Now for Rónán Mullen

Yes

 

I voted against the 8th referendum in 1983.  I was in the minority and it passed.  I was 20 years old and I felt out of touch with my own country.  I could not understand how the holy Joe brigade won on that day.

I clearly remember them handing out lapel badges with tiny feet on them, to represent the feet of foetuses.  I remember the praying women, bearing their crosses and their rosary beads, marching up and down the central reservation in O’Connell Street, saying the rosary.

I remember the convents being cleared out on the polling day to make sure that nuns who had not been outside their walls in decades were engaged to cast their votes.

Thirty years on the climate has changed in Ireland.  The winds from Rome have weakened considerably.  They iron hard grip of the church on society has slackened.  The hand of the church is liver spotted, wrinkled, veined and atrophied.  The church has failed to move with the times and faces dissolution.  It is losing control of its two strongest bastions, education and health.  Ireland is well on its way to becoming a fully secular nation.

I am not anti-christian.  I actually think the Christian church was in its day the greatest force for positive change on the planet.  The preaching of a message of peace and love was a giant leap forward from some truly awful religions.  The breaking of bread and the drinking of wine as votive rites are much more civilised than chaining virgin girls to rocks, stoning sinners to death or slitting the throats of sheep and goats.

My issue is not so much with Christianity as it is with organised religion.  My position is summed up by a speech from the film “Kingdom of Heaven” where the Hospitaller knight says to Balian:

 I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God. Holiness is in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What God desires is here [points to head] and here [points to heart] and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man – or not.

In summary:  Regardless of your intentions, we are what we do.

In the Repeal the 8th campaign we saw, yet again, what the Religions Right actually do.  They lie.  They cheat.  They bully.

These are people who hold themselves up as the model of morality in our society.  Their intentions are all good.  But their actions are a disgrace.  They intentionally distort facts to make their point.  Sometimes they lie through omission and they have been caught in outright overt lies.  When they are called to account on their lies they employ the tactics of “Deny, Delay, Defend”.

Uniquely in this campaign the social media giants like Facebook and Google decided they would not accept political campaign postings in the lead up to the vote.  OK this is anecdotal but I did notice a fall off in “Repeal” material on my social network feeds.  On the eve of the election I was still seeing “Vote NO” material.  The no campaign exploited every loophole they could find to keep their campaign going.  I classify this as cheating.

The bullying was overt throughout the campaign.  Removal of Repeal posters.  Attacking campaigners in the streets.  Toppling their tables.  Throwing their leaflets to the ground.  Shouting down debaters in public discussion.  It was all ugly behaviour and none of it was reflective of what I think of as the Christian ethos.

These are people who took the lesson of Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers in the Temple, and use it as a model for how to wage every campaign.  They weaponize religion.

They lost this campaign.  They lost the same sex marriage referendum.  They lost the right to travel referendum.  They lost the divorce referendum.  But every loss makes them smaller, tighter, closer and more and more fanatical.

Rónán Mullen is the tip of this spear.  Elected by my own Seanad constituency.  Who, who, who is voting for this Smeagol, this Gollum, this hobgoblin.  Out, out, out I say.  This must not stand.

 

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Queen & Michael Jackson

jackson

No, not Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury

Stop, not that Michael Jackson.  Today is the birthday of the other Michael Jackson, you know, the Northern Ireland Bishop who was born on this day in 1956, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin.

And here he is meeting the queen, Elizabeth II Queen of England.  By the way Michael Jackson is the guy in the middle of the three on the right.

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Work of a lifetime

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Born in 1950 in Derry, Northern Ireland,  Martin McGuinness grew up in the worst era for Catholics in Northern Ireland.  They were discriminated against so badly in Protestant Northern Ireland that they emulated Black Americans such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. in setting up non-violent civil rights protests against the regime.

Through the 1960’s just as in America, the ruling class escalated the use of violence to break the protests.  McGuinness joined the IRA and was, at only 21 years of age, the second in command of the Derry Provisional IRA when British Paratroopers murdered 14 civil rights protesters in Bloody Sunday.

He was imprisoned, treated as a terrorist by a British Regime under Maggie Thatcher.  A British Government that seemed hell bent on destroying the nationalist cause by violence, intolerance and general all round hatefulness.

Elected to Stormont in 1982 in the wake of the hunger strikes and the death of Bobby Sands he, like all Sinn Féin, did not take his seat.

McGuinness went on to become the chief negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement and he took personal responsibility for disarming the IRA.

On this day, his birthday, in 1998 the people of Northern Ireland voted on the Agreement in a referendum.  75% of the people of Northern Ireland voted for peace.

Think about that.  25% of the Northern Irish wanted to continue the violence, the death and destruction.  Who are these people?

McGuinness was cast by his enemies as a villain and a terrorist.  But this is a man who worked tirelessly for peace all his life.  A short life in the end.  He passed away last year aged only 66.

Martin lived to see his life’s work come to fruition.  Northern Ireland is not a finished object and there is a long road to go to reconciliation.  That 25% of nay sayers is still up there looking to bring the whole thing crashing down about our ears.  Don’t let them.

 

Sonnets

On this day in 1609 Thomas Thorpe published Shakespeare’s Sonnets for the first time.  Shakespeare himself was still alive, and remained so for the next 7 years.  Presumably Shakespeare sold his manuscript to Thorpe, or had some interest in the sale of the book.

Sonnet 1; by William Shakespeare

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
that thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
but as the riper should by time decease,
his tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
making a famine where abundance lies,
thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
and only herald to the gaudy spring,
within thine own bud buriest thy content
and, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
to eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

Happy Birthday Who?

Townshend

Pete Townshend, that’s Who!  Born today 1945.

Prolific songwriter.  Multi-instrumentalist, and just about the most hard working and energetic stadium lead guitar ever.  He may not be the best guitarist from a technical perspective (only 10th in Rolling Stones top 100), but any band guitar player would do well to watch and learn.  This is a guy who knows how to please a crowd.

This is the guy who gave us the “Windmill technique”.  He has also been known to break a few guitars in his day.  Happy birthday Pete.

 

Through the lens of a master

Avedon

Born on this day in New York in 1923, Richard Avedon helped to set the standard for beauty in the Western World with his fashion shoots and his portraiture.  He grew up in a family where both his parents were involved in the fashion industry.  Avedon developed an interest in photography at an early age.

He believed photography captures the personality and soul of the individual.  It is his ability to project personality with his images that makes him so famous.

And it is not only the models, the politicians and the rockstars.  With his collection  “In the American West” he captured the spirit of those at the foot of the ladder in the USA of the 1980’s.  Faces tinged with sadness, despair, hopelessness.

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And sometimes he turned his camera onto the rich and famous and in their eyes he captured an image of the truth behind all the fame, the glitz and the glamour.  Those are the best.  They are like poems in the form of image capture.  Instead of a subject looking out at you from the page, showing off a dress or an image of something they wish to convey you are drawn into the photograph and you can see, deep down, the truth.

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