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