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Pádraig Ó Tuama: The Language of Lightness, Darkness and Love

Pa?draig O? Tuama

“Sometimes, language can be the easy hurdle. The actions that correspond to wisdom can be much more difficult to enact.”

-Pádraig Ó Tuama

Season 3, Episode 8 of Messy Jesus Business, hosted by Sister Julia Walsh.


In this episode of Messy Jesus Business podcast, Sister Julia Walsh and poet, public speaker, teacher and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama explore the light, the dark, and the infinite complexities of language. They consider terms like Christian and minister, and discuss the nature of poetry as well as the essential role imagination plays in one’s spiritual life as well as conflict resolution. And they talk about the complexities of doing good and being good.

“It’s easy to think that doing good is always good, and is always easy. But it’s not,” Pádraig explains. “I think that doing good is very difficult, because you might think you’re doing good and realize afterwards, that was naive, or that was mistaken, or I was highlighting the wrong thing that wasn’t the real problem.”

Sister Julia and Pádraig also discuss the Syrophoenician woman in Scripture, and how Jesus learns from her.

They talk about how peacemaking and community building get messy and how taking Jesus of Nazareth seriously involves asking some thought-provoking questions.

Poet and theologian, Pádraig Ó Tuama’s work centers around themes of language, power, conflict and religion. Working fluently on the page and in public, Pádraig is a poet and speaker, teacher and group worker. His latest books are: In the Shelter (2021 North America edition) and Borders and Belonging (2021),

Pádraig presents Poetry Unbound with On Being Studios and in late 2019 was named Theologian in Residence for On Being, innovating in bringing art and theology into public and civic life.

Ó Tuama’s published work incorporates poetry (Readings from the Book of Exile [longlisted for the Polari Prize 2013]; Sorry for your Troubles), prose (In The Shelter) and theology (Daily Prayer, The Place Between). Poems featured or forthcoming in the following publications or platforms: Poetry Ireland Review, Academy of American Poets, Raidio Teilifís Éireann’s Poem of the Week, Post Road, Cream City Review, Holden Village Voice, Proximity Magazine, On Being, Dumbo Feather, Gutter, America, and Seminary Ridge Review.

From 2014-2019 he was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation community.

Ó Tuama has been a featured guest on On Being with Krista Tippett twice, and is a regular broadcaster on radio on topics such as Poetry, Religion in the public square, Loneliness, Conflict and Faith, LGBT inclusion, the dangers of so-called Reparative Therapy, and the value of the Arts in public life. He has broadcasted, recited and been interviewed countless times on RTÉ, BBC (Radio 4, Radios Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland) and Radio National (Australia). His work has been used in Medical Journals, quoted by Princes and used in Atlases and Liturgies.

Pádraig has told a story for The Moth and has extended interviews with On Being and ABC Spirit of Things. Together with his partner, Paul Doran, he cofounded Tenx9, a storytelling event where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their lives. Begun in Belfast, this event now has satellite events in many other cities.

For Ó Tuama, religion, conflict, power and poetry all circle around language, that original sacrament. In the context of public theology, he takes the received form of biblical texts and explores the civic and artistic dynamics of language, narrative and impact in these stories. He holds a BA Div validated by the Pontifical College of Maynooth, an MTh from Queen’s University Belfast and is currently engaged in a PhD in Theology through Creative Practice (Uni of Glasgow) exploring poetry, Irishness and religion. In addition to these qualifications, Ó Tuama has numerous professional accreditations in conflict, focusing particularly on dynamics of group conflicts.

You can find Pádraig Ó Tuama on the following social media channels.

Twitter: @duanalla

Instagram @padraigotuama

Contemplative Moment in this episode features Pádraig Ó Tuama reading a prayer. It is a selection from Borders and Belonging; The book of Ruth: a story for our times, a new book published by Canterbury Press, which he cowrote with Glenn Jordan.

MESSY JESUS BUSINESS is produced and hosted by Sister Julia Walsh, and edited by Charish Badzinski.

Email us at messyjesusbusiness@gmail.com




Twitter: @messyjesusbiz




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