Letters to the Editor: 'We should all give ourselves a few moments to reflect on miracle and wonder of a child's birth'
The persistent attempts to find the real meaning of the over-heated winter festival that is Christmas is frustrated from the start by the fact there is no pure and perfect Christmas that can be disentangled from the cut and thrust of human living.
Sacred and secular seem to work hand in hand in giving us all an opportunity to step aside from the daily round and its sometimes ungodly pursuits, so as to dream awhile about the truth embodied in story and song that centre around the birth of a child in Bethlehem.
The early Christian churches had little interest in the birth of Christ; it is explicitly dealt with only in Matthew's and Luke's gospels and was not celebrated until the third or fourth centuries.
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It is easy to forget the gospel writers were not writing competing biographies of Jesus but each in their own way was engaging with the oral tradition of story, song, memory and myth that permeated their understanding of their world.
Besides which, they were speaking to different audiences with different purposes. They were not concerned in providing some form of botched history.
Christmas is not some intellectual conundrum to be resolved through a form of incisive scholarship; rather it is humanised through the exercise of wonder and imagination embodied in our engagement with this compelling festival of singing, decorating, giving and receiving, forgiving and forgetting.
No matter how tough-minded we see ourselves as being, a redeeming feature of our complex living is our capacity to allow a little tender-heartedness to enter our lives as we reflect on the miracle of the birth of a child.
Casual and overt racism needs to be rooted out
In a multi-cultural Ireland, we have many positive things to learn from one another. But, sadly, not everyone thinks that way.
Racism is becoming a major issue in our society; in fact, it is on the rise. Racism as we know is discrimination, pre-judgment or hostile behaviour directed at another person on the basis of their race, ethnicity, gender or cultural background.
It can come in many different forms, from harsh comments to offensive actions. In more extreme cases, racism occurs in public spaces and comes from strangers, and can escalate to violent hate crimes.
Any form of racism is unacceptable, even a comment or action that is subtle or occurs in a casual environment. It's not on and we must end it now. Racism is more than just physical pain; racism robs people of colour of their humanity and dignity and leaves personal, psychological and spiritual injuries.
In recent years, as right-wing extremism has gained ground in our societies, we have become more aware of the overt threats to democratic principles and values. Yet, within our own societies and cultures there remains hidden prejudices and bias.
The society we live in is the result of human choices and decisions.
While we give thanks for the diversity of people of cultures and ethnicities, of histories and life-stories, of skin colour and language and hearts that love the world, the best way to give thanks is to disassemble the systems, the stories and myths that privilege one colour over another; to root out and uproot the insidious beliefs of those of us with privilege that "me and mine" are better than "you and yours".
It is time. It is well past time to end racial discrimination.
Knocknacarra, Co Galway
Perfidious 'Toy Show' should be ditched by RTÉ
With so much discussion on the role of RTÉ in its provision of public service broadcasting, it is timely to question the relevance of the annual 'Toy Show'.
We live in a society where we have 10,000 citizens homeless, including 4,000 children. We have families existing on 'gig' employment. Employees in this bottom strata of society earn the minimum wage and are not sure if their job will be there tomorrow or indeed whether they will be sent home after journeying into work. Our politicians regard this 'zero-hours' employment as acceptable and its existence is lauded as evidence of full employment
I joined RTÉ as deputy financial controller in August 1961 before RTÉ opened on December 31, 1961. As a matter of interest, the annual budget in the first few years was IR£2m for the combined radio and television offering, including the symphony and light orchestras.
The highest paid contributor was Paddy Crosbie for his 'School Around the Corner', which commenced in 1954 and transferred to TV in 1962. 'The Late Late Show' was the brainchild of Tom McGrath which went ahead on a rolling contract basis against the view of programme controller Michael Barry (ex-BBC).
I can remember in the early '60s if you wished to buy toys out of the Christmas season there was only one shop selling them in Dublin. It was in Henry Street, where RTÉ bought toys as prizes for children's programmes.
Today we have large toy emporiums in all the major cities, which must be as delighted as the UK manufacturers are who actually sell us 95pc of our toys.
Their profits are helped by our public service broadcaster, whose perfidious 'Toy Show' displays an array of toys that pressurise parents to yield to the pester power of their children, who are themselves subjected to peer pressure from their young friends.
Ex-RTÉ authority member Bob Quinn, who objected to the 'Toy Show' on the above grounds, saw his arguments ignored by RTÉ, as I am sure the case will be ignored again. RTÉ will argue the programme has a big audience and attracts many advertisers, which is not a case for a public service broadcaster.
Cleggan, Co Galway
No rebuilding will be required to upgrade TDs
Government spokespersons have been quick to point out there is no truth in the suggestion the Dáil will undergo further architectural modifications, involving the widening of door entrances, in order to accommodate the increased size of some Cabinet ministers' capital assets (that is, their heads).
They absolutely refute reports that when VAT is added to the weight of a number of TDs, it will be necessary to strengthen some of the floors in Leinster House. And they describe as "pure fantasy" the notion that fork-lifts will be needed to help some of the TDs to negotiate the ups and downs of moving into and out of the chamber of deputies.
Cornelscourt, Dublin 18
Ease the hard copy load - let email take the strain
I am emailing this letter. I was going to submit it as hard copy but my fork-lift is broken and I can't load the paper.
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Farmers' protests have echoes of miners' strike
The protests by Irish farmers threatening the blockade of food distribution centres reminds me of the British miners' strike back in 1983/84 - 'nuff said.
Blackrock, Dundalk, Co Louth
Punishments should fit crime of licence dodging
Transport Minister Shane Ross has come up with yet another road safety strategy. I would love to know why he has failed to address the problem of people not presenting their licences in court.
Now, Mr Ross, you could direct that a person who arrived in court without a licence would not have their case heard on the first occasion. Failing to produce the licence on the second occasion would lead to a heavy fine and a requirement that the person prove that they have, in fact, got a licence.
This shambles means that 7,500 disqualified drivers continue to drive and some people who have no licence and who never had a licence are doing the same. Summonses don't get delivered, as people have changed address. I would suggest every person applying for a licence would have to give their PPS number and resolve any GDPR problems to do so. In the present regime, honest people get punished while thousands avoid their fate by playing our flawed system. Minister, tinkering at the edges will never resolve this national scandal.
Jenkinstown, Kilcock, Co Meath