Friday 29 February 2008

PaddyAnglican has left the building!

Hopefully NOT in the same way as Elvis left the building but I am off on a mission trip to warmer climes. Needless to say in between my missionary activities I will be checking in on my friends in blogland and keeping an eye on the blog awards. Bock has very kindly agreed to collect the bucket load of trophies I am expecting and deliver my acceptance speech. As you will see from this he has a way with words. Good luck to all of you in the awards (especially Grannymar, Bock and Primal Sneeze) and I look forward to further discussions on my return.

Tuesday 26 February 2008

Dean’s Inclusive Vision

The announcement over the weekend of the appointment of Dermot Dunne, currently the Archdeacon of Ferns, as the new Dean of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin has created a lot of interest in the national media. This is largely it would seem because the new Dean is a former Roman Catholic priest and has risen through the ranks of the Church of Ireland very rapidly. However on reading his statement at the press conference following his appointment I came across something which if acted upon will be far more significant than his denominational transition.
In setting out his priorities the new Dean first acknowledges the excellent work of his two immediate predecessors Dean John Patterson and Dean Des Harman. Much of what the new Dean articulated in terms of the Cathedral’s spiritual role, its centrality in diocesan life and the rich heritage it brings to the capital city is not new but what was I think a new emphasis was this, and I quote:

My wish is that Christ Church be a place where people feel spiritually at home irrespective of their race, language, colour, gender, sexual orientation and faith expression. I want it to be a place where difference is celebrated and included.”

In saying this the new Dean strikes an exciting note for the future. Too often the Christian Churches have been seen as exclusive rather than inclusive communities. We have been fascinated with who is in and who is out and we have lost sight of the radical inclusiveness of the one whom we claim to follow. This appointment is GOOD NEWS!

Friday 22 February 2008

Monks in Moyross

Just watched an interview on the late Late Show with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal who have recently established a community in Moyross in Limerick. To those of you unfamiliar with it, Moyross is a large estate in Limerick, sadly and perhaps unfairly identified with drugs, crime and an ongoing inter-familial feud which has claimed a multitude of victims in the last couple of decades. Having worked in Limerick I am aware that there is much more to Moyross than this and sadly it is the usual case of only bad news sells papers. However there are a lot of problems in the area and the arrival of the friars would seem to be a much needed shot in the arm for a community which is more accustomed to bad news than the Good News! Among the friars on the show tonight was a most unusual character who does his preaching through rap and has according to the local media made a big impact on the local kids especially.

Out of curiosity I took a look at their web site and was surprised to find them more theologically right-wing than I would have suspected. Some of their activities include vigils outside abortion clinics and I have to say this was a disappointment and a surprise. The whole philosophy underlying the so called 'pro-life' movement seems to me to be often so simplistic as to be dangerous and potentially damaging. No matter where one stands on this emotive issue it seems to me there are better ways to witness to one's convictions than this sort of confrontation which inevitably turns to unhelpful condemnation!

However they seem to be doing good work in Limerick and while I would have severe reservations about any group that campaigns in this way on this issue I cannot deny the importance of what they are providing in Moyross! So once again life is not simple.

You can watch a video below of their arrival in Limerick. Ironically their appearance on the show was followed by the Gorilla Girls on tour which featured 2 masked women discussing their understanding of being 'pro-choice'! Hard to believe it wasn't planned but I don't think the Late Late Show team are so devious!

Thursday 21 February 2008

Kitsch - Long overdue

One of my strange fascinations is religious kitsch. Here are a couple of my latest discoveries: Lent friendly indulgences!

Wednesday 20 February 2008

OOPS! Comments Inadvertently suppressed!

Paul Newton of Newton's Laws has just drawn to my attention that I have made it difficult, no impossible, for people to comment on my postings unless they have a Google account! This was unintentional and of course I in no way seek to limit the embrace of this blog, or indeed to help Google in its attempt to rule the World! So now I have unlocked the moderation and await the avalanche........well even a trickle would do.......just the odd one.......go I have to beg?............Is anyone listening?...............Hello...........Hello...........................Am I talking to myself?..........................

Monday 18 February 2008

Style & Substance - They go together!

A great article by Harold Pollack in the Huffington Post which brilliantly shows the superficiality, not of Obama, but of those who trivialise his track record and dismiss him as a charismatic 'hopemonger'!
Obama addresses this issue directly in the video footage below

Baby Bible Bashers

Below is a video from Channel 4's excellent Cutting Edge documentary series. This episode was aired last night and was one of the saddest and most disturbing pieces of TV I can remember in a long time. It focussed on 3 'child evangelists' from radically different backgrounds but having one thing in common as far as I am concerned: they are all the victims of selfish manipulation and exploitation by their parents which is tantamount to child abuse. I don't mind saying that one of the stories actually caused me to cry. There is a scene which is in the clip below where Samuel Boutwell a seven-year-old 'preacher' is forced by his thug of a father to preach hatred on the streets of New York.
Bearing placards proclaiming damnation for fornicators, homosexuals, adulterers among others, Samuel is reduced to tears when this so called preaching stirs hostilities on the streets. The camera closes in on his bewildered face as he sits on the pavement shaking with fear and a tear slowly rolls down his face. That was when I lost it and found myself also in tears.
It is quite clear from listening to the documentary that this child is constantly seeking to please his brutish father who manipulates this dependence and exposes his son to the most horrific hatred and distorted religion. It is the kind of religion which feeds the paranoia of Dawkins and Hitchins and their ilk and sadly some who watch it will make the mistake of thinking that this is what Religion is all about - them and us, hatred and condemnation, fear and manipulation. But the biggest tragedy of all is the destruction of a child's right to be a child and potentially the destruction of his whole life and others who may come into contact with him in later life if he is sucked down this road of evil and abuse! The other two children portrayed are equally abused and are obviously seen as a meal ticket for their lecherous parents who in one case are not ashamed to refer to the personality cult surrounding their child as an 'empire' which will go worldwide with merchandising to milk the rewards! None of these so called 'parents' are fit to be in charge of innocent young lives and one can only hope that the exposure this documentary brings will have some influence on those who might be able to rescue these children from such abusive treatment!

You can find the rest of the documentary here - It is equally depressing!

Saturday 16 February 2008

Thursday 14 February 2008

Stand up or shut up! A real man's sermon!

Thanks to RealLivePreacher for showcasing this extroardinary sermon built on the exegesis of the following phrase: "I will destroy him that pisseth against the wall." 1st Kings 21:21

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Turkeys are just for Christmas - Vote Marc Roberts!

As a sad Eurovision fan (I am in therapy and hope one day to be able to give up this crutch), could I make a plea to STUFF THE TURKEY! Please O Please don't vote for Dustin! Could I without bias suggest you vote for Marc Roberts who is admittedly an old and good friend of mine from Crossmolina days but also happens to be a hell of a good singer/songwriter and who is the only Irish singer in recent years to have made even a dent on the competition. Marc came 2nd back in 1997 with 'Mysterious Woman'. He is also responsible for encouraging Daniel O'Donnell to pen some of his own songs and Marc has written and co-written a lot of his recent material. Some may see this as a minus but love him or loathe him Wee Daniel is successful - somebody is buying those albums! So ifyou want to ditch the turkey you know what you have to do on Saturday 23 February: Vote Marc! (Oh and of course don't forget Obama - different competition I know but every vote counts).

Hazards in the workplace - The Brother's story!

This is a true story about my accident prone brother Peter (see pic), who is a walking Armageddon! One of his misadventures is now featuring on the IT Geeks site: InfoWorld. In his very presence ordinary situations and substances become potential tools of disaster. If you enjoyed this you can read more here.

Monday 11 February 2008

Irish Blog Awards - Made the shortlist!

Very pleasantly surprised to have been shortlisted in the 'Best Specialist Blog' category for the forthcoming Irish Blog Awards on 1st March. Only just found out via Grannymar I am sure that the shortlist will be as far as I go but still very flattering - thanks to all concerned for the nominations and votes! :-)

Faith and Politics - Obama: "Faith is not a tool of attack!"

This address to Sojourners is a powerful discussion on the possibility of a constructive rapprochment of Faith & Politics. In it Barack Obama argues that 'religious' people and secularists often have overlapping values and that they should be seeking to build partnerships rather than trying to undermine one another. He points out that it was 'religious' people, in particular the antecedants of evangelical America that were the strongest proponents of the First Ammendment! In the application of faith to the political sphere he argues for a sense of proportion, a need to explain one's views in a universally comprehensible language rather than faith specific language and the caution that Faith is 'not a tool of attack' and should be expressed by and be met by 'fair-minded words.'

Sunday 10 February 2008

Obama - HOPE is not blind optomism!

He just gets better and better - the cynics will continue to call him a 'hopemonger' and I pity them for they are surely hopeless!

Friday 8 February 2008

One of our Archbishops is missing!

I have a theory which would explain everything from ++Rowan's volte face on human sexuality, his current flirtation with Sharia law and finally the dissappearance of Osama Bin Laden! Rowan IS Osama Bin laden in disguise! The real ++Rowan has been assumed into the heavens by a Monty Python style spacecraft and is currently boring the Creator to tears (which explains the rise in sea levels - Big God Big tears!). I think this theory has an undeniable unity and cohesiveness and could indeed form the basis for a new religion.

Thursday 7 February 2008

Podcasting to the Irish Abroad

Just recorded a podcast called The Craic with Ian Dempsey (Today FM) and Breda Brown (Q102) about the whole Moneygall/Obama link. You can find the audio here. Its also on itunes here.

A Premature President! In her dreams!

Nothing to do with the US election for a change. I have just been listening to FF Senator Mary White announcing her intention to stand for next President of Ireland! It was also covered on the front page of today's Irish Times. The only problem is that the next presidential election isn't till 2011! But not only is she more than a little previous she is also so far up her own you know what that she is in danger of digesting herself! (One can but hope)
I have rarely heard such a ME ME I I moment. It was hugely offensive to the current worthy incumbent of the presidential office and one can only hope that the general public will nail this blatent ego trip at the earliest opportunity! UUGGHHH!

Wednesday 6 February 2008

It's not over yet!

Borrowing a phrase from Star Wars: The force is strong in this one! Slowly it seems to be dawning on America that there is another way to do politics and that the only person who represents that way is Barack Obama! The momentum is gathering and I for one believe that this CAN happen! The politics of fear and partisanship have got us in deep trouble! Let us HOPE that real vision and inspiration triumph over more of the same!
Watch Obama's speech on the night of Super Tuesday and as the US telly-evangelists used to say:
"Touch the screen and feel the power" :-)

Tuesday 5 February 2008

We believe in one God but we are “At two with Nature!”

When it comes to the current fascination with Global Warming, Carbon Footprints and Peak Oil I must confess to being a recovering sceptic. I say recovering because I am emerging from that scepticism to a realisation that beneath all the hysteria generated around these issues is something fundamentally true and worthy of attention. We (the human race) have become disconnected from the rest of the created order and we behave in a way that threatens rather than compliments the rest of Creation. Such has been my scepticism until recently that I have steadfastly avoided watching the much acclaimed “An Inconvenient Truth” and have rejoiced in any scientific opinion that has rubbished the theory behind this film and the Green movement in general. Some of the criticism is justified and only feeds the scepticism of the likes of myself. Food miles are a case in point and an article in last weeks Sunday Times by Richard Woods exposes the myth that local is always the best option. However, bad Science and simplistic analysis apart I am coming round.

So what has changed? Well believe it or not my ‘AH HA’ moment came while reading an article which my wife drew to my attention in the January 2008 edition of ‘Red’, a glossy UK women’s magazine! The article entitled “Have you found Green?” by Anna Moore investigated the phenomenon of Green living as “the religion of the 21st century”. In the course of her research Moore interviews a number of women who have adopted the Green lifestyle and discovers a common thread of ‘religious’ language in the way these women articulate their new outlook on life.

She talks to Jacqueline, a lapsed church-goer who feels that “going green gives her something religion no longer provides: a strong sense of purpose, rules to live by and a firm belief that, if we repent and change our ways, we’ll save ourselves….The church doesn’t give me that message.” OUCH!

Moore comments that where church attendance is falling year on year, ‘finding green’ is filling a spiritual gap because we still need to believe in something.

Tracy Neil is a 38 year old from Manchester who has exchanged God for Green. “I have a church background”she says, “but I’ve been so frustrated with its lack of interest in the environment…To me, being green connects me to the planet, the people I know and my brothers and sisters in the poorer parts of the world, who’ll bear the brunt of our selfishness. In that sense, it’s spiritual.” Isn’t that what the Church is supposed to be about?

Another interviewee is Marian Salzman, an advertising executive who says “With 9/11 and the war in Iraq, there’s a feeling that the world isn’t safe any more. People are looking back to a time when it seemed safer – when you knew your neighbour, you had home cooked Sunday lunch and a ready made community at the church or synagogue or mosque. We want that security, that anchor. Eco living provides a set of dos and don’ts and dogmas and beliefs to fall back on, and a community of like-minded people.” There’s another thing the Church is supposed to be doing: building community.

Finally Louise Taylor is 34 and building her own eco home with her husband. Why is she doing this? “I’m not doing all this because I want to go to heaven. I’m doing it because I want my children and their children to have a future on this earth.”

I think perhaps this last comment is the most significant. Is part of the reason for the Church’s disconnect from Green issues an old and flawed theology which concentrates on escaping to Heaven from this worthless and sinful World? ‘Evacuation theology’ as Rob Bell calls it robs the Earth and the rest of Creation of any real value if it is only seen as a springboard to Heaven! This is a theology that ignores one very significant phrase in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”

It’s crazy but it took this article from the most unlikely of sources (I know I’m prejudiced) to help me realise something that is both implicit and explicit through Scripture from Genesis to Revelation: Everything is Spiritual. Incidentally this is also the title of a new Video from Rob Bell which demonstrates this same truth that the Church has buried in centuries of evacuation theology!

Another contemporary theologian, Sr. Joan Chittister in her wonderful compendium, “Becoming fully human – The greatest glory of God” presents some wonderful pearls of wisdom:
“Cows know that it’s a good idea to stand with their backs to the wind. We insist on figuring out how to redirect the wind. I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. Who, us? ” (Willa Cather)
“Environmentalism is not an option. It is an exercise in self-understanding.”
Sadly we are inclined to be more like Woody Allen who once said “I am at two with nature”.

Saturday 2 February 2008