Monday 29 August 2016

Letters: Cast aside the mental manacles of religion

Published 11/06/2014 | 02:30

A child’s doll at the gates of Leinster House. Photo: PA
A child’s doll at the gates of Leinster House. Photo: PA

* The attempted rationalisations conjured up by the church and its followers with regard to the Tuam mass grave are not surprising.

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The "we weren't the only ones at fault" attitude has almost become a slogan for the church and religious apologists in modern times, wheeled out in times of controversy in an attempt to inoculate itself from further disgrace.

I would take issue with Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob's and Fr Con McGillicuddy's letters (Irish Independent, June 9) where they say things such as "we should blame societies who at times condemned unmarried mothers or children born out of wedlock to neglect, ostracism and abandonment", and "adoptions were forced on unfortunate single mothers because there were no social services for them and Christian families would not bear the public shame of caring for a daughter who had a child born out of wedlock".

Both men focus on symptoms rather than drilling deep for the cause. However, they hit on an accidental truth (thus disproving their intended points). An aside . . . even if their points were true (and church and State were completely separate) it wouldn't make a difference, for only one of these organisations preaches divinely inspired morality.

At the time in question (still to this day, some would argue) Ireland's politics, culture and society were so deeply couched in religion that it was arguably, if unofficially, a theocracy.

In fact, so much power had church and so tightly had the concept of sin impressed itself into the lives of the people, a kind of proto-caste system had emerged, and the unlucky were cast into indentured servitude, to which no one batted an eyelid.

This had a crippling effect on society and Irish culture. Ultimately, it's at such times, when dogmatic religious fervour has gripped a national consciousness to such an extent, that the church can preach righteousness, morality and love while simultaneously, and apathetically, committing acts of unspeakable cruelty.

This mental and emotional compartmentalisation coupled with such pervasive political power allows the church (and all religions) to be able to eschew empathy in lieu of preserving its supposed virtue.

Dr Al Qutob goes further to say: "The more we distance ourselves from religious doctrines, the more we become ruthless, indifferent and void." I dare say if the unwed mothers and terrified children (and everyone else) of 20th-Century Ireland had been more distant from religious doctrines, they'd (and we'd) be all better off for it.

It's time to cast aside the mental manacles of religion, to cull this willing suspension of our critical faculties and seek intellectual and emotional independence just as we once sought national independence.





* What people have to remember is that when the Tuam babies were being buried, the Catholic priests of the time were talking Latin to a wall while all the people of the parish were looking around wondering what was going on.

They were then treated to the thoughts of a single man on the evils that could beset all those outside wedlock, while at the same time expected to believe that this man was above these very same temptations.

This placed the clergy in an ascended position in society through the simple trick of their being the only ones brave enough to speak about sexual matters in public and from an unchallenged position.

This was a power, involving different themes, eg, Hitler speaking about Jews, that has been manipulated for centuries.

The antithesis to this is the truth. Once evidence emerges, then the problem has to be dealt with. In today's world, one of inter-connectivity, one where all opinion and all stories are shared, the old days of burying a file or dancing an advocacy group to oblivion, or outliving them in the courts is coming to an end.

What the world is evidencing in the recent votes is a changing of the guard, the new replacing the old, the method of governance in the digital age is emerging. Ancient methods and ancient theories and superstitions are being broken down by an emerging educated youth.

The politicians that best resemble this emergence are those who will be elected in the future.





* A shocking discovery of a mass grave of 796 babies who died in a mother-and-baby home in Tuam. Another case of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil in good old Catholic Ireland. Another dirty little secret hidden under the nuns' habits.

Church and State have always gone hand in hand so they too are responsible for turning a blind eye through the years of Ireland's past.

How many more of these babies not buried went to hospitals/colleges for medical research?

This was raised in the Dail in 1930 but maybe the government was too busy with the treaty and had no time to bother about its young citizens dying like flies. To the outside world, Ireland was this picturesque island of fairies and leprechauns with horses and traps and donkeys going around the lakes of Killarney, a land of saints and scholars, the land of milk and honey – well, what a pretty picture this latest scandal paints.

Suffer little children to come on to me, the Lord said. Safe in the Lord's hands they now rest, away from the hands that promised to serve God but failed.





* Media failed to challenge the spending spree brought about by the decisions of a small number of our most powerful citizens during the boom.

That ended with a bankrupt country.

The consequent austerity was denounced by the same media as unnecessary since it was someone else's fault and should be paid for by someone else.

Now media are orchestrating an early election and the return of an anti-austerity government in a country that is borrowing billions to keep public services going.

How irresponsible is that?





* Columnist Ian O'Doherty trawls far and wide in his quest for new cultural patterns to share with his readers. The latest offence he has unearthed in the US is "cultural appropriation", ie, going native. I had heard of cultural imperialism where small nations are dominated by great powers.

The newest politically incorrect offence means that those pilgrims touring here clad in looney leprechaun costumes are looting our traditional treasures.

Blush in shame.





* As the great World Cup fiesta approaches, one must note the widespread criticism about questionable FIFA decisions, inequalities in Brazil, overpaid underperforming prima donnas, etc.

But we football fans must also embrace the beautiful game and look forward to some spectacular moments of sheer skill.

The balletic artistry of performers such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and more is sure to enthral. These ball-juggling wizards are the Rudolf Nureyev or Vaslav Nijinsky of their discipline. A joy to behold. Game on!



Irish Independent

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