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An encounter with the Reverend Jesse Jackson provokes a spot of musing on matters spiritual...
Eamonn McCann, 13 Apr 2011
Thanking US civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson for having spent a fascinating day with us in Derry, I told a crowd in the Guildhall that, “This has been something of a spiritual experience”.
Next morning, smarty-pants callers to Radio Foyle chortled at the contradiction of an atheist speaking of spiritual experience. There is a common misconception here that needs addressed – that those who know there’s no god cannot access any spiritual realm.
I feel spiritual satisfaction surging when I listen to Martin Hayes playing the fiddle or Bessie Smith singing the blues or dance to the Happy Enchiladas or read Shelley’s poetry or the prose of Joe O’Connor, or gaze over the Sperrins as I cross the Glenshane or watch Lionel Messi slalom through a defence or call to mind the faces of my grandchildren, or, or...
It is another of my experiences that the average atheist has a richer spiritual life than the average believer.
Get in touch with your spiritual side. All you have to do is disbelieve.
When guitar legend Gary Moore died last month, nobody mentioned politics. And quite right. I’d never known the Belfast man to make a political statement.
Except, it now emerges, just a few months before his death when, during a tour of Russia, he announced that he wouldn’t play in Israel because of its “racist policies against the Palestinian people”.
I imagine he’d been influenced by the growing list of performers supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign in support of Palestinian rights – Elvis Costello, UB40, Carlos Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Roger Waters, The Pixies, Gorillaz, Klaxons etc. 210 Irish musicians, writers, artists and performers have likewise backed BDS.
Depressing, then, if not wholly unexpected, that Bob Geldof has agreed to accept an honorary doctorate from Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva.
In an open letter to Geldof, the Irish-Palestinian Solidarity Campaign points out: “You might consider that [late premier] David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, believed that Jews were ‘more intelligent and diligent’ than Arabs... and supported the compulsory transfer of indigenous Palestinians to clear space for an ethnic Jewish state... Ben-Gurion thereby set down the template for an Israeli state premised on racism and ethnic cleansing.”