Thanks to all who have passed through this little part of the blogosphere in 2012 and especially to those who have joined in the conversations.
Some thoughts on ‘faithinireland’ to close the year
There are a number dominant narratives abroad that continue to shape public discourse here and most of them aren’t pretty. Maybe you can add your own, but these are some prompted by the paper today.
And the details don’t really matter nor whether the narratives are rationally justified or not – the point is their bigger ‘narrative sense’. A narrative doesn’t have to be true to be real. It doesn’t have to (and can’t) capture reality of day to day life on the ground either. But it does capture an attitude and interpretation of reality within contemporary Irish culture.
Frustrated Justice: over four years into the banking collapse and no trials or convictions. Increasing clarity over Ireland’s enforced bailout of the banking system by the ECB and the transparent immorality of foisting tens of billions of recklessly accrured private debt onto taxpayers (and their children). A desire for justice to be done but little or no real expectation that it can or will be.
Rage: against politicans, developers, the banks, Eurocrats – probably contributing to the suicide of junior minister Sean McEntee after sustained hate mail. ‘McEntee’s death exposes a sickening culture of hate’ is how one article title goes.
Suicide: dread of and helplessness caused by high profile young teen suicides and the perception of increased rate of suicide due to financial crisis.
Consumer dreams: the furious modernist optimism of consumerism continues unabated, perhaps even speeded up, selling the dream of a better life around the corner. This consumer ‘gospel’ is the consistent and persistent purveyor of ‘good news’ in a culture saturated with bad news.
Fatalism: with about €200 billion of unpayable debt, 6 austerity budgets with more to come, combined with accelerating emigration, a sense of powerlessness, and a lack of belief in leaders to change things, there ain’t much sense of hope around.
Envy: at those who are perceived to have done well out of the boom years, and especially those in protected well paid state employment.
The Christian gospel has always been a dramatically alternative narrative of good news. Ireland’s current climate brings the sheer otherness of the gospel into sharp relief.
It’s a narrative that speaks of infinite love of the triune God; of incarnation, kingdom life breaking into this lost world through the Spirit, resurrection of the living Lord, and future hope for all who have life through him. It’s a gospel of forgiveness, grace and justice in the here and now but only perfectly enacted in the future. It’s a gospel of community life formed around word and sacrament that speak of a different story to that of fear, hopelessness, anger or superficial promises of happiness through consumption.
On the one hand, this good news changes nothing. Ireland and the world is still broken.
On the other hand, this good news changes everything.
I don’t know about you but I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. But my simple hope for 2013 is to keep reminding myself daily of this other story.
For Christians are storykeepers; called to keep contrasting the gospel story with other narratives that shout and yell incessantly that they are what makes reality real. So I hope to keep asking and reflecting and trying to share on this blog during 2013 what difference that gospel makes in the messiness and complexity of everyday life.
Hope you’ll stick around and help figure out some answers together. And in the meantime ….
Best wishes for a joyful NEW YEAR