Greetings from old Hibernia, a land where the saints are worse than the sinners and most of the sinners are too busy keeping up with their neighbors to have noticed. I just wanted to say hello and tell you a little about myself so that you would know what to expect in the future.
I’m Shane, but there are those who call me, ‘Daddy’. To a four-year-old girl (L.) and an eight-month-old boy (R.) I am a father, a bipedal jungle-gym and the man who can heal all wounds with Avenger themed band-aids. I’m married to an amazing American woman who ran away to Ireland with me and now has a stronger Irish accent than I do. Briefly, I would consider myself an agnostic atheist, a secular humanist and an intersectional feminist.
When I’m not attending tea-parties or arbitrating negotiations between Dinosaurs and My Little Ponies, I just about manage to scrape together enough free time to host The Science of Sarcasm. It’s a podcast about bad science in politics, culture and the media. For each show I interview activists, educators and scientists about their pet pseudo-scientific peeves and discover why everything we think we know about their field is probably wrong.
My posts on Grounded Parents will focus mainly on my attempts to help my children become adults who treat everyone equally and know how to think for themselves. These attempts will be taking place in a country that is just now learning to balance its new-found multiculturalism with its old-school Catholicism. To give you some idea of how lacking we are in the church/state separation department, consider the following. While the American constitution bars government bodies from any action pertaining to an establishment of religion, Ireland’s constitution opens with a prayer to the Holy Trinity. It also declares that:
“The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.”
That, my friends, was written over 140 years after America’s founding fathers drafted the 1st Amendment. Thanks in no small part to our government’s glacial pace in dragging Ireland’s political foundation into the 21st Century, a lot of this blog will be about our education system. The Irish education system rests on a belief-based framework, with parishes instead of school districts and Catholic priests heading 92% of school management boards. There are zero secular schools in my area, so I will have to do my damnedest to raise freethinking children in an environment where Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic join with the fourth R of Religion. I hope you find what I have to say either entertaining or enlightening and I look forward to meeting you all in the comments section.
P.s. There may also be cat pictures. (see below)
I just threw away the brochure for the “children’s awakening weekend” my kid got at the secular primary school here in Germany. We don’t do no dirty seperation of church and state either.
It makes me wonder if it would be better to have things be more like what I found when in MO with my wife. Sure, Jesus/church came up an average of 3 times per conversation (closer to 7 with the over-50’s) but at least public institutions were (theoretically) free of bias, or at least subject to reprimand if they weren’t.
Welcome! I can’t wait to read your stories! I guess the one good thing about living in such a religious place is that at least you have a lot of source material for inspiration.
Well I hope not to disappoint, you’re certainly right about there being no shortage of material.
I’m so delighted to see an Irish blogger! My parents are both Irish immigrants to Canada, and (as many diasporic Irish do) I find myself weirdly homesick for a place where I never lived.
I have gotten the sense that Ireland is becoming more tolerant these days – am I wrong? It may just me my sprawling family, but when two of my cousins became open about their homosexuality, none of our generation were surprised or uncomfortable (and we range from 20 to 45). My aunts and uncles took a little longer, but no one was hateful for even a moment. Is this unusual?
As for the education system, as a Canadian I’m completely freaked out by the religion that’s embedded in so many other systems. My brother has spent the past year in London, and they had no choice but to join their local Anglican church and attend weekly if they wanted to feel welcome in the attached “public” school. It’s so incredibly alien to me, and I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for atheists elsewhere.
I look forward to checking out your podcast!
Your experiences mirror my own to a large degree. The main problem I’ve found is that while many people in my parents generation have come to be more accepting they rarely stand and say so when presented with the opportunity. Here in Ireland this allows the institutionalised forms of discrimination a stay of execution while the law catches up with public opinion and perceptions.
“bipedal jungle-gym ” – can sooooo relate!