"Early Celtic Christianity" by Brendan Lehane, Continuum, London 1968/94http://www.librarything.com/author/lehanebrendan is a somewhat dry history of Christianity as it spread through Ireland, to Scotland and then revitalized European Christianity. It's not nearly as racy as "How the Irish Saved Civilization" by Thomas Cahill, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cahill but it nonetheless is an enjoyable solid work of scholarship.
I've been reading it over the last months following morning meditations, prayer, reading of psalms and generally the asking of God's direction in a work day normally frought with confusion, conflict and shortages of resources.
Leaving the sanctity of my home , if I travel by truck rather than motorcycle, I listen to the news and hear dissension and chaos, political intrigue and frank barbarism in high places often cloaked by anything but the greed and deceit that seem to underlie much of the morbid machinations.
Meanwhile all day long I see the wounded and literally beg them to give up the killing of themselves, slowly or less so, which serves only those who care nought for humanity.
Now I read of St. Columbanus and enjoy the image of an Irish monk going to decadent France and confronting the French depravity of matriarch Brunhild, killer of her own son, with hard work , honesty and Christian truth. St. Columbanus is described as follows:
"He was forever attacking moral decay in high places, and he wrote his attacks in letters which doubtlessly circulated and spread the resentment of him. A contemporary wrote of him,"He hurled the fire of Christ wheresoever he could, without concerning himself with the blaze he caused."
I was reminded of the great Dutch Christian Existentialist Soren Kierkegaardhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%B8ren_Kierkegaard who routinely berated his contemporary Christians for their deviant ways and was much disliked by the most deviant.
St. Columbanus favoured 'private penance' whereas "public confession and the consequent branding of sinners put far more power in the hands of priests. Where the real message of Christianity had disappeared from view, it thus became a useful weapon in politics and the general gaining of ends."
In this day and age, Dr. Philip Ney, http://www.messengers2.com/ outspoken pro life advocate comes to mind. He holds that the Christian message like the Jewish "L'chaim" (to life) was a celebration of life and that abortion is intrinsically a failure of society to prevent unnecessary pregnancy and to properly care for children. The book, "Aborting America" by Bernard Nathanson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Nathanson the foremost American abortion advocate who had a change of heart as he witnessed the decline in the value of individual life in America and felt that this was directly related to the mass murder of a generation of what unknown talent and capability.
Dr. Phillip Ney today is arguing with the government secular health authorities that "euthanasia", their 'latest' 'cost saving' 'solution' is amoral. He continues to be persecuted by the politically correct and those Brunhild's of the day who simply won't consider that our leadership might well have gone awry.
There is no vision in the terrified beaurocratic opinion poll leadership of today. They lead like caned rote taught grammar students with none of the genius and creativity of the likes of Kennedy, Reagan and Churchill. Rather than continuing to solve population explosions with ancient Matheus solutions of war, starvation and disease and now the added twists of abortion and euthansia, they could follow the recommendation of american genius Buckminster Fullerhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckminster_Fuller for efficient communities. Ideally, they'd spend the billions of dollars now wasted on killing machines on finding new real estate in our solar system or beyond.
Every woman pregnant could have had a life beyond her wildest dreams with wealth and privilege if the money wasted on the never ending "SECURITY FORCES" and "PEACE MISSILES " had been devoted instead to children.
Brunhild killed her children. She had soldiers evict St. Columbanus and the Irish monks from France so that prostitutes could reign and wives be denounced.
I could not help but see parallels in the old testament prophesizing St. Columbanus whose work did so much to elevate Europe and that of modern day Christians like Dr. Ney who by holding true to the vision of life and peace on earth and love that Christ taught would necessarily come in conflict with the Machiavellian forces of evil. Today these are represented by the greed and destructiveness of corporate arms machines (see Lord of War, Nicholas Cage for a 101 primer http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0399295/ and of course tobacco companies and other such individuals and corporations that promote destruction and loss for the greed of a very few.
The older I get and the more I read the Bible and the lives of saints the more I see the same conflicts no matter how much the Neville Chamberlains, Adolf Hitlers and Josef Stalins would have us see differently.
That said, I never feel any closer to the truth , that Cloud of Unknowing,http://www.ccel.org/ccel/anonymous2/cloud.html but definitely much more interested in seeing 'how things turn out'.
In the end Brunhild was 'placed first on a camel in mockery and so exhibited to all her enemies round about ; then she was bound to the tails of wild horses and thus punished wretchedly".
Meanwhile St. Columbanus exiled has set off towards Rome. For me the rest of his story must wait another day as work calls.