Friday 30 April 2010

I'm Charlie Bird and I can't stay away! - Corrigan Brothers and Pete Creighton

As we all know Washington was just too much for fast-breaking news diva Charlie Bird - With the recent announcement of his immanent return to Ireland the Corrigan Brothers and Pete Creighton came up with this moving piece:

THANK YOU VERY MUCH MICK O’LEARY - Corrigan Brothers and Pete Creighton

Corrigan Brothers and Pete Creighton acknowledge the new found charity and generosity in Michael O'Leary's response to the stranded Volcationers:


AT THE RYANAIR CHECK IN
I WAS STRANDED IN SPAIN
THE VOLCANIC ASH
HAD GROUNDED ME PLANE
AND RYANAIR SAID
WE’D BE WAITING A WEEK

I WAS IN SHOCK
I COULDN’T SPEAK
SO I HIRED A LIMO
AND SAID WHAT THE HELL
I WAS CHAUFFERED DIRECT
TO A FIVE STAR HOTEL

I CHECKED IN AND SWAMPED
DOWN CHAMPAGNE
SAID CHARGE IT TO RYANAIR
O’LEARY IS PAYIN

SO I SAY THANK YOU ,
THANK YOU,
THANK YOU VERY MUCH MICK O’LEARY

THANKS FOR THE CHAMPAGNE AND CAVIAR
THANKS FOR THE MASSIVE FREE MINI BAR MICK O’LEARY
THANK YOU VERY MUCH MICK O ‘LEARY

POOR MICK WENT BANANAS
ALL OVER THE NEWS
YOU CAN NOT CHARGE RYANAIR
I FLATLY REFUSE

BUT HE CHANGED HIS TUNE
THE VERY NEXT DAY
HE SENT OUT HIS SPOKESMAN
TO SAY HE WOULD PAY

SO I SAY THANK YOU , THANK YOU,
THANK YOU VERY MUCH MICK O’LEARY

THANKS FOR THE SLIPPERS AND DRESSING GOWN
THANKS FOR THE SERVICE TO TURN MY BED DOWN MICK O’LEARY
THANK YOU VERY MUCH MICK O ‘LEARY

HOTEL BILLS ARE FLOODING
TO RYANAIR
AND POOR OUL O’LEARY
IS PULLING HIS HAIR

HE WENT MAD WHEN HE SAW
THAT A CASTLEBAR GIRL
HAD RICE KRISPIES FOR BREAKFAST
AND CORN FLAKES AS WELL

SO I SAY THANK YOU , THANK YOU,
THANK YOU VERY MUCH MICK O’LEARY

THE FANTASTIC ROOM SERVICE DESERVES A MENTION
AND THAT MASSAGE RELIEVED ALL MY TENSION
MICK O’LEARY
THANK YOU VERY MUCH MICK O ‘LEARY

Thursday 29 April 2010

iWorship - Don't worship the iPhone - Worship with the iPhone

These guys are seriously talented - My brother Peter did a recent photoshoot with them - now you have an excuse to use your iPhone in church - Go on - you know you want too :)

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Begrudgery or Frustration?

Ireland: A nation of begrudgers? I think that there is more than begrudgery behind the increasing public anger towards many politicians and senior bankers. Frustration and despair are better words to describe the mood of the people who sense that those who govern us and those who have impoverished us by their reckless fiscal practices are not occupying the same physical or moral world as the rest of us.

This frustration and despair is finding voice in the only way it can; through the media who are then unjustly blamed for stirring up mob rule and witch hunts. Just because this new Puritanism is ugly and at times very personalised does not mean that it is unjustified. People in every sector of society are hurting. Whether public or private, none have escaped considerable pain and all are facing the prospect of further cuts in their income and standard of living. How long will it be before ½ million people are on the dole and how many more people in all sectors of society will loose their homes as wages fall and interest rates rise? We are in uncharted territory. Nobody really knows when this recession will end. People are scared.

This is a time for strong leadership, but what we have is a reactionary Taoiseach who at times is invisible and seems increasingly incapable of the brave and proactive decisions that are needed to head off further crises.

Currently the issue is ministerial pensions and instead of taking a stand on the issue he hid behind the law and the Attorney General, citing his powerlessness to force any TD to relinquish his lawful entitlement. This approach was then exploited by among others Deputy Jim McDaid who acknowledged that the payment of pension while still in office was ‘wrong’ but would not relinquish it because it was his ‘entitlement’.

There are many people in today’s Ireland who are not getting what they are entitled to; many who have lost their jobs because of the irresponsible behaviour of others; many hard working people whose wage has been so diminished that they cannot see how they will support their families; many who see no future and in desperation are driven to take their own lives!

There is a void in leadership in this country and the consequences are dire. The ongoing work to rule in the HSE will cost lives if it has not already. Our Garda force is we are told on the brink of mutiny. As we approach the vital state exams there are increasingly militant noises coming from our teachers unions. In the private sector the refusal of the banks to supply credit and the failure of the government to exercise control over the same banks which they now effectively own spells disaster for enterprise.

If this is to be turned around we need proper leadership. If people are to be asked to make huge and unfair sacrifices in their income and lifestyle then their leaders need to identify with them. If the government expects workers to give up or suspend their entitlements then they must lead by example. Even after recent cuts our Taoiseach earns a similar income to the President of the United States. That is neither defensible nor sustainable. Nor is it credible that those who benefited most on the back of the Celtic Tiger should be immune from pain and sanction. We know now that much of that boom was built on lies and deceit. Those who benefited from this deception should now pay their fair share.

We all know that the country is in dire straits. I have had to eat my words when I witness those who I would previously have considered blinkered and militant union leaders acknowledging that the Croke Park deal was the best that could be achieved in the current fiscal climate but I equally despair when I hear government TDs defending their right to receive a pension while in receipt of an income at least 3 times the average industrial wage. This to me is symptomatic of a government without a vision and with no apology I quote from Proverbs 29:18: Without a vision the people perish!

Monday 19 April 2010

The Daffodil Principle

This seems to capture the essence of all my posts today - The cumulative power of small acts of kindness and service - In this case the work is one of beauty.

The Resurrection As Insurrection - Pete Rollins

Just found this on Andrew Sullivan's Blog - Pete Rollins, from Northern Ireland is one of the most refreshing thinkers in contemporary Christian culture - Manages to bridge the Conservative/Liberal Divide - Wish there were more like him. Like my recent posts this one follows the theme of 'walking the talk'.

Haiti Connect - Doing what it says on the Tin!

Readers of this blog may recall some months back I posted THIS
Time for an update - In fact long overdue!

Haiti Connect is a charity set up by Evert Bopp with the support of his wife Kate to bring an enhanced wireless network to the people of Haiti, their Government and the various NGOs working in that devestated part of the world. As we all know communication is vital for development and growth and indeed critical in times of natural disaster. Poor communication costs lives!

Evert and Kate are near neighbours of mine on the shores of Lough Derg though we only seem to meet in cyberspace. Nevertheless I am hugely impressed at what they and their growing team have managed to do with an initiative which started only months ago. They are now on the ground doing what it says on the tin - Connecting Haiti and assisting in the support of the various NGOs who are trying to rebuild shattered lives and prevent further unnecessary deaths.

Some were very sceptical of and hostile to this initiative including some fellow bloggers who I have a lot of time for. I have to admit I too had my private concerns but I was wrong - very wrong and I am sorry for having doubted them! If you read Evert's latest posts from Haiti (HERE & HERE) you will see that he and his team are making a difference and far from 'getting in the way' as some suggested, they are helping communications on the ground and thus improving the efficiency of the various agencies. This is something that should be celebrated and applauded. I wish I had the courage to do what they have done!

We live in sceptical and cynical times and sometimes we allow that to overwhelm us rather than allowing the possibility that small initiatives can make a big difference. If others like you and me actually got our hands dirty we might just be able to turn our own country around. Haiti Connect has received considerable and much deserved support from George Hook on Newstalk - George is another person who walks the talk. Anyone who saw his documentary from Haiti filmed before the recent earthquake could not help but be moved. He is also part of a growing movement to encourage the citizens of Ireland to take the future of this Island into their own hands.

Whether in Haiti or at home in Ireland we can make a difference. Many have already contributed so generously to various organisations working in Haiti but if you do have a few euros that you could live without I would unreservedly commend Haiti Connect as a worthy destination. Lets encourage those who walk the talk!

For Donation details including Paypal: CLICK HERE

Politics isn't just for Politicians - Peter Nevin shows how its done!

A good friend sent me this over the weekend. He knows the person concerned and speaks highly of him. I trust his judgement and I like what I read - I think anyone prepared to get off their backside instead of just moaning deserves support - Better to light a candle than curse the darkness - See what you think:

My name is Peter Nevin and I work here in Limerick as a psychotherapist. Through my work, I have come to appreciate and value the positive change that comes about when clients take on personal responsibility for the way they live their lives.

I have been following the debate on political reform and I believe that there is an appetite for, and an ability to produce reform now. I have no experience of political activism or affiliation; I write as an individual who is passionate about voting and concerned about our country and wish to see greater engagement by all in the running of our country.

I have launched a petition calling for the establishment of a Citizen's Assembly on Political Reform. This would be modelled on the Citizen's Assembly that was formed in British Colombia in 2004/2005 which led to increased public participation and political reform.

Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, a petition can be raised by the people of the EU, calling for change. Any such petition requires one million signatures across one-quarter of the countries within the EU before it can be put to a referendum. If that same level of representation across the EU is applied to within Ireland, it would be the equivalent of approx. 9,000 people in at least 11 constituencies signing a petition.

The petition form can be downloaded from the website
www.talktherapylimerick.ie Look under the 'News' tab.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Is nobody in the Irish RC Church going to condemn the homophobia of Cardinal Bertone?

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse this happens: CLICK HERE

Deafening silence from Irish Church - Are there no homosexual Roman Catholics?
Obviously not or they would have spoken out by now.........

But it seems a few thousand miles away there is one brave priest who is not afraid to speak out and risk his livlehood by doing so - He will never be a bishop!
He preached last Sunday and this is what happened:

Saturday 10 April 2010

What's in a name? asked Juliet

Sermon for Sunday 11th April 2010 – Low Sunday/Easter 2

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter but it also has lots of other names by which it is known in various Christian traditions.

It is known as Low Sunday, presumably to emphasize the contrast with the high feast of Easter Sunday. As the last day of the Octave of Easter it is the tailing off of the euphoria and the emotional high of the Resurrection.

It is known as St Thomas’ Sunday, after Doubting Thomas who is the protagonist in today’s Gospel and whose doubting paradoxically leads to that famous proclamation of faith: “My Lord and my God”

It is known also in the Roman Catholic Church as Divine Mercy Sunday and is particularly important in Poland where this feast day originated and of course in the light of this weekends plane crash our thoughts are very much with the Polish people in their national grief.

Most interestingly perhaps it is known as Quasimodo Sunday!
Quasimodo, was the central character of the 1831 French novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, and was found abandoned on the doorsteps of Notre Dame on the Sunday after Easter, 1467 AD.
The name Quasimodo comes from the first two words of the ancient and traditional opening Antiphon at the Eucharist on this Sunday that speak especially to those baptized at Easter: It comes from Ist Peter 2:2
Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo crescatis in salutem si gustastis quoniam dulcis Dominus.
Which translates as:
As newborn babes, alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Rejoice to God our helper. Sing aloud to the God of Jacob.
And so Victor Hugo’s famous character is named for the feastday when he is found

And finally, It is the day that the newly baptized officially put away their white robes, hence, it is known liturgically as
"Dominica in albis depositis" or the "Sunday of putting away the albs."

Five names for but one day!!!
So the obvious question…..What’s in a name?
That very question is asked in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet in Act 2 Scene 2 when Juliet says:
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare's famous play. They are doomed from the start as members of two warring families. Here Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called "Montague", not the Montague name and not the Montague family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, rejects his family name and vows, as Juliet asks, to "deny (his) father" and instead be "new baptized" as Juliet's lover. This one short line sums up the central struggle and tragedy of the play. There is a lot in a name and not all of it good all of the time
In a sense Juliet was right and put her finger (Or Shakespeare did) on the importance of focussing on what the name refers to rather than the name itself. Sometimes names get in the way as was certainly and tragically the case for Romeo & Juliet.

But names are important! They say something of how we understand ourselves, and that self understanding to a large part determines our behaviour for better or worse.

A name says a lot – It can convey great power. Even after his death Jesus’ Name was hugely powerful! Today’s lesson from Acts chapter 5 finds Peter and the Apostles summoned before the high priest for what? For “teaching in this name” – the name of Jesus!
It is this name that inspires these same Apostles to be ‘witnesses to these things’ – that “The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins
And the nature of that witness is not a passive one but one which brings the Apostles into direct conflict with the religious and secular authorities just like Jesus himself.
The Apostles didn’t just carry the name of Christ but they brought Christ himself into their mission. They brought that name to life by becoming living witnesses to what Jesus had done and what he was still doing in them.

To this day we carry the name of Christ as Christians for that very same purpose but there is a very real risk that we witness to Christianity but not Christ and they are not the same. As Juliet in Romeo and Juliet so wisely perceived – the name gets in the way.
One of my clerical colleagues put it very clearly recently in an exchange of correspondence he and I were sharing. He said this:
"If your are convinced that you are an institution established and ordained by God in its institutional structure (rather than a community called by God which gives a contingent and temporary institutional form to that calling) then protecting the institution becomes a divinely given duty"
Sometimes we elevate our earthly institutions into idols and loose contact with that to which they point. In a sense the medium becomes the message and the message is lost or even worst distorted and twisted.

Our sister church on this Island is going through an extreme example of this at the moment but we Anglicans need not think we can rest on our laurels. We too are an institutional church and live constantly with the tension between serving the institution or serving Christ. The two are not always an identity though we tend to behave as if they are and suspend our critical faculties.

On this St Thomas’ Sunday we might do well to reinstate those critical faculties and not be afraid to ask questions of our own church and to challenge it when the name gets in the way. We need to ask ourselves are there times when we put being a member of the Church of Ireland, a Protestant, an Anglican, a Reformed Catholic or even a Christian ahead of being a follower of Jesus Christ. None of those names is necessarily contradictory with being a follower of Jesus but if and when (because it does happen) we see those names as an end in themselves then the name will have got in the way!

What’s in a name?
The answer is that when compared to the divine name there is nothing in a name but the potential to witness to that which brought it life and breath and hope. There is but one name which is identical to that which it describes and that is God (Father, Son & Holy Spirit). When we make absolutes of any other name we make idols and we cut off the potential that is in us to be witnesses to and for God in the World. Don’t let any other name get in the way of that!

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Resurrection - Through the eyes of Rob Bell



Double click on the video to see in full size at YouTube


Love this guy - Inspired communicator and this video is no exception - Had the privilege of meeting him in Dublin a few years ago. He has produced a series of multimedia resources called Nooma available HERE

Sunday 4 April 2010

Education Revisited - Ken Robinson

 I was introduced to Ken Robinson's thinking in the last 24 hours and I am blown away by his observations on the way we 'educate' our children today: Check this out:
 
 Also available at TED talks: HERE

If this has given you an an appetite for more check out this:

Saturday 3 April 2010

Easter Sermon 2010

‘But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.’

In my Holy Thursday Sermon I talked about how the Church in Holy Week this year found itself more in harmony than usual with the mood of the nation.
Holy Week with its themes of darkness, despair, betrayl and failure is often difficult to observe in a world that finds it hard to deal with such negative things – It is a hard sell to talk about death and defeat when Spring is in the air, the evenings are getting longer and people are generally in quite good form. It is a hard sell in a world where so much store is put on personal success and the accumulation of personal wealth.
Hard to sell in a world where hurt and pain are hidden away and treated as signs of failure rather than an essential part of the human condition.
Not so this year – The nation is depressed for want of a better word and so there is a remarkable similarity between the emotions of the people at this time and the themes of Holy Week.

But Holy week is past – Jesus Christ is risen and as Christians we are called to be joyous and thankful.
But its not that easy because now we are feeling the conflict – now the discord is obvious – How are we going to hear these words – He is risen, He is alive? Or are we going to hear them at all? Are they like an idle tale? One which we do not believe?

These words are a hard sell – Look at the Gospel reading we have just read: “Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”

If the apostles did not believe how are we, or even more of a challenge: How are others – those at the moment who are either outside the community of faith – how are they expected to believe? What proof are we going to show them?
Peter we are told only believed when he : ‘got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; - then he went home, amazed at what had happened.’

We don’t have those folded grave clothes – Even the shroud of Turin which many believe to be the burial shroud of Christ is the subject of dispute and debate and we will probably never know for sure if it is genuine or a brilliant forgery.

So how do we go about telling a land and a world which needs to hear the Good News so badly that this story of Jesus’ resurrection is more than a nice story and an excuse for gorging ourselves on large quantities of sickly chocolate.

We do so I believe by being the people of the Resurrection by witnessing in our lives despite all the evidence to the contrary that this is not all that there is. We need to be people of Hope and transformation, demonstrating by our actions how this active faith can transform the bleakest of situations. Some would call this a leap of faith – and it is – and to make such a leap means having trust that there will be someone there to catch us.
It reminds me of games we used to play in youth club – games that are discouraged now for insurance reasons but games that taught a very valuable lesson nonetheless. They were called trust games and involved such things as standing up on a chair and willfully letting yourself fall over – trusting absolutely in those around you to catch you.

The story of Christian witness through the centuries is the story not just of comfortable and established institutions such as the one we call our spiritual home but it is also the story of individuals and communities of faith who proclaimed Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen in the face of persecution, torture and death – people who had every reason to doubt and to walk away from their faith were ironically those who became its most convincing witnesses.

I was at my desk this afternoon/yesterday finishing this sermon and I was looking up the Archbishop of Canterbury’s own website to see if he had issued an apology in the light of the clumsy attack he made on the Irish Roman Catholic Church over this weekend – He hadn’t but I did find his Easter message which ended with this:
It is all too easy, even in comfortable and relatively peaceful societies, for us to become consumed with anxiety about the future of Church and society. We need to witness boldly and clearly but not with anger and fear; we need to show that we believe what we say about the Lordship of the Risen Christ and his faithfulness to the world he came to redeem.
The world will not be saved by fear, but by hope and joy. The miracle of the joy shown by martyrs and confessors of the faith is one of the most compelling testimonies to the gospel of Jesus. In whatever way we can, we must seek to communicate this joy, however dark or uncertain the sky seems. All authority belongs to Jesus, and into his wounded hands is placed the future of all things in heaven and earth. To him be glory for ever.

But I am not going to let the Archbishop of Canterbury have the last word – this is my sermon not his – however I was gratified to see that he agreed with me and also that he shares my propensity for ‘open mouth insert foot’ moments.
And that is significant for it emphasizes that we are, each one of us, always more than our worst day – our worst statement – our biggest faux pas – and that even after salvaging defeat from the jaws of success we can still go on and do good and help to share Good News. The same is true of the challenges we face in our lives – they too will pass.

We Christians have a very weighty burden of responsibility at this time. We are called to be HOPE for a people who have forgotten how to Hope, how to trust, how to believe. That is something that we can change – something that we do not have to resign ourselves to.
Hallelujah – Christ is Risen! – Let us bring that news out of this Church into the World so that it may bring healing and wholeness to all God’s children and all Creation.
Amen.

Friday 2 April 2010

A song for Good Friday

This version of Lord of the Dance was specially commissioned and recorded by the Corrigan Brothers for Aled Jones for his BBC 2 Sunday morning radio show