As someone who is spending much of this next year trying to learn about all-things Ireland, I found Irish Times columnist John Waters’ new book, Was It For This? Why Ireland Lost the Plot, a fascinating read.

While he deals with Ireland over the past 100+ years, the focus is really on the Celtic Tiger years.

A few brief thoughts:

Clearly it was just one person’s take on how things got here…but extremely well-reasoned.

It was a bit meandering throughout, and at times it felt as though everything could be a bit more cohesive, yet I didn’t find that taking away from what he had to say. In fact I found it to be a pretty helpful history lesson.

Highlights for me were his take on: cynicism, on a lack of democratic discourse (if you speak the party line you’re commended for your wisdom & boldness…disagree and get ready to be unloaded upon), and who’s to blame for the current mess.

Rather that trumpet the “it was the bankers and the politicians who wrecked everything,” he talks at the dramatic shift in mindset that occurred in him, and most people who helped bring this about…it wasn’t just their fault…but we all bear some responsibility.

One of the themes he hits on that resonated with me, was how Ireland, and really the West in general, have worked to free themselves from God, and instead to end up ruled by “the (financial) markets.” And because of that we have to buy, and borrow, in ever-increasing amounts to create new kinds of hope in order to replace what we’ve lost.

And then he says this,”But it takes a hell of a lot of borrowing to replace God, which is fundamentally, so to speak, why our nations are now all virtually bankrupt.

Two more brief quotes:

In a capitalist system, misunderstandings of happiness are both inevitable and essential. When people seek happiness by buying things, it is probably that they don’t understand, or have forgotten, how life really works. Capitalism, indeed, depends on such misunderstandings.

And finally…

 This is one of the things our post-Christian culture does not elect to tell us about the consequences of present drifts. The increasing despair of our society is connected to this phenomenon. We have lost our sense of a Loving Father, and so wander blindly about a desert of sensation and adventuring which only teases our desires with the absence of what they crave. When it goes wrong, the advocates of this approach simply tell us that we have been doing things wrongly, too quickly, too greedily – never that the entire enterprise might be misguided.

If you’re wanting to get a handle on the current state of Ireland, & how things got here…it’s worth a read.

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