I’m looking at the man in the mirror

sea of loneliness263
I went to see the Wim Wenders film about Pope Francis last week and the main thing I’ve been pondering since is…

Why do we find it so hard to see the ways in which we do the same sorts of things that we give others a complete kicking about?

Or in other words. Do we look in the mirror enough to see if we’re guilty of the same sort of failings?

I think that we’re pretty good at pointing out the speck in other people’s eye but bad at noticing the plank in our own. Or even pointing out the large plank in other peoples eye because I don’t want to create the impression that the stuff that someone else has done isn’t important or horrible or deadly serious. Maybe every body has a plank in their eye?

It’s just that a lot of people who hate the Roman Catholic church in Ireland for failing to protect children don’t seem to be as good as recognising their own failings when it comes to protecting children.

I’ve been thinking about it every time I read something about how the present Pope has been a complete failure in tackling clerical child abuse and the cover up. People are angry that he hasn’t done anything about it and has failed after seeming to be a different type of Pope at the start.

I have no idea the amount of pain and suffering this has caused and I’m not trying to defend the church, especially as I don’t consider myself a member of the Roman Catholic church. I in no way want to belittle it.

At the same time I get frustrated that we don’t seem to get that we are continually making conscious decisions that are causing children to suffer and destroying their lives right now.
In numbers that will dwarf anything the RC church has done or could ever do. Because we’re upholding a system that abuses the planet that we all depend on to live healthy, fruitful lives. It doesn’t matter what religion you are or if you don’t have a religion, it involves us all. And future generations.

I don’t think that is hyperbole to say that. We don’t seem to get how serious it is and just keep doing the things we’re doing as if it doesn’t matter.I personally think that we’re just as likely to turn a blind eye to suffering children and make excuses for the perpetrators as some bishop did in 1950’s Ireland.

So we point out the sins of the priest and how they had a system that destroyed the lives of children and locked them away and how it was a national disgrace. And yes it was and is.

Yet last week you had children sleeping in a Garda station or you’ve 1500 kids bundled into direct provision centres. We could change that by demanding that our politicians do something about it. Do we? No, many people turn a blind eye or are happy that they’re treated like that as it might mean their parents decide to go back home to where they are from or somewhere else.apart from Ireland.

They’re happy that kids are being robbed of a decent childhood and support it.

I think that when we don’t care about tackling climate change we’re turning a blind eye and not doing enough to stop children being harmed or having their lives wrecked.
We are deciding on a course of action that wrecks lives and families and tears their world apart. Do people care about that?

Do we care that if glaciers melt more children will suffer and die through flooding, crops and homes being destroyed, diseases spreading?
Do we care that air pollution will kill more kids if we keep burn fossil fuels?

No, many people are happy to protect the system of a high consuming, wasteful, greedy lifestyle and want it to flourish.
They want more things and bigger cars even though our planet can’t support that sort of lifestyle.
People are happy to be rich and live in luxury while 100’s of millions of children don’t even have access to clean water or enough to eat.

Kids are the ones who have done least to wreck the planet yet they are the ones who will have to bear the brunt of our decisions and lack of action. We have been warned about the consequences of inaction yet are happy to stick our fingers in the ear and ignore the cries of the poor. So does that make you better than members of a church who did nothing about abuse when they heard whispers about it?

They will die and suffer because we have decided to live our lives in certain ways, because we’ve made decisions that forced them into becoming refugees and made them flee on boats across the Mediterranean. Then when the turn up seeking refuge from some war zone our governments (who we vote for) won’t allow them across our borders.
We’ll stick them in some sort of refugee camp.
That’s if they make it alive across a frightening boat journey.

I watched the documentary of Pope Francis knowing that some film critics felt that he didn’t say enough about the issue of clerical child abuse. He did answer a question and said that there should be zero tolerance for it. To me he seemed genuinely angry about the fact that it has happened.But it also seemed to me that he was trying to tackle an issue that was too much for an 81 yr old man to be expected to handle. Which doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been trying to tackle the horrors of systematic abuse in the church, just that he is an 81yr old man.

To me this is man who knows that he won’t have that long as Pope,
who knows that the world is on the edge of environmental meltdown and that it will lead to many children and people suffering. More children unnecessarily suffering than at any period in history actually. He knows that this is the most important issue of our time and that he wants to do something about it to stop children suffering now and in the future in the short time he will have.

I can understand why some people feel like he has been a complete failure with regards to the horrors of the church and child abuse. I just wonder if we look in the mirror enough and consider the ways in which we might be using our power to deprive children of their fundamental rights and dignity?


cheap energy minds

I’m sitting in the kitchen and can feel the early morning November chill around the bottom of my legs and feet. It’s cold in here.
It might be a good idea to put on the heating on but I’m reluctant as something in my head reminds me about climate change and the need to cut carbon emissions. I’ve been feeling guilty about putting the heating on too much as the heat just disappears through the windows. Some goes to warm me, the vast majority is wasted.
So I’ll look for a nice pair of warm socks, stick on a jumper, head out to the library instead etc.

Climate change is a funny one. People seem reluctant to do anything much about it despite the vast number of scientists who study it saying that something drastic needs to be done about it.

In part I think it’s because we all know that we have to burn carbon to stay alive. You need to eat or heat the house. You need to visit sick relatives or drive to work.

To cut a long story short it reminds me that we live by the death and sacrifice of other things, which is true also of food.

‘Eating is the daily reminder of creaturely mortality. We eat to live, knowing that without food we will starve and die. But to eat we must also kill, realizing that without the deaths of others – microbes, insects, plants, animals – we can have no food.’
Norman Wirzba

On the other hand I think that we ‘kill’ much too easily. As Wendell Berry writes:-

‘Nearly all of us have what I can only call cheap-energy minds; we continue to assume, or to act as if we assume, that it does not matter how much energy we use. I do not mean to imply that I know how to solve the problems of the automobile or of the wasteful modern household. Those problems are enormously difficult, and their difficulty suggests their extreme urgency and importance. But I am fairly certain that they won’t be solved simply by public protests. The roots of the problems are private or personal, and the roots of the solutions will be private and personal too.’

When I was growing up in Tyrone one of the illustrations that I heard in Christian talks was something about sitting beside God and him showing you a video of your life. Would you feel shame about this incident that nobody else saw? Why did you do this in secret? Why did you treat that homeless person like that? (Incidentally I wonder if that illustration has moved on a bit in the past 20yrs and do they say something like ‘How will feel when you stand in front of God in his judgement seat and he brings up your internet search history?Or would it be now digitally projected onto a screen with a Powerpoint presentation of your sins?Maybe there would be a Gary Neville type magic pen to circle things and point out what you should have done)

I’m not a fan of those types of illustrations (like the old ‘Sinner, if you left here tonight and where hit by a bus where would you be??)but maybe if there was a video tape presentation would things like our decision to waste food, oil, clothes appear? Would the way we supported our nation in times of war? Would the way we slagged of other churches?

Sometimes you’ll hear people going on about the 1%, the super wealthy who own a huge percentage of the wealth of the monetary wealth. The thing is that if you took the entire population of planet earth how would you or I stand on that scale? Would I be in the top 1% of humans who have ever lived? Maybe less? Will I have to answer for that? I guess putting on the heating or lighting a fire is a reminder to be grateful for good gifts and to be careful not to waste them.

dry wells

I am  tired despite returning  from a holiday at the beginning of the week.
We have family that live near Almeria and I had never been out to see them and where they live. So this year (and thanks to a kind Christmas present) we flew over to the south of Spain on the new, improved, nice and caring Ryanair for a week. Which is how we ended up spending a few nights in a nice Spanish village

This time last week I was walking around the beautiful Spanish village of Mojacar on a holiday.
If that sounds lovely you should also know that a fight with your wife is still a fight with your wife no matter if it’s a lovely village and knowing that you’re spending money in something that you don’t do very often but having a fight instead of making the most of it can make you pretty miserable.

So although it was nice to be away I’m knackered and didn’t find the holiday relaxing. Heat tires me and my inner Presbyterian couldn’t get the hang of the resting in the afternoon business.  I never got the hang of when you are supposed to eat lunch and dinner. The language as well.

That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Spain and seeing where my nephew and niece live because I like seeing new places. Some might think that the endless acres of plastic greenhouses that supply Europe with tomatoes and watermelons are an eyesore but I find them interesting:-
Where are the getting the water to grow watermelons in the driest part of Europe? Are they going to desalinate seawater and use it? How is climate change going to effect this area and how is that going to effect my sister and brother-in-law. my nephew and niece?

Then  it starts boiling over into the problems with the world:-
How do people work inside those greenhouses in what must be phenomenal heat? Are the migrant workers treated fairly? Do you realise that flying on your Ryanair flight on holidays is contributing to climate change here in Almeria? 

The one thing I really wanted to do over in Spain was to see new colours and draw new things, to feel a surge of inspiration surging and to be creative again. I feel like any wells of creativity that I had have dried up, a bit like the countryside and river beds around Almeria. But I felt uninspired and too awkward to create. No paints, no markers, no skill.

On the way home from the airport I was complaining to H about the way people act on Ryanair flights. ‘There are schoolgirls having to walk miles each day to get clean drinking water and then there are 50 yr old men who throw their dummies out of the pram when an air hostess moves their hand luggage a few metres away to section 29A’
 I said ‘People are so fortunate to be able to go on holidays, they should recognise this and stop acting like they….etc etc.’

Of course I was doing the exact same the whole holiday, moaning about the heat and my lack of ability to order a tapas without embarrassment. There a kids sleeping in refugee camps tonight and I’m having a meltdown because I have to sit under a sun shade and it’s making me sweat. Saying that out loud seems to make perfect sense. I need to get a grip.

Yet I’m tired as well. And I also think that saying things like ‘We should get a grip because we have it pretty good compared to so many in the world’ is a bit arrogant (?) in a way or perhaps untrue. It sounds as if we’re not really that sick or needy and screwed up and under the thumb of oppressive systems which as a Christian I don’t believe. ‘The World’ or Kingdom of Death or however you want to phrase the way Satan works against us is an ever present reality. Just because I don’t live in a country that persecutes or oppresses Christians by throwing them in jail doesn’t meant that we’re not oppressed. Like the sense of hopelessness that I get from absorbing the ways of the world does a pretty good job of robbing me of vitality for life or for serving.

I was thinking about this sense of hopelessness  or why we complain in the face of so much privilege while reading Jacques Ellul.

‘One can prove to the members of our modern societies that our ancestors never enjoyed this much means, freedom, happiness, well-being, available opportunities, long life, culture, pleasure, leisure, communication, and dialogue, but one will never convince the person in our modern society that he is living in a little paradise’


‘In the most pacified and guaranteed society which has ever existed, man is living in uncertainty and growing fear. In the most scientific of societies, man is living in the irrational. In the most liberal of societies, man is living ‘repression,’ and even hyper-repression. In a society in which the means of communication are the most highly developed, man is living a sort of phantasmagoria. In a society in which everything is done to establish relationships, man is living in solitude…’



‘Global Warming is’ autocomplete

climate change

Global warming is a lie, a hoax, a myths, a natural cycle.
Global warming is bullshit, bad, BS, beneficial.
Global warming is caused by humans, caused by human activity, caused by the sun.
Global warming is dead, defined as, dangerous.

Global warming is eroding glacial ice, exaggerated, expected to result in…
Global warming is fake, false, fake proof, fake facts.
Global warming is good, getting worse, good for us, good for the planet.
Global warming is happening, human caused, hoax.

Global warming…is it real? it happening? it our fault? inevitable?
Global warming is just a natural cycle, just the tip of the iceberg, just a myth, junk science.
Global warming is killing polar bear, killing animals, real Koch brothers.
Global warming is leaving many homeless, lie, likely to harm us, too late to stop.

Global warming is manmade, myth, most pronounced at the, man made essay.
Global warming is not happening, natural, not real, not caused by humans.
Global warming is over, our fault, occurring, over exaggerated.
Global warming is part of a natural cycle, produced by the greenhouse effect, problem, propaganda

Global warming is fake quotes, natural quotes, bullshit quotes.
Global warming is real, rubbish, real proof, real article.
Global warming is slowing, slowing down, stupid, serious
Global warming is the rise in temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. thought to be caused by the, the result of.

Global warming is  unequivocal, undeniable unstoppable, untrue
Global warming is very real.
Global warming is wrong, when the earth heats up, worse than we thought.
Global warming is fake yahoo, real yahoo, natural yahoo
Global warming is zealots, zombies.

Chasing Ice

Chasing Ice is a documentary that follows James Balog and his attempt to gather undeniable evidence of climate change.

From an artistic point of view, I didn’t really enjoy it that much.

From the ‘gathering undeniable evidence of climate change’ point of view the photo and film footage of glaciers melting at unprecedented rates are a more persuasive argument than most out there. You can see how much the landscape has changed in a short period of time.

The stuff has been on my mind a lot recently due to the storms of the last month. Walking along the from Salthill to Galway I am suddenly more aware how vulnerable my new home is to flooding and the sea.  Then there are all those places along the coast that got a battering as well.

Something has been stirring in me that I may have been too blasé or that I haven’t done enough about it.

I was reading this article and it was suggesting that climate change is a civil rights issue.

‘In the Civil Rights Movement we marched hand in hand facing dogs and fire hoses, risking imprisonment and worse for the sake of future generations. The same question is in front of us today when it comes to climate change. What are you willing to sacrifice and what are you willing to personally do to hand down a better world to our children?’
Reverend Dr. Gerald L. Durley


flooded carpark

We staggered out of bed yesterday morning to the sound of a fire alarm going off in the January gloom and half naked hung-over bodies appearing out of bedrooms wondering if it was just a false alarm.

By the time we had reached the foyer the manager was looking panicked as she explained that the underground car park had flooded and all the cars down there had ‘gone’.

Discovering that Nissan Almera has been flooded in an underground car park is not the ideal way to finish of a short break in Sligo.

So it was a relief to find that our car had  actually survived. Some car owners in the level below where  not as fortunate, but ours was OK. Then I saw the pictures from my new home. Down by Spanish Arch was flooded, the promenade in Salthill was wrecked with stones and lifeguard huts strewn over the road. Spiddal looked the same.
And there seems to be more of that sort of weather on the way.

I was wondering afterwards if this is the sort of thing we should get used to seeing?Remember that late snow last spring when the sheep got stuck? Remember that extremely cold winter when our pipes burst? Remember that extremely wet summer when farmers couldn’t get into fields to harvest potatoes?

I think in Ireland we assume that we live on a benign little island that isn’t effected by weather extremes and that we’ll be alright if the worlds temperature rises.

A common attitude would be that it would be nice to live in a warmer country.

But to pick one example we can’t grow all the food we need to eat as an island, with most of our wheat or corn grown in places around the planet. If they can’t grow cereal due to drought then that effects us with food prices or just scarcity.
There aren’t new areas of farmland we can just move to if we need to grow more food.
Below is a graph of world population growth since 10,000 BC. I am amazed by the population growth over the last few hundred years.Now is not the time in world history for dependable farm lands to become unreliable.

I have never really worked out why lots of people don’t want to believe what the majority of scientists are saying about climate change. Perhaps the simple truth is that just don’t want to change our way of life.