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Thursday, 5 March 2015


These are trying times for organisations and leaders in so many walks of life.  The Internet has opened up many channels of communication and accelerated the speed with which a hint, a rumour, a newsflash or a lie can be transmitted around the world in seconds.  Reputations can be enhanced or destroyed by a few words shared, repeated and retweeted.  These are exciting and dangerous technological times too, exciting because innovation is fascinating and dangerous because, as with most inventions, evil intent eventually rears its ugly head.

Celebrities, politicians, corporate executives, religious leaders, creative artists, teachers, clinicians, enthusiasts, fanatics et al use the world wide web to promote themselves and their causes and, in turn, must brace themselves for criticism,  advice, support, sarcasm and threats.  Harry Truman’s famous phrase: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” can now be rejigged for this cyber age: “If you want a quiet life and a clear head, stay out of the bubbling social media cauldron.”

But, it is religion that I turn to because it has and continues to hog the headlines for proven and suspected associations with sexual abuse, terrorism, sexism and a whole lot of other negative and damning baggage.  There is much to resolve.

I am, however, thinking about ordinary members of religious faiths and groups, the ones who believe with absolute certainty that they are following the right paths and that their God or focus is there for them to revere and refer to in times of need and gratitude.

Specifically, I am narrowing this down and I am thinking of my mother who passed away in recent years.  Her faith was always important to her as a link, a lifebelt , especially in her fading, dying days.
What the headliners seem to forget is the extraordinary amount of people who live below the media hype – no matter how justified and concerning it might be.

For my mother, and many, many others, the thought of touching the hand of Jesus when her time on Earth was up, was a relationship of joy and security until her last breath.

Her connection with St Teresa’s Catholic church on the Glen Road, Belfast, was a sanctuary to her through a life involving a deserting husband and seven young kids to raise.  She was devout.

Twitter and other social media cynics and critics revel in the destruction of religious establishments and cultures.

I would respect the devout, the faithful, especially, the individual that draws comfort in dying days from whatever they believe in.

The leaders, administrators, proven or yet to be proven criminals of religious orders are up for scrutiny. But do not neglect, forget or disrespect the ones who BELIEVE for all the right, good, positive reasons you can imagine.

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