At the time of the election in the USA I wrote that I had a sense of dread with Donald Trump becoming President. I wouldn’t have been happy with Hilary Clinton getting the job either, and wondered how such a vast country with such potential couldn’t produce better than those two candidates.
My sense of dread was rekindled last week with all the bluster (I hope!) over North Korea. In the media it was all talk about the possibility of nuclear war, but I tended to favour those voices (like security analyst Declan Power on last Friday’s High Noon on Newstalk) that said it’s unlikely for now.
Presumably it would amount to Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD indeed!) as economist Jim Power suggested on the same show the previous day when presenter George Hook was hyping up the threat.
It turned into a cheerful and enjoyable show, with Hook and guests Power, Tom McGurk and Teresa Lowe sparking off each other in a most entertaining way, so that ultimately it felt like the nuclear threat was receding on the spot.
Not that Trump and Kim were listening and lightening up – ‘locking and loading’ instead.
It was a good time to revisit just war theory. Fr Rutler: Unchanging Truth (EWTN) dealt with the issue last Friday night, and though a fascinating topic the presentation was quite dull – Fr George Rutler of New York speaking to camera, his back to a church wall, with random shots of the church’s interior.
Some simple graphics wouldn’t have gone astray, and as an effective teaching tool this really didn’t really cut the mustard. He outlined St Augustine’s just war conditions, still relevant and sensible today, though didn’t apply them to any particular conflict of our times.
I’d like to have heard more of his opinion of pacifism which he touched on briefly, saying that Christianity had as much to do with pacifism as Puritanism had to do with purity. Sometimes, he said, there was a duty to fight for a just cause.
He broadened the subject to include spiritual warfare and also the fight for justice for the unborn.
I was glad to hear him criticising those who would be violent in this cause (a tiny minority I’d say) and I liked his definition of a fanatic – one who is confident that God would agree with him, if only God had all the facts.
More immediate is the housing crisis at home, especially as it involves thousands of young children.
Last Friday on Morning Ireland (RTÉ Radio 1) the crisis was outlined comprehensively by Jennifer Thompson of the Society of St Vincent de Paul and by Fergus Finlay of Barnardos, who was scathing about the figures. It was “shaming”, he said, and I had to agree when he suggested that if there was a comparable crisis in agriculture or in the banks, the Dáil would be recalled and a national emergency declared.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy got a grilling on the issue from Audrey Carville on last Monday’s Morning Ireland. Her best shot was to ask the minister which aspects of his housing strategy were working.
After he gave some vague generalities about policies she had to ask the question again, whereupon he did give some practical examples that weren’t that impressive, but then he’s not in the job that long, and he did come across as serious and determined. The discussion covered the idea of incentivising older people in nursing homes to rent their vacant houses and become landlords – seriously? I’d say the stress would hasten their demise.
Later that morning, on Today With Sean O’Rourke (RTÉ Radio 1), stand-in presenter Cormac Ó hEadhra suggested the problem was Government failure to provide adequate social housing. Niamh Randall of the Simon Community stressed that any extra housing needed to be affordable, and was strong on the need to keep people in homes they already had rather than seeing them homeless due to rising rents.
It struck me that the lofty ambitions, or lip service, or virtue signalling involved in the Children’s Referendum of a few years ago had lost its gloss, what with gross inadequacies in the fostering system, failures relating to children in direct provision, high numbers of children on medical waiting lists and the urgency with which some powerful people in government and media are seeking to have constitutional protection taken away from unborn children.
Pick of the week
Songs of Praise
BBC 1, Sunday, August 21, 2.15pm
Featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama gospel group and the Edinburgh Festival.
THE PHILOSOPHER’S BENCH
EWTN, Wednesday, August 23, 9pm, also Thursday, 8am
Moral relativism: responding to the secular culture’s lack of belief in absolute truth, with Dr Peter Kreeft and Fr Ron Tacelli.
EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND
Channel 4, Friday, August 25, 7.55am
Prodigal son: Debra challenges Ray as to why he doesn’t go to Mass on Sundays.