Wednesday, April 16, 2014

History of Religion: Jim Flaherty's Faith

When Jim Flaherty died last week, much was made of his "Irishness."  Clearly a personality was implied more than a citizenship (Flaherty was born in Ontario; his parents came from New Brunswick). The implication was: gregarious, male-bonded, pub-friendly, a little rough around the edges, and socially-conservative -- probably a kid who went to a Catholic boys high school where one of the brothers coached the hockey team.

Indeed, Wikipedia sez Flaherty went to Bishop Whelan and Loyola High Schools and went to university in the US on a hockey scholarship.  That fits!

Except his state funeral today is at St James, the Anglican cathedral in Toronto. Just the most convenient location? Was he never a Catholic after all, or did he convert somewhere along the path? It's certainly an old Upper Canadian tradition: converting to the elite church as you seek to move up in the world.

The nice thing about this is that nobody really gives a damn. He could have been some generic 20th century agnostic for all anyone cares. I have not seen a peep in the media about the significance of the place where his funeral is being held.  You can still call Jim Flaherty Irish, but those old tribal religious identities just don't seem to matter any more.  Hurrah.

Rest in peace, Jim Flaherty.

Update, April 16:  Bob Rowlands of St John's comments:
You ascribe a sordid motivation to Jim Flaherty’s move from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism when you write, “It’s certainly an old Upper Canadian Tradition: converting to the elite church as you seek to move up in the world.” What a snide, cynical remark! That you would write such a thing in a public forum perhaps says more about you than it does about Jim Flaherty.
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