The cover of the new book
A new book by Donegal priest, Fr Neal Carlin, being launched today (Thursday) is a novel and yet a memoir which invites the reader to reflect on a changing Ireland, if not a changing world.
'The Eagle, the Tiger and Covid' – Imaging God recalling Ireland, by Carl Bradley and Neal Carlin tells a story of a 78-year-old retired journalist on a personal journey. Sean's search brings him to an Indian reservation in South Dakota, USA.
It is a journey that allows him time to relax and see new things. He gets to reflect on a life well led but with something more to happen.
His story begins as part of a small farming family in relative poverty in the forties and fifties located on the border area between his native Donegal and Derry City a few miles away.
His journey entails problems with alcohol, discrimination and a delayed or postponed education. He has reason to suspect his mature student status was indeed a good asset.
As a journalist he reported on the troubles in Northern Ireland. He seems to know more than the average journalist but is seldom forthcoming about his sources.
He simply lived through those times on a daily basis. Later he became a correspondent with The Times while travelling to the Middle East and Bosnia.
Now he has time to stand back and look at the causes of war and conflict both locally and globally. He looks at the poor and millions of innocent victims due to misuse of power; due to black and white thinking where pride and ego prevent compromise, win-win solutions in favour of zero-sum war and genocide.
He gets to think again about the human condition, about the greed and speed he witnessed at home when poor got poorer while rich got richer. He wondered why suicides increased as did addictions and homelessness during the prosperous Celtic Tiger era in Ireland.
His time out, like Covid time for all of us, surely could be a time to re-evaluate priorities. Is life all about growing in power, possessions and achievements and letting the ego fool us into believing we are in control?
Or do we learn from humble serving people, those who follow the vocation to serve the sick, the needy neighbour, the elderly and vulnerable.
We will only care for the environment and all creation when we respect the most vulnerable from womb to tomb. Sean gets to state this as he gets to meditate more and considers the small but alternative Christian society he meets in the USA and later back home in Ireland.
The backdrop to the entire book is his rediscovery of the model of basic christian community. This form of church more easily avoids the dangers inherent in a system that seems to constantly put its own image before the humble admission of grave abuse and suffering some of its clergy have caused people and other priests alike. The entire governance system of the small basic christian community allows for greater transparency.
At the Indian reservation in South Dakota, he witnessed the sharing of goods and services he had read about in the Acts of the Apostles. He experienced the freedom of the children of God in the way people worshipped and cared for young and old, sick, and healthy.
He knew from his country’s history the facts about the Golden Age of Ireland (5th to 12th century) and the model of church it promoted which entailed a monastic rule but with powerful social gospel and evangelical dimensions.
Sean discovered a community like the above at home where he and his family began to pray and enjoy helping youth in particular find faith and life.
Copies of book available at Iosas Centre, Derryvane, Muff, County Donegal. Tel:(074) 9384866. Price €10/£10 plus postage and packaging)
All profits from this book sold before Christmas will go to the aid of Children in Yemen.
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