Monthly Archives: September 2010

Women in the Catholic Church … the case of Mary McKillop

An 81-year-old woman named Jennifer Sleeman organized a boycott of mass in Ireland last Sunday, in protest at women’s lowly place within the Church. The Church authorities claimed that it had no appreciable effect on mass attendance, although priests told a different story.

As it happened, I was due to sing in the choir at my local church (we sing every second Sunday from autumn through spring, and I usually go along; those are the only times I attend mass). I stayed away to support the boycott.

Today I read an article in the Irish Times that showcases rather starkly what women have contributed to the Church, and how they have been treated by its exclusively male power structure. Sister Mary McKillop is to be canonized by the organization that excommunicated her in her lifetime. Continue reading



Filed under History, Ireland, Religion

30,000 hits

I see that my blog has just passed the ‘30,000 hits’ mark. I started it around the beginning of May, and it had roughly 10,000 hits in each of the months of May and June. The rate of views then fell, possibly due to my inattention and/or some determined attacks by an ID hijacker; it has risen again lately.

Thanks to all who have shown an interest, and especially the most regular commenters, for whom I have a great deal of affection and respect. I intend to keep blogging here (DV), and hope to have interesting things to report in the coming weeks and months.

If not, I’ll just make some up.


Filed under Blogging

Prometheus (a poem)

To the rare old earth from the older heavens
It came in your grasp:
Fire from the wedding, element most regal;
Your daring had no match,
Deliverance yet the work of an eagle
While you waited, fearing blindness,
For the kindness of another god. Continue reading


Filed under Poems

ID hijacking in blogland

Yesterday a WordPress blogger called Theoretical Democatrix picked up on my ‘Human being = mechanism?’ post, and posted a response on his/her blog, on which I commented.

When I revisited that blog last night, I found that someone else had posted a comment using my name and avatar (it is comment #5 there as I write this). Not only that, but he had entered my WordPress address in the ‘URL’ field when making the comment, so anyone clicking on ‘Brendano’ was led to my WordPress blog. The comment therefore looked as if it was genuinely from me.

Those of you with WordPress blogs, please be aware that any comment purporting to be from me may actually be from my personal stalker.


Filed under Blogging

Human being = mechanism?

Certain people of a ‘scientific’ and ‘atheistic’ bent posit that the human being (i.e. the human body, including the mind – which is merely activity in the brain) is a kind of mechanism or machine or gene receptacle, and the brain is a ‘box of wires’. To me, this raises various questions.

1. Why is the human mechanism better or more deserving of respect than any other mechanism … a lawnmower, say, or, a cat?
2. Whence do concepts such as human dignity, human rights, personal morality, right and wrong, good and evil arise, and what is their justification?
3. Why should anyone be held responsible for their actions, given that these are caused by chemical reactions in the brain, and chemicals have no sense of right and wrong?
4. Why do you have the concept of a quasi-separate ‘I’, as in ‘my body’, if you are just your body?
5. How can volition be anything other than an illusion?
6. Why should feelings, emotions, etc. have any importance if they are mere artefacts of chemical reactions?

I ask because I want to know.


Filed under Philosophy of life, Psychology, Uncategorized

Munich … Winter Wonderland 2009

I posted this on MyT last December … I repost it here (without the links) in honour of the fact that myself and the same three friends will be going back to Munich this December, DV.

Three of us flew out from Belfast early on Saturday. Met up with the English member of our quartet, who had flown from London, at Munich Airport. 45 minutes on the train, then a short walk on snow-covered streets from the station to our hotel.

One of our number knows Munich quite well (I’d been there just once before, in 1988), and had worked out an itinerary of sorts … much of which revolved around finding and dispatching the best local beers. So, on the first day we did a lot of that kind of thing. Falafels for kebab-shop lunch; dinner at the Hofbräuhaus; between times walking round the city, dropping into bars, shivering in the bitterly cold wind and trying not to step into the cycle lane. Continue reading


Filed under Anecdotes, The music of what happened, Uncategorized, Wildlife

The indomitable spirit of Mother Jones

Some time back, Ana the Imp posted a blog on MyT entitled ‘Obama and the Deer Hunters’, contrasting ‘un-American’ ‘liberals and socialists’ with the kind of blue-collar individualists who ‘built America’ and are instinctively hostile to the state … epitomized by the steelworker-soldiers of The Deer Hunter.

In a comment, I said ‘It seems that some people, for ideological reasons, would like to tear out whole chapters of the American story … such as the “deer hunter” class fighting not the state as such, but big business that was backed by the forces of the state.’

Around that time I went to an Andy Irvine concert, and he sang a new song he’d written called ‘The Spirit of Mother Jones’. Mother Jones was an interesting character, and personified the struggle of the ‘little person’ for fair play that was a big part of what made America the greatest country in the world. Continue reading


Filed under Biography, Politics, Uncategorized

September (a poem)

Trees renounce their songs of day
To hum nocturnal scales of clay;
Played notes flee the upper stave
To kiss the cradle, now the grave;
Leaves of black-blot sycamore
In layers upon the forest floor
Effectuate repose:
Jesus died, and Jesus rose. Continue reading


Filed under Ireland, Poems

The bodhrán

Nice little piece here about a traditional Irish drum.


Filed under Ireland, Music