According to a recent RedC poll Ireland is losing its religion faster than most countries. Now we must of course be wary of polls and declaring the end of religion as we know is still a bit presumptuous, but the poll is encouraging. For me it is obvious that the increase in non-believers has coincided with an increasingly educated population, wider access to information and the inevitable decline in the influence of the church. It is clear that the abuse scandals, cover ups and authoritarian reaction from the church to all this has done its fair share in damaging the influence of Catholicism. But I would be more inclined to think that regardless of the all the scandals this decrease in religiosity and move towards secularism was an inevitability.
We live in a time where science is uncovering truths and debunking myths at a rate of knots. It is a wooden stake in the heart of myth and mediaevalism and for many believers it is becoming harder to reconcile the myths and doctrines of their religion with the hard cold reality of scientific fact. Not to mind the Vatican’s obvious disconnection with the social realities of modern society. Their teachings with regard to homosexuality, contraception, and a host of other moronic dictates are at odds with the thinking of a majority of people in Ireland.
The church is increasingly isolated in its thinking and its dogmatic arrogance and narcissism only furthers the widening gap between a modern forward thinking population and a dusty irrelevant dictatorship. With every new scientific discovery from the Higgs Boson to an understanding of human consciousness, the creation fantasies and claims of the Judeo-Christian religions are eroded one step at a time.
While we may never live in a world free of religion we can live in a world where it is domesticated and its more destructive forms are sidelined and treated with the contempt they deserve. But we have a long way to go yet.
Seeing the NASA team’s reaction to the news that Curiosity had landed successfully on Mars sent shivers down my spine. Because I shared their joy but also because it proved once again what our species is capable of when at it’s best.
When I saw Curiosity’s first pictures the reality of what thousands of people from around the globe have accomplished became so much more visceral and real. We have landed a semi autonomous car sized robot laboratory capable of searching for life, on another planet.
How long before we stand on that planet? I’m betting not long at all.
As the Mars Curiosity rover is only a few days away from arriving at the red planet. I thought it was a good idea to pop this video in. It’s a brilliant narrated video of what will happen during the landing.
Apologies for being quiet over the last week but slipping on tiles and landing on my shoulder meant I’ve been away from the keyboard.
Today I spotted, to my everlasting horror, Ronan Keating’s new song and in a moment of what I can only describe as pain-killer induced madness I watched it.
The song itself is typical Keating trash. Some saccharine whine about his ex wife and blah blah blah I’m so rich it hurts. It’s an ode to mediocrity and a parody of music. It is essentially a pure representation of evil and all that is wrong in the world.
But the video my friends is something to behold. Imagine the Hoff but really taking himself seriously and you have a fair idea of what to expect. At one point there are two Ronan’s each gazing longingly into the others dead eyes. The vast emptiness reflected therein is chilling.
And I’m not sure what is worse, that he made this modern-day horror or that in the comments section under the video people praise it and one particularly bright person asks, “what does the video mean?” I suspect this person has problems tying their laces and finds door handles a challenge.
Remember when music videos were an art? or when music was for that matter.
Reading the piece in the Journal today regarding Monsignor William J Lynn being found guilty of covering up sexual abuse by priests in America, brings Cardinal Sean Brady to mind. In America dogged prosecutors armed with the law pushed to have the Monsignor convicted of what to any thinking person is a crime.
In Ireland a few years back, we had Mr Brady coming on TV with not a single hint of remorse claiming it was the ‘times’ so therefore I’ve done nothing wrong. The Irish state has not bothered to even attempt to prosecute him.
Let me remind you what Mr Brady did; he made two young children sign some archaic Latin documents forcing them into silence and a lifetime of hell after they told him of the horrific abuse they had suffered at the hands of a fellow priest, and never informed the police.
Not informing the police meant a sexual predator was able to continue raping children for many years to come. Silencing the children guaranteed a lifetime of suffering and anguish. No thinking moral human being could possibly defend these actions. Unless of course you happen to be a priest attached to one of worlds most morally bankrupt organisations.
Ask yourself this – Were a teacher to have been found to have forced two school children into silence after they informed on their abuser and he then told his principal who then decided not to tell the police. What do you think would happen? Do you think as a society we would be happy to accept the same defence from the hypothetical teacher as we did from the very real Mr Brady?
Of course not. They would be prosecuted and vilified in the press. Why has this not happened to Brady? I honestly don’t know. If it’s some cultural hangover or a lack of political will due to some childhood fear of the church still lingering in the older politicians, I can’t say.
All I know is it’s wrong and that every time Brady opens his mouth and spews some arrogant bile from the pulpit or in front of the TV, he should be treated with the contempt he deserves.
I’ve been re-reading some of my travel mails and writing from a few years back and I’ve always liked this one, so I decided to share. Being much younger my writing was very different and not so good, but other than cleaning up a few mistakes I’ve left it as is. My younger self deserves I think to have it left alone. Enjoy.
So there I was, walking towards the monastery wondering to myself, ‘will I be able to float after this?’ I mean meditation does give one strange and wonderful powers, does it not?. I was heading up the very steep road to a Buddhist monastery in northern Thailand to spend 10 days learning to meditate. Clearing my mind, embracing the oneness of the universe and finding inner peace along with an understanding of the nature of the cosmos; or so I thought.
I meet my teacher, a monk called Ajan Southep, inside the main hall of a very beautiful monastery sitting at the top of cone-shaped hill with views looking out over a verdant Thai plane. The Dali Lama himself thinks my teacher may have reached enlightenment. This is a man who for all intents and purposes has found ultimate insight and peace. He has gazed into the centre of existence and understands why the meaning to everything is 42. He was very small. I stood looking at this modern-day hobbit, all eyes and feet. His huge eyes peered intently at me through the double glazing of his spectacles. He turned and pointed at a long mat and said “lets walk”
And did I walk. I walked 6 steps forward, then clicked my hills like Dorothy but I wasn’t going home. No I was going inward. Then 6 steps back. Repeat, for hours on end. I was thought to meditate in the lotus position and movements that went with it. I was thought to find the truth,confirm it,accept it and then just to be happy with it.
But there was a flaw in all this. I had stopped smoking. The monks weren’t nicotine friendly and I felt it was a good place to stop. Bad move. Three days into my climbing of the spiritual mountain that is meditation I was walking towards the kitchen for my lunch and last meal of the day. Wrapped in solitude and stillness I focused only on the movement of my feet. A sound permeated my emptiness and I looked up. Approaching me was a monk, saffron robes draped carelessly about him, his head clearly unshaven for a few days and a cigarette hanging from his mouth. I almost stumbled in shock. As he passed me in slow motion, a cloud of smoke billowed from between his lips. He looked me in the eyes and inhaled again. A deep slow inhalation of pure toxic joy. I could see the serenity in his eyes as he smiled at me saying nothing and disappeared around a corner.
That evening my mind went from glacial to chaos. All I could hear was the call of nicotine. I fought it trying everything in my power to focus on my movements. “He couldn’t have been a monk.I must have been hallucinating due to lack of sleep and all the meditation. No he was a karma thief assuming the identity of a monk and sent there to purloin all their hard-earned karma”. My mind whirled with thoughts and I snapped. I ran from my hut and into the night not sure where I was going but I was going to get cigarettes.
Alone in the dark I stopped wondering what the hell I was doing when the sound of the lawnmower engine of a moped came sauntering through the night towards me. The bike stopped beside me and the happy face of a Thai man whom I recognized as the monastery handy man stared at me clearly wondering what this deranged man was doing in the middle of the road late at night. He said hello to me in Thai. I shouted “Marlboro Lights” at him. He jumped off the bike spoke rapidly in Thai pointing to bike and then off into the distance. Ah! He was giving me his bike. I was almost on it and gone before I realized I wasn’t sure where I was going and if I would survive traveling at night on a moped in Thailand. I explained to him through gestures that all I wanted was a lift. He understood. Huzzah for international sign language.
So off we went stuttering into the night. It wasn’t until we hit the first bend that I noticed the lights on the bike were starting to dim and then they died. My driver, continued onward ignoring our lack of illumination, all the while singing at the top of his voice. “Stop! You can’t see where your going!” He ignored me and sang on. Clinging to the back of the bike fear and adrenalin coursing through me. I zoned in on the singing. I swear to you I was convinced he was singing highway to hell in Thai.
Some how we survived and managed to make it back up to the monastery, with of course my smokes. I never saw the Karma thief again.
I did however manage to survive my time in the monastery and learn to meditate to a certain degree. I even achieved total emptiness at ones stage. It was quite the experience. Ajan,my teacher became more and more fascinating as I got to know him. The more time I spent in his presence the more time I started to believe that the man may indeed be enlightened. I wanted to ask him could he float? But I always got side tracked trying to figure out his metaphors about pools with the fish of truth, the peelings of an orange and a blind man with no walking stick.
So it seems the debate about the proper attire to wear when one is a parliamentarian rages on in old Hibernia.
Since the beginnings of the state politicians from all parts of Ireland have been trying heroically to seem more bourgeois than their proletarian roots would otherwise suggest, by stuffing themselves into off the rack suits; the odd fashionista may even have purchased a Louis Copeland special.
But since the general election, t-shirt wearing independents have been popping up in the back benches like irreverent weeds and no matter how many time the Ceann Comhairle waves his gavel and demands they respect the sobriety of the surroundings and have a little decorum, they just keep coming back.
Today in The Journal we have pictures of Luke Ming Flanagan wearing a bright orange Oscar the grouch t-shirt, standing up talking to the chamber. To my surprise, in the comments section under the piece raged a fierce debate on the issue. The surprise being that so many people cared enough about such a non-issue they felt an irresistible desire to comment on it.
Honestly when it’s the politicians shouting at each other saying, “my suit is better than your t-shirt” one despairs for the complexity of our political discourse. When the plebs get arguing about it,well then I know we’re fucked.