Religious Hypocrisy at Christmas

Facebook offers its users some incredibly useful tools for social media interactions. One which is indispensable to me is the facility that enables me to list groups of friends under a single tab so that I can target my updates to particular circles of friends. Trust me; this is a kindness to all of my Facebook friends. It means that family aren’t bombarded with the craic I have with close friends – saving them and me from embarrassment, and that sort of thing. There is a tab in this section of my profile that I have labelled Holy People, and it is one of the most interesting news feeds that I have.

Holy People is populated with people of strong religious opinions, but not all of my religious friends are listed under this tab. I am religious. I move in religious circles, and many other circles, so this is by no means a comment on people of religious faith. My Holy People tab is not so named because I imagine those listed therein are holy. It is – perhaps a little unkindly – entirely ironical. This is the God Squad, the Holy Joes, and they are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, a few others, and two Atheists.

Many of these people are what we might consider career religionists; priests, ministers, rabbis, and the like. To their great credit (because I know a few) no nuns have made it to this list. As you might suspect this news feed heats up before Easter and Christmas, and right now it’s coming up on Christmas. So I have been keeping a close eye on this list. Oh God, I am that sort of person.

A man sleeping rough dies on the streets of Dublin. Not a mention. The ERSI reports that the recession in Ireland has hit the poorest the hardest and enriched the wealthy. Not a single post. One hundred thousand people march on the Dáil to demand the cancellation of the water charges. Not a word. Figures for homelessness in the city of Dublin announced. Nope. What about the record number of people queueing at the Capuchin’s for food parcels? No. So what are they talking about then? A random sampling reads as follows: Four shares of St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford reopening after a €30 million refurbishment; twenty-eight cute cat pictures with accompanying captions (in a single day); a complaint on how ‘Thailand was soooo [sic] disappointing;’ and too many to count self-congratulations on well executed Readings and Carol Services.


The closest the feed came to a social comment over a full week was a video about the meaning of Christmas. Yes, Christmas starts with the baby Jesus. This video has a rather comfortable couple with their baby in a lovely, warm and seasonally decorated home that is slowly transformed into the nativity scene of Bethlehem – because Mary, Joseph and Jesus were middle class? I think that what I am trying to say here is that there is something of a certain type of religiousness that frustrates me.

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