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Losing My Religion
35 minutes | May 14, 2021
Fascinating questions about godlessness
Do many priests and bishops feel that religion is a money-making ‘scam’? Are clerics too deeply embedded in religion to reject it? Do priests ‘know well’ that the whole thing is based on nonsense? Are there as many atheologies among non-believers as there are theologies among believers? How difficult is it to be searingly honest in public? Does a lack of self-esteem predispose people to religion? Does religion offer a sense of control – if I say my prayers my sick relative won’t die? Do people commit to religion believing it’s the best way to be good? How does leaving religion affect your psychological health and relationships? Where will the Church be in 20 to 30 years’ time - what’s the endgame for the Church? Are religious congregations heading for extinction? Do Humanist celebrants touch people’s ‘souls’ at births, marriages and deaths? Is leaving religion like looking through the Looking Glass? Do former believers undergo a baptism of fire into Humanism? Tolstoy said that abandoning your religion was like walking out into a Russian winter snow without a coat. Is that true? How can you know that you are right to abandon your religion? What does it feel like to realise that, in your head and in your gut, you don’t believe in God? Is it therapeutic writing about the experience of transitioning from belief to unbelief? These fascinating questions are addressed in this podcast. They were asked at a live event, by people attending the launch of the acclaimed memoir by Joe Armstrong In My Gut, I Don’t Believe. It was hosted by the Humanist Association of Ireland and compared by Eamon Murphy. For reviews of the memoir, click here. To read or listen to interviews about In My Gut, I Don’t Believe conducted in the media, click here. For the author’s website, click here. #Humanism #agnostic #atheist #exCatholics #Ireland #InMyGutIDontBelieve #JoeArmstrong #BeingGoodWithoutGod #memoir #Unbelief #Religion #Beliefs #LeavingReligion #HumanistCelebrant #HumanistWriter #FreedomFromReligion
29 minutes | Apr 13, 2021
'The Brits had the Queen. We had the Pope'
A million people gathered in Dublin in 1979 for the first ever papal visit to Ireland. Humanist celebrant and former student for the Catholic priesthood Joe Armstrong reads two episodes from his acclaimed memoir In My Gut, I Don’t Believe. In Episode 9, he offers his perspective on Ireland’s then best-known clerics, Bishop Eamon Casey and Father Michael Cleary, both of whom had clandestine relationships and fathered children, causing scandal to what was then innocent Catholic Ireland. He also reads Episode 29 on celibacy, loneliness and desire in the seminary. ‘I was experiencing my loneliness. My desire for intimacy was heightened. I craved an emotionally interdependent, physically expressive relationship.’ Interviewed by Eamon Murphy at the book launch, hosted by the Humanist Association of Ireland, the author also reads one of the several humorous moments in the book.
22 minutes | Jan 19, 2021
'We lost more of him' – a son recounts his father's massive stroke
In an emotional podcast, Joe Armstrong reads the sad account of his father's massive stroke and its impact on Joe as a young man, from his memoir In My Gut, I Don't Believe. This podcast episode also includes Joe's honest self-examination of his attitudes in his youth, prompted by the recent publication of the Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland. Joe speaks of the need for all of us to become self-aware and to learn to think for ourselves. Reviewed in The Irish Times on 16 January 2020 as an honest coming-of-age memoir that will stir emotional memories for people reared in Catholic Ireland of the 1960s and 1970s, the reviewer Tim O'Brien concluded: 'Volume 2, please'. 'Of all of the books I have written and of all of the hundreds of articles and columns which I've had published, I would burn them all to save this memoir,' says Joe Armstrong of In My Gut, I Don't Believe: A Memoir. It's available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook from all Amazon sites and elsewhere. (https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Gut-Dont-Believe-Memoir/dp/095466101X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=)
27 minutes | Dec 14, 2020
In My Gut, I Don't Believe: A Memoir by Joe Armstrong Just Published
In My Gut, I Don't Believe: A Memoir by Joe Armstrong has just been published in paperback and Kindle editions. https://www.amazon.com/My-Gut-Dont-Believe-Memoir-ebook/dp/B08MCS5VWX This book has been 25 years in the making. An intimate coming of age memoir, set in a Catholic seminary in 1980s Dublin. Using his private journals, Joe Armstrong shows his personal, psychological, emotional, sexual and intellectual growth, from boy to young man, escaping a dysfunctional mother and a Church calling for the submission of his mind, body and will. A journey from belief to critical doubt. 'A fascinating, courageous and moving account of an individual leaving the trammels of religion for the good light of humanism – an educative story on many levels, well told.' – Professor A. C. Grayling Torn between faith and doubt, safety and risk, love and fear, this memoir is a portrait of a young man struggling to live the vow of celibacy while awakening to his need for affection, intimacy and love. It shows him wrestling with the vow of obedience while discovering his need to obey himself. This is a life-changing story of trusting and becoming yourself and making the hardest decision of your life. This personal journey from belief to convinced doubt articulates the experience of millions. In this episode of Losing My Religion, Joe Armstrong reads an episode from his newly published memoir. By coincidence, the book has been published the same month that it was announced that Mount St Mary's, the Marist Fathers' seminary in Dublin, has been sold and is to be demolished. This book is a surprising, invaluable and peerless account of a vanished world and a changing Ireland.
23 minutes | Oct 23, 2020
An Embarrassing Letter of Religious Enthusiasm by a Secular Humanist
Aged 17, Joe Armstrong, like so many of his contemporaries, became entranced by the Charismatic Renewal. The movement, supported by bishops and priests, was sweeping the Catholic Church in the late 1970s. People were ‘speaking in tongues’ and being ‘prayed over’. There were ‘Camp Jesus’ youth jamborees and all-night vigils. It was as if the Holy Spirit had been released again, like the story of Pentecost, when the disciples went out to ‘preach the Good News’. If God had really become human, if the Christian message really was true, it had to be the most important thing in life. But that ‘if’ is a very big word, upon which the lives of millions turn. Secular Humanist Joe Armstrong reads a letter of religious enthusiasm that he wrote to his Uncle John, a priest in South Africa. Once embarrassed by the letter, now Joe is proud of it. It captures the feeling of the charismatic movement and it shows, even at the height of charismania, an underlying, and welcome, sense of doubt.
29 minutes | Sep 22, 2020
A Brother Banished, A Brother Vanished, A Christian Brother Abuses
Weaving the theme of belonging, meaning and hope, I recall Tolstoy's opening line in Anna Karenina: 'All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way'. My brother Paul banished from home in his teens. My brother David vanished in his teens, his whereabouts unknown. 'The family that prays together, stays together,' says my mother, missing the irony of my two absent brothers. She warns me that if she turns against someone, 'that's it'. Frightened of being treated like Paul and David, I seek solace in religion. A Christian Brother sexually abuses me. Another brutally beats a boy for not understanding a school lesson. Religion was part of the air I breathed: at home, in school, in my parish of Donnycarney. On a contemporary note, I suggest again the benefits of online Humanist ceremonies during the Covid19 pandemic.
27 minutes | Aug 16, 2020
Pandemic of Religious Beliefs infect children's minds
In this second episode of Losing My Religion, Joe Armstrong compares our propensity towards religious belief to our vulnerability to Covid-19, especially when exposed to religion in early childhood. He explores how religious beliefs seeped into his mind as a child, given his family and 1960s Ireland. He also shares a funny tale of his recent purchase of a caravan, its close encounter with a gate post, a steep hill and a raging river! Joe also considers the benefits of online Humanist ceremonies given the ongoing uncertainties of Covid-19.
26 minutes | Jul 19, 2020
Humanist weddings in Covid-19 Lockdown
Humanist celebrant Joe Armstrong, who used to be a student for the Catholic priesthood, discusses the prospect for all weddings for the foreseeable future, given the Covid-19 pandemic.
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