Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ireland: A Story...

Ireland holds a certain kind of fascination for me. Like a lot of my friends, it's one of those countries on my list I want to journey through someday. Plus, it's the homeland of U2! With an interest in the nation, I read the novel Trinity by Leon Uris about Ireland's struggle for freedom in the years leading up to 1916.

It's not a short novel - 894 pages; and it doesn't read quickly - because it so thought-provoking and disturbing. It's taken about nine months to work my way through the story. I doubt I'll look at politics, religion, economics, war, and poverty in the same way again.

Some thoughts:
The British disdain for the Irish is indefensible.
The hatred fueled by the religious fervor of Protestants and Catholics was disillusioning.
The capitulation of Catholic hierarchy to the unjust policies of the Protestant British politicians was disgraceful.
The poverty of Ireland - a situation sustained by the calculating policies of entrenched British Protestant industrialists was demeaning.
With the failure of peaceful political process, with the irrelevance of religious authority, with the lack of profitable labor, what other recourse was there than violence?
Conservative politics was leveraged to protect the interests of those already in power, of the industrialists, those with land and titles, those with military and government authority.
Liberal politics was resistance to the abuse of conservative politics, it was insistence on justice and freedom for all people - especially the poor, the disenfranchised, the abused, the neglected, the oppressed.
And the Church was often a defender of conservative politics.
Without the Church insisting and working to work out a way for peace to prevail, the myth of redemptive violence gains strength.

U2's yearning for peace in Ireland, so hauntingly captured in Sunday Bloody Sunday came to my mind many times as I worked my way through this story of Ireland. And "40".

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