Dec 6, 2006

Is fearr clú ná conach -- A good name is better than riches.

I was thrilled to find this proverb in Irish. In the front of my book, Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story, we have: "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)

Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown, better known as Three Finger Brown, had a good many names because he was well liked. He had some Welsh and Irish heritage as well, so this proverb fit him.

My son, who home schools over the Internet, had to come up with a verse in response to reading The Death of Salesman. I suggested this one. It seemed to fit. What people think of us and our character is worth more than worldly treasure.

Something to think about......

Nov 28, 2006

Closer to God

This is my great niece Kayleigh. She was born on Nov. 25 and she was less than 24 hours old when I held her in this picture. Although she was in her mother's womb for 9 months, I can't help feeling that she is, at this age, closer to God than the rest of us. Haven't you felt that when you've held a newborn in your arms?

The spiritual belief of the ancient Celts was that there is a thin ribbon separating this life from the next. Every once in awhile you get a glimpse into that other world. I did--when I held Kayleigh.

Congratulations, Michelle, Nate, and Felicity.

Nov 3, 2006

Tired of Political Campaigns?

photo via creative commons by jGregor
Who's tired of political commericals on TV, radio, in your mailbox and hanging on your doorknob? Raise your hand. Geesh! Did you feel that rush of air when everyone in America just raised their hands?

Seriously, we are tired of it. But aren't we also thankful for it? People having a say in their government did not originate in America, though. The ancient Irish had an unwritten law called the Brehon Laws which determined punishment for offenses, among other things. Read about them here. What is interesting about them (and there is more than one interesting thing) is the many voices that were heard in this system of justice. From the Web site linked above: While the Brehon, or lawgiver, administered the law, the aggregate wisdom of nine leading representatives was necessary to originate a law or to abolish it. The nine needed for the making of a law were the chief, poet, historian, landowner, bishop, professor of literature, professor of law, a noble, and a lay vicar. Impartiality is the salient characteristic of all the laws for all the ranks. The king himself was bound by law to do justice to his meanest subject.
The king did not have absolute power. Some ideas that we think are fairly modern, aren't at all. That's why I love history. We owe so much to those who came before us.

Now, what kind of campaigning do you think they did in the early Middle Ages????

Oct 27, 2006


Storytelling is a Celtic tradition (although it's found in most other cultures as well.) I've been thinking a little about stories lately. Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life says: "Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from your heart to theirs." I love that. I believe the early Celtic Christians were just like that. They got to know people by sharing their stories.

Seanachaidh is Irish for storyteller. I tell stories through the written word, but some people are hugely gifted in oral storytelling. I used to be a preschool and kindergarten teacher, so I did my share of storytelling to children. It was great fun, although I do not have much acting talent. But I don't think this kind of storytelling was necessarily what Rick Warren had in mind. He was simply saying that everyone has a story to tell. I believe that's true. You've likely had an experience and learned from it and others can be inspired by that story.

A lot of people are inspired by the story of a handicapped baseball pitcher who is in the National Hall of Fame. My cousin ran across this piece on the Internet which uses this man's story to inspire those who don't think they have anything special to offer.

There are lots of stories to tell, and many that you alone can share. I encourage you to tell them, in whatever format you are able.

Here are some examples of people doing just that:
Lloyd Peters
Stories by people with disabilities
Your Life is Your Story

Oct 19, 2006

Ninth Wave of the Sea

Photo via creative commons by Eric Neitzel
There is an ancient belief that if you count the waves at sea, the ninth one will be the most powerful. If you can defeat it and survive, then you can survive anything.

I'm not a sailor, far from it. I'm not real comfortable in a boat. But I am curious. I first learned about this from Tim Serverin's The Brendan Voyage. Actually, Severin says it's the seventh wave, but the point is the same.

I'm working on my first draft of my novel, Brendan the Navigator. I'm at a point where the crew is about to endure a frightening storm at sea, not their first, but definitely their worst.

So, I've been thinking about this ninth wave. What kind of fear must sailors feel as they count them off: five, six, seven . . . they know it's coming, the worst one yet. When it does come, they think they are going to die. But they don't give up. It's not human nature to let go and die. They fight. And once the fight is over and they've won, they know they can endure anything, even though they'd rather not face a ninth wave again.

I don't think I've hit that wave in my own life. But I'm not counting: four, five, six . . . I have a lifesaver. This is a Psalm I'm including at the start of the chapter I mentioned: "You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them." Psalm 89:9

Oct 13, 2006

Ask for the Ancient Paths

photo via creative commons by

An ancient prophet declared:

This is what the LORD says:
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls."
(Jeremiah 6:16NIV)

The word "ask" really strikes me in this passage. Who do we ask? Those who went before us, I think.

Oct 6, 2006

Is Celtic Spirituality nothing more than romanticism?

In America, we are facinated by our Celtic roots, and our German roots, and our Italian roots, and our English roots, and so on. That's because America is a melting pot and we are constantly striving to discover from where we came. In my opinion, that's healthy. There are stories from our past that have lessons to teach us and we should learn from them. That idea didn't come from me of course. There are lots of famous quotes to that effect. Perhaps the most famous is that of Irish born English statesman Edmond Burke: "Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it."

But as we all know, history is a combination of truth, myth, and romanticism. So it goes with ancient Celtic spirituality. Ian Bradley makes this point in his 1999 book, Celtic Christianity, Making Myths and Chasing Dreams.
I think we can learn from the ancients as long as we seek the truth of the stories. Not necessarily the truth of what actually happened (impossible to do when looking at the lives of people living in the 4th century to the 11th century) but the truth that the stories convey. What did these people learn about God? Why were they able to accomplish great feats and spread Christianity back to the parts of Europe that had lost it?

I'm not done with this book yet, but so far it is serving as caution to make sure I'm seeking the Celtic way out of love for God rather than out of a romantic notion of going back to some perceived "good old days" or believing that there are secrets known only to those who lived long ago. The truth is out there for all of us, if only we will seek the ancient paths.

Until next week,

Sep 29, 2006

New Reads

I'm at it again, doing lots of research and adding books to my collection.

Here are the latest:

This is a tiny book packed with lots of text, pictures, and references. I think it will be worth the price. So far, here's one phrase I've highlighted: Christianity probably first came to the Celts in the way it first came to most of the rest of the world: through informal contacts by 'everyday' Christians, most likely traders..."

I am really excited about getting into this book. The subtitle is: Rule and Writings of Early Irish Monks. The rules of the ancient monastic orders are here, as much as could be translated from centuries old documents. Things like: "Do not conceal your bodily faults when you speak to God in tears."--from The Rule of Ciaran, late 7th or 8th century. In the back are litanies and poems, which I've only just begun to look at. The poems, of course, have been translated into English, which is no small feat to make them still poetic. Here's one translated by Robin Flower:

The maker of all things,
The Lord God worship we;
Heaven white with angel's wings,
Earth and the white-waved sea.

And finally, I'm really enjoying my copy of a book written a hundred years ago: A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland by P.W. Joyce. This has lots of good information that I can use while creating a fictional world for my novels.

Sep 22, 2006

New Monasticism part two

I picked up a copy of the Northumbria Community's book: Celtic Daily Prayer, Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community. The introduction, written by Richard J. Foster, helps explain the way this community is taking the old monastic rule and using it today, not by living by rigid rules and being isolated, the way the ancient monks would have, but by adjusting it for our lifestyles today. The group defines community not by communal living, but by joining together, in prayer and in commitment, to take this spiritual journey. From the intro: "These are folks who live in ordinary life, who face daily all the demands that you and I must face--demands of family and work, school and home." And speaking of the Sermon on the Mount, "For them this Sermon must never be relegated to another dispensation or viewed as utopian sayings to be admired in the abstract. Instead, this, Jesus' greatest teaching on how we are to live, is, very simply, to be lived--right in the midst of the pressures of contemporary society."

Everytime I read Matthew 5-7, there is always something new that pops out at me. This time it is the theme of worry. Not only is worry a problem for us in our everyday lives, but it's a problem for the church as well. Jesus tells us not to worry, but it's still hard not to, isn't it?

Well, that's something to think about. Another aspect that is central to this group's identity is its commitment to prayer. That's what I'll talk about next Friday, along with Esther De Waal's The Celtic Way of Prayer.

Sep 15, 2006

A New Monasticism

photo via creative commons by Neil Tackaberry

"The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time men and women banded together to do this"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in a letter to his brother

I haven't verfied this quote, and I've seen it slightly different in another place on the Internet, but the idea of a new kind of monasticism is an intriguing. The Northumbria Community is a group of Christians in England (with a branch in the US) who seek God in the Celtic monk tradition. To quote them: "the Community is geographically dispersed and strongly ecumenical but with an identity rooted in the history and spiritual heritage of Celtic Northumbria."
The idea of a new monasticism is explained this way: "Monastic spirituality implies a single-hearted (solitary) seeking of God. This may or may not be carried out in the company of others, (the monastic tradition has embraced both alone and together), but the focus is clearly on returning to God, and making use of a daily rhythm of prayer (Office) and a Way for living (Rule), that enable us to ‘marry’ the inner journey, the landscape of the heart - a call to repentance, to self denial, and a call to recognise and to resist evil – with the outer journey, the landscape of the land, which has given us a platform to 'find a different way' of being Church. Then to offer the fruit of our life with all who come our way and cross our path in the everydayness of our roles, responsibilities and relationships, asking with them ‘Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’"
What I love about this are the questions directed to others. "Who is it you seek?" Everyone is seeking something. Like Rick Warren explains so well in the Purpose Drive Life, everyone wants to know for what purpose they were put on this earth. Everyone is seeking answers. Perhaps the new monasticism is about asking seekers questions and sharing what we've learned by asking ourselves those same questions. Then, after we know who it is we seek, the other questions follow logically: "How then shall we live?" and "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?"
What do you think?

Sep 8, 2006

Music for the Soul Part 2

Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the Infinite.
Thomas Carlyle

There is so much more to be said about Celtic spirituality and music, that I couldn't stop with one post on subject. If you visit Celtic Christian Tunes, you'll find artists' links, reviews, and more. I found more Celtic Christian artists than I knew existed. Like David Fitzgerald, Troy Donockley, and Lianna Klassen. There are many more there I haven't explored.

I download songs to my iTunes and play them while I'm writing. The music quiets my mind and helps me to ready my spirit for what it is I'm supposed to write. I suspect many writers are the same. For me, it's Celtic tunes that inspire me the most. Vocals are fine, but words get in my way while I'm trying to get down my own words. So instrumentals are my favorites. You can learn more about these special instruments here.

Sep 1, 2006

Music for the Soul

photo via creative commons by Scots Music

Last week I talked about Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland. As luck would have it, he was in the news recently. Seems he's running for New York Governor on the Green Party ticket, even though he admits he won't win. See the article.

Today I thought I'd chat a little about Celtic spirituality and how it is expressed in Celtic music. Many people feel a spiritual connection while listening to music. Celtic music definitely stirs the soul, don't you think? In ancient times, bards or poets, normally in possession of a harp, were respected and sometimes even feared for the messages they brought.

If you visit and click on "Irish Links" you'll find some of my favorite groups. I'm constantly adding to the list, but as far as stirring the spirit, Jeff Johnson and John Doan are at the top of my list. Both have written music from their hearts in response to the old Irish tales and legends. I love that. I recently received an autographed copy of Doan's Eire, Isle of the Saints, A Celtic Odyssey. John wrote: "To Cindy, with stories in song. All the best! John Doan." I added it to my iTunes list that I play while I'm writing. It's awesome.

Stories, songs. Songs, stories. A declaration of what our spirits long to express.

Have you ever heard Contemporary Christian Celtic music? One CD I have and listen to to be uplifted and to worship God is Revial in Belfast by Robin Mark.

Aug 25, 2006

History of Ireland

If you've ever heard various legends and tales about Ireland, but didn't know how they fit together, you need this book. I'm not finished reading it yet (I got sidetracked by David McCullough's 1776), but I can recommend it. McCourt's style makes for very easy reading. I just finished reading the part on Dermot MacMurrough and found out why nearly 800 years later, he's still the most hated man in Ireland. He's blamed for inviting the dreaded Ango-Normans into Ireland, but as with most stories, there's more to the story. Once ousted from Ireland, MacMurrough met with King HenryII and vowed alligance to him. Then he was permitted to raise an army, of which the most well-known was Richard de Clare, known, as his father was, by the name Strongbow. Archery was not known in Ireland until the Normans appeared to fight. MacMurrough promised de Clare the hand of his daughter, Aoife, and the right of succession after his death. With those incentives, Strongbow and the Normans invaded Ireland.

What does this have to do with Celtic Spirituality? Probably a lot as we study the evolution of a people's faith. Just as Christianity was affected and molded by the Celts, whom were supposed to be converted, this era in Irish history affected the church as well.


Aug 18, 2006

Is Celtic Faith stronger than the rest?

photo via creative commons by Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Faith is tested in times of crisis. Remember how the churches were filled right after the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001?

People fear God's judgment or want to somehow makes sense of the crisis they are experiencing. But far too soon, when they realize it's not the end of the world or they realize that no sense can be made of senseless acts--whether of nature or man--they fall away.

One example is the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812. The town of New Madrid, Missouri, is thought to have been the epicenter of several large earthquakes, perhaps 9.0 or higher. It was felt all over the eastern half of the United States and even into Canada. People thought Matthew 24: 6-7 was being fulfilled: "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places." Remember that the War of 1812 was looming and Tecumseh was attempting to organize Indian troops against the white man.

To further bring panic, people thought Revelation 6:12-13 was coming true: "There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth..." A sulfur-like fog filled the air after the quakes, concealing the sun. The vapors took on a reddish hue. And a comet had been seen in the sky for months, leading people to believe that the stars were indeed falling.

Predictably, people turned to churches. But soon fell away. That leads me to wonder if the Celtic faith has an element to it that sustains believers through such things. Celtic people of the past believed that the spiritual was ever present. While no one likes to endure such disasters, wouldn't we be much better off if we realized that the Creator's hand is always present? That while the way may be rough, the landing will be soft because we land in his arms. Reminds me of the old Irish saying that I used in my novel, Brigid of Ireland: "If God sends you down a stony path, may he give you strong shoes." The ancients didn't fear troubles; they expected them. But they trusted God to help them through it.

Aug 11, 2006

Found in a Bog!

Today I posted on Favorite Pastimes about the ancient book recently found in an Irish bog and the misunderstanding that sprang forth from the report.

Because everyone jumped to equate the finding with a message from God concerning current events in Israel, the real joy in the find was lost. It's amazing that something 1200 years old was preserved. Go to Favorite Pastimes under the title "Urban Legends". I'm not going to repeat it all here, but this could be a topic we could explore later: how much do we know about history and how much do we jump to erronous conclusions?

Aug 4, 2006

God To You!

Photo creative commons by Andy Roberts
A man I know was recently surrounded (as he often is!) by native Irish speakers. He wanted to welcome them to the United States. He speaks the language and teaches it to others. He greeted one young person in the traditional Irish way: Dia dhuit! (God to you!)

It's common in the Irish language to use phrases like that. An Irish man I recently met was constantly shaking people's hands and saying, "God bless you!" It was as natural to him as saying, "Nice to meet you." Of course, the next moment he was complaining about the weather by saying, "Jesus! It's hot!" It's just the way they talk.

But when the first man met the strangers and greeted them, they gave him a quick sneer and one finally replied, "Conas ata tu?" (How are you?) Whether the old ways of seeing God in everything is passing away, or whether this person was anti God or something, I'm not sure. Perhaps my friend's greeting is no longer politcally correct.

Photo from

Jul 28, 2006


Aren't legends fascinating? I've always thought so. Recently I met an author who thinks so too. In

fact, her motto is: Legend begins where truth ends...Or is it the other way around?

Linda Wichman was just featured on a blog I participate in called Favorite PASTimes. She wrote a tale that picks up after King Arthur's death, called Legend of the Emerald Rose.

Doesn't it seem like the more we learn, the more questions we have? But then.....that's what I love about legend. You don't to prove it's true; but you always know it could be. That how I feel about Brigid and the other ancient Celts I study.

Jul 26, 2006

Brigid of Ireland

Since Brigid of Ireland was published, I've often been asked if she was a real person. The Brigidine Sisters of Kildare, Ireland, offer an excellent explanation on their Web site. They also discuss Celtic Spirituality. These writings are credited to be an "Extract from 'Rekindling the Flame - A pilgrimage in the footsteps of Brigid of Kildare' by Rita Minehan, CSB."

One of the characteristics of Celtic spirituality, according to the Sisters, is:
An extraordinary sense of the presence of God in their lives. God was uile láithreach - "the all present One".

Jul 21, 2006

Books, Books, Books!

Two new books came in the mail today, both by Sean O Duinn: The Rites of Brigid, Goddess and Saint and Where Three Streams Meet: Celtic Spirituality. Sean O Duinn is an Irish monk and he wrote his doctorinal thesis on the Rites of Brigid.

These books are part of my research for a non fiction title I'm working on. (When I receive and sign the contract, I'll give you more information.) I love doing research. I suppose that's why I write about history. Even so, when it comes to understanding ancient Celtic spirituality, we can mostly speculate. I love reading others' opinions and I can't wait to hear what a monk has to say on the topic.

I have yet to get back to Esther De Waal's Every Earthly Blessing, Rediscovering the Celtic Tradition, but I will. It's interesting reading her perspective as a lay person. I've read quite a bit of Ian Bradley's Celtic Christianity: Making Myths and Chasing Dreams. He gives good historical perspective on why scribes wrote the stories of the ancients the way they did. Much was politically motivated and/or exaggerated, but surely not all. The truth is in there somewhere, but do we really want to learn it? Something to think about!

Jul 14, 2006

Book selling

I know that this blog is about Celtic Spirituality, but I'm going to diverge today. (Hey, it's my blog.)

I just returned from the International Christian Retail Show in Denver, CO. It was great fun and educational to see what new books are coming out. My husband was searching for books for "seekers"--those who are looking for spiritual fulfillment and haven't found it in the church so far. What he found was mostly for the churched. It occurred to him that a seeker will likely not pick up a non fiction book, but fiction? There are real possibilities there.

At any rate, I signed copies of Brigid of Ireland
and gave away about 100 copies to book sellers and industry professionals. That's what I'm doing in the photo. I also got to meet some friends (some of whom I'd only met by e-mail before) and the staff of my publisher. Actually, two publishers: Monarch is in the UK and they acquired my book. Kregel works with Monarch to distribute here in the US and in Canada.

One thing that amazed me was the number of foreign countries represented. I think it was something like 60. Everywhere we went we heard people speaking in other languages. Surely some of the seekers are outside of the US. I truly hope they found some of what they need to spread God's message to the people in their respective countries.

There is a lot of deal making going on during these conventions. As an author it's amazing to sitting by and watch people with their laptops and notebooks open, pens scribbling, while others are talking on cell phones and consulting their Blackberries.

Through all this, people came to my signing and thanked me for writing my book. Can you imagine?

Next week I'll continue the discussion on Celtic Spirituality. But maybe this post wasn't completely unrelated. After all, the ancient Irish monks were only successful because the world was seeking something. Something better than what they already knew. Now, that's an interesting concept. Are we really that different because we use electronic technology and they used what they had? Today, as in the past, we use story and music to communicate. That's what this convention offered.

Jul 7, 2006

Spiritual vs Secular

©Cindy Thomson

I've been reading Every Earthly Blessing, Rediscovering the Celtic Tradition by Esther De Waal. She says that the Celtic tradition does not distinguish between the spiritual and the secular world. This is unlike the Puritan tradition found in English and American religion, according to De Waal.

I wonder how differently we would treat each other if we viewed everything as spiritual. I'm not an environmentalist (at least not a tree hugger kind of person), but what if we saw God in creation, both human and in the natural world, realized that His hand is in everything? What if we viewed our own bodies as a creation of God rather than as just our own property?

In America, society seems to want separation of everything spiritual--put it aside, keep it inside a church building. Can we separate what is spiritual from what we think is not? Or did the Celts have it right? Is there no separation?

Hopefully, by next week I'll have the book finished and comment some more.

Until then, view life with your heart!

Jul 2, 2006

Celtic Ancestors?

Ah, I'm late. Friday was two days ago. Well, summer has a way of doing that to you.

I'll take this opportunity to point you to a new blog hosted by 6 authors (one is me!) It doesn't deal with Celtic Spirituality, but it is focused on historical fiction if you're interested.

I think many people (especially Americans) are interested in Celtic Spirituality because they have roots in Celtic countries. You may be interested in reading my post on the above mentioned blog
about genealogy. You may even spot the family pictured above!

How about you? Have you dropped by because your ancestors were Celts? Let us know.

Jun 23, 2006

The Ribbon of Life

A few weeks ago I went to an author talk given by novelist Juilene Osborne-McKnight. She does a great presentation with storytelling and songs. If you're not familiar with her work, visit Her site

She spoke about the Irish belief that the boundary between the now and the everafter is not a constant. She compared it to a fluid ribbon, ever rippling in both directions.

I think it's an interesting philosophy--that we are never far from Heaven and Heaven is never far from us. And yet, because we cannot cross that line, it seems unreachable at times. But then, just when we give up ever thinking we can experience crossing that spiritual divide, something happens. A unexpected blessing, a healing, a sudden revelation about something we've been pondering. In those moments, we know. We just know. That ribbon has fluctuated and we've had a glimpse of something beyond the world we know all too well.

Have a good week!

Jun 16, 2006

Updates on Fridays!

Beginning today, I will make Fridays my update days, both here and on my Web sites. Check back on Fridays to see what's new! (You may want to wait until late in the day.)

I'm interested in hearing what people are reading in relation to Celtic Spirituality. I have a stack of books on my desk right now waiting for me. I will get to them but first I'm reading some friends' new books: Sharon Hinck's The Secret Life of Becky Miller and John DeSimone's Leonardo's Chair.

But, waiting in the wings (in no particular order):
Celtic Christianity by Ian Bradley
Bright Sword of Ireland by Juilene Osborne-McKnight (I think I've actually already read this one so it will be a re-read.)
Every Earthly Blessing by Esther De Waal
Climbing Brandon by Chet Raymo
Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland

Wow, I can't wait to get to these. Anyone read any of these and like to comment? Have others you are reading or would like to recommend? Speak up!!

Jun 14, 2006

Monasterboice ©Cindy Thomson
Celtic, Irish, Scottish?

I've had people ask me what Celtic means. I've heard people call anything Irish or Scottish Celtic. I think there are many misconceptions about what connotates Celtic and that includes defining Celtic Christianity or Celtic Spirituality.

The truth is, the Celts were a race of people that moved through western Europe and into Ireland in ancient times. Their influence is left all over Ireland and Great Britian. More about the history of the Celts can be found here:

For my purposes, I'll define Celtic as what most people think of as Celtic: the influence of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh cultures.

I apologize for not having much content lately, but that will change. Stay tuned for discussions on Celtic spirituality in books, news, and opinions (yours and mine.)

Apr 18, 2006

Manage your blogs

I just learned about something that I want to share in case any of you are newbies about blogging like I am.

This is a place to organize your blogs. If you subscribe to mine through bloglines, and any others you visit often, you'll receive a page with all your blogs listed in one place. Updated blogs are noted so you can see right away if your favorite blog has been updated since you last visited.

I hope you'll subscribe to
Celtic Voices


Mar 26, 2006

What made the Celts different?

In the discussion of whether or not Hunter in his THE CELTIC WAY OF EVANGELISM correctly explained the early Celtic form of Christianity we should consider who the Celts were, and why they were successful in spreading Christianity across Europe.

The Celts were a group of people who, by the time of Saint Patrick, were concentrated in Ireland. However, they also had presence in Britain, Wales, and Scotland. They had a great respect for the natural world and believed that men are never far removed from the "other world". Spiritual aspects were seen in all areas of life. Consider the famous prayer, Saint Patrick's Breastplate, which in part reads:

"Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right,
Christ on my left, Christ in breadth, Christ in length,
Christ in height, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me."

Read the whole prayer here:

With the Celts' natural bent to see spiritual aspects in all of life, it wasn't too much of a stretch to accept the concept of the Creator. Moving from that to accepting only ONE God took time, however.

What do you think? Could this in part explain why the Celts, and the Irish in particular, accepted Christianity without bloodshed (unusual for the history of the spread of Christianity.) Let me hear your thoughts.

Mar 13, 2006

The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter, III

Blogger Randy guessed right! (See his comment under the previous post.) I was influenced by readying this little book. The subtitle sums it up: How Christianity Can Reach the West...Again. Now, before you size me up as being overly romantic about our Celtic past you should know that I'm reading (and have read) other perspectives as well. What's valuable about this book is what we can learn about how the ancient Irish monks were so successful at spreading their faith.

Here are a few lines from some of the book's reviewers on Amazon. If you've read the book, let me know if you agree or disagree. We'll see where the discussion goes from there.

"This book is a wake up call to The Church to go back to its roots and find a bibilical way to do church."

"The basic issue/problem with this book and probably more specifically, its author, is that it ignores the most important of all facts concerning the Celtic church: it was Orthodox... Mr. Hunter appears to isolate minute detail and parade it through his pages as "facts" that "support" his theory. The only trouble is: Mr. Hunter's religion is only about 500 years old, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to that of St. Padraig, and Celtic Christianity dates to at least the third century, possibly the second. (Depending on which history you lean toward and whether or not you accept the Coptic Connection theory. )"

"...this is not a "how to" book. It is a lesson from history that requires the reader to think and decide how to apply its message in our present world. My experience has been that too many Christians' eyes glaze over when asked to read history and too many would rather have clear steps (1.2.3. etc.) laid out for them."

"...the gist of the book can be summed up in a little summmary table that Hunter gives contrasting what he believes is the Celtic Way vs. the Roman Way. The Roman way said that a person has to believe before they can belong. The Celtic way said that a person must belong in order to believe. "

"He also accuses the "Roman" wing of the church imposing her liturgy on the Celtic churches around the 5th Century. Sure, the tonsure and dating of Easter were brought in but this was quite a while before a standard liturgy was imposed throughout Europe. Check out the Gallican Liturgy and Stowe Missal. I get the impression that the author drew examples from some stories about St. Patrick and ideas of modern authors to back up his own ideas of evangelism. I appreciate his understanding of theories and theology of evangelis, I just don't see how it is based on solid study of the Celtic church."

____There are many more interesting reviews of Hunter's book on Amazon. I'd love to hear what you think. Were you one of the reviewers? Let us know.

Mar 7, 2006

Article to Check Out:

Saving Celtic Christianity by Loren Wilkinson

I'd like to know what others think of this article. The author makes a strong case for why Christians should be interested in the growing popularity of Celtic spirituality and also why much of it is myth and wishful thinking. What do you think?

I'll chime in later.

Mar 3, 2006

Welcome to my blog on Celtic spirituality. Most of what I know is based on Irish history, but we'll learn together and add more as time goes by.

I believe that we have a spiritual heritage left to us and that by studying the lives of ancient people we can uncover the voices that speak to us, learn the lessons they have to teach us, and hear the voice of God.

One voice I listened to is in my new book, Brigid of Ireland, released this month by Monarch Books. Click on the link for more information.