Saturday, August 26, 2006

Football crosses

I thought it might happen. An ire-stirring news story before the end of August. Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc has been cautioned by state prosecutors in Scotland for crossing himself during a match with Glasgow's other club, Rangers (the Protestant one). Admittedly the prosecutors say this was but one of several 'provocative' actions, and I'm guessing they reckon he may have done it deliberately to anger the Rangers supporters, in which case shame on him, but making the sign of the cross on one's body by touching the forehead, breastbone and both nipples in quick succession (no disrespect, but what's 5cm between friends) is a sign of religious dedication, a sign that the crosser is redeemed by Jesus' death on the cross, and it's by no means limited to the Roman Catholic church. Rangers supporters, Scottish prosecutors and Hot-Prots please note: Eastern Orthodox Christians cross themselves. Indeed, around half the vicars and churchgoers in the Church of England cross themselves.

As it happens I'm a Christian. I was convinced and started feeling like a new person 12 years ago after I started looking seriously at 'all this Jesus stuff'. On matters of theological detail I would veer towards the views of the great reformers, Luther and Cranmer, and latterly the likes of John Stott and Jonathan Edwards (both the rector and the runner). And whereas I'm critical of any big-organisation church because of the politics and dogma that creep in, as a Christian I have respect for the leaders of the Catholic church and the hundreds of thousands of its Faithful members. Which brings me to my point:

I find myself in Catholic churches a couple of times a year and have no trouble - no trouble at all - in crossing myself with the rest of the people there. It's no magic trick, it's a simple sign of devotion and reverence (something which can tend to fall a bit short in the happy-clappy world I normally inhabit).

Rant over. It's nice to be back.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Quality above quantity

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I'd like to say I was in the Seychelles but in fact I'm bone idle. The truth is, nothing has been pique-ing either my interest or my ire recently, so I've felt no great urge to post. Politicos will know August is traditionally a fallow month for news and developments, and this year it's been - well - boring as watching paint dry.
Regulars here know I value one heartfelt post above ten blog-fillers, so when I've something to say I'll be back to say it. Something tells me that might be around the beginning of September ...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Do I want SF in government?

I felt Aileen's comment (#1 on my last post) deserved a reply too important to be left to the fickle ravages of Haloscan, so here goes ...

Quick recap: I was railing against Peter Hain for accepting that it's OK for IRA members continue in organised crime as long as it's not sanctioned by the Army Council. In his words: "There probably is still some localised individual criminality by former and maybe existing Provisional IRA members for their own private gain ... What there is not is organised 'from the centre' criminality any more ... To that extent the IRA are delivering on their commitments made last July, not just in respect of shutting down paramilitary activity but also shutting down criminality". I don't think it makes a hap'worth of difference - the IRA will only have stopped its crime rackets when the last mafia baron packs it in.

Back to Aileen's question, "why at the same time you are so keen to have SF in government and give the DUP a hard time for keeping them out"?

Truth be told, I'm no more keen to have SF in government than I am to have Ian Paisley as First Minister. But I have enough faith in democracy to believe that, given a free press, a decent judicial system, an informed electorate and some patience, Ulster people can only do a better job of governing Northern Ireland than the English have. Would I thole SF in government? Well as a democrat I really can't refuse to recognise their electoral mandate. The only thing I would expect of them first is that they recognise the legitimacy of the forces of law and order (preferably on both sides of the Irish border). I find the reports that this is close very encouraging.

Democracy also means that no party should be forced to coalesce with an other (as Peter Hain is trying to do to the DUP). But democracy means the no-sayers should be held accountable to the electorate, and that electorate should be able to vote with their feet.

At the risk of rambling, this post wouldn't be complete if I didn't add that the tribal voting pattern in NI and the recent dominance of two giants, one in each camp, is a restraining factor on the growth of democracy here. Unionists disaffected by the DUP can vote UUP in the near-sure knowledge their vote will be wasted, and for most Nationalists the SDLP has become a less-than-cool place to be. I'd like to see Ulster's electorate presented with vibrant, non-sectarian, constitutional alternatives to the DUP and Sinn Féin and, incidentally, I'm fairly sure these would emerge within 5 years of local democracy being given full sway.

OK so I rambled. Actually, I enjoyed it. Have a go yourself in the Comments section.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A matter of identity

Well now. Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Permatan Hain, has announced that the IRA the given up criminality. Incredibly, though, his statement goes on to say, "There probably is still some localised individual criminality by former and maybe existing Provisional IRA members for their own private gain". (Oh, that's all right then).
Quick question, Pete: if members of the IRA murder someone, did the IRA murder them or was it just a couple of smackworthy scamps? Whether it was "sanctioned from the centre" or not doesn't matter a jot. Any fool will tell you it was the IRA.
So when members of that same IRA use their terrorist expertise and resources to flout the law of the land (both North and South) for personal, selfish gain at other people's cost, that too is the IRA. Lordy, how intelligent do you have to be to see that?
If you spent less time exposing your brain to sunbed rays, Pete, you'd register that these men are hardened criminals, anti-democratic, anti-constitution and anti-everything that doesn't fill their homes with ill-gotten gains. And, yes, the same goes for their many counterparts in other organisations.
You see, that's the problem: the organisations are still at work. Yes, I'm glad they're not murdering any more, but they now have to stop stealing too.