Down With Paganism, Down With Jazz!

I was listening to the wireless during the week when with awe I stumbled upon a documentary about an anti-Jazz campaign that began in my family’s home town of Mohill, Co. Leitrim. The transcripts are bizarre- a march down mighty Mohill’s Main St on the first day of 1934 with fine upstanding citizens chanting, “Down with Paganism! Down with Jazz!”, meetings of Dublin city council that discuss whether or not Dubliners were dancing in the fashion of negroes and a speech by the chief instigator himself, Fr. Conefrey, telling the people about how jazz was invented by wealthy Bolsheviks set on the destruction of the Catholic Church.

I only started recording the programme after about 5 minutes, so I thought you’d miss out on the classic bag-pipe frenzied march. But it has been made available by RTE for download here. This programme for me is a great example of the classic weakness of Irish Christianity- the tendency to slip into shocking moralism:

Fr. Ted and Dougal hate the Da Vinci Code too

It isn’t hard to understand the decline of the Irish Catholic church when it sits atop a heritage of replacing the shattering radicalism of Jesus’ message with something to do with “good wholesome Irish dancing… in place of terrible abusive jazz”. When I listened to this documentary I was torn horribly between laughing my ass off at the speeches and crying at the sheer waste of life by the characters involved. These men and women really did embrace the “Jesus Played The GAA” religion which held as its primary doctrine that civilisation reached its peak in a jig and a reel at the crossroads and that the height of immorality was an absence of rabid xenophobia.

All of this seems a little too close to comfort considering the furore about the Da Vinci Code which we’re enduring. Crazy priests looking to increase their profile or boost their moral-balance in the heavenly ledger books are calling for boycotts or threatening lawsuits(!) against Brown. There is nothing to dampen the misconception that Brown’s book fosters about the Catholic church like attempts by the church to stifle, supress and attack anything against it.

I have written about the Da Vinci Code alot on Zoomtard because I had to deliver talks in colleges about it a year or 18 months ago. But the phenomenon has surely reached such saturation point that no one holds out hope that the story of Jesus is as bland as Brown makes it out to be. Everyone by now sees it as a work of fiction. All these Jesus histories trade, in a way, on the failure of the churches to do anything but communicate Christianity by osmosis. We teach it so badly and live it even worse that people pick up caricatures of what Jesus must have been like. When the authentic messengers caricature him, it is only logical that people will have difficulty discerning between it and other, more apparently exciting caricatures. The church I am a part of do intend to hold an open forum in Maynooth some time in June on the book and I will be interested to see the people who turn up. Will it be the Christians seeking reassurance from on high that what they have believed in has substance or will it be cynics waiting to bait the clerics with their twisty questions or will it just be a few homeless guys who are looking forward to a slice of cake? Who knows? Probably Mary Magdalene.

I am preaching at that said church on next Sunday, May 21st. So if any of you have great ideas for heresy that I can drop into the sermon then I’d really appreciate you wrapping it up in a code and mailing me the portrait.

Your Correspondent, Selling The Musical Soul Of The Nation

2 Responses to “Down With Paganism, Down With Jazz!”

  1. stigmund says:

    I have a rather grand effigy of Duke Ellington that we could burn together on Sunday; maybe for the children’s talk?

  2. notnem says:

    I recently came across this documentary and only listend to it today. Incredible stuff…