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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
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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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