Saturday 22 March 2014

With god on our side

If that makes you think inappropriately of Sturmbannführer and Panzerdivisionen, then you will feel something of my dismay.  When we moved down to the country all those years ago, I went to the local Credit Union and opened an account with £20.  It was a way of committing something to, and becoming part of, the local community.  It was quite inconvenient to get money in or out of the CU because if I was off the farm I was on the way to work not 8km into the local village to buy milk and do a few financial transactions.  Nevertheless we were members of the Credit Union and so got invited to the Annual General Meeting every January.  I went a couple of times because there was a raffle among those who turned up - you got a ticket at the door. The prizes were all donated by local business.  I thought the odds of winning something were excellent - maybe thirty prizes from a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates to a half ton of peat briquettes; to be spread among the 40 people who attended the AGM.  I never won a thing. ("FIX!")  But what stopped me in my tracks and rather quickly stopped me going was the prayers.  At the start of each business meeting the local curate would lead the committee in prayer.  That seemed so wrong - what about the members who were protestant?  atheist? what about people who wanted to check out the financial shenanigans of their neighbours and had no intention of going to mass any time soon?

I was reminded of that yesterday because Phil Hogan the local TD and Minister of the Environment came down to The Institute to open the Dargan Centre.  It's almost exactly 6 months since unser Führer came down to shake a lot of hands and 'name' the building.  As last September, there were to be sandwiches and pastries after the speeches, so I went along for the free food show. The speeches were predictable and allowably self-congratulatory but at least we were spared an buicéad de teanga bocht Gaeilge.  And scutter me pink but wasn't The Institute's (catholic) chaplain invited to utter a few prayers. There was another chap at the lectern who was possibly the protestant token but any prayers seemed to be deeply inappropriate in its assumptions.  We have a vibrant multi-cultural community in the IT - a lot of practicing Muslims for starters.  What is the message they get from this unthinking nonsense?

Our President and The Minister both made reference to local sporting triumphs.  Now what has that got to do with the opening of a new research and innovation centre?  I'll concede that sport has a peripheral place in the life of educational institutions - mens sana in corpore sano, after all - but it shows a want of clarity of thought to tangle up religion and sport (the new religion) with the secular worlds of finance (CU) or technology (IT).

But now that the Dargan Centre was officially open, I could open the registration for the 2014 VIBE meeting which I volunteered to host last November.  And the thought was the deed!  It's set for 9th May 2014: a Friday.  I'm looking forward to listening to some good, maybe some great, science.  If I can tie down some sponsorship, there will be sandwiches and pastries between the speeches . . . and dhrink afterwards.

1 comment:

  1. had an interesting conversation with a researcher during the week. he had conducted research into the motivations of some to home educate. much of the lit around it comes from merica, where religion is not is not taught in school. Imagine, you're expected to look after your own faith! Anyway whilst examining Irish motivations (where approx. 1/5 of those who choose to register to home ed each year cite religious reasons) said researcher was merrily assuming that religious reasons = wanting to ensure the families views on religion were passed along...only to quickly realise once talking to some "religious" types that although they cited religious reasons to HE, it was that the local school either forced their child to sit through religious class or would not provide any proper alternative option. Indoctrination anyone..multicultural community did the Blob say