The Meaning of Life.
I suggested casually last week that I would watch the TV show ‘The Meaning of Life’ presented by Gay Byrne and I did. The subject for interview was the English entertainer and acknowledged bright spark Stephen Fry. The show trundled towards its conclusion in an unexceptional way until Gay asked Mister Fry what he might say to God if they met when he died. It almost seemed as if Fry anticipated the question and went into overdrive with an attack on the injustices allowed by God in the world such as the suffering of (blameless) children.
He said, "I'll say, 'Bone cancer in children? What's that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that's not our fault’ and continued in a similar vein. Fry's response caused a stir among viewers.
Gaye Byrne appeared taken aback by Fry's response at first but in the following days relayed that a number of former guests had expressed atheist and controversial views in the past.
Of course the inequities seemingly allowed by God have been one of the constant moral misgivings in the history of the Christian religion. Some of the inequities have been incorporated in religious theology such as the pretty absurd idea of ‘Original Sin’. Of course the question of ‘Why the meek suffer and evil prospers?’ is the great conundrum of godly justice or injustice. Like so many proverbs there is the opposing proverb or statement which says ‘The meek shall inherit the earth’. I doubt that many of the meek would be inclined to believe that. Anyway ‘The Meaning of Life’ came to life on Sunday night.
The Holocaust Commemorated
The horrors of the Holocaust during World War Two has been commemorated over the past couple of weeks being the 50th Anniversary of the first concentration camps being liberated. One of the most compelling documentary films I watched covering those events was titled ‘Night Must Fall’. This was compiled from film taken by the army units who first liberated the concentration camps and were the first to encounter the full horrors of that Nazi programme. The completed film was not released until now because the content was thought to be too graphic for people to see. All this inhumanity by a supposedly civilized country. Of course history is laced with evidence of (civilised) man’s inhumanity to man. The Pogroms of Stalin, in the 30s’, are regarded on a scale to that of the Nazis, in Cambodia, Rwanda, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Balkans we have seen large-scale atrocities in recent decades , though The Hague has demurred on a crime of genocide in the Balkans in the last few days. The Northern Ireland Troubles gave us Bloody Sunday and the Omagh bombing amongst others while the Irish Civil War of the early twenties had a number of atrocities. The appalling killing of the Jordanian pilot in the Middle East shows that the tradition continues and the future gives little hope for optimism. The frightening theme in all this is the capacity of so many so called civilized societies to descend into the abyss.
The Oscars February 22nd
Boyle will be strongly represented at this year’s Oscars. On T.V.3 News this Wednesday evening Paul Young was filmed at a pre-Oscar party talking of meeting up with Clint Eastwood. Paul and Cartoon Saloon, based in Kilkenny, are nominated for an Oscar in the Animated film sector with their film ‘Song of the Sea’. The film has been getting very positive reviews. This is the second time that Cartoon Saloon has been nominated as they were also nominated in2010 for ‘The Secret of Kells’.(I remember an Oscar party in The Moylurg on that occasion).To be nominated so quickly again is a great achievement and maybe this time they might get the gong which would be awesome.
I have seen three films recently which have been nominated for best film and best actor and one best supporting actress Oscars. ‘The Imitation Game’ with Benedict Cumberbatch; ‘American Sniper’ and Bradley Cooper; ‘The Theory of Everything’ with Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. ( Another real contender, I am told, is the film ‘Birdman’ with Michael Keaton which I have not seen).
‘The Imitation Game’ is set in Bletchley Park where the English set about and succeeded in breaking the famous German Enigma Code during W.W. 2. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the part of the deciphering genius Alan Turing who is regarded as mainly responsible for achieving this. It also focusses on his troubled life and his early death. The whole Bletchley story is pretty engrossing. It is something that despite the numbers of people who worked there during the war that little was known of its activities for around fifty years. It says something for the English capacity to obey the rule of secrecy. It was from there that what can be regarded as the basis of the computer emerged.
‘American Sniper’ tells the true story of an American supreme sniper in Iraq. The film is controversial in terms of whether it glories in war or not. It is hugely successful at the box office so there is no such thing as bad publicity in those terms.
‘The Theory of Everything’ relates the story of the life of Stephen Hawking-author of ‘A Brief History of Time’- with his struggles and triumphs and the support of his wife. In terms of the Oscar I feel that Eddie Redmayne (who I had not heard of before) is the clear favourite with his co-star Felicity Jones a strong contender to make it a double. The role of Stephen has strong echoes of Christy Brown as portrayed in an Oscar-winning performance by Daniel Day Lewis in 1989.
It might seem as if I watch too much television. Perhaps I do. C’est la vie. We all have our weaknesses! Boyle people continue to pop up on the box. Nationwide on Monday focussed on Irish emigration to Canada. It sounded like a very positive option. When it came to Vancouver the programme honed in on the activity of the GAA and there commentating eloquently on its positive role was Tadhg Egan of Boyle.
Oliver Fallon will be involved in Sunday night’s programme on The Great War.
Roscommon got something of a reality check on Sunday last against Cavan. Because of results last year Roscommon supporters would have thought that their side would start with a narrow win. This division is going to be difficult and I do not see any team dominating it. The trip to Down on Saturday is a really tough one but one never knows.
Congratulations to the Roscommon U 21 team on their win in the Hastings Cup in which the county has a great record in recent years.
I’ve just heard of a D.C.U. 3.10 win over Sigerson favourites Jordanstown 1.10 and a two goal contribution by Enda Smith with Donie Smith and Tadhg Lowe. Sigerson is one of the great GAA competitions and I have great memories of its adventures when I was Secretary of U.C.G. GAA club in the early seventies. Though I do not meet many of the U.C.G team of the time we share those great times and have a lifetime association because of them. Maybe if D.C.U. get to the finals week-end in Cork (?) I might get there. Where is their next game?
Super Bowl Error
I managed to stay with last Sunday night’s Super Bowl which saw the victory of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots over the Seattle Sea Hawks. It was a game of swaying fortunes and the most dramatic moments came at the death. A great improvised catch seemed to move the result Seattle’s way but it was followed by a coaching error of juvenile proportions which gifted the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots. As a friend of mine used to quote ‘Shmart young fella required ... but... not too shmart’.