and journalists did so too).
    Who exactly are “Healing and Remembering”

    “We propose that all organisations and institutions in civil and political society [for example, churches, political parties, the media, the business community, trade union and voluntary and community sectors, health services, judiciary, police, educational bodies and republican and loyalist organisations], as well as the UK and Republic of Ireland governments, should engage in a process of acknowledgement…..”
    I dont think I have ever read a more overblown statement in my life.
    And the notion that a Professor of Law at QUB “has been counting apologies”.
    What a complete and utter waste.

    The Community at large has been very supportive of these groups, nobody wishing to be seen to attack “victims” but isnt it now time that we pulled the plug on self-indulgent angst.

  • The Word

    FJH

    “We propose that all organisations and institutions in civil and political society”

    This is to side-step the evil central to the conflict on this part of the island, and that is the Plantation of Ulster.

    There’s no sidestepping that reality.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Fitz……………..100% agreement with that !!!

  • HeinzGuderian

    This is to side-step the evil central to the conflict on this part of the island, and that is the Plantation of Ulster…………………..

    Oh my good gawd ………….let’s mull over The Plantation of Ulster AGAIN……………………you never know,there may be a different outcome this time………………..ahahaha

  • The Word

    HG

    What’s all the marching about then?

    Who cares about the outcome changing when these people have religionised their guilty feelings? Who put them in that position?

  • HeinzGuderian

    Wordy……………..I have to pop out now for an hour or Two. But you work away there,trying to change the past…………….look at it from every angle you can think of…………..use ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and any other criteria you wish.

    I’ll bet you a Pound to a Penny,The Plantation of Ulster will still have happened !!

    Sorry mate,I don’t lie awake at night feeling guilty about something that happened 500 years ago. I do realise some people can’t get through the day without a good aul whinge,but FFS catch yerself on pal !!! 🙂

    As for all the marching…………………I would ban it all,OO/AOH………..the lot !!

    ” I want no part in party Songs,Ulster’s had enough………………just take me to The Oval,and The Glens will do their stuff” !!!

  • Cynic2

    Do Acknowledgement and Apology have a Role to Play in Northern Ireland?

    No

  • Nunoftheabove

    There’s no shortage of well meaning folk around, some of them working tirelessly on what they see as progressive matters, in a was-they-see-it progressive way, some of them of course do-gooding opportunists and the-usual-suspect-busybodies. Keep the under-utilized William Crawley in a job, if nothing else.

    This is by no means an original point but it appears to once again require an airing. There is nowhere within the GFA or its off-spring any attempt to define what the problem to which they purport to offer a solution actually was (or is). Unless or until this is dealt with – and I don’t see how it can be or sense any groundswell that would lead us to believe that it will be any time soon – then I’m afraid that at least some of this Corrymeelesque activity will provide, at best, fairly shallow consolation to very few. While it may bring badly needed comfort for isolated numbers of those directly impacted by loss, and there’s no actual harm in that at all, its parameters nonetheless are such that it can’t ultimately yield what it appears to think it wants to or can do.

    What’s perhaps more sad still is that some of those investing expectations in this, and or those facilitating it, dodn’t appear to really recognize that self-evident truth either. It doesn’t gladden me to curse the darkness on this occasion but there you have it.

  • The Word

    “As for all the marching…………………I would ban it all,OO/AOH………..the lot !!”

    That’s the difference between you and us. We don’t ban anything. We provide moral guidance.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Word

    Obviously not guidance which is bible-based, then. Encouraging signs of commonsense getting the upper hand at long last, if so.

    And who is this ‘we’ you’re now find of referring to – the SDLP veterans club or the chorus of frightened and frightening voices in your head ?

  • I think Id go further than NunoftheAbove.
    Creative Ambiguity, the quicksand on which the GFA is based expressly inhibits too much soul searching.
    The Conflict was resolved without ….Resolution.
    We agreed we were all right and all wrong……and other pious nonsense. Shining too much light on the Past is encouraged by a liberal dissidents who want to see the Agreement re-written in their own image. It didnt quit turn out the way they thought it would.

    I am not so sure that Corrymeelaism is as harmless as it looks. Notwithstanding folks of good intent….Im extremely dubious about others.
    We have always shied away from criticism or perceived criticism of victims. Even in 1998 there was a feeling that “victims” were being asked to shoulder an unfair burden to further the Peace Process.notably the release of terrorists.
    I am always unsure about “victims”.
    Id like to think I would have the courage and dignity of a Joyce McCartan or an Alan McBride….but I suspect Id be as narrow minded and “me me me” as some of the noisier victims.
    Victims dont speak with one voice.
    Im not sure its a strength or a weakness.
    But I know the time has come where wemust seriously ask ourselves if its worth (frankly) pandering to them.. There is an aspect of “coming the old soldier” with some of them and frankly we dare not be seen to criticise the untouchable.
    Unfortunately they get a hearing from the gullible.
    Of course no politician can say it….especially if they have an agenda.
    No journalist can say it either.
    But quite a lot of people DO think it.
    Time they were told……

  • The Word

    “Obviously not guidance which is bible-based, then”

    We’re talking about New Testament here. That’s in the Bible too, as you may be aware. “Do onto others…”

  • Turgon

    The reaction to this conference has been covered in Glady’s previous blog. This one is yet a further example of the “peace process industry” and is very rightly criticised here by FJH. He would come from a different analysis of politics than me but his statement here is vital

    “Most of us have nothing to apologise for.”

    That must be repeated every single time the self appointed busy bodies start. Every time an international half wit come to tell us all to apologise we need to remind them of this.

    Turning to some of the utter gibberish presented here as fact:

    The assorted organisations mentioned which need to acknowledge. The reality is that some may very well need to apologise eg the terrorist organisations. However, one of the few comments of any sense in this conference seems to have been that some of the apologises were “apologies of justification” ie self serving. The problem is that there seems no mechanism for calling the self serving murderous liars on their self serving pseudo apologies.

    Some of the other groups what are they meant to apologise for?

    The churches have remarkably little to apologise for: they almost without exception spoke out against both the major crimes and the low level crimes of the Troubles without fear or favour. No they did not go into an ecumenical huddle which is quite clearly the unspoken subtext demand of the conference. The reason for that was because of theological differences. However, the theological differences did not prevent the vast majority of the churches and churchmen from speaking out against any and all violence and criminality.

    Once again we need to point out that this was an essentially ethnic conflict (albeit with perceived not real ethnic differences) rather than a religious conflict. The Kingsmills massacre was not due to issues about transubstantiation: the Loughinisland one was not about the priesthood of all believers.

    Geraldine Smyth is correct in saying that religion functioned as an ideology but to blame that on the churches is a monstrous injustice and a blatant lie: she should be called on her defamatory actions against the many churchmen and women who tirelessly stood against criminality.

    She also says “Christians were not sufficiently self reflective” So Dr. Smyth knows what each and every Christian was thinking does she? She should be reminded of the biblical injunction “Judge not lest ye be judged”

    The business community. Should they apologise for having shops and businesses which got blown up? Should Douglas Deering apologise for being a Protestant shop keeper in Rosslea: oh sorry he cannot; he was murdered. But of course his murderers have “apologised” so they are “good” whereas bad Douglas has not apologised (him being dead). Maybe his family should apologise on his behalf?

    Likewise the trade unions have nothing bad to take responsibility for: they consistently opposed terrorism sectarianism et al.

    Even more ludicrous than demanding apologises or acknowledgement from the business community, the trade unions or the churches is demanding such from the health services. What should they acknowledge? Should they apologise that they failed to save more lives? Have we now reached the level of perversity to suggest that the Erne hospital should share responsibility for Marie Wilson’s death with the IRA?

    I am sure lots of people had lots of fun at this conference wallowing in the self righteousness of self appointed guilt and preening that they, by having accepted a tiny bit of guilt, were so much more righteous than all the rest of us.

    Fortunately the rest of us had a nice weekend being normal and suffered no guilt at all.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Word

    Try doing onto others the way they’d prefer it rather than what you would have done onto you. More humane, see. More moral. No silly biblical bullshit required – just plain man-made God-free commonsense.

  • Driftwood

    The link to the ‘conference’ at the Europa is a hoot. Lots of quackery and ‘spritual’-whatever that is- flapdoodle. Chicken soup for the new age ‘soul’. A sort of angst ridden Ulster sunday school outing to Glastonbury.
    No hash cookies though they might have added to the proceedings.
    It’s like punk never happened!!!

  • 241934 john brennan

    When it comes to writing, or interpreting the small print in legal type documents, there is probably no better man than Pope Benedict XVI – but below is an extract from a speech delivered during his last visit to England:

    “Agreements are so hard to tie down. Sometimes they run into pages of technical script, so that every eventuality is covered.

    More and more frequently, agreements are constructed, contested and confirmed in law.

    The agreement between God and his people is different. It is sealed in blood because it is a life giving agreement. The blood is precious, for it is the precious blood of Christ who died and rose again, the victor over death.

    This agreement, then, is stronger than death itself. It can be relied on utterly.”

    His predecessor, Pope John Paul 11, for years resisted both the Facist and Communist occupation of his country, using only the consistency of his moral arguments.

    However, one speech at Drogheda didn’t persuade the IRA, whose cause and methods of pursuing it were elevated above all moral law. Or to be more precise plumbed the depths of mans’ inhumanity to man

    Monsignor Denis Faul, a humble school headmaster, spent all his spare time visiting prisons, and families of victims of injustice and violence. For consistently challenging the unjust methods of paramilitaries and security forces he was known by both as “that f****r Faul.”

    I knew another young priest, just appointed to a Belfast parish as junior in a team of three, who enquired at midnight about bedtime house rules and was told; “after the last bomb has gone off.” – And he ultimately paid a heavy price for going out to distress calls.

    These are only a few examples of the Church in action and leading by example, despite human frailties – and not just sermonizing.

  • Nunoftheabove

    You say more than I fear you could possibly know re. Pope Benedict XVI’s interpretation of the small print in legal type documents. I’d should imagine he’s been perusing the finer points of international law in recent months and years, fairly feverishy, if only to keep his immoral skin out of jail. And best not to mention the pope or the papacy more generally in the same paragraph as referring to resistance to fascism. You’re not on thin ice with that argument, you’re wedged at the bottom of a truly freezing and very deep dark ocean there, kid. Just don’t even try to dissociate one from the other in historical and/or institutional terms.

    As for your claim about Christ being “the victor over death”. In what respect did he defeat death when his father invented life in the first place and decided to make him immortal in any case ? Where’s the sense of wonder, where’s the great mystery ? Also, what was remarkable about this ‘victory’ give the biblical accounts of apparently dead people rising from their graves and wandering around as alive as you or in in considerable numbers; after all, it’s said in one of the Gospels that at the time of the crucifixion all the graves of Jerusalem were opened and all of the dead of the graves walked the streets. Doesn’t quite make Christ’s resurrection quite as special or unique as you seem to think it is, does it ?

  • Turgon and I would suely disagree on defining “victims”. He makes distinctions. I dont.
    But I do recognise different classes of Victim.
    There is the quiet dignified victim who would politely and firmly told Eames-Bradley and their apologists “to take their £30,000 and shove it”. There is the noisier victim who would have taken every penny and come back for more.
    For some victims there is never enough.
    They are I suppose truly cross community in their greed. It has to be said.
    As if on cue to prove my point a trailer for tonights “UTV Live” (10.30pm) will feature an item where ex-prisoners will talk of their trauma……at being released early under the Good Friday Agreement.
    With someone at QUB seemingly designated to “count apologies” I hope someone at QUB is prepared to count the number of times people in our two communities are slapped across the face by an ever increasing line of extremely unlikely victims.
    I am sure we are all familiar with the phrase “thats tearing the arse out of it”.
    Or the other phrase
    “it will be alright when the Compensation sets in”.

    We have shamefully been taken for a ride.
    Even more shamefully we have allwed it.
    People unfamiliar with the worst aspects of the Norn Iron mindset can be forgiven for being gullible.
    Those of us who are familiar with the worst aspects of the Norn Iron mindset shuld really know better.
    Most of us have absolutely nothing to apologise for…….(although ending a sentence with a preposition is not great)

  • HeinzGuderian

    word/and numbers Johnny……………..a prime example of the problem in our society !!

    As long as we have Jebus Jokers,preaching their own particular brand of Invisible Sky Daddy nonsense,we haven’t got a hope in Hell of breaking the cycle.

    Christopher Hitchens was in debate with Tony ( faith schools ) Blair,on Radio 4,the other week.
    Blair was gushing about being at a meeting in Northern Ireland with people from ALL sides of the religious divide…………
    Hitchens quietly,and succinctly pointed out that without religion Tony,there would be no divide !!

    By the by word ………..( ahaha)…………you don’t ban anything ? Is abortion freely and openly available North and South ?? 🙂

  • vanhelsing

    I’m sure that Fitz and I would have plenty to disagree about – however what he has written is good and I concur 🙂 nice one

    VH

  • The Word

    Nun

    “Try doing onto others the way they’d prefer it”

    Another catchy one for you, my heathen friend.

    HG

    “religion” only in so far as the Protestant Churches have turned a blind eye to the wrong that was the Plantation. Some times the biggest lie is the hardest to detect. It is certainly the most difficult to confront.

  • There are an awful lot of moaners, whingers and girners here!

    Here are some nice simple inclusive words from Ray Davey at the opening of the Corrymeela Centre back in 1965:

    “We hope that Corrymeela will come to be known as ‘the Open Village’, open to all people of good will who are willing to meet each other, to learn from each other and work together for the good of all.”

    Now what is so threatening, so dangerous about that? These folks, believers and non-believers alike, healthy and hurting, knew how to have a bit of crack.

    Perhaps it’s impossible to completely escape the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. Unfortunately it has inserted itself into the Good Relations business, even into the Corrymeela Centre too. Funding has played a part: so many Protestants to be matched with a like number of Catholics; so many weekends together in the North to be matched with a like number of weekends in the South. I wouldn’t mind hearing apologies from those who created this edifice. It reminds me of the old schools with separate doors for boys and for girls and separate playgrounds; what was supposed to be togetherness was, in reality, an expression of apartheid.

    I sometimes feel that many of the moaners, whingers and girners are very content to live in their little apartheid worlds, burnishing up their shibboleths and delving deep into the small print that separates them.

    It’s still the constitution, stupid, and that manifests itself in the control of territory and property. Many folks are probably fairly content most of the time to follow a philosophy of ‘live and let live’ as they cope with the customary vicissitudes of life but along comes an anniversary or some idiot with a big idea and before we know where we are the old ding dong goes BANG.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Word

    Catchy ? I’d say moral. Besides, Christianity straightfowardly nicked that idea that you refer to – it pre-dates christianity by possibly 2,000 years or more (didn’t you know ?). Your imaginary heroes couldn’t even plagiarize with any real discernment – like most of their rival faiths in that respect – lame copies of lame copies of sometimes not particulary good ideas to begin with. Not any good morally by and large and not even original, for the most part.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Nevin

    ‘Open to people of goodwill’; are those the people we need to be spending money on and congratulating for ‘coming together’ in the first place ? Just don’t get it.

  • Mark

    Fitz ,

    Another fan to add to the masses …. good sensible stuff .

    Turgon ,

    Agree on your view re the Churches .

  • Nunoftheabove

    Turgon

    Even if one was to accept your – for me fairly superficial – assessment of the anti-violence stance of the more mainstream churches, would you defend quite as strongly their track record on the injustices within the state both before and after violence became regarded as ‘the problem’ ?

  • Driftwood

    This is the sort of nonsense being propagated by these halfwits..
    http://www.journeytowardshealing.org/bios/bio_d1_s1_leavey.html

    Complete bollocks.
    These people are the modern day equivalent of snake oil merchants, pseudo academics playing at being ‘psychic healers’ for taxpayers money. Gypsy Rosalee in her caravan at least gave you a laugh for your money.

  • Turgon

    Nevin,
    I normally have a lot of time for your comments: I may not always agree with them but I respect them and you.

    However, that latest comment is in my view highly questionable.

    I have no time whatsoever for Corrymeela. I regard it as a largely ecumenical enterprise and although I respect the Roman Catholic church I also have grave theological differences with it.

    That fact does not, however, prevent me from working with and having excellent relationships with very many Catholics. I do not live in an apartheid world and resent the use of emotive terms like apartheid. In no way can my or I submit many people’s attitude be compared with that of apartheid South Africa. Your use of that term either exposes your stupidity or your flagrant dishonesty: and you are not a stupid man; hence, in my view you are being utterly dishonest.

    You to say “I sometimes feel” and use that as a basis of supposed fact. That is a classicaly dishonest and disingenuous statement.

    In this case the idiots with the big ideas are those who create bogus pseudo conferences which charge people £300 for a group of largely self appointed, self righteous international “experts” and their local equivalents to tell us all that we are guilty of something we are not guilty of.

    Nevin by all means be involved in Corrymeela, I do not mind at all. However, please stop lecturing the rest of us that they and you are somehow morally superior because you choose to spend your time up there making daisy chains.

  • Driftwood

    http://www.journeytowardshealing.org/bios/bio_d1_s1_kossak.html

    Taking the biscuit or taking the piss..

    He is a ‘professional musician’ and editor of the esteemed ‘Journal of Applied Arts and Health’.

    Rhythmic drumming as a solution, that’s an absolute cracker.

  • Turgon

    Driftwood,
    Since each person who attended this nonsense had to pay for the privilege (up to £300) it may not be as foolish as you think. Some of the “experts” may have made a few pound from their exposition of rhythmic drumming. Nice work if you can find it.

    As a sometime drummer in an accordion band and the holder of a PhD from the 1690 and all that website I wonder if I could do a bit of drumming and get paid for it. If I ask Gladys nicely she might put in a good word for me with the organisers.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Driftwood

    …as opposed to non-rhythmic drumming ? Drummers are by reputation an eccentric oul’ bunch and so it’s only natural and fitting that this doubtless highly talented individual would locate a feeling of Kumbaya-tastic togetherness with the good christian folk of Corrymeela.

  • The Corrymeela project as I knew it (however remotely)……and I have a family member closely involved in it…….is very different from the Corrymeela today.
    I am not a theologian so have no problem with Ecumenism (it seems better than alternatives)…….better to light a candle all that…..but I am increasingly irritated (ad Id say many old Corrymeela types are also irritated) by the seeming hi-jacking of its legacy by a load of (frankly) chancers in civic society.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Turgon

    In that case, you’re but an abandonment of a deeply felt and substantial theological point of departure from the Purple Whores of Rome away from… the few quid and a cross-community giggle – pick up yon sticks and paradiddle your Gene Krupa behind to pataflafla paradise man 🙂

  • Driftwood

    Turgon, How many of the attendees actually paid their own money to attend this hand wringing guilt-fest? Or more to the point, how many were ‘sponsored’ by the taxpayer?
    I’m sure the Treasury would like to know how much OFMDFM spends on promoting navel gazing.

  • Apartheid: The condition of being separated from others. A simple definition and, for example, it manifests itself in education where some choose such separation and some others are relieved that they do so. Sadly, the Troubles have also brought about enforced separation when it became too dangerous to live in certain areas.

    The argument for not participating in a Corrymeela-style project could also be used for not appearing in the chamber at Stormont. There can be a little bit of religion in each, a lot of talking and sometimes things actually get done. Corrymeela has an advantage in that there are sort of shared goals and the folks can put their shoulder to the wheel rather than slither on the grass at the end of a tug-of-war rope.

    I’ve not been regularly involved in Corrymeela for the past fifteen years so I’m out of touch with the finances; I used to be regarded as part of the furniture. It certainly used to be a very low budget operation. Long term volunteers got their keep and a small allowance; folks who went on workcamps or who acted as helpers on family holidays paid out of their own pockets; groups that came to the centre mostly paid at least a nominal amount. Rotary Club members and others provided transport when our lot from Coleraine were doing 20-30 concerts a year for mid-week groups outside the summer season.

  • The charge of £300 seems a bit steep…..but technically I qualify for two discounts….unwaged/pensioner….and technically as a blogger, I could get in free as a journo

    Basically my irritation at people with their snouts in the community relations trough is that I am not one of them.
    Fortunately I cant qualify as anything other than the lowest category of “victim” but if I had been familiar with the concept of “where theres blame, theres a claim” in the naive days of 1974, I would be more balanced in my critique.

    My own Eames-Bradley like solution to the great compensation dilemna is that everyone on Norn Iron be given £100 for every year of adulthood 1969-1994 and £50 for every year under 18. I dont think Id be overpricing myself at £2,500. Other Sluggerites can determine their own valuation. Years spent in prison dont qualify.
    If this simple thing was done…….all victims/prisoners could stop attending seminars. Make no mistake about it…..all this is not about principle. A lot of it is about money.
    eg
    “No amount of money could repay my client for his heartless early release from prison……but I do have a ball park figure in mind”.

  • Turgon

    Nevin,
    Your definition of Apartheid is disingenuous. Although technically correct due to the appalling nature of what was practised in South Africa it is a term with massive baggage. Use of such a term to describe people who choose to behave in a different fashion makes it clear that you regard yourself as somehow superior in your behaviour.

    If anyone wants or do not want to take part in ecumenism that is up to them. However, not wishing to take part in such things is not an apartheid mindset. There is nothing threatening about Corrymeela but there is nothing intrinsicly more righteous about it.

  • HeinzGuderian

    protestant church apologises for the wrong that was The Plantation of Ulster.

    Unionist populace dismiss it out of hand,and demand compensation for being sent to such a dreary hole……………….:-)

  • The Word

    Nun

    Only the dinosaurs predate Christianity. Jesus merely summed up the position of happy people. The unhappy people like you were busy looking at Moses et al.

  • The Word

    HG

    “demand compensation for being sent to such a dreary hole”

    They haven’t been sent there yet. Some tell me that they get a real shock when they arrive on the mainland.

  • HeinzGuderian

    word

    The clue was * The Plantation of Ulster * bit…………;-)

  • HeinzGuderian

    ” Jebus merely summed up the position ”

    Gospel according to The Marquis De Sade………..

  • joeCanuck

    nunoftheabove,

    I strongly suspect that the “we” word was being used in the Royal context.. King of the heavens and all that.

  • Nunoftheabove

    The Word

    So at last you acknowledge that people were both happy and moral before your poster boy turned up (if he actually did at all, that is) and propspered without your dreary, plagiarized psycho-babble. Thanks, all I wanted you to acknowledge. Case closed.

  • 241934 john brennan

    To be accepted as genuine, public apologies need to be accompanied by some visible signs of ‘inner conversion’ – e.g. repudiation of past bad behaviour. Not much point in turning up for the funeral of relative or neighbour for whom one never had a good word during their lifetime.

    At Cardinal Cahal Daly’s funeral Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness were prominently present in Armagh Cathedral – but during his lifetime’s campaign against unjust political violence, Sinn Fein only ever referred to him as “Cackle Daly”.

    At the time of his funeral, Sinn Fein had only nice words for Monsignor Denis Faul, but during his lifetime publically excoriated him – even to the extent of denying his human right to free speech, e.g. breaking up a public meeting he convened in his own parish, on the need for good policing.

    So is it not time for politicians who have expediently publically converted (done a U-turn) from past bad behaviour (political violence) to genuinely apologise for their previous wrongdoings (including murder)?

  • Here’s another definition for the begrudgers: ecumenical – from oikoumenikos, from he oikoumene ge “the inhabited world (as known to the ancient Greeks); the Greeks and their neighbors considered as developed human society”.

    Even in a narrow religious context kids are far more exposed to ecumenical activity in schools than, say, on a Corrymeela-type project; there’s a degree of compulsion in the former whereas in the latter it’s voluntary.

    Disingenuous, the opposite of ingenuous – from ingenuus “with the virtues of freeborn people, of noble character, frank,” originally “native, freeborn”.

    Well, I often do tone down my frankness but when I see such a gross misrepresentation of my experiences of Corrymeela and the great acts of unselfish love in action, especially by young people and victims, then the gloves** are off – if you know what I mean.

    ** Maybe I can now have a go at making some daisy chains :L

  • I dont think Im attacking Corrymeela in itself.
    Rather I am attacking the exploitation of the Corrymeela-type philosophy of well intentioned people by folks who are really nothing more than chancers.
    The ex-prisoners are frankly hero-worshipped by peace-makers. Less so by the community at large. The ex-terrorist prisoners ..in their pre-prison days were addicted to hero worship anyway. They loved to preen themselves as heroes in Turf Lodge or Tiger Bay……now they parade their angst and reformed nature to a new set of people prepared to hero-worship them.
    Committed Christians of any hue quite rightly value redemption more than those who are not so committed. And alas they cannot see thru the phoney baloney sincerity of SOME of these people.
    Likewise committed Christians….and I daresay others……value the suffering of victims……but can be rather naive when faced with the phoney baloney suffering of SOME victims.
    Not a popular thing for me to think or say perhaps but wasnt it Joan Rivers who claimed that statistically it must have been certain that some of the families of 9/11 victims must have hated their husbands and thinking of divorce.

    Christians and other peace makers (including the genuine ones) and ex-prisoners and victims cannot be above criticism.
    “dont hit me, Im holding the baby”
    The fact is that Peace making IS a cash cow……and shamelessly used by SOME.
    Its no longer feasible to say “a I know she is a pain in the ass but her cousin was killed in a IRA bomb in 1972 or his uncle (who he was too yong to know) was killed by the British army in 1975.
    Or he served 10 years in jail.

    Get over it. The rest of us did. We had to get over it.
    And stop pandering to them thru endless conferences, seminars, workshops.

  • fjh, why mention Corrymeela if you mean a different group? Corrymeela is open to all so you’ll find the naive, the insensitive and the chancer within its portals. Isn’t that true of many if not most groups?

    Money can be a real problem. Voluntary organisations can often use more money than they’ve got but some external finance comes with strings attached; there’s also the risk of dependency on such funds.

    I note the apparently uncritical use of ‘community representative’ in the MSM. Who are they representative of? I suspect that sometimes the term is used for those ‘good’ paramilitaries who are supportive of the current political dispensation. However, there will be plenty of folks – politically or religiously or otherwise motivated – simply doing their bit for the local community and they’re being tarred with the paramilitary brush.

  • The Word

    HG

    I’ll bet there are those now who wish they hadn’t written books honouring Machiavelli. How the English are so smart.

    Nun

    There you go claiming victory again over Christianity. How could there be anything to base the message on if there had not been any happy people before Christ?

    The point is, where are those happy people now? On Slugger pretending to be smarter than Christ by advocating a materialist message than is merely an expression of the underlying happiness in their lives?

  • Nunoftheabove

    The Word

    If they were around before the life of the alleged Christ then they won’t be anywhere – they’ll be dead. I had understood that the allaged Jesus brought messages of divine and previously unknown wisdom with him on his epic journey to earth and here you now are saying that he did nothing of the sort, that he picked up bits and pieces together as he went along and then cobbled it together into his own (or his father’s whatever) brand with a few conjuring tricks thrown in for the sake of publicity. That would go some way to explaining how medocre so much of it is.

    I generally find the happiness of christians a rather sickly and empty form, based as it is almost entirely on their own foundationless and pathetic form of superiority to their fellow mammals and the utter falseness of their consolation. Us commonsense non-believers tend to locate happiness in things of substance rather than in illusion and self-delusion, in arrt and science and philosophy and music and in relation to actual living people rather than despite them, as Christians do, wearing their knees out grovelling to some phoney dictator in the sky and being unctuous if not contomptuous towards and dimissive of their fellow creatures. if that’s your version of joy then keep it and keep it to yourself, friend.

  • HeinzGuderian

    word

    You’ll be okay,as long as nothing drops on you………………:-)

  • The Word

    Nun

    “messages of divine and previously unknown wisdom”

    You’ll have that impression if you’re not happy.

    “the happiness of christians a rather sickly and empty form”

    The Christians you see are merely sheltering from people like you, and sending out signals that they want things to be better.

    “happiness in things of substance rather than in illusion and self-delusion, in arrt and science and philosophy and music ”

    Philosophical messages can be interesting but in determining whether or not people are happy you must address the indicators that reveal true happiness or true self-revulsion. Those haughty accents, superior tones and the service of certain people to the material god, Money, all indicate unhappiness. Have a think about it before you disagree. Then you may also see that simple philosophies, simple messages and pure motives determine the true path to happiness.

    Rather than grovelling to a God, which only people in distress do, and God welcomes that, your sophistcated dance is a pretence to happiness, underscored with arrogance and self-serving ideology that serves only to currupt those who fall for the whole agenda.

    I’ve been to ballets and there’s the proof if ever any was needed that people pretend about enjoyment.

    I would put your philosophy down to little more than that self-delusion of the magpie, but for me it sends out a message, and I don’t like that message.

  • The Word

    HG

    Likewise.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Word

    “messages of divine and previously unknown wisdom” – You’ll have that impression if you’re not happy”.

    – That makes no sense to me whatsoever. I very much doubt if it even makes sense to you or to anyone else either.

    “the happiness of christians a rather sickly and empty form”
    “The Christians you see are merely sheltering from people like you, and sending out signals that they want things to be better”.

    – A lot of them can’t wait for the end of the world. If I believed what they/you did I could hardly contain my excitement much longer either. Can’t quite bring themselves to go the distance and end it all though can they ? I think I know why.

    “Those haughty accents, superior tones and the service of certain people to the material god, Money, all indicate unhappiness”.

    – You’re sooo bitter about being short of dough, huh Word ?!

    “simple messages and pure motives determine the true path to happiness”.

    – Now there you might be onto something….but probably not. Let’s suppose you’re right for the sake of argument – tThing is, you don’t need any faith-based baloney to have any of that.

    “Rather than grovelling to a God, which only people in distress do, and God welcomes that”

    – He welcomes desperate people grovelling to him ? Yeah, I’ll bet ‘he’ does. Most totalitarians operate on just such a basis. It’s really revolting. One more huge big reasons to be thankful that there’s not a word of truth in the sinister garbage that suggests that this capricious being exists in the first place.

    “…self-delusion of the magpie, but for me “it sends out a message, and I don’t like that message”.

    – I don’t care if you do or not; most of what you’re projecting onto me in relation to what you think I believe in is a figment of your imagination. Your belief system is what’s under discussion and you plainly lack the will or capability to even explain it let alone defend it. White noise might be de rigueur in the SDLP veterans club – in fact I’m positive that it would be if such a nauseatingly boring institution existed – but it simply won’t wash with me, padre. It’s textbook Christianity really – all the moral certainty and superiority in the world on one hand, absolutely no ability to engage in rational criticism of it or even persuasively explain it on the other.

  • joeCanuck

    HG,

    Or you drop head first onto a hard surface. Perhaps that has occurred already.
    Woof.

  • The Word

    JoeCIAnuck

    You never know your own reflection, Joe.

  • The Word

    Nun

    “You’re sooo bitter about being short of dough, huh Word ?!”

    If you knew what I had, you would know that I have pearls in my possession, all waiting to be realised. No, I’m making a serious point. I fully realise that it’s hard to tell people like you the truth because I’d be hitting at the very meaning of your lives, something which you’ve been taught implicitly from a nipper, and that usually raises anger, and the bully comes out to assert “meaning” rather than repentance.

    “you plainly lack the will or capability to even explain it let alone defend it. ”

    There’s been a lot said and written about Christianity. Why would I need to explain it or defend it. You may not realise but a lot of people want to hear about your alternative, and how it has you so happy on Slugger lecturing to me with the odd bullying tone thrown in..

  • Nunoftheabove

    Word

    “pearls in my possession, all waiting to be realised. No, I’m making a serious point”.

    – Oh I very much doubt it, if you are it’s a very opaque one. Again. These pearls you speak of….are they largely, how shall I put this, in your head ?

    ” I fully realise that it’s hard to tell people like you the truth because I’d be hitting at the very meaning of your lives,”

    – From what you say you’re struggling to articulate the truth in any recognisable sense and please don’t purport to know anything about my life – you don’t. That’s one of the very few points you’ve – albeit inadvertently – made which IS fairly clear.

    “There’s been a lot said and written about Christianity. Why would I need to explain it or defend it”.

    – It’s the most important thing in your life and you seem insistent that it’s the most important thing missing from mine. You can’t even string two sentencess together which explains it let alone defend it from rational and quite specific criticism. There has indeed been a lot written about it, a great deal of it idle gobbledegook. Those must have been the books that you read, judging by your input here.

    ” lecturing to me with the odd bullying tone thrown in”.

    – Ah, the old christian self-pity line – it’s come to this already ?! Poor you. It’s the flip-side of the tremendous arrogance not uncommon among belivers so again, full marks for stumbling upon something that’s altogether transparent.

  • The Word

    Nun

    “rational and quite specific criticism.”

    The Materialist position is not rational. That much is clear from modern psychology never mind the ancient psychological wisdom of Christ. “Bounded rationality”, “limited perspective” to mention but a couple of important concepts man is guilty of.

    You need to be free from attachment to any fear-based thought to really even begin to know about Christ’s teaching. Materialism is an expression of fear. The fear is that man is on his own in this world. No-one will help. Acting on that fear is to express a belief about the nature of mankind, that mankind is evil. A symptom of that kind of society is the description of the entrepreneur as “a self-made man”.

    There’s lots of loaded vocabulary to seemingly persuade the materialist that he has made his mark on the world. In actual fact he has only expressed his fear.

    The fear is very often based on an inferiority or an inferiority complex. Those most driven to get to the top usually have a reason for trying in the first place. Unhappiness is central to their efforts.

    That’s why Christians see the poor, not as people to be used, but as more Christian, more contented in many instances and less corrupt.

    The truth hurts sometimes, but I’m sure you’ll realise now that there were those who knew who Jesus was really was getting at and that it was no accident that he ended up on the cross, embarrassing for all eternity those materialists.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Word

    “Materialism is an expression of fear.”

    – No, it just isn’t. I take comfort from the fact that the material world is all we have. I feel if anything better for knowing that there is no ‘helping hand’ (or ‘punishing hand’) beyond. This is all there is and there’s plenty to enjoy.

    “There’s lots of loaded vocabulary to seemingly persuade the materialist that he has made his mark on the world. In actual fact he has only expressed his fear”.

    – Fear of what ? You’re just judging and projecting from your very decided if remarkably poorly founded Christian perspective.

    “The fear is very often based on an inferiority or an inferiority complex”.

    – Many successful people are driven by insecurities, usually driven by over-critical or over-domineering parents. That doesn’t explain materialism to even the slightest degree and Christianity bestows this inferiority – the always feeling guilty – on its flock by insisting that it knows all, sees all, can convict you of thought crime (you can sin even when you’re asleep by even thinking something) and piut you into eternal punishment – it that’s not the ultimate critical parent then what is it ?

    “it was no accident that he ended up on the cross”

    – Even supposing that this happened, how on earth would it embarrass non-believers ? You’d love a father who either allowed this to happen to his only son or made it happen ? That’s not a parent I’d tolerate in my life. Human sacrifice ? That’s not a materialist concept, you need religion to practice something quite so sick as that and then celebrate it as some perverse form of parental ‘love’. Either God ‘gave’ humanity his only son or he had him killed – either way I’d run as far and as fast as I possibly could away from such a horrid being. Which, s I keep saying, means that it’s a job job for us all that there’s not a single word of truth in any of it. It’s a revolting idea as well as false one.

  • The Word

    Nun

    “I take comfort from the fact that the material world is all we have. ”

    Why do you take comfort from it if it is not an expression of a fear or, more precisely, an anxiety?

    “no ‘helping hand’ (or ‘punishing hand’) beyond.”

    Perhaps if you understood this on the basis that the helping hand is other human beings, and certainly the reality is that if you break rules you get punished. It’s hardly rocket science.

    “Fear of what ?”

    Fear of inadequacy. The fear propells him in a certain direction, usually regarded as an expression of individuality. He gets the plaudits if he succeeds, but rarely stops trying. Society puts him on a pedestal if he succeeds, but fails to either delve deeper into his motivations or properly recognise the numbers of people trying to do what he does, but fail. The materialist is the modern day rival of Jesus Christ, nothing has changed in that regard, but Christ has an infrastructure surrounding his message that serves to give him the egde, and proves that God thinks long-term, not in the fleeting trivia of materialism.

    “Many successful people are driven by insecurities.That doesn’t explain materialism ”

    You’ll know those who are successful and materialist by their values. If they see no merit in the Christ’s teaching, then they expressing unhappiness that the materialist approach is not helping. When they start trying to tell us that, not only are they happy, but that they are true “individuals”, who have their own personal belief system, that they stumbled upon in the search for their materialist goal. Christ’s teaching has no ideal income level, but when you start seeing it as a threat to your happiness, then it’s time to start assessing things.

    Christ been remembered as being on the Cross is a bit like the murder of JFK, done in the full view of men, and intended to cause great revulsion and therefore movement in society away from the materialists. In terms of God and his son, there was always the ressurection. God won, you know. The Satanists simply hadn’t got the freedom of thought that would have allowed them to work out the outcome. Their attachments, as you suggest, their anxieties, controlled them.

  • Nunoftheabove

    “Why do you take comfort from it if it is not an expression of a fear or, more precisely, an anxiety?”

    – The natural world we live in is awash with risk, with opportunity, with doubt, with certainty, with the expected and the unexpected – that’s exciting (not frightening) enough – make-believe is for children Word. Enjoy the world you know, don’t fear or invest false expectation in one which you hope exists but which deep down almost all believers doubt.

    “Perhaps if you understood this on the basis that the helping hand is other human beings, and certainly the reality is that if you break rules you get punished”

    – You don’t require any religious dimension either to be that helping hand or to enjoy its assistance. Your point on punishment is utterly purposeless as written.

    “”the fear propells him in a certain direction, usually regarded as an expression of individuality.

    – Regarded by who ? And why would one care what others think about how much we succeed or not ?

    “The materialist is the modern day rival of Jesus Christ, nothing has changed in that regard, but Christ has an infrastructure surrounding his message that serves to give him the egde, and proves that God thinks long-term, not in the fleeting trivia of materialism”.

    – Rival ? Giggle of the day so far but it’s early yet and you may not have had your hallucinatory omelette for tea yet. The difference is that materialism has an actual basis and a reality, your imaginary friend doesn’t. One’s real, one’s made up.

    “You’ll know those who are successful and materialist by their values”

    – No, you can judge them on that basis if you like – I don’t care if you do or not. Your judgment of and on me is so wide of the mark it’s ridiculous although I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t esteem even slightly it even if it was accurate. Keep trying. better yet, don’t.

    “ If they see no merit in the Christ’s teaching, then they expressing unhappiness that the materialist approach is not helping. When they start trying to tell us that, not only are they happy, but that they are true “individuals”, who have their own personal belief system, that they stumbled upon in the search for their materialist goal. Christ’s teaching has no ideal income level, but when you start seeing it as a threat to your happiness, then it’s time to start assessing things.

    – It’s not a threat to my happiness, other people interfering in my life on the basis of their faith, trying to legislate and limit freedoms and absorbing my tax dollars is annoying, yes. I can see no happiness within your faith– any happiness that I do, could or would value – in it in any case whether it’s true or not. The fact that it’s bullshit simply emphasizes its utter emptiness.

    “Christ been remembered as being on the Cross is a bit like the murder of JFK, done in the full view of men, and intended to cause great revulsion”

    – Why was it necessary to cause revulsion and why do you worship a non-being who visits revulsion upon you to frighten you into behaving a certain way ? You love ‘soomeone’ who would do that ? A revolting spectacle of human sacrifice ? If he created the capacity of men to be – in your terms, or mine – evil in the first place why go to all that bother ?

    “God won, you know”.

    – If ‘he’ is anything like as powerful as you hold ‘him’ to be in the first place the concept of victory simply does not pertain. If ‘he’ is almighty and all-powerful there is no basis for a contest to begin with.

    Enjoy your omelette, dude.

  • The Word

    Nun

    “don’t fear or invest false expectation in one which you hope exists but which deep down almost all believers doubt.”

    This is in relation to that comment about “the kingdom that is to come”. Well, Jesus is referring to a happy society and he is urging people to continually strive to get there. On the one hand some interpret it as heaven – as a psychological inducement to reach it – and on the other hand he knows that there are powerful interests in the way of people living in heaven. But whatever you think, it is a better world on earth that he seeks. That the people you know “doubt it” is defined by the powers that they see in the way of a happy world. Very few doubt it where I live.

    “why would one care what others think about how much we succeed or not ? ”

    Only you can answer that one. What’s the purpose to it? Why do it? My suggestion is underlying anxiety.

    “materialism has an actual basis ” – Just as a magpie will tell you.

    “why do you worship a non-being who visits revulsion upon you to frighten you into behaving a certain way ”

    “frighten” – Who was frightened? We were just defining the enemy. But people acted out of love and idealism, if you must know.

    “Human frailty” creates evil. God created man but man created evil through separation from God. The materialists were central to that departure from God, always inmsisting that happiness is found in things rather than people.

    “the concept of victory simply does not pertain.”

    You might not be the worst materialist there’s ever been, Nun, but the reality through history is that you can never tell a materialist that he has lost. He simply hasn’t got the freedom of thought to realise that he is wrong. Materialists tend to cling together, while hating each other, and our experience is that they pay people to fight their battles because they’ve accumulated more than others.

    So as I say, you’ll never realise that you can’t be right because you don’t have the ability to be completely honest with yourself. But I’ll put it this way, if every person on this planet consumed the goods that materialists consume, it wouldn’t be long before we were running on empty.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Word

    You’re judging again – as tiresome as it is inaccurate. Your statement “God created man but man created evil through separation from God” is among the most puerile that you’ve managed to date. If evil is god-created then why has ‘he’ such an issue with it and why do you – shouldn’t you simply credit god with it and thank him (like you do everything else, whether beneficial or malevolent) for it ? Face it, you’re chossing to make yourself a mere slave and a plaything for a being (for whom there is literally no evidence for. At. All.) with a very capricious sense of humour, with a taste in cruelty, and who appears to require an awful lot of praise and thanks for things which require no effort or imagination on ‘his’ part. Those are qualities which would truly (and naturally) revolt us if we located them in a fellow mammal.

  • Nevin….apologies that I could not reply earlier to you. I have been away from home.

    “I am not so sure that Corrymeelaism is as harmless as it looks”

    Again I re-iterate that I am not attacking Corrymeela in itself. I have a lot of time for the original people. Less time for the people who have jumped the “peace” bandwagon. In many ways Corrymeela is the original and the best. But Corrymeela-ism ….the variety of victims groups, peace groups, “ex (terrorist) prisoners” has become a pantomime that we dare not openly criticise.
    The real silent majority is those that have caused little pain to others and been caused little pain by others. We should not be held to ransom by people who refuse to move on.