Upcoming Events

International | Miscellaneous

no events match your query!

Blog Feeds

Spirit of Contradiction

offsite link The Party and the Ballot Box Sun Jul 14, 2019 22:24 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason

offsite link On The Decline and Fall of The American Empire and Socialism Sat Jan 26, 2019 01:52 | S. Duncan

offsite link What is Dogmatism and Why Does It Matter? Wed Mar 21, 2018 08:10 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link The Case of Comrade Dallas Mon Mar 19, 2018 19:44 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link Review: Do Religions Evolve? Mon Aug 14, 2017 19:54 | Dara McHugh

Spirit of Contradiction >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein?

offsite link Irish Examiner bias Anthony

offsite link RTE: Propaganda ambush of Sinn Fein Anthony

offsite link Hong Kong and democracy Anthony

offsite link Oliver Callan: Back in his box Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Moveable Feast Cafe 2020/07/02 ? Open Thread Thu Jul 02, 2020 03:30 | Herb Swanson
2020/07/02 02:30:02Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of

offsite link Germany SITREP: Former German Chancellor Says U.S.-EU Alliance Could Now End Wed Jul 01, 2020 23:12 | The Saker
by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog A German equivalent to UK?s Financial Times and America?s Wall Street Journal is the Dusseldorf Handelsblatt or ?Commerce Sheet,? which headlined on June

offsite link Bridging China?s past with humanity?s future ? Part 3 Wed Jul 01, 2020 22:42 | amarynth
by Straight-Bat for the Saker Blog This will be presented in 3 parts and in 3 different blog posts Part 1 Part 2 PART ? 3 2008 ONWARDS ? PREPARATION

offsite link Iranian ships carrying urgent foodstuffs heading to Lebanon: Wiam Wahhab Wed Jul 01, 2020 18:43 | amarynth
with permission from Middle East Observer Description: Former Lebanese minister Wiam Wahhab said in a recent television interview that Iranian ships are loading their cargo and heading to Lebanon, despite

offsite link Internal Tensions Do Not Stop Militants From Provocations In Southern Idlib Wed Jul 01, 2020 17:41 | amarynth
South Front Late on June 30, fighting resumed near the villages of Kansafrah, Al-Ruwayha and Bayanin in southern Idlib between the Syrian Army and Turkish-backed militants. Intense artillery shelling also

The Saker >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights

offsite link Turkish President Calls On Greece To Comply With Human Rights on Syrian Refugee Issues Wed Mar 04, 2020 17:58 | Human Rights

offsite link US Holds China To Account For Human Rights Violations Sun Oct 13, 2019 19:12 | Human Rights

offsite link UN Human Rights Council Should Address Human Rights Crisis in Cambodia Sat Aug 31, 2019 13:41 | Human Rights

offsite link Fijian women still face Human Rights violations Mon Aug 26, 2019 18:49 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

My Favourite Omagh Marxist, Gary MacLennan Reflects on "All Things Catholic"....

category international | miscellaneous | opinion/analysis author Saturday September 06, 2008 10:57author by Ciaron O'Reily - .....introducing Gary MacLennan.author address ...written back in Brisbane, following a recent trip home to Omagh Report this post to the editors

....and the crisis in the Church Being Played in Briz Vegas!

Gary and I shared many a police cell in the '70's & '80's and many a backyard barbie in the '90's and
norties. In '77 Gary brought his experiences from the north of Ireland to our movement in sunny redneck facist Queensland that resisted the state suspension of civil liberties (3,000+ arrests '77-81 for merely marching, leafleting picketing, gathering publicly in groups of more than 3 people..Nuts?....you had to be there!)

Last year Gary was sacked from his 32 year position as a QUT academic for
taking a courageous stand against a PhD entiltled "Laughing at the Disabled". Gary wrote an excellent introduction to my book on East Timor "Remembering Forgetting", a review of the doc "Route Irish" http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85706 and is now reviewing Harry Browne's recently published www.counterpunch.org book "Hammered by the Irish" about the Pitstop Ploughshares action at Shannon Airport www.peaceontrial.com . Although not always agreeing with him, I have always thought his sharp Marxist critiques of both the church and broader society have helped me become a better Catholic.
Ciaron O'Reilly

"All Things Catholic"
by Gary MacLennan

I am lined up to do a review of Harry Browne's Hammered by the Irish – the story of the brave Catholic Plowshares activists who took hammers to a USA war plane parked at Shannon Airport. The stationing of the plane at Shannon was of course a clear violation of Irish neutrality. So while I wait for the book to arrive me thought that I would warm up with another round of reflections on things Catholic. All this is partly inspired by my recent trip back home.

Firstly matters mystical: While at home in my native Omagh, I picked up a book by Larry Cummins. It is available on the web at www.pleaseprayforus.com. Cummins is the classic Irish peasant (farmer please!). He is also a mystic who channels directly to the Blessed Virgin. She gives him messages regarding who or what he should pray for. The book is a series of loosely connected anecdotes relating Cummins' encounters with the forces of evil. All extraordinarily interesting if you have as I do a fascination with mystics.

Cummins addressed while I was there a little group of Catholic charismatics. Unfortunately I did not go to meet him. That would have been my very first encounter with a live mystic. What intrigued me however was the very fact of Cummins. The Church I grew up in would have silenced Cummins absolutely and very publicly too. That he was now allowed to speak in the church and gather followers, is something that amazes me. He represents of course a potential challenge to the authority of the Catholic Clergy. After all here is someone who is in direct contact with the mother of God. There was a time when he would have paid with his life for daring to make such a claim. Long before the Highlander the Church of Rome knew there 'can only be one'.

Now the clergy must grit their teeth and allow the Cumminses of the world, and there are of course an increasing number of them, get up and preach the word of their God. A monopoly has been broken. However they do endeavour to keep a close eye on their rivals in the trade. Thus Cummins' book has an introduction by a Father Dwyer. He assures his fellow clergy that

"Personally I want to testify to Larry's deep love and respect for the Church. He has an extraorodinacry understanding of the necessity of the ordained ministry of Bishops and priests for the spiritual well-being of the People of God. His deep respect for the clergy is so self-evident" (Dwyer in Cummins, 2005, p2).

This is if I ever saw it a classic instance of esoteric communication. Leo Strauss would have been proud of it. "Do not fear Cummins" is what Dwyer is telling his compatriots in the clergy. "He is not challenging our authority. Therefore he is harmless and… useful".

So what do I make of all this? Well it speaks to me of a double level crisis. Firstly in the Church – falling attendances, a seemingly endless series of scandals, and a collapse in recruitment to the clergy have all dinted the confidence of the core Church – that is the clergy. In desperation they are forced to allow the peasantry to assert themselves in the way that peasants usually do - through visions, rituals, miracles, pilgrimages etc.

The second level of the crisis is among the peasantry itself. It is of course an absolute no-no in Ireland to describe the farmers as peasants. But peasants they are and peasants they wish for ever to be. However the hammer blows of modernity are like the dialectic, unremitting and remorseless. Modern farming has Ireland by the throat. One has only to breathe in the smell of the slurry that they spread over all the fields to get two crops of grass for the ubiquitous farting cows.

Ireland too is having its long postponed rendezvous with modernity. But this is not the modernity that could have been inspired by the Great Presbyterian Enlightenment of the 18th Centrury. The British drowned that in slaughter. NO Ireland's modernity is government above all by the norms of the neo-liberal free market. It is thoroughly capitalist and thus lacks anything that could be thought of as even vaguely spiritual. The 'terrible beauty' of Yeats' vision has become horrible and the beauty is fast fading.

So that wonderful abstract quality of the Irish; their addiction to ideas and scorn for matters material have been drowned in consumer goods. The Church of Rome which should have acted as a bulwark against the crass materialism that now holds sway was too rotten and corrupt to the core to make a stand.

Thus it is left to the Larry Cummins of this world to attempt to articulate the values of a world that is vanishing ever faster. His in Gramsican terms is the church of the peasants or poor. Their devotion to ritual and their total lack of interest in doctrine have made them easily manipulatable by the clergy. But the crisis within the church is very deep. Across from the house where I live are two buildings. One used to house the Loretto nuns. They have all gone. The other used to house the Irish Christian Brothers. They too have vanished. What has been will not be. There is even talk of the need to import priests from Africa. The Empire strikes back indeed. No wonder the peasant mystic has made a reappearance.

(See < http://www.truepeace.com.au/medjugorje_story.html> for a comparable experience among the Croatian peasantry.)

The second part of these ramblings will deal with the crisis among the Church of the intellectuals. Currently this is centered would you believe on a church here in good old Brisbane. I love it when the dialectic makes the periphery the centre of a significant upheaval.

Part 2 The faith of the intellectuals…

The strength of religions, and of the Catholic Church in particular, has lain, and still lies, in the fact that they feel very strongly the need for the doctrinal unity of the whole mass of the faithful and strive to ensure that the higher intellectual stratum does not get separated from the lower. The Roman church has always been the most vigorous in the struggle to prevent the "official" formation of two religions, one for the "intellectuals" and the other for the "simple souls" … That the Church has to face up to a problem of the "simple" means precisely that there has been a split in the community of the faithful. This split cannot be healed by raising the simple to the level of the intellectuals (the Church does not even envisage such a task, which is both ideologically and economically beyond its present capacities), but only by imposing an iron discipline on the intellectuals so that they do not exceed certain limits of differentiation and so render the split catastrophic and irreparable. (Gramsci)

The world of religion here in Oz has just been galvanized by the dispute between the Church community of St Mary's South Brisbane and the Arch Bishop of Brisbane John Battersby. In brief, the Bishop wrote to the parish priest Ted Kennedy threatening to close down the church if the priest and congregation did not return to a more orthodox version of the faith. This is the second occasion on which the bishop had chastised Kennedy and his errant flock. A similar missive was sent four years ago. Battersby drew special attention in his latest letter to the fact that there was a statue of the Buddha displayed in the church.

So what is going on here? Well the answer lies partly in the nature of the St Mary's community and the faith they are practicing. This is an inner city church that at times fills to overflowing with over 500 worshippers. The parish priest is a classic liberal intellectual who has championed a wide range of good causes – indigenous rights, gay rights, women's rights etc, etc. The liturgy also has evolved to include an active role for women including women preaching. They also sing a range of ultra modern hymns and give out communion to all and sundry.

If I sound slightly scandalized, one must be charitable and bear in mind my status as that of a collapsed Catholic, burning with a bright hatred for the Church of my childhood. A small, and hopefully a decreasing, part of me does not want the church to evolve into something more reasonable. I am tempted to wish it to remain as it was in my childhood. It is almost as if I want it to continue to feed my hatred. In truth it is as if Ratzinger and I wanted the same thing.

But not for nothing am I a student of Roy Bhaskar's philosophy of meta-reality. I have studied the master and I am beginning to learn to let go, shed the past and move on. Bhaskar is fond of quoting the young Marx's

the world has long dreamed of possessing something of which it has only to be conscious in order to possess it in reality… In order to secure remission of its sins, mankind has only to declare them for what they actually are.

For Bhaskar the heteronomous world of domination and exploitation, that the likes of Ratzinger and Pell when pressed will always defend, is a parasitical growth on the human ground state of love and creativity. One has only to recognize and to realize that fact to move on beyond fear, hatred, exploitation and domination.

It is in that spirit then that I wish to think of Fr Kennedy the pastor at St Mary's. However one must first acknowledge that one critique of him and his flock is that they are classic left liberal – left liberalism being the default setting for dissidence in Australia.

When confronted by left-liberals I am often tempted to think of them in terms of Sartre's great critique of "democrats" and liberals in his Anti-Semite and Jew. There Sartre discusses how liberals mount a weak defense of Jews because they are uncomfortable with anyone forsaking the abstract universalism that the democrats cling too. Sartre also describes how during the war liberals would make a point of raising their hats to those forced to wear the Star of David. Sartre explains how this became a source of resentment for the Jew because he knew he was an object of pity. For the liberal the Jew represented an occasion to issue a manifesto, to make a gesture. In a similar fashion some argue that for the faithful at St Mary's the Aborigine, the Gay and the poor are all occasions.

A more charitable view of the folk at St Mary's , and one that I personally favour, is that Kennedy and the congregation are belong to the church of the intellectuals. Within this scenario Kennedy is actively trying to fashion a faith which will transcend the complexities of modernity. He wants to confront capitalist modernity with norms that have been taken from the Sermon on the Mount – Blessed are the destitute… for they shall see God. In Kennedy's faith Jesus is the outsider, the revolutionary, who opposes Empire and suffers a horrible death because of that. But for Kennedy Christ's sacrifice calls on all of us to make a similar commitment in our search for the Kingdom of God on earth.

The church of the intellectuals is of course the church that the clerical core fears the most. This is the church-within that contains the seeds of an alternative church. What Kennedy and his community are doing whether they realize it or not is struggling to ensure the survival of a church that is dying in front of our very eyes. Only through the ordination of women, the abolition of celibacy and the adaption of a sincere "option for the poor" can the Church hope to survive. But they will consider none of these things.

A suggestive parallel here is the situation in Soviet Russia after Stalin's death. Reform was critically needed, but there was no one to bring in the reforms. The reformers had all been murdered long ago. The CPSU made something of an effort under Kruschev but then gave up the attempt to reform because that would have meant putting themselves out of business. They were the problem and could never be part of the solution.

Similarly at Vatican 2 the Church of Rome made a half hearted effort at reform and then abandoned it totally under John Paul 2. The latter will prove to be the Brezhnev of the Catholic Church. History will show that brilliant showman as he was he nevertheless in his refusal to reform prepared the way for the great disaster towards which the church is inexorably sliding.

So the little drama taking place in South Brisbane speaks to the heart of the crisis within the church. The core church - the clergy- has lost all moral authority. Even worse from their point of view their caste is not renewing itself. Internal church gossip has it that vocations are it seems largely confined to gays. There is a savage irony here. The most homophobic of organizations is almost totally dependent on gays for candidates for the priesthood.

So given the crisis that confronts the clergy it is probably true to say that Battersby does not want this fight with Kennedy and his flock. But in all likelihood he is being pushed by the far right of the church. My best guess would be that an Opus Dei cell is at work. The head of the Australian Catholic Church, Cardinal Pell, is known to be sympathetic to Opus Dei. He overturned a ban on Opus Dei entering the Sydney diocese and during his recent visit here Ratzinger stayed with the Opus Dei community. This was a clear message to the liberals within the Church where Ratzinger stood. Though why they would ever have any illusions or hopes in Ratzinger is beyond me. In any case that section of the church that Ratzinger represents is determined to get rid of its liberal wing and to impose once more discipline on the Church of the intellectuals.

This is of course sheer craziness. Why would one want to shut down one of the few full churches in Brisbane? But those who the gods wish to destroy they first make made, and the clerical heart of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia is approaching the psychotic. Trapped by an irreversible loss of prestige, they have reverted to type. Instead of embracing the church of the intellectuals as their best and last hope, they seem determined to destroy it. As I have confessed, a small part of me wishes them well in that task. But we have to resist the sectarian reflex and unequivocally support the church of the intellectuals against the likes of Battersby and Pell.

This series of posts on the Church will conclude with a response to Harry Browne's Hammered by the Irish.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/85706
author by Ciaron - Catholic Worker/Ploughsharespublication date Sun Sep 07, 2008 07:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Gary makes an acknowledged and understable mistake here...
The priest at South Brisbane is Peter Kennedy not Ted Kennedy.

The late Ted Kennedy was the priest at Redfern Sydney ('70's, '80's, early '90's) who had taken a preferential
option for the indigeneous poor of that poverty stricken inner city area. Ted had previously been
university chaplain during the radicl '60's and brought a constituency with him from campus. In some ways
the drama being played out at South Brisbane St. Mary's (where the Greg Shackleton Catholic Worker had a base
focussed on East Timor solidarity/anti-war resistance '94-'96 before we were sent packing!) is a struggle between
liberal V conservative Catholicism. How protestant St. Mary's has become is a serious question.

The struggle at Redfern is more a struggle between conservative v radical (or at least liberation theology) Catholicism
.......it's questionable whether there is a radical Catholic tradition in Australia (In the early '80's we had to go looking to the U.S. tradtions of
Dorothy Day and the Berrigans to find some traction of pracitse and theological framework for reflection. The struggle in Redfern
escalated following the death of Ted (who had long ago turned over the church hall and the presbytery to the aboriginal. When I first met him he seemed to be bunked down in the sacristy!). Cardinal Pell ( known as "Pell Pot" by detractors!) imposed conservative neo-catacument priests on the rad. laity. I had been invited by bTed to give the homily at Redfern on a numebr of occassions, last time I had to wait unti the priest had finished mass and gone, befofe speaking. The tension between cleric and congregation was palpable. As I sadia few quiet Hail Mary's before mass I heard someone hiss behind me "fuckin's neocats!", I turned around to find a middle aged woman, sonservatvely dressed in sensible shoes and a major attitude. There were adudible criticalinterjections during the priests homily.

Mass at Redfern ends with a second collection by aboriginal homeless and also homeless folks coming into the church to share food brought by parishoners. Much to the disdain of the neocat priest, a soup kitchen is run from within the church itself a few days a week.

Here is an ABC radio in reference to that dispute....
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/relig/enc/stories/s1152547.htm

Related Link: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/relig/enc/stories/s1152547.htm
author by lulupublication date Sun Sep 07, 2008 14:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's good to be reminded of all the real good that's done by & around the Catholic Church, as a corrective to seeing old Papa Ratzinger giving out, with the Vatican's jewels and treasures weighing him down.

author by Part 3publication date Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I began these writings on Catholicism in response to Ciaron O’Reilly’s request that I review Harry Browne’s Hammered by the Irish. I have never met Harry but I am a long time friend of Ciaron O’Reilly one of the defendants in the series of trials that followed the Catholic Worker /Ploughshare Activists’ attack on an American War plane that was stationed in a hangar at Shannon Airport in clear violation of Irish neutrality.

I chose to position my review within the context of my thinking on Catholicism, because the defendants themselves are defiantly and embarrassingly religious. As a long term Marxist, I find their insistence on placing their actions within the context of ritual and prayer, to be as Ciaron O’Reilly would put it, “challenging”. It is not that the symbols they evoke are meaningless, rather it is because for me a collapsed Catholic they so evocative of Catholicism. This is the source of my trouble with the Ploughshares movement.

But let us leave all my neurotic prejudices aside, and begin the task of entering the world of Harry Browne’s book. I have chosen that metaphor deliberately as a form of homage to Browne’s ability as a writer. I knew nothing of him or his work up to now, but I realized after reading his prologue that the loss was mine. The prologue sets the scene for the verdict. It is full of significant detail and is indeed creative writing of the first rank. We are there with Browne, more surely than if we were watching a film of the event. When he tells us he cried at the acquittal verdict. I cried too because it was the victory of the decent ordinary people of Ireland over the “experts”, the professionals, the sell out merchants, the cynics, the opportunists, and all those who peddle despair about humanity. It was to borrow Roy Bhaskar’s phrase the very ‘pulse of freedom’.

Perhaps here might be a good place to tackle the “objectivity” issue. Browne’s narrative as , Dan Berrigan points out in his introduction, is not that of the observer. If anything he tends towards the participant end of the continuum and lets it be very clearly known that he was and is on the side of those who hammered the war plane. I have no trouble with that because I interpret objectivity in the Bhaskarian rather than in the Kantian tradition or in the Neo-Nietzschean traditions. Neo- Kantians cannot make up their minds as to where to locate objectivity in the phenomenal or the noumenal realm. So objectivity becomes most often reduced to the impersonal. The neo-Nietzscheans deny the very possibility of objectivity and so everything is reduced to the perspective of the speaker and truth is equated with power. For the Critical Realist the objective manifold exists and indeed guarantees the very possibility of the subjective. Truth is possible and even at its highest level alethia or the reason for things is both the goal of science and all emancipatory movements. By the Critical Realist test, Browne’s books is indeed objective in that it so patiently and faithfully seeks the truth. It endeavors to both bear witness and to uncover the reason for things.

This is especially clear perhaps in Browne’s attempt to create a context for the actions of Ciaron O’ Reilly and the other Ploughshare activists. Thus we are given sympathetic pen portraits of all the five defendants and also an interesting account of contemporary Irish Catholicism. We are also given some account of the Irish Peace movement and why it imploded like all the peace movements that sprung up around the world. Browne as well touches upon why the Ploughshare Activists were and probably always will be on the margins of any peace movement.

From these preliminary chapters we move fairly swiftly to a superb account of the action – the attack on the plane itself. I got caught up in the detail. Again the quality of the writing transports the reader to the scene. We see and rejoice when the plane is smashed. We urge the activists on to more damage, but no these are the most difficult people. They actually stop hammering at the plane to pray and sing. I almost screamed out my frustration. How could they? And above all things they started up the rosary – something which always brings to my mind the phrase – “the whine of Irish Catholicism”. I shuddered in near horror.

From this, to my mind, low point the narrative takes us swiftly to the trials. I have to be honest here and confess that I was most reluctant to read these chapters. There were after all three trials. I have myself been in court too many times to have anything but the greatest contempt for the legal system. I also come from the reductionist tradition of “One solution – Revolution”. So I have no interest in or patience for the fine points of law. I also know from personal experience how deadening and alienating a place the court room can be.

However a strict sense of my duty as a reviewer more or less compelled me to tackle the trial chapters. I am genuinely glad I did so. Browne with a true master’s touch condenses all the boredom into a few paragraphs and instead takes us through a truly tense drama. Will the truth come out? Will justice survive the law? The actual details of the law are made clear even to the likes of me. And the drama is peopled with real flesh and blood characters. Moreover I am truly grateful for the splendid testimony given by Nuin Dunlop (p147). It is even from this distance deeply moving to read her account of the reason why she took part in the attack on the plane. She spoke of responsibility, solidarity, urgency and prayer and though I have often raged against the tradition she represents, I thank her for her words.

I am also grateful for Browne’s account of the great speech by the defense lawyer Brendan Nix (pp163-5). He spoke of our shared humanity. For me it is in the full and true implications of that phrase that the justification for the actions of the Ploughshare activists lie. To paraphrase Brecht –“What is the crime of damaging a warplane compared to the crime of owning one or letting one be stationed in one’s country?”

There is much then to praise in this fine book and it is my pleasure to offer my congratulations to the author and to urge everyone to read it.

author by epiloguepublication date Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Faith of our Fathers 4 –an epilogue

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so'

(Thomas Hardy)

I began this series of posts with an article on the Irish mystic Larry Cummins. That was followed by an article on the crisis in the Catholic Church in Brisbane centered on the radical church of St Mary's in South Brisbane. It must be said though that to call the church "radical" makes only sense to the likes of Opus Dei. "Moderate & social democratic" would be much more appropriate. Nevertheless St Mary's is the church of the intellectuals and it is, however reluctantly, in conflict with the core church. What the outcome of that struggle is likely to be is impossible to say at this stage. However I note that as I write this, rumors are circulating that Fr Kennedy and his curate have compromised and are keeping a very low profile in terms of liturgical innovation. The statue of the Buddha, that so offended Archbishop Batttersby, is also rumored to have disappeared. No doubt Fr Peter Kennedy and the Arch Bishop have come to a compromise that will keep the right wing fanatics of the Archbishop's back.

My meditations on mystics and intellectuals were followed by a review of Harry Browne's great book Hammered by the Irish. I have urged everyone to buy and read the book. I repeat that message now. So what remains? Well for some reason or other like the knight who is alone and palely loitering, I am reluctant to quit the field as it were. The book with its gripping accounts of the action and the trials has had an almost disturbing effect on me. It is as if in reading of the account of the Ploughshare Activists and the aftermath of their action that life had somehow taken on the quality of the 'comet's pulsating rose' and now I am left amidst the dull demi-reality of what surely must be the most dishonest of all capitalist crises.

But I also want to ask and attempt to answer a question or two. I am puzzled to begin with why mystics like Larry Cummins when they hearken to the Blessed Virgin, the mother of God, never seem to hear anything about atrocities like Abu Ghraib or even obscenities like credit default swaps which have pushed millions into penury. The likes of Larry never seem to come out with a message that cannot be accommodated within the status quo. All that seems to be needed is a little bit of push and shove and make do.

The Blessed Virgin appears to be as reluctant as Rupert Murdoch to use words like capitalism, imperialism, class warfare, or even domination and exploitation. The secrets, she passes on, never tell us anything such as why the rich get richer and richer, why 1% control 70% of the world's wealth and why children must starve to death while there are whole mountains of wheat and now it would be nice to have a word or two about where the invisible hand of the market has gone and why it would seem absolutely necessary that the public's money be used not on schools and hospitals but on the rich in order to save them from themselves.

I may seem to be mocking here, but nothing is further from my intention. The point I wish to make is that mystics like Larry Cummins must of course continue to pray for the dead, but I wish as Bhaskar does to urge them to also pray for the living. And that prayer must be linked to action to create the foundation of the Kingdom of God here on Earth. To put this in its simplest terms the church that Larry represents must meet with the church that Ciaron O'Reilly represents.

As an outsider it seems to me that they have much to give each other. Ciaron could explain to Larry that there is really more to worry about than the repair man who cannot fix his TV because he has been watching pornography. Ciaron could no doubt explain to Larry that there is nothing more obscene than war and torture and the creation of poverty. Let it also be said that I believe that a meeting with Larry would renew Ciaron's faith and hope in the future based on a recognition that there lives the greatest freshness deep down things.

Finally on Ciaron himself: he is 48 now and I have known him since he was 18. I won't recount the number of times we have disagreed. Personally I find the Plowshares approach to be much too substitutionist. The danger of choosing the role of the prophet is that one can fall into the fatal trap of complaining of the people because their consciousness does not match up to one's own. Having said that , I am 100% behind Ciaron in his efforts to disrupt the American machinery of death.

However I would also like to point that there is another side to Ciaron besides that of the man of heroic and often dangerous deeds. He reminds me of the poem Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas.

Tall nettles cover up, as they have done

These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough

Long worn out, and the roller made of stone;

Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.

This corner of the farmyard I like most:

As well as any bloom upon a flower

I like the dust on the nettles, never lost

Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

Just so with Ciaron, though come to think of it he might not overly fancy being compared to a bunch of tall nettles! Whatever the case, I admire his public activism and his courage and his willingness to go to prison for his beliefs and the fact that he will never let go of the dream of a better world, but what I really like most about him is that away from the often spectacular limelight, he has led a life full of the little unremembered acts of kindness and of love that are the best part of a good man's life. So last year when I got into strife and when I came out hours later from the ordeal there was Ciaron who had stayed all afternoon out of solidarity.

I am also grateful for Ciaron for introducing me to Dorothy Day and I will quote now to him something of hers that I think he might benefit from as he contemplates yet again the apathy of the young amidst the terrible suffering that is all around us. It comes at the end of a letter to a young migrant woman, Felicia, who is living in desperate straits. Day writes "Never mind Felicia. God is not mocked. As things are they will not be".

Gary MacLennan

Institute for Social Ecology

Brisbane

20th Oct 2008

author by Jemmapublication date Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the demise of the church can only be welcomed-all that ridiculous kneeling,sitting,standing-please!
Church buildings could be used for wonderful healing-singing, chanting, esoteric dancing, wonderful philosophical debates, theatre. it's the 21st century we've got to be brave and look to something new instead of always looking back!

author by Stanpublication date Mon Oct 20, 2008 15:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In that case why not go ahead and found your own new age church or cult? It could become a good money spinner earning fees from healing courses, new age wedding services held at dolmens or on the sides of mountains, shops selling books, trinkets and cookery recipes. Business is business - in the republic you might apply to the Industrial Development Authority or Failte Ireland for start-up grants if there is a production element in the enterprise or tourism potential in new age festivals and courses.

Number of comments per page
  
 
© 2001-2020 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy