Welcome to my website!
Here, you will find details of my Career and Life, Books, and Media & Public Appearances. I also make available a collection of my journalistic writings. Just below, you will find a new Moral Matters Column (uploaded each Friday) and a selection of my Saturday Essays from the Irish Daily Mail. At the bottom of this page, I have selected a quote from my writings in the hope that it will help you kick off your day on a contemplative, thought-provoking, but always life-affirming note.
November 15, 2017
The blazing comet who lit up my life
I still remember the first time I saw him. I was a student and he was a lecturer with the unforgettable name of Liberato Santoro-Brienza. He walked through the door of the theater, a man of elegance, panache and great taste. Those were the days when you could smoke indoors, and Liberato puffed on a cigar. Despite being in Dublin for more than 20 years, he was quintessentially Italian. He dressed immaculately, sported a small goatee and had a fiery Mediterranean temperament. It was not surprising that the topic of his lecture was art and beauty. He used his cigar as a prop, showing how it was an example of perfect proportion. In that moment, we saw the cigar as a work of art – a revelation of the human desire for perfection…Read more
November 11, 2017
The return of mob rule
IN the words of Ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes, ‘the mob is the mother of tyrants’ and anyone who has ever witnessed the terrifying frenzy of a mobilised mob will know that he spoke the truth. Mobs operate outside the law and according to no accepted values. They are dangerous, destructive and diabolical in the way they treat their targets. When unleashed, the mob is a monster that can cause mayhem and murder. And how easy it is to whip one up: simply choose a scapegoat and blame that person or group for the ills of society. The Nazis did it with the Jews and it led to nothing less than the Final Solution. This is what journalist Hugh Greene, of the Daily Telegraph, wrote after witnessing the events of Kristallnacht – that infamous night in November 1938, when the Nazis unleashed their wave of terror against German Jews: ‘Mob law ruled in Berlin throughout the afternoon and evening and hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. I have seen several anti-Jewish outbreaks in Germany during the last five years, but never anything as nauseating as this. Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the “fun”.’ The so-called ‘fun’ was Jewish shop windows being smashed to smithereens. It was the sight of once-respectable Jewish citizens being kicked, punched and lynched by their former neighbours and ‘friends’. It was the mob, foaming and raging with fanatical fury. Such is the essence of the mob mentality: ordinary decent people losing all sense of right and wrong, striking at the scapegoat as though possessed…Read more