and, styling himself as a neo Luddite, eschewed ( for a time) email and internet. He has written plays for radio and stage, penned an entry for the Eurovision song contest and describes himself as " uneducated in any acceptable sense".
In 2007 his book Lapsed Agnostic told the story of his journey through faith, agnosticism and back.
His latest book is called Beyond Consolation ( Or How we We Became To Clever For God, And Our Own Good)
I've heard dribs and drabs of his story here and there, and have been quite fascinated by him. Partly because of his relationship with Sinead O'Connor who is such a complex, maddening mixture of outrageous beauty, tenderness, talent and flamboyant, attention seeking craziness.
It seems that John has, in the way of so many others, encountered the church properly only after first walking away from it. Because I relate to this it stirs my curiosity further, and so I was really interested to read this interview he did with Joanna Bogle in the Catholic Herald.
He describes his observations of a culture that is deaf and blind to anything that opposes the received secular articles of faith. A culture of pseudo intellectualism that fails to really listen and steadfastly refuses to have its own assumptions challenged.
"They’ll just repeat what they are told – that the Pope insulted Muslims or whatever, and they don’t want to know any more. They don’t want to be challenged. I remember when he spoke out about condoms and Africa – well, I’d been in Uganda and knew that what he said was true, and the facts on the ground there proved it. But when presented with this information on a radio debate, people just didn’t listen, didn’t want to know.
And all of this is being conducted in an arena which is provided by the media, so in a sense it’s hostile. I don’t mean that there is a deliberate attempt to make it so – I just mean that all the assumptions are entirely secular.”
It’s almost comic, he noted. “No one wants to read what the Pope has actually said, his speeches, his books – they’ll even tell you that they don’t need to do so. They have just been given a narrative, and they accept it and stick to it, and that’s that. There’s no openness, no opportunity to dialogue.”
He discusses his thoughts on the future of the church in Ireland, which he sees as being bleak in the short term:
“But perhaps it’s like a garden that’s been overgrown with weeds. Pulling them up by the roots is a dirty messy business but it’s necessary for the garden to bloom and grow in the future.”
One major problem, he believes, is that the generation of people now generally running things in the West, the “baby boomers”, have managed to combine both the holding of power with the language of opposition."
Who knows, he may even change his mind about blogging.Anyway, it's a good read.
Get it all here.