Archive for March 11th, 2010

On God’s Mission

11 March 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

‘The history of Ireland’s missionary movement has not yet played out’, the narrator told us at the end of the two-part mini-documentary series, ‘On God’s Mission’, broadcast on RTÉ 1 television on Tuesday night. ‘And it may take another hundred years to fully understand its impact.’ When a television programme ends with an admission as equivocal as the average historian, it’s always a fair bet on the quality of the material that preceded it.

Let me admit something at the outset: I really liked this documentary. This is a subject on which I have written, researched and thought about extensively, and at every turn I found myself remarking at how well-researched, well put together and evenly paced – not easy to do – it was, with some interesting footage and only the usual, inescapable gripes about factual errors.

Its makers were helped, of course, by a terrific story. They began with Fr Joseph Shanahan’s journey into darkest west Africa in the early twentieth century, a place where, in his own words, ‘human flesh was even sold in public spaces’, where Satan was visible in the landscape, the people and the soil. Read More