Friday, April 27, 2007

Latin Mass

When I heard some Jews were up in arms at a suggestion that the Pope is considering re-introducing a Mass service in Latin, my first reaction was "What's it got to go with them?". I mean, if I heard that Buddhists were going to start making clicking noises instead of chanting it wouldn't really ruin my day.
Apparently the problem is, the Tridentine Mass - which incidentally is not a lump of dried-in toothpaste on your bathroom carpet - includes prayers for the conversion of Jews to the Christian faith, and that's what these guys are up in arms about.
I have to say, this one's fairly close to my heart because I've prayed quite a few times that Jewish people - and some friends in particular - come to understand Jesus as he really is, the only route to God. I think the Jews are a wonderful race, but I've never understood how they can read and believe their 'Old Testament' scriptures yet fail to recognise that Jesus was the Messiah. Hey guys, like how many clues, predictions and promises do you need? Anyway, that's a decision for each individual, and God draws each member of his Kingdom in his own good time.
My objection to Mass in Latin in simple: because people don't understand it. Latin was perhaps the first Christian mega-language, but there's nothing holy about it. Jesus spoke Aramaic and (probably) vernacular Greek, but to our knowledge not Latin. Certainly, the local Roman soldiers wouldn't have spoken pure Latin, so at best Jesus may have had a smattering of Vulgar Latin, but that's the height of it. So any desire to re-introduce a Latin Mass is more about academic snobbery and self-indulgence than pleasing God.
The Roman Catholic church has a great role to play in evangelising the world, and I have a lot of time for Josef Ratzinger as a man as well as respect for the office of Pope, leading his part of God's church on earth. But one of the great errors of Roman Catholicism until the last hundred years or so was deliberately positioning the church hierarchy between God and his people, and the Latin language was one of the tools used to do that. Wycliffe and Cranmer were burned at the stake for translating the Bible into a language the common man could understand.
Catholic Mass, to the credit of the Roman Catholic church, is now said in modern languages churchgoers can identify with and use to communicate directly with God's spirit. And that's brilliant. This Latin business is simply symbolic of, literally, a dark age. Don't do it.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The opener

Looks like all's on track for a May 8 opening at Stormont. Old hands around here know this is what this blog's been looking forward to for nearly two years, so I'm going to be raising a glass that day as we finally get democratic power-sharing. Boy, it's been a long time coming.

Apparently Tony Blur and Bertie Ahem plan to be there to soak up some of the glory. Aye well, they'll be welcome enough, but I reckon this is something for heads of state. It's a huge moment in Ulster history, and I want to see it presided over by the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Uachtarán na hÉireann. What a day it would be for us all. What a uniter.

And afterwards they could go to Dublin for the Queen's first state visit to Éire, cementing the modern-day friendship between the two states brought together, in no small part, by the enfant terrible that is Norn Iron. As a dual passport holder and a fan of things British and things Irish, I'd be overjoyed. A Big day. Hope it happens.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wanted: One Ombudsperson

So it's time for a new Police Ombudsman, apparently, now that Nuala O'Loan's term is up. She a difficult job fairly well, but she's a funny old fish, don't you think? That accent takes ages to tune in to. Whoever they appoint, I hope it's someone with either an Irish accent or an English accent, but not a hybrid that sounds "fit on", as we say in Fermanagh.
More important, though, is the substance. Whoever takes over will have the job of investigating the police when major complaints are lodged. The ombudsman has to have serious credibility with the UK government, (increasingly) the Éire government, local politicians across the spectrum and - I think importantly at this stage in our democratic development - mainstream Republicans.
Therein may lie the rub. Whereas most Unionists would probably acknowledge that a Unionist (or English) jobholder would not enjoy the level of Gaelic favour we need to make further socio-political progress, few of them will tolerate anyone with the slightest connection or sympathies with the IRA, and quite rightly. So the challenge is to identify a politically neutral figure - probably a Roman Catholic - acceptable to people in both Ballinamallard and Belleek.
It doesn't have to be someone they like, just someone they feel will be even-handed. Any suggestions?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Blogger problems

Am I the only one having problems with Blogger now that they demand you set up a Google account? I've done all they asked and I still can't post comments.
Anyway, the drummer is ... Ian Paice (he of Deep Purple fame and the most talented rock drummer in the world IMHO).

Friday, April 13, 2007


A few years back I used to play in a cover band, and this one always went down a storm (it's the original, we didn't do vids!).

For trivia maniacs, recognise the drummer?

Coalitions 'n stuff

How far we've come in the last five years, politically at any rate. If you'd told me back then that by 2007 the IRA would have disarmed, that Sinn Féin had openly started backing the police and justice authorities and that Ian Paisley had decided to share power with Gerry Adams I'd have said you were a few pancakes short of an Ulster Fry.

But strange things happen in our part of the world, and I'm glad they do.

The UK is not used to coalitions, the last one having been the rather limp "Lib-Lab pact" 30 years ago. Coalitions are often seen as sell-outs - after all no one votes for a coalition - but if you have a free press, open reporting and proper personal accountability they offer a reliable way of arriving at policies the electorate can broadly get behind. A necessary evil, if you like.

The DUP's disaffected are quick to accuse Paisley of cozying up to Sinn Féin, describing them as his "new bestest friends", when in fact they're no such thing. A coalition is a marriage of convenience, not of love. It's a practical, grown-up step when the only alternative is ongoing stalemate where nothing gets done.

As Ulster's parties prepare to share power properly for the first time, let's remember - as I've said here before - that they don't have to see eye-to-eye on any one matter: they just have to agree what they're going to do. There's a difference because each policy will be the product of compromise, with individual policies either honed to ensure wider acceptability or traded off unaltered against something the other side wants. Either way the result is progress and the beginning of a shared future.

This is going to be a delicate process because it's the first time, and the two main players occupy the extremes of the political spectrum. Let's expect some people to reach for their toys and make out like they're off home. There will be play-acting, gambits, the lot - all a necessary, if tiresome, part of the democratic process and I wish them well with it.

Time to stay Big and keep our eyes on the horizon.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Back after Easter

I'm tripping off for a week's rest and recreation. Be good till I get back!