Wednesday 18 September 2019

What we really want is a joyous Lord – who can also dance

Fr Ray Kelly: has been known to burst into song during weddings
Fr Ray Kelly: has been known to burst into song during weddings

* The philosopher Nietzsche declared that God was dead and that we had killed him.

We are well rid of the God that Nietzsche ditched and would embrace willingly the God that he would have found credible – one who could dance. I am convinced that Nietzsche would have been on the side of priests such as Father Ray Kelly who break into song whilst conducting a wedding service, as he believed that without music life would be a mistake.

He was responding to the rather dour, pessimistic religion of his day where God seemed to have all the marks of a malign dictator, commanding his creation with a rod of iron, sending miscreants to an unimaginable cruel torture chamber for all eternity.

Nietzsche's God continues to haunt believers and unbelievers alike. God is seen as some kind of supreme DIY enthusiast who tends to leave his creations unfinished, messes things up and blames us.

There are many scenes depicted in the Gospels where we can imagine Christ having a good laugh at the folly of some of the machinations, beliefs and practices of the people he encountered. Theological and philosophical discussions of the Christian life often fail to distinguish between intellectual rigour and rigor mortis.

Seriousness so often and so easily can degenerate into deathly seriousness. I sometimes think that Father Ted did more for religious belief than some earnest sermons. As Gilbert Chesterton noted: "Some things in life are too important to be taken seriously."

I find my children are eminently effective at deflating even the slightest drift towards self-importance and humourless intensity. Once, when frustrated by the illogicality of certain statements about religious belief, I was reminded by one of my colleagues that some positions cannot be handled logically, they are best dealt with through laughter; hence the importance of comedy and satire in our lives.

Sadly, satire in Ireland seems to be tamed by hypersensitive defamation laws; the only merriment they engender is the laughter of lawyers on the way to the bank. May the Lord of the Dance be with you all.




* The price for what we accept as the "normality" of peace is more easily forgotten in a world of privilege. Despite what we call a recession, these are the best days of our lives in the free world. The only thing that ever stood in the way of that since time began is war.

War is the ultimate result of when the buck stops at the doorstep of two people who cannot articulate any more or any better since the first primitive grunt from our ancestors wielding a club made out of animal bone. Often war starts over the most trivial of things: principle, honour, jealousy or rage.

It is the soldier of war who has the most to lose in all of it – starting with his life. He is the testing ground, the prober, and ultimately the pawn. The politics and morality after the battle are left for the victors to decide, and to their political masters, the spoils of war to divide. But for the soldier, if he survives, it can be very different, and much worse for his family if he does not. If he is left able-bodied it is a blessing; if not, it is surely a curse.

This is the 100th year since the beginning of the Great War that was supposed to end all wars. Less than 21 years after its conclusion we had the beginning of World War II. Many smaller wars followed. The next major mistake made from the politics for the avoidance of war will be our last. But the argument to start war must be seen first with due respect of the soldier and to his care; and the honest, moral and just reasons why we need to go to war. To them, the soldiers, both men and women, it is their living that must matter most and not their dying.

Soldiers and their families deserve not the fickle tests of our remembrance, but real supports set in the bedrock of law that provide for them, and from that of which we take for granted: freedom in a free world.




* In response to Sean Smith, who has taken offence on Paddy O'Brien's behalf to my "disrespectful" letter (Letters, May 5). For Mr Smith's benefit, the point of my letter was twofold: that merely claiming God doesn't exist does not mean that God doesn't exist; and that consistency in nature surely points to an underlying, governing, and arguably omnipotent intelligence that we might call God.

The point of Mr O'Brien's letter was that God doesn't exist because Paddy says so, and that religious people, "Amazingly live in total ignorance".

In consideration of these synopses, I would ask Mr Smith to please refrain from lecturing me or anybody on tolerance and respect, when his cited paragon of those values labelled me and billions of others as totally ignorant not five days previously.




* GPs have had to resort to Twitter @resourceGP #cardwatch to highlight the plight of their patients as letters, emails and meetings were having no effect. It is clear that the Health Minister must now rapidly implement a three-step plan.

1. Restore discretionary medical cards to people that need them; 2. Resource GPs properly so that free medical care can be extended to those at the margins financially and with chronic illness; and 3. Research, debate and plan towards universal healthcare. That would be fair; what is happening is not.




* Following the recent unrest in Labour due to MEP Phil Prendergast's criticism of Eamon Gilmore, a common thread that explains the rise of Independents has been highlighted.

Recent opinion polls suggest surges in support for Sinn Fein and Independents at the expense of Fine Gael and Labour in particular. I suspect the opinion poll gains for Sinn Fein are soft and will not actually materialise into marked vote increases in future general elections, but there is on-the-ground support for Independents.

Labour, in particular, has shipped many defectors. Colm Keaveney left on principle after voting against the Government on a cut to the respite care grant, but others hold their tongue against their better judgment so as to retain the party whip. This type of behaviour has turned the public against many party politicians.

While many Labour candidates offer an abundance of local promise to upcoming local election voters, the fear that they will eventually have to fall into line with Enda and Co will be telling at the ballot box.

While Independents find it harder to influence the Government, at least they don't appear to be gagged and can speak passionately from the back benches.




* In the quiet village of Crossakiel in north Meath last Sunday, a group of Anglo-Irish trade unionists met to celebrate the life and times of Jim Connell, who was born in nearby Kilskyre in 1852, and who went on to pen 'The Red Flag', the anthem of the international labour movement.

It was surreal to listen to a trade union leader speak of the great anomaly of our times, the high level of unemployment amongst the most highly educated-to-date generation of school leavers. Though the village setting was local, the message was universal and global. The pervasive inequalities of our times.



Irish Independent

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