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Religious Stuff and Nonsense

As it’s Sunday, I thought I’d take one of my periodical looks at religion.

I wrote here about the possible business opportunities associated with the Rapture.

Of course, missed deadlines for the Rapture are nothing new. Man has been predicting doom since the beginning of time. In 1844 for example there was The Great Disappointment which saw people giving away all their possessions and preparing for the Lord’s return.

And so it was yesterday. It is easy to scoff at these eejits but really, it’s just a demonstration of how easily led human beings can be. I mean Harold Camping isn’t the first man in his 80′s to be literally putting the fear of God into his flock:

 
 
 

A friend of mine on his (private) blog makes the point quite succinctly:

Camping and the Pope agree that Jesus will return – they only argue about the date.

They are agreed that the Bible is holy writ – they disagree on precise interpretation.

They are both agreed that God can and does intervene in human affairs, though neither can offer even a scintilla of objective evidence in support of that belief.

When asked to justify their preposterous beliefs they would both ultimately ascribe them to ‘faith’.  In other words a fervent belief in something for which there is no proof whatsoever.

And those in much more powerful positions than Camping claim to have a hotline to Heaven

Ain’t there a universal truth here? It’s easy to make religious and political statements with no proof to back them up and which fly in the face of all the evidence, if you’re a persuasive talker.

That’s why, whether it’s Harold Camping, The Pope, Ian Paisley, Nick Clegg or Nick Griffin, George Bush or George Galloway, there will always be the sad and gullible who believe their rhetoric.

They will follow an idea, no matter how preposterous, to the extent that they are prepared to give away everything they own in its pursuit.

Farewell to Paisley

I caught an interview on BBC radio at the weekend in which John Humphreys interviewed Rev Ian Paisley on the occasion of his retiral as a Westminster MP after 40 years. It can be heard here.

Ian Paisley (left) and Martin McGuinness

The Chuckle Brothers

One of the most amazing things in the interview is that Paisley claims to have prayed with his deputy Martin McGuinness in 2008 for the latter’s sick mother. Jeeez! they pray to the SAME God? It kind of makes you wonder what all the trouble in Northern Ireland over the last three hundred years or so has been about.

Strange Things Happen

Alastair draws my attention to this one. Growing up in the 60′s and 70′s there were many certainties and immovable traditions in life which have gradually been eroded away. We live in a spectacularly different world now, much of it for the worse but some of it undeniably for the better. In two particular parts of the UK, namely Northern Ireland and Scotland, religion, politics (and heaven help us) sport have always been closely connected during my life. The whole thing stems from three things. 1) Mass emigration from (mainly protestant) Scotland to (then mainly catholic) Ulster in the 17th and 18th centuries and 2) Mass emigration (mainly by manual labourers) from ( mainly catholic) Ireland to (mainly protestant) Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries. 3) The province of (by then mainly protestant) Ulster remaining part of the UK when the rest of Ireland gained independence in the 1920′s.

The rancour, murder, crime and downright hatred which arose from these events has been a blight on life for generations in Scotland but in particular in Northern Ireland. Bombings and terrorist assassination were commonplace in England in the 70′s and 80′s as the Provisional IRA conducted their form of negotiation. However gradually an uneasy peace has developed in Ulster and the unthinkable coalition between Ian Paisley’s DUP and Martin McGuinness’ Sinn Feinn now governs the province.

Yesterday in the Guardian, on the news that Ian Paisley was to step down from his position as first minister at the next election, Gerry Adams (Sinn Feinn president) paid tribute to him by saying he (Paisley) was a “fascinating and gracious man”.

Whatever next?

Footnote: Simon Jenkins’ excellent article from yesterday’s Guardian is HERE

and to add context to Gerry Adams’ remarks, his full article is HERE

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