The Minister and saying nothing

Jun 11th, 2007 | By | Category: Ireland

I met the Minister of Education on Saturday afternoon. She comes to our church fete every year.

“Congratulations, Mary”, I said, “even if I didn’t vote for you.”

“Who did you vote for?”

“Labour”, I said, “as have generations of my family before me.”

“Labour, what have they ever done for you, or for your church, or for your school?”

The minister’s comments encapsulated Irish politics. What’s in it for me?

The church says nothing, we collude in the clientelism. Something needs done and we phone whoever we know, do this for me and I’ll vote for you. This is our version of democratic politics; this is the governance of our country.

Playing Christy Moore this evening, I noticed a subtle change in the lyrics of an old Ewan McColl song, a change which probably sums up how people see the Church.

MacColl used to sing the Moving On Song and included the words:

“Born in a wagon on a building site
Where the ground was rutted by the trailer’s wheels
The local people said to me,
You’ll lower the price of property”

Moore’s version of the song, Go, Move, Shift is unambiguous about who it is that represents the rich and the powerful, it is not the local people in Moore’s song.

“Born in the common by a building site
Where the ground was rutted by the trail of wheels
The local Christian said to me,
“You’ll lower the price of property.”

From the other end of the political spectrum from Christy Moore, the Minister clearly expects the church to represent particular interests in the way that Moore accuses us, to be thankful for what we have paid for with our own taxes, and to say nothing critical.

It is hard to imagine Jesus of Nazareth being so compliant as we have been.

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