Monday, May 26, 2014

woe, woe and thrice woe

'Tis said if we wish to converse without tension, we must avoid three topics: sex, politics and religion. Sometimes I wonder if these topics are not, like the Holy Trinity itself, three in one.
Yesterday I got to chatting with friends about the God part, and the Catholic Church.

In the early years of my extremely Catholic education I was warned that God sees everything we do. It might explain the idea of nuns being extremely modest when they take a bath. My own early reaction was that if God is really watching when I go to the toilet, I should be nervously constipated for the rest of my life.

Another notion, perhaps originally designed to convince medieval believers that it doesn’t matter how crap life on earth might be, concerned the promise of heaven.

The more we suffer in this life the better our position in the afterlife. We might, the good sisters explained in age-appropriate simplistic terms, imagine our own personal guardian angel sitting on our right shoulder recording ticks and crosses in an exercise book every time we are good or bad.
Each tick for a good act is a brick that can be used to build a decent home in advance of our arrival at the Pearly Gates, while too many sins might mean you could end up in a heavenly dump like this:

In my early years I would have killed to live in a relatively [to me] luxurious prolestacker. Bugger waiting for the next life. 

The just-you-wait idea was not some British propaganda encouraging the Irish to accept being treated like shit in this life; 

it came from God himself [via some pope, of course. Probably some power hungry corrupt bastard but infallible pope, of course].

What British propaganda did suggest is that the Irish were a stupid race - a notion contradicted by this image:

Belief and therefore Prayer were a struggle for me. One of my favourite [if sacrilegious] turns at a party is to recite this [in a suitable dramatic and pleading tone, of course]:

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, Hail our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then most gracious advocate thine eyes of mercy towards us and, after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of they womb, Jesus.


It is a nonsense, really, to try and separate culture from religion. Some of the most popular and best selling Irish stories in recent times, like Angela’s Ashes, have been full of misery. They are not stories about god’s admonition to wait for the afterlife; they are stories reflecting the reality that Ireland was a third world country – full of desperately dysfunctional people, before the country was accepted into the EU.

Does this miserable level of poverty explain the drunkenness and domestic violence?
I have a theory that the whole of the country [religion and culture combined] is populated by people with a bipolar disorder.
I’m not sure I believe bipolar disorders are biologically genetic, but think they are the transgenerational result of the brain’s plasticity – the way individuals program themselves to cope with the shit that is/was almost invariably a part of any poor childhood in Ireland. It’s self-programming for survival that lends itself to alcoholism, rage, and a victim mentality.

Italy on the hand is a “Catholic” country, and one which still has pockets of extreme poverty. Yet it has produced beautiful, life affirming films like The Tree of Wooden Clogs, and Life is Beautiful. The Italian mix of culture and religion is a far cry from the Irish Catholicism passed on to me.


Having been indoctrinated enough with the miserable attitudes of Irish Catholicism, I’ve learned the last thing I need to read is another Angela’s Ashes, and the last thing I need to hear is more about the disgusting theft and abuse of children supported by what is now loosely termed the Magdalene Laundry system. [To which I might add Rome is welcome to Cardinal Pell because nobody here seems to want him at all.]

Nonetheless, one shares one’s life with others and sometimes watches films like Philomena. The book written by Martin Sixmith focuses primarily on the life of Philomena Lee’s stolen child, Anthony. The movie Philomena, on the other hand, focuses on Philomena’s search for her son, and what a pack of C-bombs the Irish nuns/ Church were. The key theme of the movie seems to be forgiven-ness.
It’s an ask.

For some reason that escapes me, pilgrimages are still a core component of the Irish tourist industry. Shrines are everywhere, but one of the greatest drawcards for locals and visitors alike is the challenge of dragging oneself 764 metres (2,507 ft) up the mountain that is Croagh Patrick.

Nearly 200 years ago this might have made sense:

Today, I fail to see the point at all.


  1. I fail to see the point of any of it these days - just a reason to guilt and shame people so that they're more easily controllable and to exclude those (usually the ones that Jesus - if memory serves me correctly) that don't fit in.

    1. Just another control system, Kath. I wonder what you think after all your travels, is Australia more out of control than some European countries?

  2. Hey there FC, how the heck are you? How I've missed your succinct point of view :) Religious ideals seem so hypocritical these days that it's lost a of it's viability.. except to fanatics, as for politics oh la! every time I watch Parliament Question Time I despair, it's like watching a seriously bad reality tv show! Hope all is well over your way, if you're ever in Perth that cuppa tea will be waiting :)

    1. Things are good here, Grace, thank you for asking. Thank you for missing me, that's very kind of you. YES!!! by gum, I think you've nailed it calling Question Time a bad reality TV show. I'm going to use that one - repeatedly I imagine.
      High tea? I love to pig out - it would be nice to do it in a ladylike fashion for a change :)

  3. Hope you got my first comment FC. just wanted to add, I'd rather croak than climb Croagh Patrick :)

    1. Ha ha, you'd rather croak... I probably wouldcroak if I tried.

  4. As you and Kath said, it all is very much about control and I look at it like if people are naive enough to believe it, then they deserve to be controlled.

    1. If only there weren't so many of "them" out there, Rubye!