Archive for December, 2012

It’s a wonderful life

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

I began watching ‘It’s a wonderful life’ each Christmas a few years ago. It gets to me every time. This year, I cried seven times during it – maybe because of recent high profile suicides. It’s a magnificent celebration of the wonder of life, to be grasped even in the midst of trials and terrors. Although an unbeliever – and possibly even more so on that account – the carefully crafted frame of the story, begun from the perspective of imagined celestial beings that look on us from an alternative viewpoint, and the opening line that the hero isn’t ‘sick’ but, ‘worse than that – he’s discouraged’ sets the tone and vantage point of the psycho-spiritual purpose of the movie: our need for hope against discouragement.
The person on the brink of suicide might find it difficult to bring to mind the positive things they have done in life, and yet that is the tack taken by the ‘angel’ who, charmingly, wants to earn his wings. And so, at the hero’s moment of despair, he is led to people and places familiar to him and he realized that he has not been all bad. Far from it. Yes, he shouted at his kids and crashed his car and money went missing from his workplace during his watch and yes he faced jail and public shaming yet, after his journey with his ‘guardian angel’ he realizes that that is not the sum total of his life. He has done good. And life is to be embraced and rejoiced in, even in the midst of trial and tribulation.
Today, the Meath Hunt gathered in Kells, county Meath, Ireland. It lashed rain but it was a magnificent event: colourful, powerful, energetic, exciting. Riders on their steeds quaffed hot mulled wine while their hounds got friendly with the crowd. I petted two fine hounds and then, after the bugle blew, I and my daughter headed off following them, along with scores of other cars. Kells was a vortex of excitement and smiles, as tourists and locals and horsey people and blow-ins like me savoured the atmosphere. And I felt just like George Bailey, hero of It’s a Wonderful Life, appreciating the moment and thrill of it all.
Before any of us were born, the world spun on its axis and the world knew nought of our non-existence. After our short span is done, the earth will go on spinning without us. Right now, we are alive! Life is wonderful. Relish it, savour it, live each moment to the full.

Overwhelming feedback from my RTE documentary

Monday, December 17th, 2012

I’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback to my documentary From Belief to Unbelief. Here, in no particular order, is an arbitrary selection of just some of the feedback. Sorry if I haven’t included yours hear. I just wanted to give a flavour.

  • ‘Just listened to documentary.  I was knocked out by it.  I was shaken when it was over.  It was a powerful piece of work, no blame, no shame, just fact.’ – BF
  • ‘A five star rating. It is brilliant’ – EM
  • ‘I stumbled across your documentary on the RTE website. Your programme was very evocative, speaking of a time and a mental space that does not exist any more and looking back now can seem unreal. Yet it was a time that went a long way to shaping me (for good and bad) into what I am now.’ JG
  • ‘I thought it was excellent. Very insightful. Interesting people, each in their own way. Couldn’t be critical of the choices made by anyone!’ NC
  • ‘I was truly moved by your radio doc. Thank you. Taken back through time to people, places and even feelings almost forgotten. Actually not forgotten, just dormant! Great job!’ – DM
  • ‘Wonderful!’ – TL
  • ‘Excellent documentary’ – CC
  • ‘Brought back many rich memories. Missed out on how much being a Marist enriched my life’ OC
  • ‘a beautiful documentary, very honest – about yourselves and the Marists. Gentle without being ‘soft’’. ‘You should be very proud as it is exceptional work. Very thoughtful and non-threatening which I appreciate. Exceptional work I must say. Very moving.’ – AM
  • ‘It gave me goose-bumps.  It brought back so many memories – not of the priesthood obviously,  but the rest –  the atmosphere, the Salve Regina, the rules, timetables, the rituals, being told what to think – were all part of my boarding school  experience so it might as well have been a novitiate.’ MO
  • ‘I really liked it! I will forward it my friends, believers and unbelievers alike.’ – CD
  • ‘It’s wonderful, so interesting, so seamlessly constructed and love the special effects. Presume you know it’s one of RTE’s most listened to?’ PO