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Irish Music and Religion

GUEST,Doubting Thomas 23 Jan 03 - 06:39 AM
IanC 23 Jan 03 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,Doubting Thomas 23 Jan 03 - 07:11 AM
mooman 23 Jan 03 - 07:12 AM
mooman 23 Jan 03 - 07:17 AM
GUEST,allen woodpecker 23 Jan 03 - 07:22 AM
IanC 23 Jan 03 - 07:26 AM
artbrooks 23 Jan 03 - 07:33 AM
Bagpuss 23 Jan 03 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Davetnova 23 Jan 03 - 07:46 AM
Declan 23 Jan 03 - 07:52 AM
smallpiper 23 Jan 03 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,Mikey joe 23 Jan 03 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,Doubting Thomas 23 Jan 03 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 23 Jan 03 - 09:14 AM
sian, west wales 23 Jan 03 - 09:31 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 23 Jan 03 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 23 Jan 03 - 10:11 AM
IanC 23 Jan 03 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Soma 23 Jan 03 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 23 Jan 03 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 23 Jan 03 - 10:33 AM
IanC 23 Jan 03 - 10:37 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 03 - 10:52 AM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 03 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,IanC 23 Jan 03 - 11:05 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 23 Jan 03 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 23 Jan 03 - 11:57 AM
ard mhacha 23 Jan 03 - 01:14 PM
GUEST 23 Jan 03 - 01:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 03 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,No Doubt 23 Jan 03 - 01:53 PM
ard mhacha 23 Jan 03 - 03:16 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 03 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,An Pluiéir Ceolmhar sa bhaile 23 Jan 03 - 05:23 PM
GUEST 23 Jan 03 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Doubting Thomas 23 Jan 03 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,DoubtingThomas 23 Jan 03 - 06:48 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jan 03 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,KThornton7@hotmail.com 23 Jan 03 - 07:14 PM
michaelr 23 Jan 03 - 08:52 PM
smallpiper 23 Jan 03 - 09:35 PM
Tinker 23 Jan 03 - 09:57 PM
Joe Offer 24 Jan 03 - 02:34 AM
Hrothgar 24 Jan 03 - 05:43 AM
greg stephens 24 Jan 03 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 24 Jan 03 - 10:13 AM
dick greenhaus 24 Jan 03 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,Doubting Thomas 24 Jan 03 - 11:22 AM
Declan 24 Jan 03 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 24 Jan 03 - 11:50 AM
Jimmy C 24 Jan 03 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,Promoter of Irish music 24 Jan 03 - 02:55 PM
GUEST 24 Jan 03 - 03:17 PM
TheBigPinkLad 24 Jan 03 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,No Doubt 24 Jan 03 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Promoter of Irish music 24 Jan 03 - 09:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Jan 03 - 09:57 PM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 01:13 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 01:19 AM
GUEST,Doubting Thomas 25 Jan 03 - 03:18 AM
GUEST,Doubting Thomas 25 Jan 03 - 03:21 AM
GUEST,Promoter 25 Jan 03 - 06:50 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jan 03 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,No 25 Jan 03 - 09:50 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,ceejay 25 Jan 03 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 25 Jan 03 - 11:05 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jan 03 - 11:34 AM
GUEST 25 Jan 03 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 12:55 PM
GUEST,Steve Schaper 25 Jan 03 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 01:30 PM
Joe Offer 25 Jan 03 - 01:58 PM
GUEST 25 Jan 03 - 02:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jan 03 - 02:07 PM
GUEST 25 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM
GUEST 25 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 03:29 PM
Joe Offer 25 Jan 03 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,No Doubt 25 Jan 03 - 04:15 PM
GUEST 25 Jan 03 - 04:29 PM
GUEST 25 Jan 03 - 05:01 PM
GUEST 25 Jan 03 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 25 Jan 03 - 06:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jan 03 - 07:08 PM
The Pooka 25 Jan 03 - 07:08 PM
Roughyed 25 Jan 03 - 08:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jan 03 - 08:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jan 03 - 09:12 PM
GUEST,Promoter 25 Jan 03 - 10:14 PM
GUEST,mrs doubting thomas 26 Jan 03 - 07:17 AM
GUEST,Phil 26 Jan 03 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Johnny 26 Jan 03 - 02:47 PM
Hrothgar 27 Jan 03 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,Promoter 27 Jan 03 - 10:01 PM
GUEST 28 Jan 03 - 07:50 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jan 03 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,Promoter 28 Jan 03 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,Promoter 28 Jan 03 - 09:34 AM
GUEST 28 Jan 03 - 11:02 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jan 03 - 11:10 AM
GUEST 28 Jan 03 - 04:48 PM
GUEST 28 Jan 03 - 04:57 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 28 Jan 03 - 06:56 PM
GUEST 28 Jan 03 - 07:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jan 03 - 07:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jan 03 - 07:25 PM
ard mhacha 29 Jan 03 - 01:43 PM
Felipa 29 Jan 03 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,Doubting Thomas 29 Jan 03 - 04:06 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 29 Jan 03 - 05:43 PM
GUEST 29 Jan 03 - 11:54 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 30 Jan 03 - 03:22 PM
Felipa 17 Feb 03 - 05:15 PM
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Subject: BS: Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Doubting Thomas
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 06:39 AM

I know I'm a guest and I hope you won't think I'm trolling - I certainly don't intend to. I've just got this dilemma and I'd like the advice and thoughts of this community.

I am involved in an organisation that promotes traditional music. We have existed for a long time and most of the chief figures in it have been there almost as long. For lots of perfectly understandable historical and sociological reasons most of our members in this particular area of the world are members of the Roman Catholic church.

There have historically been strong links between the church and our organisation - we've relied heavily on church facilities, many clergy have contributed greatly to our work and so on. There are other parts of the world this is less true and our membership is more diverse in those areas. Even in areas where it is still the case many members question the links between our organisation and the church, especially in the light of recent revelations about child abuse.

Now, I'm a Catholic myself and I still practice (I'm still no damn good at it) but our organisation has a constitution and it states clearly that we are non-denominational and non-political. In my view, that is how it should be and must be if our organisation is to have a future as well as a past. However, the last couple of meetings that I went to where anyone pointed this out, they got howled down in no uncertain terms. One of them was me.

Here's the crunch: I'm now involved in organising our annual competition for young musicians. This feeds into a larger, world-wide competition and if it does not happen, our kids can't progress to the larger event. I've found a terrific venue with a supportive and enthusiastic management. If it comes off it will be brilliant.

My collegues in my own branch and most of the organisation in our part of the world insist on incorporating a Mass into the event. I don't want to stop anyone practising their faith but I just don't believe that we are in business to promote religious events that by their nature exclude non-members of that particular church.

We are also going to have to raise money through sponsorships as well as our awn activities to pay for the event and subsidise people's participation. If we approach outside bodies for money on the basis of our constitution (remember, the one that says we're non-denominational) and then have a Mass at the event I'm concerned that we could be accused of taking money under false pretences.

I also feel personally that by having a Mass we are making a statement to the effect that our organisation is a Catholic organisation for Catholics- and it isn't. However, I'm up against 50 years of emigrant conservatism on this one.

We have a national meeting due soon at which I have to present information on the site and our plans for the event. I don't want to have a Mass as part of the event and if I'm overruled It's going to be very difficult to continue in my present role. On the other hand, I want this event to happen and I don't want to quit.

I've already suggested that we schedule the event so that people can go to church on Sunday but nothing doing. Of course, 'being able' to go to Mass isn't what it's about for these people. They want to use our organisation and our music as a vehicle for their own beliefs and I'm afraid that they're going to kill our organisation off, along with the work it does, in the process. If I had any sense I'd walk away from it but like I said, I don't want to do that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: IanC
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 06:52 AM

You're quite right, but there's always a soft option.

I'm a Quaker, married to a practicing Catholic. When we got married, we refused (for obvious reasons) to include a mass which, by its definition would exclude me and half of the people there (i.e. my family etc.).

This caused a small storm in Liz's family, but she simply offered to go to mass with anyone who wanted to come earlier in the day.

In this way, the people who wanted the mass got it, without it causing any problems.

I think you could organise an optional, low key mass in support of the event, but not as an official part of it.

How could anyone object?

:-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Doubting Thomas
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:11 AM

Thanks, Ian. Your post reminds me of my own wedding. My wife isn't a Catholic and we got married in an Anglican church. We then had a convalidation (basically, another wedding service) in a Catholic church, mainly to satisfy my mother who apparently believed that if I didn't do that it would mean that I risked bursting into flames if I tried to take communion at her funeral.

Even then we still had one of her friends pestering us about why weren't we having the full monty mass, never accepting that to do so would exclude several people there - including the bride!

Anyway, I'm getting off the subject. Your post was very welcome, Ian. Unfortunately, I don't think these people do 'low-key'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: mooman
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:12 AM

I agree with IanC on this and understand your dilemma Doubting Thomas. There is no need for religion and Irish music to be connected in this way although I can understand the historical and logistical reasons why this may have happened. I think Ian's suggestion for a low-profile, optional Mass for those who want to attend one might be a compromise worth exploring.

moo

(Irish citizen, Irish traditional musician for 40 years and practicing Buddhist (I haven't fully mastered it yet either!))


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: mooman
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:17 AM

P.S. I live in Belgium and it might be opportune to remind some of your colleagues that not all people who enjoy and play Irish music (and sometimes take it to new levels of excellence) are necessarily Irish or Catholic.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,allen woodpecker
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:22 AM

Hey Doubting Thomas. I'm not a member either, but an interested regular viewer of the forum. Here's my tuppenceworth.
Re. the role of the Church in the past. I would argue that the Church has not been supportive of Irish culture, quite the opposite. In political terms, the church has historically supported British rule (the status quo), excommunicating IRA members, etc. This was church practice from as early as 1179AD. Culturally speaking, the church in the C20th was very anti-music and dancing, and one of the reasons why traditional music and song was in such poor shape in the mid C20th. (puritanical so and so's, rather than ideological opposition, methinks).
Second, I don't know what your organisation is, but if it is constitutionally non-denominational, it really must be kept that way. I'd blow the whistle to anyone investing money and let them know the plans for a mass, if it's to go ahead - seriously the church can be incredibly insidious and it tarnishes the image of Irish music that we all should aim to promote. It's essential to lose the catholic tag from Irish music and make it accessible to all. This politicisation is a relatively recent phenomenon. 2 generations ago, the music belonged to all the people, whoever wanted it. There is a difference between religion and politics. Let the politically minded steer clear if they wish, but protestant children should be brought up knowing that it is equally a part of their culture, not the preserve of the catholics. Music should be non-political and all embracing. While Loyalists will tell their children that it's not for them (which is disgraceful), the fact of the Catholic church insisting upon a Mass at a fleadh is an equally sinister act, re-inforcing stereotypes and excluding people who have a right to their share of the tradition. Be strong. peace and love, a.w.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: IanC
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:26 AM

Thomas

I'm not suggesting that there won't still be arguments. Unfortunately, you've got to have those arguments AND WIN THEM.

If you don't, you're condemning your, no doubt excellent, organisation to being a deliberately sectarian minority organisation until they can discover this for themselves.

As such, they won't deserve to take part in non-denominational events and they should probably be asked to remove that part of their constitution as they have proved themselves to be denominational (I would say sectarian).

You'll obviously be polite (you've already shown yourself to be this) but you've got to be as firm as you can be without losing friends over it and you may just have to let them get on with things, while registring your dissent.

I sympathise, as well as admiring you for what you're trying to do. Be sure of support here and, were you to join Mudcat, you could always PM me for more personal support.

God bless you
Ian


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: artbrooks
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:33 AM

I don't know if this is a possible solution (since I'm not any kind of Catholic), but there was a movement when I was in college the first time (back in the late '60s) for "Folk Song Masses." Perthaps you could revive one of these and incorporate it into your program.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: Bagpuss
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:38 AM

You mention that there have been other people who have brought up the subject but have been shouted down. Maybe you should think about speaking to these people before you bring it to the whole group. Maybe that way you will have a bit more support behind you and it will be less easy to shout down a group of concerned people, compared with a single objector.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Davetnova
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:46 AM

This looks like a real dillema for you. It will difficult to go against the majority of your members if they insist on a mass, but I for one (a non catholic) can't see the relevence of a mass at a secular music competion. If the religious amongst your members feel the need for one is there a possibility of having one as an optional/fringe part of the event?


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: Declan
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:52 AM

If you're talking about the organisation I think you are, you may well find you have a battle on your hands here. Although the organisation is constitutionally non-denominational, I think you will find that the leadership of the organisation, who should be upholding its constitution, will not be neutral on this issue. If I'm doing anyone an injustice here I'm sorry, but I have a strong impression that there's a strong RC ethos in that organisation, regardless of what it says in the rule-book.

If I understand it correctly, no-one is suggesting that everyone must attend Mass, but they do want it to be part of the official activities at your fleadh (assuming we are talking about that particular organisation!) So the advice to make it optional isn't much good to you - if anybody is suggesting compulsory attendence I'd run 100 miles away from having anything to do with if I were you.

As regards who is pushing you into having this I assume it is the local membership who want this rather than being pushed by "the church". Your real dilemna seems to be whether to go with your principled views or the wishes of the membership (or enough of them to make it difficult for you if you don't).

I don't know the right answer here but here are a few suggestions :

Publish a list of local religious services in your program, including the major religious denominations in the area where the event is being held. If there is an arrangement that traditional music is being played at the mass, which I think is often the case, you might be able to highlight this somewhere in the program, but not in the timetable of official events.

Try to organise some sort of a multi-denominational service instead of a mass if this is feasible - something short with a bit of music could work well after which people could go to their own church or religious service, if they felt so inclined.

You may not get away with either of these, but its worth a chance.

In any event I don't think this is about the relationship between Irish Music and Religion, but about those within a particular organisation who would try to foist their wishes on everyone else.
Many, if not most, Irish Musicians continue to carry out their musical activities without reference to any particular organisation, and would not share the values that the organisation leadership espouse on many topics.

By the way, I personally think you are right - if some people want to organise a mass or any other form of worship then that is fine with me, but making it part of the official activities does conflict with the stated aims of the organisation.

I hope you can manage to find a way around this, but I wouldn't underestimate the degree of difficulty that is likely to be put in your way over this.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: smallpiper
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 08:11 AM

Write to your local Bishop highlight recent bad press, the need to bring the community together, non sectarianism, promoting greater understanding amongst the christian and non christian elements of the community, your very real fears for the organisation - which is clearly a valuable asset to the local community and get the other objectors to sign it.

Tribal catholicism is not good for the church or the community and it is important (for the church) not to alienate others as has been happening recently. I think that you might get a pleasnt suprise (if he responds at all - if he dosn't then think of your self and your own christian commitment to all people) - if it is negative leave. Or even better get as many non catholics elected onto next years committee.

Just some thoughts Good luck
Fr John


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Mikey joe
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 08:20 AM

Stand your ground doubting Thomas. you don't have to be offensive (and you don't sound it) but I think you are correct


Mj


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Doubting Thomas
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 08:50 AM

Thank you and bless you all for all your support and contributions so far - and after only a couple of hours. Keep 'em coming!


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 09:14 AM

It seems, Doubting Thomas, that you have been aware of the religious sensibilities of (I assume) a majority of this organization's membership for quite some time, but have just now decided to "take them on" regarding their long standing tradition of holding a mass in conjunction with the event. Again, I am assuming your timing on this has to do with you being the event organizer this time around, which (again assuming) you have not been before, otherwise the issue would have come up for you before.

While I understand that the constitution may say non-denom, it doesn't mean that a mass can't be an official part of the event, or any other denomination's church and temple services. Now, I'm not Catholic, but I do understand the role Catholicism has played in the Irish immigrant community, including in keeping the music alive. I haven't got a problem with it at all, as I understand for many (especially older) musicians and their families, the music is as important as their religion, and vice versa.

While I have never been offended by the mass being a part of the events, I simply choose not to attend it, as most people who attend the event nowadays also choose not to do. If you are trying to appease the "dual tradition Protestants" you could always plan two services, one mass, one church service. And voila, you have dual traditions dueling on the day, and you'll have played right into the hands of those who wish to politicize the event along Northern Irish sectarian lines. Which seems like a very hurtful thing to do to the Catholic membership that has kept the organization going all these years. Sort of a slap in the face, that.

It also seems strange to me that, if you have been involved with this organization for any amount of time, that you wouldn't be aware of your fellow members sensitivities along these lines. I don't understand why you believe you should be able to do away with the long standing tradition of holding the mass. If it bothers you so much, perhaps it is you should find or found another organization more to your liking and your personal religious and political proclivities, rather than taking over someone else's and demand they change to suit you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: sian, west wales
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 09:31 AM

The options might vary according to where you are but a couple of things come to mind.

No Doubt's comment (above) on providing two services is certainly possible, but another possibility is what we used to do in the '60s - an interdenominational service. There's probably even some way of including communion for both protestant and r.c. camps...

On the Constitution front, I'd be interested to know your legal status. If you're a registered charity I would think that including any activity which excludes members on the basis of religion would not be looked upon favourably by the Charity Commissioners (or whatever you have where you are).

sian


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:01 AM

The problem I am having with all this is the suggestion that anyone is being excluded from the mass. I have attended many a Catholic mass over the years, and have never been "excluded" in any way. I fully understand that if I am in a Catholic mass, I do as the Catholics do, or in a Jewish synagogue I do as the Jews do, or in a Buddhist temple, I do as the Buddhists do, or in a Protestant service, I do as the Protestants do.

To suggest that anyone is excluded from a Catholic mass is preposterously disingenuous. This has "dual tradition" Protestant sectarianism writ large all over it.

As many have suggested, you may have what in the States is commonly referred to nowadays as an ecumenical service instead of the mass. I would suggest you could also have an ecumenical mass. But none of that will appease sectarian Protestants who insist they are being "excluded" over the communion issue.   No one is ever excluded from a Catholic mass, that is just Protestant superstitious mythologizing. I am reminded of my Lutheran granny saying that Lutherans weren't allowed to touch a Catholic rosary. It seems to me, many a Protestant needs to attend a Catholic mass, just to educate themselves about it.

I have no idea how many Protestants you think will not attend your events if they can't have their own service, or if the Catholics are forbidden to hold mass. It seems to me this is a ridiculous manipulation of the organization, based upon someone's anti-Catholic sentiments. Why else would this be an issue? Have you had Jews and Buddhists complaining about feeling excluded from the fleadh because of the mass? In my view, if Protestants want a traditional music organization to serve their religious worldview, nothing is stopping them from founding their own immigrant music organization and do it their way, rather than taking over someone else's. That way, at least they would leave these members, many of whom have put a lifetime of effort into this organization, in peace to enjoy the music and their mass.

I can't imagine this same suggestion being made about klezmer music.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:11 AM

Whew, Doubting Thomas! What a dilemma.

You obivously love this music and see the importance of it being spread through the competitions for young people that you are trying to fund. It is important in my view.

You've got a cultural bias that you're dealing with. Most of the members of the organization apparently have a religious agenda as I understand it.

The organization is only as potent as it's membership. When it comes to religious beliefs, they are strongly rooted in individuals with cultural roots IE: Roman Catholics and Irish majority.

Are you able to do what you want to do with your own organization without religious ties to the one you are in? In the States, this is a serious matter that we refer to as "the Separation of Church and State" and what our founding fathers had in mind was to protect those who wish to worship as they please and to keep any one religion from dominating our government. (No Anligcan Church or RC pressure here).

I don't see how you can continue with the organization unless you go along with it's religious agenda. But as Pete Seeger once told me, "It's important to get along with having to go along." An ancillary organization run by you that could work in concert with the one that you are now in seems a solution.

Our country (States) is now as divided as it has ever been in our history over what some of us feel is a short-sighted approach to the problem of Iraq.   So far, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Socialists and Catholics, Jews, Protestants, and most Muslims are not in the streets shooting each other but have learned ways to get along and work together on various issues that they can agree upon. If there is ever to be peace in Ireland, there must be a bridge that spans the gulf of the "Troubles". Forcing a religious agenda is not a stable spansion.
You may have to open the door yourself by not following a "party line". It's not an easy task but an important one in my view.

God bless and the very best of luck to you.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: IanC
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:18 AM

"No doubt"

Of course non-catholics are excluded from the mass. They are not allowed to take communion, pure and simple.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Soma
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:19 AM

Greatings Thomas.
We all need to touch the wounds.
To doubt is human to act is unavoidable.
You must do what you must in everyones interests.
Love and Peace Soma.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:28 AM

I wouldn't think the organization would have to be ancillary. It could be it's own organization, and just co-sponsor the fleadh. But that would be at least a year or two down the line, from an organizational standpoint. Although I have to say, I don't think a serious argument can be made that anyone and everyone with an interest in learning Irish traditional music and in competing in the fleadh, is being excluded. There is no ethos or rules that says one must be a Catholic to participate. That is why the organization has it's charter non-denominational. So the Protestants feel free to participate. And obviously enough do, because down through the years, a number of them have been participants and winners in the competitions.

All that said, regardless of what you personally choose to do in future about the Irish Catholic ethos of the organization, you still are in the dilemma over this year's event. But that is your dilemma, not the organizations. I maintain it would be very wrong to force the issue at this year's event, by refusing to schedule a mass, or scheduling an ecumenical service in it's place. You might be able to schedule an ecumenical service in addition to a mass, but even that will likely leave a bad taste for some members.

Finally, my question is, how fair are you being to to the immigrant community that has been sponsoring this event for decades, by demanding they cleanse themselves of their Catholic identity to be "fair and inclusive" of others? Like I said, I can't imagine anyone suggesting that secular klezmer music organizations ought to be cleansed of their Jewish ethos to make the organization more appealing to Christians. Pretty offensive, I would say.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:33 AM

IanC, you are obviously misinformed.

There are always religious rituals one doesn't participate in when visiting a church or temple or synagogue of another religion. In this case, the religious ritual that people don't participate in is communion. However, not taking communion doesn't exclude anyone, or forbid them from attending. There is nothing to stop a non-Catholic person from taking the communion, of course. No one stands with a gun, checking people's baptism certificates at the altar, after all.

If people wish to have Protestant communion on the day, then they are, of course, free to attend the Protestant church of their choice on Sunday, while the mass is taking place, or before it, or after it. As someone suggested, you could print a list of local churches convenient to the event locations, for the benefit of non-Catholics. But nothing else is necessary, IMO. Nothing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: IanC
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:37 AM

"no doubt"

Like a lot of pre-Vatican 2 catholics, including my father-in-law, you don't altogether understand the nature of exclusion.

I won't continue to contribute to this thread, as I don't have anything further to say. I am quite aware of how it feels from the other side of the line. Obviously, you aren't.

God bless you.
Ian


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:52 AM

If there was an interdenominational service would you object to that because it discriminated against and excluded agnostics and atheists?

Or, as No Doubt just said, if you were playing Klezmer music, would a service in a synagogue as part of a festival offend you?

If this organisation you were in were barring non-Catholics from membership, or doing things that made it impossible for them to be kicking, you would be quite right to kick up a fuss. Or if the Mass was conducted in a wash that was designed to stir up sectarian hatred, with some clerical bigot up there preaching hate.

But from what you say, I can't see there is any problem (there may be other things you haven't said that would change that view of mine). Sticking the times of services of all religious denominations might be a good way of indicating a commitment to non-sectarianism. Maybe there might be room for a multi-denominational service as well. (Though you still might get hassles from people who would say yes to those two questions I posed at the start of the post. To which I'd be inclined to say "get a life", which is something I very rarely say.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:54 AM

If there was an interdenominational service would you object to that because it discriminated against and excluded agnostics and atheists?

Or, as No Doubt just said, if you were playing Klezmer music, would a service in a synagogue as part of a festival offend you?

If this organisation you were in were barring non-Catholics from membership, or doing things that made it impossible for them to belong, you would be quite right to kick up a fuss. Or if the Mass was conducted in a wash that was designed to stir up sectarian hatred, with some clerical bigot up there preaching hate.

But from what you say, I can't see there is any problem (there may be other things you haven't said that would change that view of mine). Sticking the times of services of all religious denominations might be a good way of indicating a commitment to non-sectarianism. Maybe there might be room for a multi-denominational service as well. (Though you still might get hassles from people who would say yes to those two questions I posed at the start of the post. To which I'd be inclined to say "get a life", which is something I very rarely say.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,IanC
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 11:05 AM

It truly saddens me to see you have chosen to exclude yourself from the thread, IanC. I really am. It is just that sort of sectarian refusal to accept the Catholic ethos of the organization in question, I find so very troublesome about all this. And I am a Protestant, who has enjoyed Irish music greatly over the years, attended many a fleadh AND mass, and never once felt offended, much less excluded.

I am afraid it is your loss, not the other way around.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 11:06 AM

Oops! My apologies to IanC and all, for the above post shown as GUEST, IanC. That was me. I had attempted to type in IanC's name at the beginning of my post, and obviously put it in the wrong place!


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 11:57 AM

I've just reread your original post Doubting Thomas. From what I can suss out, you have already been able to move the location of the main event to a neutral location. That's grand. You seem concerned with the fundraising side, as you said:

"If we approach outside bodies for money on the basis of our constitution (remember, the one that says we're non-denominational) and then have a Mass at the event I'm concerned that we could be accused of taking money under false pretences."

I understand the conflict in many Irish minds over this, but as I said above, the organization doesn't exclude Protestants from membership or participation, therefore it is being true to it's non-denominational constitution. Having a religious service, as one of several activities, wouldn't mean you were taking money under false pretences, or violating the letter or spirit of the constitution. It merely recognises and honors what you also rightly point out:

"...(is the) perfectly understandable historical and sociological reasons most of our members in this particular area of the world are members of the Roman Catholic church."

In other words, you are honoring the Catholic ethos of the majority membership. It takes much more than just being Catholic, and having a mass with the event, to intentionally exclude Protestants. In my experiences in Ireland, I have always found that the organization in question bending over backwards NOT to exclude the Protestants, not the other way round. However, it was also my experience in Ireland that most Protestants refused to participate in anything remotely associated with the Catholic community.

Now, if that is what you perceive as "the dilemma" ie, that the Protestants are refusing to participate as long as there is a mass, well...you've gotten excellent suggestions on ways to try and make them feel more comfortable with the Catholic ethos of the organization. I think that is what the organization should continue to try and do, rather than cleanse the organization of it's Catholic ethos. Include the list of Protestant church services, work with the current membership to offer an ecumenical, or inter-denominational mass for the long haul, where both Protestants and Catholics can receive communion, that sort of thing.

But I think you are seriously misunderstanding the term "non-denominational", and interpreting it to mean "non-religious, secular activities only" which is the way many a person raised Protestant or Irish Catholic in Ireland in 50s and 60s would like this particular organization to be too. But as I said, that isn't what this organization is, nor do I believe it should change it's ethos, merely to appease those who don't like Catholics, be they Protestant or raised as Catholics themselves. Both are attacking Irish secular organizations with a Catholic ethos nowadays, and I fear there is a negative trend to throw the Catholic baby out with the sectarian bathwater. That just doesn't seem right to me.

(BTW, I and others have chosen to ignore your remarks about clergy abuse for a good reason.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: ard mhacha
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 01:14 PM

Thomas, Yes you are making a statment by having a Mass to coincide with your Fleadh or whatever traditional music festival you have in mind, why don`t you come over to the north of Ireland, our Choltas group would object to offending Protestant members by having a Mass before our Fleadh.
As for the Catholic ethos in our Branch it is never mentioned, times have changed here and I find that a large number of our young members have no interest in the Church, Catholic or otherwise.
The young members are into traditional music and that alone.
Thomas put your foot down and tell them to concentrate on the music,as they do in our Branch. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 01:36 PM

Ard Mhacha, with all due respect, as I read Doubting Thomas' description of his branch, it appears those who wish to continue with the Catholic ethos are in the majority, not the minority (where Doubting Thomas finds himself).

Are you seriously suggesting that because a handful of Protestants and young anti-Catholic Catholics and Alliance types in Northern Ireland don't like the Catholic ethos of Comhaltas, that the majority membership of Doubting Thomas' local branch be damned?

You know, I'm no fan of the Catholic hierarchy's control over the Irish state, but that doesn't mean I think reactionary anti-popery and self-loathing recovering Catholicism is the answer.

Why are you so strident in your belief that there isn't room for both sorts of branches in the world of Irish traditional music, Ard Mhacha? Why this anti-Catholic zealotry to cleanse Irish traditional music of it's Catholic roots?


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 01:45 PM

Northern Ireland is a rather special case, where having a Mass as part of a Fleadh could be expected to offend some people, so that it would be discourteous and provocative. In that particular context, if it were possible to have an interdenominational service instead, that would be far better.

But I don't think that kind of situation of worrying about offending people applies in a whole lot of places, most places in fact.

When we had the first big St Patrick's Day Parade in London last year, it started off from Westminster Cathedral with a special Mass, and it ended up at Trafalgar Square, where there was a special service in St Martins in the Fields, which is Church of England. Both were included in the programme.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 01:53 PM

Exactly, McGrath. And in an area with very few (if any) participating Protestants, why the problem with the mass? I mean, it is a joke in most places on the planet with Comhaltas branches, to think that a Protestant majority is being intentionally excluded from the festivities.

And as I said, there is a whole lot the Protestants could stand to learn about the Catholic community by attending the mass itself, instead of screaming in horror as if having a mass were an evil in and of itself. Like the fact that they don't really have tails.

It seems to me the "Northern Irish" solution just sends everyone back to the stone age of sectarian bigotry, rather than fosters mutual understanding and tolerance for one another's religion. Where is the tolerance in insisting a secular music organization with a membership majority from a specific religious community (whether practicing or not), cleansing themselves of all signs of the religious identity?

That is just absurdly sectarian.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: ard mhacha
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 03:16 PM

I am in no doubt that we don`t have a problem, no one has suggested that we have a Mass before our Fleadh, this may seem strange coming from the north of Ireland, but as I say there isn`t the slightest notion of a having either Mass or Service.
We all enjoy the music and I hope I put some doubts to rest by stating that we are not running down any relegion, once again and for the last time,its de music and de music only. ok. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 03:32 PM

But when there's a bunch of good musicians ready to do their stuff it makes for a hell of a lot more lively church service.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,An Pluiéir Ceolmhar sa bhaile
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 05:23 PM

All in all a surpisingly harmonious thread, given the topic, and I could supscribe to most of what has been written on it.

I suspect that the interdenominational solution just wouldn't work for the people who are so committed to having a Mass. But it would be worth while testing the water on it.

If that fails, Smallpiper might be onto something, there's nothing like a belt of a crozier for the kind of people you're dealing with, though in Ireland itself the crozier has lost much of its power.

You could also try including in the programme "Break for religious observance" and giving as much information as possible on the times of Masses, Services, Meetings and whatever else there is in the area, and ask one of the pro-Mass lobby to take over organising music to be played during the Mass by a coalition of the willing - or even organise it separately yourself to show good faith while making your point.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 05:45 PM

Just to be safe, you should ban the heathen language too while you're at it. It is quite exclusionary of the English speakers. Aye, there's none worse than a Gaelic Papist priest.

No better man than a Free Presbyterian to put the Comhaltas lads straight and them to be mending the error of their Romanist ways. Not those NEW ones, mind (spit) or the Papists themselves will be claiming the right of private judgment and liberty from church courts that make our men lords of faith and conscience, before you know it. And we can't be having that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Doubting Thomas
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 06:43 PM

Once again, thanks to everyone for taking the trouble to send in their contributions. I agree, An Pluieir, a good-natured discussion for the most part with worthwhile points from everyone.

No Doubt, I'm grateful to you for going back to my original post and looking at it again. I still think, however, that you're slightly missing the point.

No-one's trying to 'cleanse' anyone here, at least not me. I'm not someone who 'doesn't like Catholics'. I explained at the outset that I am one. It's part of who I am and I'm very proud of it, especially when I see some of the work that the church has done in Central America and among disadvantaged kids in the deep south of the US. In fact, when I was a kid, the order that ran my parish in London was based in the US and apart from another UK parish in Stevenage most of their parishes were in Alabama, New England and Quebec.

Think about it. This was the early 1960s, I'm a kid in Middlesex and I'm receiving communion from men who marched with Martin Luther King. The head of the order was on Nixon's 'enemies list'! And I don't like Catholics? I don't think so.

As far as my so-called 'remarks about clergy abuse' are concerned I'll say only this. I think I've made my views about individuals in the clergy fairly clear, at least the ones I've been (for the most part) priveleged to know. The problem is, as I see it, that the Church as an institution, and particularly it's hierarchy, was lost the confidence of many Catholics as an organisation that can be trusted to work with children and young people. Maybe that's unfair and maybe it's not. Either way, the Church has got a lot of work to do to regain that trust. I hope it manages it. I know that what's been going on isn't confined to the Catholic Church. But as a Catholic I feel that I have a responsibility to make my views known about my own Church. You may differ on those views and I respect your views. Just please don't misrepresent mine.

As for 'throwing the Catholic baby out with the sectarian bathwater', as the father of a Catholic baby (well, three-year-old) I don't really know what to make of that one. It's not, I repeat, other people's religious beliefs that bother me. What bothers me is when (for instance) a long-serving member of our organisation (not me)dares, in a crowded meeting,to make the point that we are a non-denominational organisation and then gets barracked and harrassed for his pains, including one remark to the effect of 'you wouldn't be saying that if we were talking about Pakistanis'. Then the same member has his views misrepresented and dismissed by other members who then proceed to attack him behind his back - and then insist on having a mass.

Now, you're probably right that there aren't currently hordes of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists (I know I've still left plenty of people out but it's late and I've got work tomorrow) pining outside our doors to be included but deterred only by the prospect of an optional mass being provided for those who want it. And I think you're right about us 'bending over backwards' to not exclude non-Catholics in Ireland. Why else would our constitution say what it does? Part of my point, however, is that we don't do that in the part of the world where I live.

I wonder about the future in Ireland sometimes. I suppose all second-generation 'plastic paddies' like me do from time to time. Mass emigration is, for now at least, a thing of the past. Instead, there are people emigrating to Ireland from all over the world, including asylum seekers who arrive with nothing but their identities and it's hard enough for them to hold on to that. Where have we heard this before?

I imagine that many of these people will in future cling to the 'faith of their fathers' just as many of us have. Supposing they want to explore the music and culture of their adopted home as well as that of the countries they have come from? What welcome will they find?

In the past the Irish community was replenished from generation to generation by new emigrants, among whom were musicians, music, dance and language teachers and young families eager to keep hold of a sense of who they were. This isn't happening anymore to anything like the same extent and probably won't happen again unless the Irish economy collapses again - which nobody wants.

So how do we go forward? Do we continue (as some of us still do) to behave like a beleaguered, victim community with our backs to the wall and nowhere to go? Or do we look around us at the world we live in and redefine where we fit into it, all the while taking care of and affording the proper respect to the generations who came before us and (in some cases literally) built that world for us?

Anyway, I'm off to my bed. Just one more thing, No Doubt. The name. It bothers me a little. No Doubt? Really? Not EVER?


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,DoubtingThomas
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 06:48 PM

One last thing - I've already acted on some of the suggestions you've all made (including yours, N.D.), epecially the ones about giving information about other Churches and services in the area. I've since had a mail from the Anglican vicar of one of the Churches I approached for information. I've invited him to come to our event. Never turn away a prospective punter!


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:00 PM

"Mass emigration is, for now at least, a thing of the past" - that's a highly ambiguous sentence in this context...

Like the sort of headline you'd see in the English papers from time to time under the last government about some "Major disaster".


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,KThornton7@hotmail.com
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:14 PM

I am a good bit Irish, a lover of Irish music, and a Protestant. HOWEVER-- I attend Mass a fair amount, and savour the peace and confort I find there. It would be nice if non-Catholics could attend the Mass in good spirit, and get what they can out of it (without, of course, participating in Communion.)

It's really too bad that so many people in this world are so partisan and intent on forwarding their own personal agendas, be it in the "religious" or other realms. And I certainly don't mean you, Doubting Thomas.

I think the idea above of rallying a ibt of like-minded support for you beforehand is a brilliant one.

Karen


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: michaelr
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 08:52 PM

A viewpoint from an atheist living in America:

Thomas, that sort of mindset is what's at the heart of the world's problems. You can't change people like that, you can only wait for them to die.

Music is something much more sacred and spiritually important than the entrenched old superstitions that organized religions perpetuate. It must not be allowed to be sullied by bigoted, partisan bickering.

My advice to you is, turn your back on that organization and walk away. Keep walking until you find some likeminded people with whom you can share the healing power of music without getting bogged down in religious nonsense.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: smallpiper
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 09:35 PM

I'm a bit confused because I always understood that traditinal Irish music was exactly that ... traditional and predated catholicism or any other ism that you care to mention.

If your orgainistion claims to be non denominational then it should be exactly that and having a mass as an integeral part of it amounts to nothing more than hipocrasy!

I have nothing against the mass - it is a wonderful thing but why subject people who are only interested in the music WHICH IS PAGAN in its origins to such a thing?

Remember that in my fathers house there are many mansions

go in peace


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: Tinker
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 09:57 PM

Just a quick 2 cents... religion and ethnicity aside you were proposing a major change in a long standing traditional organization without apparently setting the stage with key players ahead of time. It could take a couple years. Leaving the Mass details up to a Priest who may happen to want ecccumenical services could change the focus.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 02:34 AM

We have a Dixieland Jazz Jubilee in Sacramento (California) on Memorial Day weekend every May. From the very beginning, the Catholic bishop has sponsored a jazz mass at the cathedral, which is located near many of the concert venues. It has been a wonderful success, with first-class music. A number of other churches in the area followed suit, and now we have a marvelous array of musical services. I try to catch at least a couple every year.
These services are an adjunct to the festival, and not an actual part of it. People of all faiths and no faith go to the various services, and have a wonderful time.

As a Catholic, though, I think I would be uneasy about having a Mass as an integral part of a festival that is assumed to be nonsectarian. The Mass has a sacred meaning for me, and I don't like to see it forced upon anybody who doesn't want it. I'd rather see a nondenominational religious service that celebrates with the music of a variety of religious traditions. I really enjoyed the service at Whitby Folk Week, because it included everybody. Most Catholic priests I know would prefer an interdenominational service for an interdenominational group - and most of the priests I know were born in Ireland.

On ther other hand, there are those who view religion as offensive, and they seem to think that all vestiges of religion should be removed from all public celebrations. I think that we need to celebrate our diversity when we gather together, and we should not try to homogenize our culture down to nothing.

But when I got married last year, we had a Mass - and we invited lots of Jews and a few pagans, We didn't offer non-Catholics communion, but I don't think anybody felt excluded. When I get buried, I want a Mass. And an open bar at the reception afterwards.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: Hrothgar
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 05:43 AM

I'd be trying to get your priest to convince the hardliners that a Mass as a specific part of the programme might not be a good idea.

That's without knowing the priest involved - but my experience is that a lot of the clergy are far more reasonable about things like this than their parishoners (constituents?).

This is the politician in me ....


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 08:00 AM

Music and organisations both have traditions. These change over time, but it's not always easy to change them quickly, or in the direction you would like. Softly softly, catchee monkey.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 10:13 AM

I think part of the problem here is many people posting to this thread don't know or understand how this organization works, what it's long standing traditions are, or how the organization has changed to accomodate newcomers down through the years.

The organization I am talking about is Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann, which just celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 2000 or 2001. It is a fairly conservative (by religious standards, certainly) organization that was formed in conjunction with the Gaelic League (people who know Irish history will know what that organization was about, for those who don't, it was a very influential organization that has it's roots in Irish revivalism at the turn of the 20th century in particular) that promotes Irish traditional music and culture (including dance, singing, and instrument), the Irish language, and de facto promotes Catholicism.

Now, when I say this "non-denominational" organization promotes Catholicism, what I mean is, it has always included a Gaelic mass, usually with traditional music, as part of it's festivals. That is the Irish culture side of the organization. It is certainly not the only Irish arts and culture organization that does this. Catholicism is much older than Irish traditional music in Ireland BTW--can't remember who wrote that one, but it isn't pagan music at all. It is secular music, but to call it pagan denies the music's roots in Irish Catholic communities, and actually practiced an Irish Catholic folk religion hybrid, which incorporated some non-Catholic rituals and practices, just as Catholics around the world do. Ireland is in no way unique in that regard.

Now, there is a long standing feud of sorts between the Irish Catholic church, and Irish traditional musicians in Ireland. There is a ton of folklore about how the priest came into the ceili house and smashed up all the instruments, drove people from their crossroads dances, denounced them from the pulpit, etc. So some musicians harbor a good deal of animosity towards the hierarchy especially, as they were one of the conservative forces in Irish society in the post-partition days particularly, and were behind passage of the Dance Hall Act, and other prohibitionist types of legislation "for the good of the Catholic Gael".

Now, in Ireland, Comhaltas isn't that old of an organization, but it is the organization that controls the national and international competitions for Irish traditional music. Personally, I hate the bloody things, and don't think much of the organization itself, as it promotes competition, rather than the finer aspects of the music (ie the sense of joy, comradery, etc that comes with being part of a living traditional music community). The competitions are extremely fierce, and many a young, budding musician crushed under the weight of them. OTOH, many a fine budding musician with the stomach for the competitive scene does brilliantly at these things.

The organization's branches offer classes (including some which offer Irish language classes), concerts, and sessions, and the local competitions that feed into the larger ones. In the 50s when it was founded, this organization did more to keep Irish traditional music alive than any other organization. Some would also say, it nearly killed the music with the way it was organized, especially with the influence of the Catholic church. But people need to understand that the Catholic church's influence in Ireland in those days was incredibly pervasive. Nothing happened in the community without the priest being involved--especially when it was to do with youth. The local priest had a hand in music, scouting, school, you name it. And in some places in rural Ireland, this is still very much the case (usually much to the disgust of the local organizers).

So, while the organization has tremendous influence over the competition side of Irish traditional music, since the big Celtic music boom of the late 80s and 90s, Comhaltas' overall influence has waned considerably, because there is so much more on offer for Irish traditional music nowadays. Also, as a number of people have mentioned, the younger generation in Ireland, as everywhere else, aren't church goers, whether Protestant or Catholic, so they rarely or never attend the mass when there is one in conjunction with a Comhalatas festival.

Which leads me to what I believe is at the heart of the issue for Doubting Thomas--no one is required to attend the (often Gaelic) mass that is held on Sunday morning of the weekend of the festivals. No one. It is completely voluntary, and the tradition of the mass developed out of the tradition of holding Gaelic masses as a means of promoting the Gaelic language to the Catholic faithful (it's a "Faith of Our Fathers" sort of thing, as someone else mentioned above). The Catholics who cling to this not very old tradition, are usually very conservative types. They also have controlled the organization since it's inception. Now, as more local branches have formed in recent years, fewer and fewer of these conservative Catholic types have been in local leadership positions, especially as the rarely religious minded baby boomers started taking over in the North American branches. But the hierarchy of this organization at the national and international level is still pretty conservative.

So I gave my advice based upon my knowledge of this organization. Personally, I have never had anything much to do with the organization because I don't like the competitive nature of it, and I deplore the Catholic conservatism of the organization. But it is THEIR organization, not mine, to run however they wish. I would no more go in and start dictating that they aren't following their constitution because they hold a mass in conjunction with their festivals, than I would go into a wholly secular Irish traditional music organization with no affiliation with any religious communities, and tell them they have to start holding a Gaelic mass in order to be "authentic".

Comhaltas is a very particular sort of organization that will soon go the way of the dinosaur because it's conservative hierarchy is so out of touch with the mainstream. Every organization has a life cycle, and this one will either be completely reborn, or will eventually close it's doors because no one is coming through them anymore. I have no problem with that, because I know the music is healthier than it has ever been, and in no danger whatsover of extinction. The music has also managed to escape control by the Catholic church that once attempted to dominate it and dictate to the musicians, how NOT to play, when NOT to play, and where NOT to play. And has survived it quite successfully.

So, I don't buy into the scare tactics used by many that the music is dying. It is changing though. Now, some here are arguing that to fight the conservative patriarchs who run this organization, is to fight the good fight, and I just plain disagree with that. The reason I disagree with it is because I know why people want to fight for their own power base within the organization--just like this circumstance, there are always going to battles over who controls what the organization does, and who controls the organization's resources. That is what this fight that Doubting Thomas has taken on is essentially about. He thinks he ought to be able to put out the conservative Catholic majority in his branch (and the branches have a lot of power in this organization), and run the show his way.

Well, if he can take over his local branch, more power to him. But if he does it the way he appears to be doing it, he is going to alienate the very base of support within the local branch that the organization needs to survive on a local basis. Hence the dilemma of the Doubting Thomas.

I have No Doubt about what I think should be done. Do it their way this year, and if you so desire, work to bring change to the organization in future years. But as someone else said above, getting rid of the mass ain't gonna happen until this generation of men in control of the organization dies off, if ever. There are quite a number of committed Catholics who want to see the tradition of the mass continued.

Now, people can scream all they want that it is wrong for a non-denominational music and cultural organization to have religious services of it's community in conjunction with it's gatherings, but it is done in both indigenous and immigrant communities around the world all the time with traditional music. This isn't something unique to Irish Catholics, people. You find this sort of thing with many cultures' traditional music communities.

Now, the thing that makes the Irish a bit different (but not alone by any means) is the conflict between the Protestant Irish traditional music community, and the Catholic Irish traditional music community. But you see the same sorts of conflicts arise in areas where there is a long history of conflict between religous communities, such as in the Balkans.

Personally, I think it would be great if we just banned religion, and were done with damn manufactured "religious" conflicts. But I'm a bit more of a realist. It is their (Comhaltas) organization. They've been running the show with a mass (with a very few exceptions in the north of Ireland) since their inception. It is part and parcel of the ethos of the organization. If one is going to be a member, one needs to accept it, work with people to change certain aspects of the organization if you so desire, but also with the fore knowledge that you may not be able to change that which you are trying to change, and then it is your personal decision whether to stick with the organization, or strike out on your own with a new like minded group who share your sensibilities.

IMO, there is plenty of room in the world for a lot of different types of organizations promoting Irish traditional music. Live and let live.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 11:16 AM

I dunno. As a (non-practicing) Jew, some of my favorite musical pieces are Masses, often written by J.S. Bach, who wasn't Catholic either. I can appreciate a marching band without marching; I can appreciate dance music without dancing and I can enjoy a Mass.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Doubting Thomas
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 11:22 AM

You're still slightly missing the point, N.D. I dont want to put anyone out or 'take over' anything. I want to bring people in. How those already within react to that is up to them.

The rest of your post was well-informed and very astute. I think you're probably right about the nature of the thing at present. I'm not in the business of trying to impose my opinions on anyone.

I want to work with people and if it means going along with something I'd rather do without then, as long as no-one's being hurt or abused I'm OK with that. If change is going to come it'll take time. And I don't want to see us 'going the way of the dinosaur' becsuse I still think there's a role for us. If we're not running the Fladhanna, who's going to take over the responsibility for that, bearing in mind that whoevertook it on would have to operate on a worldwise basis?

Most of the people I know who are involved are in it to play music or make music happen. As for the rest of it, both musicians and non-musicans have brought their own sets of beliefs in from their own daily lives. Fair enough.

But where are we going to be as an organisation in 20 years if we don't at least allow ourselves and each other to question our own attitudes and practices? ND has made it clear that the question of our survival doesn't concern him. Fine. However, it concerns me. Live and let live? Exactly.

By the way, the 'faith of our fathers' reference was mine. Just so's you know.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: Declan
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 11:32 AM

For all its many faults (don't get me started on that topic!) Comhaltas does a lot of good work, particularly among emigrant communities. I know many fine musicians particularly in the UK, who have come up through the ranks. It is a source of particular pride when these musicians win through to the All Ireland Fleadh and go on to win prizes. Setting up a new organisation might enable you to run a good local Fleadh or Festival, but it wouldn't be able to offer the same level of recognition that winning through to Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann has built up over its history of 50 years.

Comhaltas is made up of branches which in turn are made up of members. No one owns it. Every member has a right to make his/her views known. If people are being shouted down in debates at meetings it looks as if the branch we are talking about could do with a good person in the Chair. Changing things will be a slow process, but Doubting Thomas has as much right as any other member to try to bring about the change, although undoubtedly it will be difficult. Maybe this particular battle is not such a good place to start.

I assume that Thomas must be held in high regard by at least some members of the branch if he has been put in charge of organising an annual Fleadh. So keep up the good work. You may need to compromise a bit along the way, but to my mind the Comhaltas needs to be shaken up a bit and brought into the 21st Century. If no-one is prepared to initiate that change, the organisation probably will stagnate and die as No Doubt says.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 11:50 AM

Dick, perhaps you've never been to one of these Gaelic masses? JS Bach ain't what we're hearing. The music is very "Faith of Our Fathers" oriented, and pretty uniformly bad, IMO.

Doubting Thomas, I think the only dilemma here is yours. You seem to be in conflict with the leadership of your branch, and I'm guessing the conflict isn't as much about the mass as it is how you think the local branch should be run. You seem to be a bit angry over the fact, that they are in control of how the resources of the organization are being used, and how events are being run. If the majority is against you, I personally think you would be happier to stand back, and pick and choose where you will participate and where you won't, or leave the organization altogether, hopefully to find another avenue for your work in support of Irish traditional music.

I wouldn't want to see someone as committed and passionate about the music as you seem to be, stop doing the important work of supporting the music. But it really can be done in ways other than the competitions. In my personal experience, it is that very competition that makes these struggles for control of the leadership, so very difficult and painful when they take place. You really do have my sympathy in that regard.

I agree that most newcomers as well as most musicians involved for any length of time in North American branches of Comhaltas, are there for the music only. But I really think that is unfair to the organization, which has always presented itself as being about much more than just the music--it is also to do with Irish culture, especially the language, the folklore, the literature, which also includes a Catholic mass.

Now, if that makes the organization irrelevant to current musicians, that doesn't mean the problem is with Comhaltas. It is a very powerful, well funded organization, which is why a whole lot of musicians would like to take it over. I've seen that sort of thing happen before in a number of different contexts with grassroots organizations, and the takeovers have always resulted in a pretty negative outcome for most involved. That is what you are risking, IMO, if you attempt to take over your local branch "for it's own good". Now, you say you don't want to take over, you want to "bring people in". Well, I think you are splitting hairs. You seem to think that the way things are currently being run in your local branch isn't bringing enough people in. That may be true, or what may be true is you don't feel you don't have enough company of folks who share your sensibilities, in your local branch. Either way, the only way to change that and bring in newcomers who share your sensibilities, is only to happen if you and a large enough group of like minded individuals band together and take over the local branch.

So go for it. You and I have a fundamental difference of opinion about the importance and value of Comhaltas to Irish traditional music. I personally think it is a blip on the radar which has little to do with the health and welfare of the music and the culture it is rooted in. You seem to think it is an organization central to the survival of the music. I personally feel that the North American Irish traditional music community, along with certain communities of musicians I have mentioned above in other posts, is a bit too anxious to take Irish traditional music out of it's historic cultural contexts, to make it personally more palatable to them. I think that is wrong. Irish Catholic conservatism is a central part of the history of the community of which this music is a living, breathing tradition. To take away it's cultural contexts so you don't have to deal with "those people" is exactly how the music gets dispossessed from it's indigenous community, no matter how well meaning the cultural detractors are. I'm all for seeing the music survive, but not at the expense of the community which gave it to the world, is all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: Jimmy C
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 12:41 PM

I am a catholic and a musician, and (believe it or not) a volunteer communion minister. I don't really see a problem here. If a mass is scheduled let those who wish attend, others can join them after the mass. If however the event is threatened unless all attend the mass then I say screw that and go somewhere else. I do know that non-catholics are always welcome to attend mass as I am welcomed at other non-catholic services. If one does not want to receive communion that is ok as well. Many catholics do not always receive the sacrament, some will however approach the priest or the server with hands folded across their chest as a sign that they only require a blessing and not communion, others just stay in their seats. I would schedule the event with a timetable, listing all parts. e.g. Breakfast 8.00am to 9.00am, Mass 9.00am - 9.30 amm. Welcome remarks etc 9.45am and so on. No one should be forced to attend mass and/or no one should be made to feel excluded. The idea of having non-catholic services listed is a good idea and a valid suggestion. Remember, you don't always need money to promote music, a small room or a kitchen where people can gather is all that is required, funding can always be found if needed.
Play it - they will come.

Slan.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Promoter of Irish music
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 02:55 PM

I'm a member and officer of this organisation too. The constitution's aims and objectives are clear as are the penalties for anyone acting against the constitution. The constitution is the basis for the organisation's existence under law.

The organisation is not a missionary extension of any religious body and it is illegal to use it as such. To use the organisation's name and resources in such a way is fraudulent... it's that simple! The organisation is in danger of losing its funding and is alienating people of other cultures and beliefs. It does not exist to do this. Its aims and objectives are quite the opposite.

Religious concerns are a matter for those individuals concerned on a personal basis. The organisation has no business involving itself in religious matters. Members who act unconstitutionally should realise these simple facts before they are confronted with them in a court of law.

Be assured of my branch's total support for your stand.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 03:17 PM

So sue Comhaltas, jackass.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 03:32 PM

Let all the poisons that are in the mud hatch out ...


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 04:03 PM

In the US, which is where the branch under consideration is located, there is no law which prevents any organization, whether for profit or not, from engaging in religious activities, and collecting funds in association with those activities. It is a very common practice. I don't know where people get the idea that a nonprofit is not allowed to engage in religious activities, including sponsoring religious services in conjunction with other arts and cultural activities.

Seems there is a whole lot of ignorance about these issues by posters here. And I have to say, I fault Doubting Thomas for this, as he is the original poster who made the claim that Comhaltas was violating it's constitution by sponsoring a mass with their festivals, and misrepresenting itself in it's fundraising efforts about it. If that were actually the case, I assure you all, the organization would have been put out of business by the US Justice Department decades ago.

This entire issue is being blown out of all proportion, and the
so-called "arguments" being put forth now are just plain silly.

Comhaltas is not performing missionary work by having mass in conjunction with their festivals. Please someone, tell me people aren't really as gullible, ignorant, or malicious as some are beginning to appear to be here.


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Promoter of Irish music
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 09:40 PM

No, it's not a branch in the USA and yes, the constitution is its rules. These are rules under law. It gets funding from bodies which have their own rules and constitutions too. Some of these refuse or are not allowed (under the law) to fund organisations that engage in religeous or political activites. They could, quite rightly, cease funding and, worse, demand repayment, through the courts if neccessary, of any funding already awarded. I don't think that this constitutes a "silly" argument nor is it blowing it out of all proportion. These are simple facts but with serious implications.

Attempting to protect the organisation from getting into serious bother and wishing to support the organisation's aims and objectives in promoting "traditional", Irish music and culture to all people (regardless of their beliefs) is neither ignorant nor malicious.

The organisation is not a "closed shop" or there for the benefit of one demonination. This is clearly stated in its own constitution. Tokyo, for instance, has one of the largest, most thriving branches outside of Ireland. The majority of its members and supporters are, most likely, either Bhuddist and/or Shintoists and most welcome they are too. Religion should simply be left out of the organisation's activities. It plays no part under its own rules... and just look at the bother it causes :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 09:57 PM

No, I just can't see the problem, so long as there is no compulsion or pressure on anyone to do anything they don't want to. Music is about celebration, and religous services are supposed to be as well.

I echo what Joe Offer said about the Service they have in Whitvy at the Anglican Chrch up the top of the steps. It's in the programme, and it belongs in the programme, and any body who wants to go to it goes to it and anybody who doesn't doesn't.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 01:13 AM

Instead of taking the word of holier-than-thou posters (including myself), why not get it straight from the horse:

http://www.comhaltas.com/

Also, I anxiously await the posting of the Comhaltas constitution from one of it's illustrious members and officers posting to this thread, to clear up all these issues once and for all. I trust that those of you with a vested interest in the organization will, of course, serve the interests of both the organization and the music, by providing the oft-cited document which you have put to front and center of this manufactured non-controversy, in the interest of fairness to your readers.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 01:19 AM

Sorry, I also meant to include above a link to the United States' premier source for philanthropic organizations on the web, the Chronicle for Philanthropy. If anyone is interested in the hows, whys and wherefores of religious activities of nonprofits, perhaps you might like to do some reading about it here:

http://philanthropy.com/free/resources/rel/religion.htm


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Doubting Thomas
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 03:18 AM

ND, I'd be happy to post the constitution but I actually think that this might not be appropriate under the Mudcat rules, which I don't want to abuse as a guest. If you go to the site for the Cooley-Keegan branch in San Francisco they have an on-line version. Go to www.sfceltic.com/IRISHMUS (I think).


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Doubting Thomas
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 03:21 AM

You can also access Cooley-Keegan's site via the main Comhaltas site. Look under 'Branches'.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Promoter
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 06:50 AM

With respect, what other, philanthropic organisations do is not the point. If their contitutions allow these activities then ok, no problem for them. If an organisation's contitution states that it is non demoninational, then it is obliged to act accordingly.

Engaging in religeous activities is not part the organisation's stated aims. Taking funding from from other bodies who are not allowed to fund religeous activities is just, plainly and simply, wrong no matter how well intentioned.

The constitution may be viewed here. Kindly check clause 3. :-)

http://www.ccewest.org/an_bunreacht.htm


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 08:58 AM

"Engaging in religeous activities is not part the organisation's stated aims. "

Nor I imagine is breathing or going to the lavatory.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 09:50 AM


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 10:10 AM

We'll try that again.

Thanks to both Doubting Thomas and Promoter for providing links to online versions of the Comhaltas constitution. I am now more certain than ever that both of you are attempting to justify eliminating the Catholic ethos from the organization, by attempting to remove the music, song, and dance from it's cultural contexts. Well, the Comhaltas constitution won't allow you to get away with it, as it is very clear the organization's stated mission, aims and objectives includes promotion of Irish arts, language, and culture, which of course can (though is not required to in the constitution) include a mass as part of the branch activities.

I cannot stress enough that I believe you are dead wrong in the definition you are using for "non-denominational". That doesn't mean non-religious, and nowhere in the constitution does it say religious activities are prohibited. That would be silly in any organization whose mission is to promote Irish arts, language and culture, as the Gaelic mass is a long standing tradition in the Irish language community. I also note that the organization has a clause which allows both "clergy and lay" to have a special status within the organization for assisting in the promotion of Irish arts, language and culture. So I'm afraid you lads are just plain dead to wrong.

Here are the relevant excerpts from the constitution. I have bracket my remarks thus []. I begin with the opening paragraphs of the constitution:

Comhaltas, which was founded in 1951, has today over 400 branches of the movement at home and abroad. Through Comhaltas, the traditional musicians, singers and dancers are organised and presented in the various events promoted by the movement.

Educational facilities have a high priority in the movement's programme, and it is through its numerous classes and courses that exponents of the native arts are given the opportunity of developing their artistic abilities in this sphere of our native culture.

[There lads, they've covered it right there: "developing artistic abilities in this sphere of our native culture" means they are fully within their rights to hold Gaelic mass where the musicians can perform in a setting which promotes "native culture" which of course includes a Gaelic and/or English mass, as the native culture is predominantly Catholic, as you noted.]

Comhaltas concerns itself with the development of an environment conducive to the Aims and Objects of the movement; this is reflected in its work in the field of radio, television, films and other areas of the communications media.

Through publications, records, sessions, concerts, céilithe and other educational-recreational projects, the movement continues to mould our music, song and dance as integral and potent components of community life.

["other educational-recreational projects...as integral and potent components of community life" certainly would be inclusive of a mass]

Irish, the native language of Ireland, is afforded a special status in Comhaltas and the movement is unreservedly committed to its promotion.

[Again, Gaelic mass is one common way of promoting the Irish language in it's native community, which, BTW, is Irish for those of you who aren't interested in the language or cultural aspects of this organization]

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

(d) To foster and promote the Irish language at all times;
(e) To create a closer bond among all lovers of Irish music;
(f) To co-operate with all bodies working for the restoration or Irish Culture;

[I note that (f) in particular allows for co-operation with church bodies interested in restoration of Irish culture]

MEMBERSHIP

3 An Comhaltas shall be non-political and non-denominational. Membership shall be open to all who are in sympathy with the Aims and Objects of An Comhaltas, and who undertake to abide by its Constitution and Rules.

[This was the one that Promoter told us to watch out for, and I see nothing in this clause which forbids members of any religion. Perhaps this is where the two of you are confused. This clause states you can't forbid anyone from becoming a member based upon their religious or political views, which of course allows anyone of any faith or political persuasion to join. This clause doesn't concern itself with the activities of the organization, but the terms of membership. So if this is the clause the two of you are leaning on, you've been shot in both feet]

PATRONS
4 The Organisation shall have authority to invite a person or persons, clerical or lay, who need not necessarily be members to become patrons during his/her lifetime. The CEC shall select a Patron on the grounds that he/she has shown sympathy with the work of the Organisation, or interest in its activities or regard for its Aims and outlook. He/she may take part in all the activities of An Comhaltas; but he/she shall not have the right to vote at any meeting of the Organisation.

[And there you have it. The organization allows for clergy special status within the organization. Hardly a constitutional clause that "forbids" religious participation, eh?]

GENERAL
18 All functions held under the auspices of An Comhaltas shall be in keeping with the ideals of An Comhaltas and the Clár for such functions shall be submitted for prior approval to the immediate superior governing body.

[Looks to me like this clause also allows for mass to be held in conjunction with Comhaltas activities, as it can certainly be argued that a mass for the Irish community "shall be in keeping with the ideals of An Comhaltas"]


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,ceejay
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 10:27 AM

In the interests of clarification could someone tell me if prayers are routinely said before a parliamentary session does that constitute promoting Christianity over Islam or Judaism or other faiths?


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 10:34 AM

ceejay, I believe that whatever religion's prayers are said before a parliamentary session does constitute the promotion of that religion over other faiths. And because it is a parliamentary body's duty to represent and govern people of all faiths and none, I feel it is wrong to use prayers in this manner.

However, we aren't talking about a government body regarding this organization, so there are no church and state issues here. Comhaltas is just a nonprofit organization for the promotion of Irish arts, language and culture. There are gazillions of them around the world, and many of them use religious services common to their communities, to promote their arts, language and culture. Which is why this is all so silly.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 11:05 AM

Before I say anything, I want you to know that I love the Comhaltas and have been a member. We were delighted to visit Belgrave Square and to know how important the organization is to the furtherance and support of Irish music.

Now, the issue at hand. The Catholic Ethos. In the States, a lot of people say that we are basically a Christian nation. This is used as a pretext for promulgating Christianity over other forms of religious expression by certain reactionary sects such as the Southern Baptists.

Is Ireland a Catholic nation? At first blush it would appear so. It would seem that if the majority of the membership of Comhaltas would like to have a Catholic mass conducted under it's banner, then this is OK.

Here in the States, we think of this as the "tyranny of the majority".
It goes back to the philosophy behind the framing of our
Constitution. The United States is not a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Zoroastrian country. We do have organizations that are non-profit with a particular leaning but they do not represent our county as governmental or necessarilly American cultural bodies. It may be different in Ireland, I don't know.

Can a Jew be a Comhaltas member? Can a Muslim be a Comhaltas member? So the mission statement ostensibly says. But can a Jew in good conscience attend a mass other than as a disinterested spectator? Can a Muslim? Can a Protestant for that matter? Can an Atheist? Does this bias enter into the selection of those contestants at a Fleadh? jA religious ethos promulgated in an organization doesn't make me feel wholly comfortable with it.

I don't know the answers. These are questions not opinions. I confess an ignorance of Irish "culture" although I loved our visit to Ireland and the Irish people that we met. I also love the Comhaltas and what they do. Wish we had something like that here in the States.

The closest thing I can think of is the "bluegrass" community which as far as I know doesn't have a formal church ceremony under their respective auspices but there is a cultural bias.

I wish the Comhaltas well and hope that this difficulty can be resolved. I do see it as a problem.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 11:34 AM

I can't see any reason why a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Protestant, or an Atheist can't attend a Mass if they want to. I'm not sure what the difference is between an interested spectator and a disinterested specator, but either way they'd be more than welcome.

And I'd have no worries myself as a Catholic attending a service at any other place of worship. I've done it often enough, and it's a nice change

Why make a big deal out of a communal celebration? There's a whiff of intolerance around.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 11:53 AM

'Comhaltas is a very particular sort of organization that will soon go the way of the dinosaur because it's conservative hierarchy is so out of touch with the mainstream'. Your words, ND. I didn't entirely agree with them in the first place and your last post would seem to contradict that view, given your very informed and complimentary overview of it's activities, assuming that you (hopefully) can agree that we actually do what we say we're going to do.

Now, you have your own interpretation of the constitution. I have mine. You place it in a context and come to certain conclusions. I do the same and arrive at different conclusions. So does Promoter.

I don't entirely subscribe to the 'Doomsday scenario' Promoter foresees where we end up being compelled to return money through the courts although I agree it's theoretically possible that someone could try. I doubt that it would be worth it. However, my inclination if I were approaching a potential sponsor for money would be this: I would tell them that our constitution says we are non-donominational but (as I said way back at the beginning of the thread) most of our members, in this part of the world at least, are Catholics and it has been the custom for an optional Mass to be made available. However, membership is open to all and no-one who isn't Catholic is discouraged from practicing their own faith, if they have one. I would hope I'd be telling the truth.

It would then be up to the sponsor to decide whether to support us having been given something like the whole picture. One might point out to the sponsor that there is some debate in the organisation (which, correct me if I'm wrong, ND, you say you're not active in) but even that might be counter-productive.

Now, fair point to ND. The constitution does enable the organisation to appoint patrons 'both clerical and lay'. My own view is that wording of that clause is something of a period piece from early 1950s Ireland but fair point, it is in there, just as much as the 'non-denominational' bit. At the risk of being pedantic, though, it quite rightly doesn't specify which denomination.

I've never had a problem with this. Plenty of Catholic and Non-Catholic clerics have gone out of their way to help and support us over the years. Gratitude and respect is due to them as it is to many of the more conservative 'lay' members of the organisation who've done so much for it over the years.

But I think Promoter is right to point out that other organisations that may include religious observances in their cultural events do so having made it clear from the outset that their religious outlook is a fundamental part of the organisation's culture and ethos. I don't agree that our constitution says the same thing. Your argument seems to rest heavily on the view that because Mass has always held such a central role in the life of three-quarters of the people of Ireland, plus the millions in the diaspora, it cannot be separated out from the ethos of an organisation that is focused on Irish Music, Dance and Language (though the last less so where I live). I'm afraid I don't accept the logic (and I grant that it is a logic of sorts).

As it happens, I think I have a solution for the short term and if I don't then for now I'd rather lose the argument and keep the Fleadh rather than the other way round. But I think the amount of time we've all spent on this shows that it's not just an issue in one area. NDs reference to a branch in the USA demonstrates that. Lots of people have obviously given it a lot of thought both inside and outside Comhaltas and it's clearly not going to go away.

I will of course continue to reply to messages but I've got some work to do now. Thanks to everyone who's contributed so far and to the Mudcat far your hospitality.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 12:24 PM

I agree, there is a very strong whiff of anti-religious bias to this thread, and to what Doubting Thomas claims he is attempting to do.

Frank Hamilton, I think you are not understanding that Comhaltas is:

1)an Irish organization with branches around the world, and is NOT US founded or headquartered;

2) that it is more than just a music organization. It clearly states in it's constitution that is also an organization that promotes the Irish language and Irishy culture;

3) that the Catholic ethos of Comhaltas is deeply rooted in the Irish Gaelic speaking community's cultural traditions, which includes teh Catholic faith;

4) not one jot of this has anything to do with whether the US is officially a Christian nation (it is not), or Ireland being an officially Catholic nation (it is, just like Poland is).

In Ireland, where Comhaltas is based, the cultural and language aspects of the organization are every bit as important to it's membership as the music. Also, it is a very common practice in Ireland, for many organizations, local governments, etc. to offer a mass in conjunction with community events and festivals that take place over the weekend.

Now then, Comhaltas has nothing whatsoever to do with the US government, or vice versa. It is not a US organization, it is an Irish organization, with branches in the US, in Canada, and around the world in the Irish diasporan community. Perhaps Frank, you didn't read my post above where I took great pains to cite from the source--the organization's constitution.

So I am wondering Frank, why you keep insisting that this organization should be cleansed of it's religious roots? The constitution being discussed here is not the US constitution, but Comhaltas' constitution, which I quoted extensively from in my post above.

You say: "We do have organizations that are non-profit with a particular leaning but they do not represent our county as governmental or necessarilly American cultural bodies."

Again, I think you are misunderstanding what we are discussing. Comhaltas is not an American organization, it is an Irish organization with branches here. It is headquartered in Dublin. Comhaltas doesn't "represent" the United States in any way, shape or form. It is no different than many other immigrant community organizations that exist in the US, with ties to the immigrant community's home country.

You ask: "Can a Jew be a Comhaltas member? Can a Muslim be a Comhaltas member? So the mission statement ostensibly says. But can a Jew in good conscience attend a mass other than as a disinterested spectator? Can a Muslim? Can a Protestant for that matter? Can an Atheist?"

Why on earth would a member of any religious faith NOT be able to attend another religion's services with a clear conscience? What does that have to do with anything? That is just such a bizarre suggestion.

You then state: "A religious ethos promulgated in an organization doesn't make me feel wholly comfortable with it."

Well Frank, with respect, it looks to me like you just plain don't like religion, and aren't interested in participating in organizations with a religious ethos. That is fine and dandy, and you are fully within your rights and reason to be and think that way. But it does NOT give you a right to dictate to others that they adopt your way of thinking and being on religion, and organizations with a religious ethos.

Don't like Comhaltas' Catholic ethos? Then you don't have to have a thing to do with it. That is your choice. But to suggest that Comhaltas should cleanse itself of it's Irish cultural ethos, which does include the Catholic faith, is pretty bigoted, in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 12:43 PM

I assume it was you Doubting Thomas, who posted as Guest just above, and said:

"Your argument seems to rest heavily on the view that because Mass has always held such a central role in the life of three-quarters of the people of Ireland, plus the millions in the diaspora, it cannot be separated out from the ethos of an organisation that is focused on Irish Music, Dance and Language (though the last less so where I live). I'm afraid I don't accept the logic (and I grant that it is a logic of sorts)."

I'm going to say this again, one more time. Comhaltas is an Irish arts, culture and language organization, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. It's constitution clearly states it IS NOT JUST A MUSIC ORGANIZATION. It has branches around the world. What you are attempting to do is lop off the linguistic and cultural aims of the organizztion, to suit yourself. It is beginning to appear that Doubting Thomas, along with those who defend him, clearly don't want to bothered with the Irish culture and language aims of this organiztion, so they are using the ruse of religion to try and rid the organization of any activities except Irish music, without going directly after the language and culture.

They are disingenuously doing this, by claiming that Comhaltas IS NOT a cultural organization, and that the culture encompasses and includes a Catholic ethos.

Their reason for wanting to do this is the power and influence Comhaltas itself. Because it is the main body concerned with Irish traditional music competitions both in Ireland and internationally, what they want is the organization's resources, without the cultural baggage that currently comes with it.

That, my friends, is the definition of cultural theft.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 12:55 PM

I also note Doubting Thomas' reasons for not divulging his branch. This way, he and his branch can't be identified, and so what he is doing in his attempt to undermine and do away with Comhaltas' aims and objectives outlined in it's constitution, can't be prosecuted under the rules.

Convenient, that.

Like I said, I don't care if the organization dies tomorrow. What I do have a problem with is dispossession of the culture, and cultural theft by people who clearly despise the culture in question.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Steve Schaper
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 01:16 PM

When I attend a Roman Catholic Mass, and I am acquianted with the priest, so that he knows I'm an evangelical, I go up with the others, and recieve the blessing, rather than the eucharist (which would be violating canon law). I have no problem with that at all.

Most of the western musical tradition has to do with the Mass. That is just how it is. Those that aren't actual works for the Mass are significantly influenced from the music of the Church used for the Mass.

In that context, I don't see a problem with having the Mass at your event. Just be sensitive, make sure all know the rules about the eucharist and the blessing, and with the priest's consent, perform appropriate musical pieces that intersect between your groups' focus and the Mass. That way, not only with Catholics recieve spiritual nourishment, but non-Catholics will have an educational experience.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 01:30 PM

This isn't about religion at all. What it is about, is a number of younger musicians, most of whom are Irish or have Irish ancestry, wanting to wrest control of the most powerful Irish traditional music organization in the world, and cleanse it of it's Irishness. They don't like the conservative Catholic membership, they don't like the ties this organization has to Irish republicanism and nationalism, and they don't like the fact that so many officers in Dublin are committed to keeping the organization rooted in Gaeltacht culture, which is, predictably, conservative and Catholic.

What they want is to steal the resources of Comhaltas, take control of the organization, and make it over in their image, rather than the image of it's founders.

They want to control it, to make it into an Irish traditional music only organization, without the Irish culture and language. They are only using religion as a smoke screen, because it is a convenient ruse to use to avoid people seeing what they are really doing, and take note of the fact that this is an obvious American attempt to engage in the cultural theft, to get what they want: the music without the Irish cultural baggage.

The mass plays such a small part of Comhaltas' activities, it is an absolute no-brainer to see what they are doing. I suspected this might have been the case all along, and the more we hear from the Doubting Thomases and others who want to cleanse Comhaltas of it's Irish Catholic conservative republican and nationalist roots, the more it becomes obvious that is just what they are doing--trying to steal this powerful and well endowed organization away from it's rightful owners--the conservative Catholic membership.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 01:58 PM

Wait - did I hear this is a Gaelic Mass, like done in the Irish language? If that's the case, it certainly wouldn't be authentic. Except in the Easter Rite of the Catholic Church, the Mass was celebrated in Latin until the end of the 1960's.

I guess if you want to be authentic, you'd have to have a mob of old ladies armed with rosaries, with doilies covering their heads. The music should be smarmy hymns sung in Latin and English, with a little off-key Gregorian Chant sung at dirge cadence. Oh, and no more than ten percent of the people in attendance could be men.
Now, THAT would be authentic tradition.

I don't know much about Irish-language masses, but I'd like to. I can't imagine that they are an authentic part of tradition.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 02:04 PM

Uh Joe. Did you know that the island now known as Ireland, once was a monoglot country that spoke a language that was neither English or Latin?

The language is commonly known as Gaelic. Back in the day, when Gaelic speakers went to mass, it was actually conducted in Gaelic. Seems silly, I know, but there you have it.

Oh--there is this other thing about Irish traditional music too. It is called singing. There is this funny little language no one understands that a lot of the old people who are greatly revered (in public, often derided in private for being culchies) by the Irish traditional musicians of today. No one is really sure what it is, but many are certain whatever language they are singing in, that it can't be authentically Irish, because it would have to be English or Latin to be authentically Irish.

Oh, I don't know where people got the idea that Irish people were Catholic. That isn't authentic either. Irish people are pagan or Protestant. There are a few Catholics with tails running around, blowing everyone up, but we've denounced their like for many a century now.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 02:07 PM

Authentic doesn't have to mean old does it? It implies having some roots in tradition.

A Mass in Gaelic is no more or less authentic than a Mass in English or Vietnamese. Or Latin.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM

The Gaelic isn't authentically Irish. It is fake, actually. I think we need an ethnic cleansing campaign to go into Connemara, Kerry and Donegal, and take care of this nonsense once and for all. Everyone knows those are the Catholic Fenian strongholds, after all. We need to ethnically cleanse those dirty Catholic Fenians, once and for all.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM

Give Comhaltas back to the Anglo Irish.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 03:29 PM

Authenticity isn't the issue here. The very fact that Comhaltas has regularly (though not always, as has been noted) included a mass with it's weekend festivities in Ireland, and in many branches worldwide since it's inception in the 50s, makes the mass a Comhaltas tradition, whether in English or Irish. That is all that matters in this instance.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 03:32 PM

I dunno, O Nameless One - I have very little knowledge of the Irish language and the history of its use. I have to admit that until about ten years ago, I was unaware that English was the primary language of Ireland, and that very few people there spoke Irish. I was surprised that during my two weeks in Ireland, I did not hear one single person speak a language other than English.

I do have eight years of Catholic seminary training and a degree in theology, so my training in Catholic church history is pretty good. As far as I know, the Latin Mass was universal in the Latin Rite for over a thousand years. When Irish people went to Mass, it was in Latin, not Irish. There may have been some Irish-language hymns used at Mass before English took over as the dominant language in Ireland, but I really don't think that the actual text of the Mass was recited in anything but Latin (except for the Kyrie, which is Greek). If you have evidence to the contrary, I'd like to see it.

As far as I know, vernacular languages such as Irish and English were not used at Mass until the late 1960's - and my knowledge of such things is pretty good. Therefore, unless I'm mistaken, an Irish-language Mass is a very recent innovation and certainly not what one would call "traditional." Still, I would very much like to attend a Mass with Irish language and music.

"No Doubt" (you're not the Nameless One I addressed above, because you are using a name) - I think I agree with you. If Mass has been a part of the festival since the 1950's, back when people weren't offended by the practice of religion, then it seems to me it might be very nice to continue that tradition. If the Mass is being used as a weapon, to force Catholicism upon unwilling victims, then I think that is a sacrilegious abuse of the Mass.

But on the other question, I really would like to see any evidence that Irish Catholics celebrated Mass in any language other than Latin before the 1960's.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,No Doubt
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 04:15 PM

Hello Joe. You are correct in stating that the Irish Catholics were largely like their European counterparts in most things, including the language of the mass. To understand the historic uses of the Gaelic mass, so one would study the history of the Irish language revival and romantic nationalism, not church history.

That said, there are some differences in the Irish Catholic folk religion, which I alluded to above. For instance, from the Christianity Today website on Celtic Christianity, it says:

"Far from being culturally and religiously isolated from Europe, the Irish and Welsh prayed in Latin for most liturgical purposes, just as their Christian brothers did throughout the Western Church. We still have several Celtic manuscripts in which the prayers of the Mass, baptism, and anointing of the sick are recorded—all quite similar to those in other parts of the European church...Alongside the psalms, biblical canticles (such as the Magnificat), and hymns—both Latin and vernacular—were popular.

Vernacular prayers—we have more in Gaelic than in Welsh—were less ecclesiastical in feel. They reflect a more personal or domestic use. Such prayers include praises of God, prayers to his saints, requests for protection, and blessings. Some even seem more like magical charms than prayers. Of course, there was also a great deal of what we might now call "folk Christianity"—the faith of a largely peasant population—as well as native poetry and lore.

There were differences in detail between the Celtic Christians and their continental neighbors: church architecture, Easter dates, inheritance laws, and local traditions. But almost all the main features of early Celtic Christianity could be found anywhere in Catholic Europe, where every tribe and tongue and nation made the gospel their own."

While the mass would have been said in Latin, as elsewhere, the people were ministered to in their native language. The prayers, etc. discussed above show that since medieval times, there has been a strong Catholic Gaelic folk tradition. Many Gaelic hymns were composed by women, which are traditional. However, most Irish traditional musicians would not accept these as "traditional" in the sense that secular music is "traditional" even though they both are clearly traditional.

As to when the first Gaelic mass was said, I don't have the answer to that one for you. The answer probably lies somewhere in the pages of Gaelic League history, I'd guess.

That said, if you do a google search using the keywords "Gaelic mass" you might be surprised at what turns up.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 04:29 PM

http://prichard.net/laura/MDUUChumor.html


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 05:01 PM

Sean O Riada composed quite a bit of music for the Gaelic mass. A Gaelic mass is held in conjunction with Willie Week, and you don't get much more about the music than Willie Week. So I guess my question is, and has been all along, if it a mass is good enough for Willie Week in Miltown Malbay, why isn't it good enough for an American Comhaltas branch?


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 05:09 PM

Not to be pedantic with the craic, but the special status accorded the Catholic Church in the Irish constitution was ended by referendum in 1972. However, at the time the Comhaltas constitution was written, the church did have an official status in the Irish state.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 06:21 PM

Hi McGrath

A Catholic Mass is not just another communal celebration. It is a religious observance.

No Doubt, here are my responses.


"Frank Hamilton, I think you are not understanding that Comhaltas is:

1)an Irish organization with branches around the world, and is NOT US founded or headquartered;"

I never said that it was.

"2) that it is more than just a music organization. It clearly states in it's constitution that is also an organization that promotes the Irish language and Irishy culture;

That's fine if it represents all of Ireland.

"3) that the Catholic ethos of Comhaltas is deeply rooted in the Irish Gaelic speaking community's cultural traditions, which includes teh Catholic faith;"

This may well be true.

"4) not one jot of this has anything to do with whether the US is officially a Christian nation (it is not), or Ireland being an officially Catholic nation (it is, just like Poland is)."

I disagree. It has something to do with forcing a religion on those who don't espouse it.

"In Ireland, where Comhaltas is based, the cultural and language aspects of the organization are every bit as important to it's membership as the music. Also, it is a very common practice in Ireland, for many organizations, local governments, etc. to offer a mass in conjunction with community events and festivals that take place over the weekend."

Yes, I am aware of this.



"Now then, Comhaltas has nothing whatsoever to do with the US government, or vice versa. It is not a US organization, it is an Irish organization, with branches in the US, in Canada, and around the world in the Irish diasporan community. Perhaps Frank, you didn't read my post above where I took great pains to cite from the source--the organization's constitution."

I never said that is was a US organization. It has however, branches in the US. It has something to do with the issue of "separation of church and state" which you are informing me does not take place in Ireland. If that's the case, I accept that.



"So I am wondering Frank, why you keep insisting that this organization should be cleansed of it's religious roots? "

You are obviously angry and have completely misinterpreted my intentions. I have never insisted anything of the kind. I would never use those words.

"The constitution being discussed here is not the US constitution, but Comhaltas' constitution, which I quoted extensively from in my post above."

I have not confused the two constitutions.

"You say: "We do have organizations that are non-profit with a particular leaning but they do not represent our county as governmental or necessarilly American cultural bodies."

Yes, I do say that. I am talking strictly about what goes on in the US, not in Ireland. I'm sorry that this point is not clear to you.

"Again, I think you are misunderstanding what we are discussing. Comhaltas is not an American organization, it is an Irish organization with branches here. It is headquartered in Dublin. Comhaltas doesn't "represent" the United States in any way, shape or form."

I am fully aware of this since I have visited it in Dublin. I never suggested in any way, shape or form that it did represent the US.


"It is no different than many other immigrant community organizations that exist in the US, with ties to the immigrant community's home country."

This may or may not be true. I believe that each immigrant community is unique.



"Why on earth would a member of any religious faith NOT be able to attend another religion's services with a clear conscience? What does that have to do with anything? That is just such a bizarre suggestion."

Actually, there was no suggestion intended but questions asked. And there is a feeling that if you were not Catholic and attended a Catholic Mass, there would be an area of discomfort about it. That's what I meant.

"You then state: "A religious ethos promulgated in an organization doesn't make me feel wholly comfortable with it."
Well Frank, with respect, it looks to me like you just plain don't like religion, and aren't interested in participating in organizations with a religious ethos."

Well, with respect, it may look like that to you but this isn't true.
If Comhaltas were a religious organization, I would have no trouble with it's religious ethos. But you can't have it both ways.
Either Comhaltas is a religious organization or it's not.

" That is fine and dandy, and you are fully within your rights and reason to be and think that way. But it does NOT give you a right to dictate to others that they adopt your way of thinking and being on religion, and organizations with a religious ethos."

I do not do this. This is your idea exclusively. If anything you are attempting to define the Comhaltas as a religious organization.
And the idea that I am dictating to anyone to adopt my line of thinking is spurious and specious. I am asking questions here for the sake of a legitimate discussion and am not interested in engaging in a religious diatribe.

"Don't like Comhaltas' Catholic ethos? Then you don't have to have a thing to do with it. That is your choice.

I never said anything of the kind. This is your interpretation of what I said.

But to suggest that Comhaltas should cleanse itself of it's Irish cultural ethos, which does include the Catholic faith, is pretty bigoted, in my opinion. "

That's because you have completely distorted my views to your liking. I'm not sure what kind of argument you are intent on winning but you have missed the point of the entire discussion in my view. I never have and never would ask Comhaltas to cleanse itself of it's Irish cultural ethos. You say that the Irish cultural ethos is only and exclusively Catholic. Now that smacks of bigotry in my opinion.

Frank

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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 07:08 PM

It's a religious communal celebration. That's even the word that's used, for that matter. The celebration of the Mass.

There was a time not so long ago when the Catholioc Church used to impose a rule about not attending religious services of other religions, but thank God that's over and done with. If there are other religions still with those kind of rules, it's a sad thing, but that's how it goes, and I hope it won't last for ever.

I think it's the most naturaL thing in the world for religious services to form part of folk festivals. Whether they are interdenominational affairs, or a particular church (or meeting house, or synagogue or whatever) is playing host to whoever wants to come seems to me a matter for the people taking part to decide.

When I've been to the Fleadh Ceoil I've been to the Mass, and it's been worth going to for anyone, in my opinion. And I'd like it fine if they had religious celebrations in the other denominations as part of the Fleadh as well.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: The Pooka
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 07:08 PM

Such a battle of the mutually-exclusive traditions. / Um irrespective of what He would drive -- is it permissible to wonder, What would Jesus say here? (No, I don't claim have a clue. Just askin'.)

Joe O., have yer open bar at the wake beforehand. Finnegan. :)
(Woops. Catholic ethos. Sorry.)


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: Roughyed
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 08:30 PM

Jesus? He'd be down the local synagogue.....


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 08:42 PM

Or perhaps the mosque.

But who is being exclusive here?


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 09:12 PM

I just dug out the official programme of the Fleadh Cheoil in Clonmel in 1994. As I thought, the service times for the Church of Ireland are printed on the same page as the Mass times. And some of the events took place on the premises of that same church.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Promoter
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 10:14 PM

Wouldn't holding services for other denominations be multi-denominational? How is this possible in a NON-denominational organisation? It would open in even larger can of worms. Would the people who are pressing for the inclusion of a mass be comfortable providing space for a witches'coven, a Hindu temple, a Shinto shrine, a Pagan alter, etc, etc. (the list is long) for those of its members who may be of such persuations? I think it was a very wise move being non-denominational. It should be strictly observed. I repeat, an organisation that states in its constitution that it is non-denominational should (actually "must", for it has no other choice) act accordingly.
How can a non-denominational organisation justify holding a mass?

This is not an anti-religeous stance. I have never attacked the church, anyone's beliefs or anyone's right to worship. There's ample provision in the world for people to follow their faiths... Christian or otherwise. It clearly isn't Comhaltas' business to be involved in it or to act demoninationally. Providing a mass is clearly favouring one demonination of one belief over all others. This is simply against its rules... the rules it constituted for itself. This is the simplicity of the situation. It isn't about the rights and wrongs of religions or about power struggles. I don't like to be misrepresented and then have my argument rubbished on the basis of that misrepresentation.

Taking money from organisations that are not allowed to provide funds to organisations involved in promoting religion, or engaging in religious activities, and then organising a mass is very definitely wrong. It is, in fact, fraudulent (and hypocritical as has been pointed out previously in this discussion). I am prepared to give to give them the benefit of the doubt, however, and view them as well intentioned but, simply, misguided... but who is going to tell the priest that he is being involved in such practices?


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,mrs doubting thomas
Date: 26 Jan 03 - 07:17 AM

Can I assure No doubt as the wife of doubting thomas, that this is not an american attempt to subvert the organisation. You americans, if it isn't happening to you or in your country its just not happening is it.
He is merely testing the waters looking for advice and thoughts on what has become something of a thorny issue locally. Some contibutors have sensibly suggested taking the path of least resistance, making sure that the mass is seen to be organised as a service to the predominatley catholic membership and making sure that facilities are available to others who wish to make thier own arrangements for religious observance. I think that is probably what is going to happen.
Of course if he had just discussed it with me in the first place we could have been saved the conspiracy theories and general hoo ha.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 26 Jan 03 - 08:40 AM

I was in a branch of Comhaltas that indulged in pagan practices, going to celebrate winter solstice at a stone circle, sunrise on a Sunday morning no less.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Johnny
Date: 26 Jan 03 - 02:47 PM

As I read through this thread, I see a couple of people who apparently want to see the Catholic Mass, which often is offered as part of weekend trad music activities in the US offered through Comhaltas banned, in the name of religious tolerance. Do I have that right? That the argument being put forth is that there should be no religious services ever offered in conjunction with any Comhaltas events?

I find that to be pretty stupid. Comhaltas isn't the only Irish music organization that does this. Milwaukee Irish Fest and just about every other Irish music festival in the US offers a voluntary Mass as part of their weekend festival activities (of which there are many to choose).

As No Doubt correctly points out, Comhaltas is an Irish organization with branches around the world. For 50 years, many Comhaltas branches with predominantly Catholic membership, have held a Mass with the weekend festivals, again they are strictly for those who wish to attend. Attending the Mass is not compulsory. In fact, if you don't attend the Mass, you'd never even know that it exists as part of most branch festivals. Membership in the organization is open to anyone who supports the aims and mission of the organization, which is non-denominational.

As No Doubt has pointed out, this is an Irish arts and cultural organization, based in the Republic of Ireland. The religious make up of the Republic is 95% Catholic, of the North, nearly 50% Catholic. I think it can safely be said that in Ireland, Comhaltas isn't excluding anyone by offering voluntary services for Catholics and Protestants.

If people don't like the Catholic dimension of Comhaltas, they have two options: either don't attend the Mass (which is what many I know who attend Comhaltas events do) or get your Irish traditional music elsewhere (which is what the majority of musicians I know who are interested in the music do).

Comhaltas has already changed a lot over the years, as the popularity of the music has grown. Many here have made the very reasonable suggestion that information on Protestant services be included. As many have pointed out, they already are. In some branches, there is no religious service on Sunday mornings, and the events are just language, music & culture related. It looks to me like the only religious intolerance here is on the part of the folks who want to ban the Catholic Mass, not the other way round.

I agree Mrs. Doubting Thomas, your husband started a stupid argument that didn't need to be vetted publicly.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: Hrothgar
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 06:19 AM

This could be thread creep, but Joe Offer has made the point that the Irish had to celebrate Mass in Latin, probably up until the time of the Vatican Council that is usually referred to as Vatican II.

However, if I remember my history (or a version of it!) correctly, one of the reasons the Norman English received Papal permission to invade Ireland was that Rome wanted the independent-minded irish church pulled back into line.

One of the manifestations of Irish church indepoendence could have been celebration of the Mass in the Gaelic/Celtic/Irish language - but I'm on fairly shaky ground here. Does anybody else have any theories?


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Promoter
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 10:01 PM

In answer to the charge that this is an attempt to ban religious services from Comhaltas activites let me repeat again, to the point of almost exhaustion, that Comhaltas itself, in its constitution, the one it constituted for itself, not one that was forced upon it, precludes them from being denominational. You are not "banning" something. No one is trying to ban Comhaltas or Comhaltas members from doing anything that is correct and proper under its constitution and no one is trying to ban or is being intolerent of the observance of the Catholic Mass.

There is no religeous intolerance implied at all. This seems to be the biggest stumbling block. Consider it this way, there is a difference between "we" as Catholics and "we" as members of Comhaltas. "We" as members of Comhaltas can't, under our own rules, act denominationally. No one here is suggesting that a Mass can't be obsevered by members of Comhaltas but, to be above board, it can't be organised or promoted under the auspices of Comhaltas. Comhaltas is constituted as a secular organisation to allow it to raise funds appropriately and to be relevant to anyone at all in agreement with its (secular) aims.

The real solution is that those members wishing to organise a Mass do so as private individuals and not in the name of Comhaltas.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 07:50 AM

All fine and well Promoter. Except Comhaltas has been sponsoring mass with weekend festivals for 50 years, as have all the major Irish traditional music festivals. Are you going after Willie Week and Milwaukee Irish Fest too?

Your solution, whether you want to call it banning or not, is to do away with the mass. Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...yet you claim it isn't a duck.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 08:56 AM

I'd call it a turkey.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Promoter
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 09:22 AM

My solution (that a Mass could be organised independently) is that Comhaltas practises what it preaches... as simple as that! That way, it can't get into hot water over it. That way, I, and others, won't be asked to act unconstitutionally when promoting Comhaltas events and raising funds through various bodies such as "education in arts", "the arts council", the "national lottery", "local government agencies" etc, etc, etc (remember, the contitution is the basis for its existence under law). That way, its funding will be legally obtained and not placed in jeopardy. That way, it can't be challenged in a court of law and face the danger of being "brought into disrepute" (cluse 5 of the contitution is relevent here)

In answer to those who say join an organisation that promotes traditional Irish culture that doesn't promote a Catholic dimension... well, isn't that what Comhaltas proposes to be in the first place? The answer is its statement that it is non-denominational. As I stated above, there is a distinction between "we" as Catholics and "we" as members of Comhaltas. "We" as members of Comhaltas are duty bound to act non demoninationally (not multi-denominationally) when engaged in Comhaltas business.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Promoter
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 09:34 AM

Ooops, silly me! Please excuse the unintentional, spelling mistake in the last sentence of the above contribution. Ironic, though it is. :-)


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 11:02 AM

After decades of offering voluntary mass to people who attend Irish traditional music festivals, Comhaltas sponsored or not, I don't think most of us cares, Promoter.

If you feel that you can't in good conscience organize and or fundraise for Comhaltas because they continue, after 50 years of doing so, to offer the mass, then it is your decision what to do. The tyrannical majority of the organization doesn't share your point of view, it seems. They aren't concerned, as you seem to be, that they are doing anything illegal or immoral or violating the Comhaltas constitution. You seem to be something of a zealot on this issue. Bit of an anti-Catholic crusader. And a bloody tiresome one at that.

Just what do you expect from people here in this thread? Agreement? Action? A crusade against Comhaltas Catholics? People have given their opinions so just what is it you want?


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 11:10 AM

Having a Mass at a Fleadh isn't "promoting" the Catholic Church, it's promoting the Fleadh.

And if any other denomination were to offer to put on a special service to go with the festival, and invited musicians and dancers to come along and take part, I bet the organisers would be delighted, and there'd be no shortage of volunteers either.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 04:48 PM

Due out next month from Four Courts Press, the following book which Doubting Thomas and Promoter might want to give a look-see:

Catholic churchmen and the Celtic revival, 1848-1916

KEVIN COLLINS



This book is an investigation into the contribution made to the Celtic Revival in Ireland in nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by the Roman Catholic Church. It aims to identify the major clerical figures involved; to examine what they contributed to revivalism; and to examine their reasons for the propagation of the Gaelic language and its culture.

It will be suggested that Celtic revivalism, so-called, was not an entirely new ideology, but rather a re-emergence of an older ethnic nationalism, based on language and faith, already discernable, significantly enough, in the writings of seventeenth century clerical figures. It is argued that the legacy of these clerics permeated the worldview of nineteenth century clergymen, who, in consequence, kept alive this older ethnic nationalism.

The attitude of the nineteenth century Roman Catholic Church to Gaelic Culture is examined. The Clerics played the leading role in founding language organizations: The Gaelic Society; The Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language (SPIL), The Gaelic Union and The Gaelic League. They were also prominent in the success of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The Clerics shaped the ideology of the revivalist movement through the creation of two new literatures: one in the Irish language but also one in English which, for practical purposes, was the language through which they could most easily reach the populace with their revivalist message.

Kevin Collins completed his MPhil at Leeds University. He is the author of The cultural conquest of Ireland (1990, Mercier Press).

208pp February 2003


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 04:57 PM

I would state my case, to the membership, that the constitution cites a non-denomination position. I would propose that any denominational "leaning," (in this case a RC mass), is inappropriate. Further, if the membership persists, and won't remove the RC persuasion, I would make it a point to change the leadership. Then, if they won't change, I would start a non-denominational group. I suspect that you'll get quite a crowd in the new organization.

PS: I face a very similiar situation in the SE USA, only here it is
    fundamentalist protestantism!!!


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 06:56 PM

McGrath, I guess you would have to be catholic to think that the inclusion of a mass at a fleadh is somehow promoting the fleadh. But maybe I'm missing the point. IF you can turn it into any kind of sense, fine.

Like Ard Mhacha I am a member of a branch in Northern Ireland, and I've never once heard religion mentioned. Guest ND says "I understand the conflict in many Irish minds over this," but I suspect the conflict is less in Irish than in US minds.

What's your problem, McGrath, with what Ard Mhacha described as the norm in his branch? Why can't you be content for people to make their own arrangements for any worship they want to do - by all means making use of multi-denominational information such as that you found in the Clonmel programme? The fact that the info was there works against your own case, I would have thought. Why should CCE be endorsing any one religion over any others? Why fear losing that tiny bit of patronage?

ND questions why DT has only now raised the matter. He seems to have a sensible reason, but for my own part I would argue that attitudes to catholicism have changed dramatically in very recent years, not least in that famously Irish city, Boston. But so too in Dublin and Belfast. Presumably even popes will henceforth balk at calling St Peter's Chair "that sacred repository of all truth." Obviously the child-abuse and financial-abuse scandals have been a big factor but so too have been spectacularly ill-judged initiatives such as the 1998 beatification of Alojzije Stepinac (who farcically had to be deemed a martyr to get round the need for a miraculous intercession).

And incidentally I would not go along with Jewish, secular or any other organisations patronising any particular creeds. I would welcome a world in which people increasingly believe or don't believe not because of family ties or peer pressure but because they have made up their own minds. CCE in my view is behind the times in this respect as in many others - as witness Treoir, which resembles a throw-back to the 1950s!


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 07:11 PM

Fionn, your post reads as if the North is the norm for Comhaltas branches--it isn't. Again, Comhaltas was founded in and remains headquartered in Dublin. A country which remains 95% Catholic.

Well behind the times though Comhaltas and many other conservative Irish arts, language, and cultural organizations are, they do have the right to remain so, as long as their membership wishes.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 07:24 PM

If a local church/meeting house/synagogue/temple/mosque etc welcomes musicians and dancers along to take part in a religious service as part of a festival it's helping promte the festival.

That seems commonsense to me. And I wouldn't need to be a Christian/Jew?Hindu/Sikh/Buddhist or Muslim to see it that way.

Notting Hill Carnival typically has this kind of thing happening in all kinds of religious settings. Including very definitely the Catholic St Mary of the Angels, with a very popular Mas Mass. And not just popular among Catholics.

That's what festivals are supposed to be about, everybody joining in and contributing what they have to give.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 07:25 PM

If a local church/meeting house/synagogue/temple/mosque etc welcomes musicians and dancers along to take part in a religious service as part of a festival it's helping promte the festival.

That seems commonsense to me. And I wouldn't need to be a Christian/Jew/Hindu/Sikh/Buddhist or Muslim to see it that way.

Notting Hill Carnival typically has this kind of thing happening in all kinds of religious settings. Including very definitely the Catholic St Mary of the Angels, with a very popular Mas Mass. And not just popular among Catholics.

That's what festivals are supposed to be about, everybody joining in and contributing what they have to give.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: ard mhacha
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 01:43 PM

Fionn, Thanks for the support, I am amazed that this silly thread has gone on so long, I will say it again, RELIGION IS NEVER MENTIONED, PLAY THE MUSIC AND ENJOY. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: Felipa
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 01:54 PM

Seminar in Derry, N Ireland 22 Feb 2003
"Swinging Shoulders, Dancing Feet - music traditions among protestant people in Ireland"
organised by Fintan Vallely, Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages, Magee College, University of Ulster.
for details of this and other events see:
www.arts.ulst.ac.uk/academy/events.htm


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Doubting Thomas
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 04:06 PM

As the instigator of this thread can I once again thank everyone who's been on. I'm conscious that I've not been on myself for a couple of days but I've been busy doing work for this organisation that ND seems convinced I'm out to destroy. By the way, No (is it alright if I use your first name? I feel so close to you now), I haven't forgotten you but having a job, a family and stuff to do to get this thing organised I'm afraid you've slipped down my list a little. Sorry, mate.

Thanks to Frank Hamilton, Ard Mhacha, Fionn and others for talking sense and being so open-minded. Most of the people who have posted have made valid points, including No, and you've all helped me focus my own thinking. And thanks, Guest, for the heads-up on the Kevin Collins book. I certainly will check it out.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 05:43 PM

Thanks Felipa, I'm going to try to get to that, if I make it over for the Portaferry gathering.

Most recent guest, yes, I take your point about north and south - though if that figure of 95 per cent still holds good, I'm frankly amazed. Even if it does, it should not affect the issue. Turkey is 98 per cent Muslim and since a few months ago is even governed by a Muslim party, but there has so far been no attempt to change the country's constitutional status as a secular state.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jan 03 - 11:54 PM

About the dumbest aspect of this thread (other than it's orginator singling out the people who agree with him, and congratulating them on their "open mindedness") is the association people keep making between church/state and church/Irish music association, as if they are somehow equivalent.

But then, it's the internet, after all.


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 30 Jan 03 - 03:22 PM

The people at Comhaltas have been wonderful. They've been supportive, understanding and careful not to impose any ideas religious, political or otherwise on anyone else. They are the Membership of Irish Musicians and are encouraging, and delightful. I met Micheal Flatley at a Comhaltas meeting and found him to be articulate, accessible and a nice person. I've played with the Boston Branch, the St. Louis Branch and met folks in Monkstown, Belgrave Square in Dublin. The Comhaltas is doing important work by collecting folk material from Northern Ireland as well. My only concern is that this wonderful organization continues to grow and doesn't alienate people because of a few who have a religious axe to grind. I share this concern with many others who want to see Comhaltas internationally successful.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Irish Music and Religion
From: Felipa
Date: 17 Feb 03 - 05:15 PM

Seminar in BELFAST N Ireland 22 Feb 2003
"Swinging Shoulders, Dancing Feet - music traditions among protestant people in Ireland"
organised by Fintan Vallely, Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages, University of Ulster. VENUE CHANGED to College of Art, University of Ulster, York Street, Belfast
for details of this and other events see:
www.arts.ulst.ac.uk/academy/events.htm


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