Tuesday, March 24, 2015

St Patricks Day Reminiscences

On lunch break from working at the Doc-Side methadone clinic I took Gilbert for a walk in nearby Gastown.  A couple of Irish girls at the Irish pub were selling hats and tiaras. I bought one for myself and some for the staff.  The Filopinas  looked great in Irish.
I enjoyed the music and celebration on the streets.  I have tickets to visiting U2.   I’ve always loved St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer.  Christ above me, Christ behind me.... I only wish I’d had a green jacket for Gilbert to celebrate the day.  He’s definitely my personal leprechaun.
I’d just read the history of Irish Slavery. In many cases it was worse than the slavery of blacks but history excludes it's mention regardless of the horrible treatment and high death rates.  Partly it's because the 'brand' of 'slavery ' is racist and the rampant slavery that continues today by blacks of blacks and the fundamental slavery in the moslem worlds doesn't fit the 'racist' narratives of modern media.  Even the 'black Irish' those whose blood was heavily influenced by Spanish don't count.  The forgotten masses that followed the potato famines are of no account.  In the US they've had a Kennedy and an Obama so perhaps this era is finally behind us.  Today's main slavery is 'sex slaves' and it will be some time before the great armchair debaters of historic issues will let the light shine on the darkness that threatens girls and young boys from all over the world.
Laura and I are planning on visiting in Ireland in June. There’s a conference in Trinity I want to attend for a day.  We watched the great movie, Michael Collins starring Liam Neilsen and Julia Roberts.  Theres the whole history of Irish independence from England and the later Troubles to consider.
When I was working in England the IRA were bombing.  Baiba, my wife at the time, was working across from a building the IRA bombed.  Glass hit her face.  It was a frightening time. Working at the television studio I was evacuating weekly because of bomb threats.
Grand dad was from northern ireland, an Orange Man.  Protestant.  My brother Ron found his grave when he travelled there a few years back with his lovely wife. Mom was fond of her Irish roots.
I early followed more my father’s father’s Scottish roots, the Aberdeen connection and my Glasgow grandmother with the aunts and uncles and cousins we all learned to love.
 I think  Ireland seemed more a foreign country to me because being protestant, once the Catholics took over, it seemed the IRA had one.
Laura’s Catholic and her great grandparents married in St. Patrick Cathedral.
In a way I think I thought of St.  Patrick’s Day  as more a Catholic victory celebration than a day of celebration of Ireland and St. Patrick.  This St. Patrick’s Day, for the first time I thought of Ireland as Ireland, beyond all division, a place of people.  My desire to finally go to Ireland is a decision to own my roots.  I don't so much think of Christians as divided either coming back from Istanbul where the 21st century confronts not the Moslems but the 15th century jihadists . In Istanbul I met moderates and secularists and Christians and Buddhists and enjoyed the spiritual movement which puts division secondary to inclusion.
I think too that the alcoholics I befriended once in my youth were Irish Catholics and I got a skewed view of Irish as drunken stupid louts who’d betray their grandmother for a tot. Now I know that alcohol and drugs reduce any human to the beast and reptile so I’ve separated Irish from their downfall with drink.  Ireland today is a land of monasteries and literature, the arts and industry, not a place of breweries and strife.
Indeed I’d argue that so much of the Irish ‘troubles’ and fighting had as much to do with booze as it did with politics. By comparison more sober  Canada and Australia gained home rule and independence from England without the use of the very jihadist tactics which we condemn as ‘terrorism’ today. Admittedly America,  India and Ireland  paved the way for us younger sons and daughters indeed.
It’s been difficult for us all to accept the mutual unravelling of civilization that occurred with the Irish, Prods and the British military.  I enjoyed the movie Michael Collins as it captured the highs and lows of this struggle, the guerrilla wars and the internal betrayals.
In the end Michael Collins wasn’t killed by the British or the protestants but by fellow IRA’s.  Jesus himself was betrayed by his disciple Judas.  In the same way, personally I find that the enemy is me as often as it is you or them.
Today we know that war is only profitable for the war machine at the cost of the men in the front.  Further, the chance of being honourably killed by the enemy is slim because a third of those killed are killed by ‘friendly’ fire while another third are killed by rank stupidity of the leadership like Hitler sending his troops into Russia without proper winter clothing.  Only a third of those killed can even hope to be killed by the enemy.  In days gone by it was more likely you’d die from cholera or other diseases including syphilis, a great scourge of soldiers.
Obtaining my master in divinity I’ve been following the ecumenical study of Christianity and comparative religions.  Embracing the Orthodox in Moscow and Istanbul I was ready to study the Celtic Christian tradition with it’s Scottish Iona connection.  The mysticism of the Sufi’s and the mysticism of Hinduism and Buddhism connected with that celtic ‘fay’ nature that is celebrated in the monastic traditions of Ireland.
St. Patrick advanced Christianity in Ireland mostly by developing the monasteries with their Abbott rule and the importance of the Christian school.  St. Patrick had been influenced by Ambrose and Origen and the Dessert Fathers.  Meditation was central to the teaching of the saints of Egypt.  In Cappadocia I visited one of the famous monasteries and schools of the day similarly influenced.  Now I look forward to visiting the monasteries that kept ancient education alive and celebrated learning.  The church has been always so central to education and medicine.
In contrast to the modern media misinformation the church kept the light of learning burning through the dark ages.  The great book, How the Irish Saved Civilization records how the monks of Ireland taught the political bullies who had taken over Europe.  Politics and war not religion reduced Europe to the Dark ages.  ISIS today is not Moslem but more a bunch of killers and very creepy people who want to have sex with underage girls and cloak it in the respectability of religion.  ISIS has killed more real Moslems than Christians or Jews.
The Celtic monks continued to reproduce the writings of old, passing on the learning and being the photocopiers of their day as well as recording the ongoing teaching.  I so look forward to seeing the famous Book of Kells.
In the Bible the celts are the Gallatians.
The Danish Vikings though brought freckles and red hair to Ireland.  My mother and brother are red headed and I was actually entered into a freckle contest as a child.  I suspect my nautical ways have something to do with the piratical genes I came by honestly this way.
We just watched the movie Calvary about the sacrifice of an Irish priest.  I’m reading a study of Celtic Christianity and was thoroughly annoyed at the Pelagius and Augustine Debate.  Pelagius of the so called “Pelagian Heresy” was from Scotland and believed children were innocent at birth and celebrated women as equal. This offended the Roman African Augustine who literally attacked and hounded Pelagius in a horrible way giving us ‘original sin’ and “infant baptism’ instead.
John Smyth centuries later would break from the Anglicans and stop infant baptism insisting only adults could make the conscious decision to renounce sin. The Baptist Church now is a hundred million and in the United States is the largest protestant communion against the Catholics. I was raised Baptist, became United, then Anglican and am in my own way looking back through my own personal religious journey.  Ireland is definitely a stop on that journey.
Now it’s time to get to work.
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1 comment:

Sandy Van Eysinga said...

I think I have a dessert father like St. Patrick, he's always asking, "Pie? Ice cream? How about both!" :)