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Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

The shocking intolerance of alleged radicals to religious belief is the path to the KZ Camps, the Gulag and Pol Pot's Year Zero

“Religion has been the cause of more wars ...” is a refrain that you will hear in most countries in Western Europe and in general historical terms it is probably true. However, in the 20th Century, the regimes that prosecuted by the far the worst, indeed inhuman and bestial, atrocities were atheist regimes.

The ideology of the Nazi governments in Greater Germany and Central Europe not only despised Jews but also the Roma and the "weedling" message of Christianity. They sought to build a new Reich on the basis of a mythical Germanic Blood and Honour narrative. The Stalinist Russian regime, meanwhile, that ran the show trials, gulags and concentration camps, in “Soviet” Russia was of course based on an anti religious philosophy that in Stalin’s time saw many religious leaders executed and the building of new churches banned. More recently the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea killed and starved millions of people (many of them buried alive) in the name of an atheist state that was to be purged of religious and bourgeois elements and history begun again from Year Zero. The Chinese government now accepts that Mao’s atheist cultural purges were a similar “mistake”.

What is it about religious and spiritual beliefs that drives those who describe themselves as atheists beyond paroxysms of outrage (as witnessed in yesterday’s election of a new Pope) to a state where they can dehumanise a fellow human being in the name of a materialist “system”? Is it possibly some human emotion that they recognise in themselves and want to deny at all costs? Very possibly. Modern literature from the deranged "Man As God" Captain Ahab in Melville’s magnificent The Whale (Moby Dick), to Dostoevsky’s Demons (or The Devils/Possessed) through to Kafka’s The Castle and Metamorphosis warn of the dangers of a rising unbelief in human empathy - that we are mere animals bereft of a soul; beetles to be crushed.

To be clear, this blog is not a defence of the Catholic hierarchy in Rome. I would rather see the whole Church edifice collapse to utter destruction than see a single hair on a child’s head be harmed by an abusing priest (who thereby desecrates the purest image of God), but that does not take away the very clear need on the part of human beings to express spiritual, religious and transcendent beliefs.

If those who claim to be communists and socialists do not respect the sanctity of a person’s faith and conscience they are denying an ancient human instinct that is the basis of all culture- both “pagan” and modern.

For me, being raised as an Irish Catholic in Manchester was a wonderful and beautiful thing - one of the few safe anchorages carrying a bright light in a sometimes dark childhood – yet there are “socialists” and “avant garde” thinkers who feel that this faith and the sacraments I cherish can be openly held to discriminatory ridicule and contempt because they “know better” – the thin end of the dehumanising wedge.

My grandfather Thomas Larkin was a lifelong communist in the days when it was not easy to carry such beliefs. He was married to my Nana Sarah Larkin (nee Laverty) who was a daily communicant – she went to mass every morning at 7 o’clock.

They both loved each other dearly and had a profoundly joyful relationship. His wise words to me were:

You show me a good Catholic – I’ll show you a good Commie.

Tommy and Sarah - behold the smiling face of the human spirit

Paul Larkin
Carrick, Gaoth Dobhair

Beannachtaí na Féile Padraig 2013
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
(what would we do without a few saints in our lives?)
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Title: The shocking intolerance of alleged radicals to religious belief is the path to the KZ Camps, the Gulag and Pol Pot's Year Zero
Date posted: 15 Mar '13 - 14:03
Filed under: General
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