the cultivation of intelligent scepticism about household gods

Yesterday’s Guardian carried this review by historian Roy Foster of what sounds like it could be an interesting read, Men That God Made Mad: A Journey Through Truth, Myth and Terror in Northern Ireland by Derek Lundy – Northern Ireland “through a fascinating and thought-provoking prism: a Canadian writer, whose parents emigrated from Belfast when he was a child, but who has episodically returned to visit relatives, write about the place and trace his family.”I’ll just extract a paragraph that stood out to me from the review –

Elsewhere the author sees the Northern Irish state as an exemplary neurotic personality: anxious, obsessive behaviour, sociopathic traits, lack of moral responsibility and social conscience, episodic psychosis, losing contact with external reality. Much the same could be said of the Irish republic during its long thrall to what Conor Cruise O’Brien christened “sacral nationalism”, identifying religion and national identity as an exclusive tribalism. Lundy suggests that education and the cultivation of intelligent scepticism about household gods may show some way forward in the north, as they arguably have done over the last generation in the south.

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