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June 19, 2006

Beyond Belief by Liam Fay

Posted by barry

beyond belief

Liam Fay

Beyond Belief (

Beyond Belief (

'Beyond Belief' is a concatenation of Liam Fay's religious writings in the Irish music and current affairs magazine Hot Press, a publication not particularly renowned for pulling its punches. Fay himself is infuriatingly graced with a seldom witnessed talent; the ability to heave his readership rolling into the aisles with life-threatening paroxysms of laughter, by passing corny remarks which made by anyone else would be intolerably dull.

Apart from the humour, there's a plethora of useful material in here to occupy the Fortean reader, which serves to present rather more diversity in Irish contemporary belief than people outside of Ireland would probably be aware of. Fay uncovers countless forms of religious oddity, 'Jesus of Coolock' - the Messiah's appearance on a bedroom door, The Tridentine priest who performs Christian versions of Ozzy Osbourne hits, a lonely Tridentine bishop providing premium rate confession phonelines, exorcisms on the grounds of RTE (national TV & radio broadcasting company), trips to Knock (site of an alleged miracle), Croagh Patrick (a mountain climbed yearly by the faithful), Lough Derg (an infamous site of religious penance), Born-again Christian 'cultbusters', Hari Krisnas, and a dancing Catholic priest (remember the dancing priest in 'Fr. Ted'?), Fr. Neil Horan, featured on the cover of the book clothed in his dancing costume, including a kilt embroidered with the Star of David. Horan spends much of his time promoting his interpretations of the Book of Revelation, convinced that Armageddon is upon us in the form of World War III - and if it doesn't happen in the next five years, that the entire Bible is a fraud.

A particular highlight is the obligatory trip to Knock, and Fay's purchase of sundry souvenirs; 'My copy of Roget's Thesaurus lists merely 47 synonyms for the word 'rubbish'. Dr. Roget obviously never visited Knock.'

On clerical onanism: 'Masturbation is an integral part of every celibate's life,' says Father Pat Buckley. 'Most priests would masturbate regularly, as would most bishops, and I'm sure, even the pope.'

Two hilarious chapters are taken up with Fay's incognito forays into the heart of Dublin; first as a gin swilling, condom buying, swearing Catholic priest (and a photo call with Ireland's most rabid anti-abortion campaigner). Later on, he takes to the streets as a evangelical preacher, attempting to convert the masses with his inflammatory handouts - photocopies from ancient manuscript on good housekeeping.

Although some of Fay's wry comments may mean little to readers not intimately briefed on Irish current and historical affairs, 'Beyond belief' is an essential addition to the untidy book stacks of anyone interested in contemporary religious belief. Oh, and did I mention that there's a entire chapter devoted to country singer Daniel O'Donnell?

- daev

Posted by barry at June 19, 2006 8:57 PM

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