Tag Archives: Pope

A Portrait of The Artist as an ex-Catholic…among other things.

Pope Francis 1, formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina

Pope Francis 1, formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina

So we have a new pope. Well, it’s about bleedin’ time, if you ask me. There should be no such thing as a job for life – not in this day and age, anyway. Either you’re up for the task, or you’re not. There’s no in between. Joey Ratz did the right thing in my books. “I’m too old for this shit,” he said. “Let someone younger handle the pressure for a change.” Fair play to you, Joey; you went up in my estimation when you made your historic pronouncement. Oh sure, conspiracy theorists alike will say you were pushed out because you were a liability, a criminal, a sexist misogynist dinosaur: a relic of the Cold War…sorry, that was Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond…I digress. Again.

Diego Maradona: not a pope, but a football player

Diego Maradona: not a pope, but a football player

So who do we get after Joey? Jorge. An Argentine who is now more popular on Google than Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona. He’s the new spiritual leader of the much-maligned Catholic Church, an institution that’s had about as much bad press as Justin Bieber’s recent concert tour in the UK. He is the new guard, but he’s been getting some good reviews for taking the name of Francis. If I could have taken a new name every time I  changed my job, I’d need a passport the size of the Gutenberg Bible.

But hold on. I’m a Catholic, right? At least I am by right of birth. But does being a Catholic mean much to me? Not at the moment, it pains me to say. I am one of the many lapsed Catholics that only see the inside of a church for weddings, funerals, christenings, when on holiday with my friend Dennis, and when on the run from the police. But there was a time when it was all so different. I looked to the altar for solace, for life’s meaning, for truth. Now I look and think What the fuck?

So why the change of attitude? Did the church come down hard on me for reasons I won’t go into? No. In fact, when I was in my teens, I found a sense of community within a church group. The fact that we used it as an excuse to get shitfaced once a week doesn’t come into it.

The good old days, before the shit hit the fan.

The good old days, before the shit hit the fan.

Okay, it does. But you get what I’m saying. The church had and maybe still does have its uses. I have some close family members and friends whose faith inspires me, though not to the extent that I want to believe in the God that they profess. Do I believe in God? It depends on what day it is, and how I’m feeling. But to me, most times, it doesn’t matter whether I do or not. I don’t think we’ll ever know. Though science professes that such an omnipotent being cannot exist, people of faith say that it’s not possible for God not to exist. I’m somewhere in the middle: he either exists or he doesn’t. It’s a comfortable fence I sit on; I have plenty of company. But your beliefs are your own business. I will respect them, and I will defend your right to them.

Now where was I? So we have a new pope. Good. Whatever your feelings on the matter, give the new guy a chance. If indeed he manages some reform in his papacy, then fair play to the man. If, however, he’s unable or – worse – disinclined to bring the Catholic Church kicking and screaming into the 21st century, then it is incumbent on ourselves to vote with our feet: to get out of their churches and stay out. Institutions like these, if they can’t or won’t reform, deserve neither our time nor our faith, whatever that faith may be.

Good luck, Francis. You might need it. I’d pray for you…if I believed it would work.

On This Day…27 September

Monday, 27 October 2010

Happy Monday, friends, readers and fellow bloggers. Before I head into matters in hand, I wish to congratulate the Dublin Ladies GAA Football team in winning the All-Ireland Ladies Senior Football Championship. The Jackies gave Tyrone a right trouncing in Croke Park. Well done, girls.

So, this week we begin with events on this day in…

1540 – The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) receives its charter from Pope Paul III.

1590 – Keeping with things papal, Pope Urban VII dies 13 days after being chosen as the Pope, making his reign the shortest papacy in history. He plainly didn’t fancy the job.

1777 – Lancaster, Pennsylvania is the capital of the United States, for one day. It plainly didn’t fancy the job, either.

It's self-explanatory, really. (Image: posterx.net)

1821 – Mexico gains its independence from Spain.

1854 – The steamship SS Arctic sinks with 300 people on board. This marks the first great disaster in the Atlantic Ocean.

1905 – The physics journal Annalen der Physik published Albert Einstein’s paper “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?”, introducing the equation E=mc². Decades later, the rock group Big Audio Dynamite attempted to explain it by song. The tune was good; the explanation rubbish. (It’s actually a homage to the films of director Nicolas Roeg.)

1928 – The Republic of China is recognised by the United States.

1964 – The Warren Commission releases its report, concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Oliver Stone begs to differ.

1995 – The Government of the United States unveils the first of its redesigned bank notes with the $100 bill featuring a larger portrait of Benjamin Franklin slightly off-centre.

1998 – Google is founded. YAHOO!!

Birthdays today include:

Bill O’Herlihy, RTE sports presenter, is 72. The boys of Apres Match do a great impression of him.

Meat Loaf is an edible 63.

Brian Mullins, for Dublin GAA football star is 56.

Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, is 52.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Oscar-winning (WTF?) actress, is 38.

Pint-sized rock-chick, Avril Lavigne, is 26.

On This Day…23 September

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Welcome to another action-packed, thrill-a-minute piece of history trivia. I hope you get as much fun out of reading these as I do putting them together. They take time, but it’s time well spent.

Today we start with…

1122 – Concordat of Worms: an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V near the city of Worms. It brought to an end the first phase of the power struggle between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Emperors. And you thought it was all about gathering live bait for fishing…

1779 – American Revolution: a squadron commanded by John Paul Jones on board the USS Bonhomme Richard wins the Battle of Flamborough Head, off the coast of England, against two British warships. 1-0 to the US.

A photogenic bunch, don't you think? (Image: 19cbaseball.com)

1845 – The Knickerbockers Baseball Club, the first baseball team to play under the modern rules, is founded in New York.

1889 – Nintendo Koppai (Later Nintendo Company, Limited) is founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce and market the playing card game Hanafuda.

1909 – The Phantom of the Opera (original title: Le Fantôme de l’Opéra), a novel by French writer Gaston Leroux, was first published as a serialization in Le Gaulois. So now we know who to blame for the musical.

1952 – Richard Nixon makes his “Checkers speech”.

1999 – NASA announces that it has lost contact with the Mars Climate Orbiter.

2002 – The first public version of the web browser Mozilla Firefox (“Phoenix 0.1”) is released.

Happy birthday to:

Mickey Rooney is a venerable 90 today.

Jason Alexander as George (Image: seinfeldscripts.com)

The Spanish singing superstar Julio Iglesias is 67.

Paolo Rossi, the Italian footballer who won the World Cup Golden Boot in 1982, is 54.

Jason Alexander, who plays George from the hit series Seinfeld, is 51.

Eric Miller, Irish rugby player, is 35.

But the birthday I really want to celebrate today is the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. He turns 61 and shows no sign of ever slowing down.

Go on ya good thing!

On This Day…19 September

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Today is the biggest day of the Irish sporting calender: All-Ireland Senior Football Final day in Croke Park. The Rebels of Cork take on the Mourne Men of Down in what should be a cracker of a match at GAA headquarters. Grannies will be sold for a ticket!

My head says Cork will win; my heart says Down will shade it. We’ll see who’s right tomorrow. I shall report then.

But for now, on this day in…

1870 – Having invaded the Papal States a week earlier, the Italian Army lays siege to Rome, entering the city the next day, after which the Pope described himself as a Prisoner in the Vatican. He only recently escaped and was last seen in Birmingham.

Image c/o knowledgerush.com

1881 – President James A. Garfield dies of wounds suffered in a July 2 shooting. He hung around for while, didn’t he?

1900 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid commit their first robbery together, while raindrops kept falling on their heads.

1945 – Lord Haw Haw (William Joyce) is sentenced to death in London. I bet he wasn’t laughing then.

1970 – The first Glastonbury Festival is held at Michael Eavis’s farm in Glastonbury, United Kingdom.

1985 – Tipper Gore and other political wives form the Parents Music Resource Center as Frank Zappa and other musicians testify at U.S. Congressional hearings on obscenity in rock music.

Happy birthday to:

Oscar-winner and Irish resident, Jeremy Irons (image: smh.com.au)

1933 – David McCallum, Scottish actor and star of The Man from UNCLE, Sapphire and Steel, and N.C.I.S., 77.

1948 – Jeremy Irons, English actor and Oscar-winner for Reversal of Fortune, 62.

1963 – Jarvis Cocker, English musician and singer with British band Pulp, 47.

Family Crest: McShane

The McShane family crest, c/o allfamilycrests.com

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is in Edinburgh at the moment, trundling around in his Pope-mobile, waving to the crowd from behind bulletproof glass. He’s wearing a tartan scarf specially created for him for this occasion.

I want a tartan scarf, and I’m sure you want one, too. I want one that reflects my family name, McShane. So that got me thinking about my heritage.

I Googled “family crests”, found www.allfamilycrests.com, entered “McShane” and came out with the crest at the top of this post. It’s nice, isn’t it? It’s all green and gold, colours that signify generosity and hope. Our coat of arms came into existence centuries ago and now I’m find myself wondering about my lineage.

Maybe I shall investigate this further.

The McShane Tartan, c/o scotweb.co.uk

Similarly I Googled “tartan scarves” and found www.scotweb.co.uk. I entered my family name and came up with a fetching little number, pictured here at the right.

Once again, green and gold are highlighted: generosity and hope. Well, I hope I’m generous.

Maybe I’ll get myself a kilt next. Herself seems to like kilts; though with my hairy legs, I’d perhaps be better off hiding them.