That's the magic of Liveline


Slack-jawed and gob-smacked. If you want to learn about Irish society, don't read the Irish Times–just listen to Liveline.

As you aware, Joe Duffy's radio guests, drawn from the plain people of Ireland, are legendary for their denseness. The Gift Grub parody about a woman who 'lost the end of her Sellotape' goes to the heart of the banality and sensationalism of the show in its current format (bring back Marion!).

However, I am currently listening to likely the most ridiculous conversation ever to be broadcast on RTE's Liveline, and that's setting a pretty high bar. The sole topic today was party magic.

Fr.Terrence O'Connell, a Limerick parish priest is denouncing a couple of child magicians for 'demonstrating power over' the world that doesn't come from 'Our Lord.' This insult to our intelligence would be less jarring if we were in (a) the Dark Ages or (b) the Southern United States. This is 2008 Ireland, does that mean anything?

Defending his bizarre literalist view, Fr.Terry identifies with Jesus and mentions repeatedly 'Jesus was crucified' for being different.

Another priest Fr.Damien Ryan thankfully pointed out the well-known fact of Don Bosco's ministry where he used magic to keep the attention of children while evangelising. He is now the patron saint of magicians. Fr.Terry told him he should 'question his priesthood.'

Keith Barry's dad also gave him a good trouncing. But Fr.Terry told him he wouldn't give communion to a practising magician, and strongly warned parents against booking magicians for children's birthday parties.

I don't know whether I should be thankful that the church's divorce from reality is demonstrated here so clearly, or frightened that so many callers agreed with him.

For example, one simpleton called up complaining about 'á la carte Catholics' who don't follow 'every rule in the Bible.' Even Joe himself was forced to bring up those brutal Old Testament laws regarding chopping off arms etc. These did not feature in the caller's reality so he ignored the comment.

An older man, identifying himself as a Pentecostal, commended Fr.Terry and wanted to 'pat him on the back for standing up for the word of god.'

Another woman 'agreed wholeheartedly' with the priest, saying that magicians are bringing in 'black magic' and 'false spirits,' and that 'they just are wrong.'

I should have thought that moronic, ill-formed, and ludicrous ideas such as this would need no rebuttal–once again, I am proved totally wrong.

I'm going straight over to cheapticketsforSweden dot com? (i.e. up to 85% atheist)

..:: UPDATE ::..

Here is the podcast.