Cromwell's men are here again . . .

Feb 17th, 2009 | By | Category: Ireland

Words from ‘The Men Behind the Wire’, the anti-internment song from the 1970s expressed the deep resentment felt by Irish Republicans at there being British troops on the streets of Belfast.  The name of ‘Cromwell’ was enough to evoke stories of slaughter and oppression in centuries past.

Cromwell’s men came in the 17th century with a religious totalitarianism and a military might to enforce it; their rule was as oppressive as that of the Catholic Church in medieval times. There could be no tolerance of dissent, there could be no place for any theology apart from their own.

There are those who would like to have been amongst Cromwell’s men, those who would love to have had the opportunity to enforce their own brand of dour Protestant fundamentalism.  Amongst them, I suspect would be the man who creeps up to our gate under the cover of darkness and leaves leaflets in our letter box.

This morning’s offering was not as poisonous as yesterday’s simple piece of sectarian hatred against Catholics, which would be worthy of being handed to the Garda with a complaint under the Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act, 1989, if it were not for the fact that it would give the obviously troubled soul status as a ‘martyr’ amongst his fellow travellers.

Today it was a straightforward piece of fundamentalist spirituality, ‘religion does not save you’.  Well, actually, the only people who are saying it does is themselves.  Who is it that insists on repeatedly reciting the same texts in Seventeenth Century English?

The publisher was again North American.  When checking its website, there was a Cromwellian chill.  What sort of society is dreamt of by the writer of a piece in tolerance?

I believe in Christian charity, but I do not believe at all in Christian tolerance. The person who hates the name of Jesus, who believes that He was not the Son of God but an imposter, deserves charity on our part. l believe in Christian charity, but I do not believe in the weak tolerance that we hear preached so often now – the idea that Jesus must tolerate everyone and that the Christian must tolerate every kind of doctrine. I do not believe it for one minute, for there are no dozen “rights.” There is only one “right.” There is but one Jesus and one God and one Bible.

There is only one ‘right’, and there would be no prizes for guessing whose ‘right’ it would be.

In a society where there is only one version of the ‘truth’, any deviation from that ‘truth’ must be heresy and must be suppressed – any science or philosophy that is not in accord with that ‘truth’ must be wrong and must not be allowed.  It is the language of those who opposed Galileo and those who opposed Darwin; it is a worldview that would take us back into the Middle Ages.  It is those of such views who opposed Jesus in the first place.

I will catch the deliverer of the tracts eventually and share with him how wonderful it is that we live in a diverse society where we allow freedom of thought and scientific progress; how wonderful it is that he has freedom to leave things in my letter box and I have the freedom to put them into the recycling bin.  I cannot imagine he would know ‘The Men Behind the Wire’.

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  1. The problem with the internet is that practically *anyone* can start up their own website, and proceed to advance even the most kooky and deranged notions. There are websites out there which promote the idea that Jews control world finance, that Masons are running the country, and even some (and I kid not!)that lizards are in a secret conspiracy to overturn the food chain. Most of these appear to emanate from America and the tracts you have been given are clearly in the same category.

    These tracts may have odious characteristics but the use of biblical texts in Jacobean English is not one of them. Despite being an unabashed papaist myself, I maintain a very secret love for the King James Version. (I thought it was the norm for the CoI’s lectionary?) Although many of the words are archaic, I find that attractive becomes it comes across as more sacral and IMO is a more fitting medium for the divine words than modern English vernacular. It gives a ‘high’ ring and places emphasis on the divine origin of the words. This is especially so when compared to the insipid and banal modern translations, which I have never liked. My hatred for the Jerusalem Bible used in most Catholic churches borders on the pathological, which is one of the many reasons why I prefer Mass in Latin (where the Douai Rheims is normally used for the vernacular biblical readings).

  2. Tracts don’t bother me; it’s the mindset behind them that is troubling. The demonisation of the other community undergirded the sectarianism that was rife in our own community.

    As for language, I have no problems as long as it is not banal. (The Church of Ireland official version is the NRSV). We have Compline once a month in our church – a beautiful service. A lot of Church of Ireland people muddle the Prayer Book up with the King James Version; there are substantial differences. A man once wanted Psalm 15 read at his funeral, he knew it from the Prayer Book. But, at the funeral, it was read from the Authorised Version. So, instead of:

    LORD, who may dwell in your tabernacle?
    who may abide upon your holy hill?
    Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right,
    who speaks the truth from his heart.
    There is no guile upon his tongue;
    he does no evil to his friend;
    he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor.
    In his sight the wicked is rejected,
    but he honors those who fear the LORD.
    He has sworn to do no wrong
    and does not take back his word.
    He does not give his money in hope of gain,
    nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
    Whoever does these things
    shall never be overthrown.

    we got:

    LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
    He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
    He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
    In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
    He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

    The King James has not quite the charm of Matthew Coverdale!

  3. Ian, install a security camera at the gate. I hope you catch whoever it is. We can’t get away from scams and junk mail, my wesite was down for a day because of some hacker. Irish Domains told me it was an attempt by an ebay phishing scam, at first I thought the guy meant “fishing” and I thought why would anyone want to put bait and tackle onto my website!

  4. Ah I cant’ stand that sort of fundamentalism in any religion.

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