Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#138 The history of St. Patrick’s Day

posted by Stephanie Drury

saint_patrick3.jpgOh, to be an emergent Christian on St. Patrick’s Day. You get to tweet and blog about the missional relevance of St. Patrick, and missional relevance is your favorite subject.

It goes with the territory of the Christian hipster epidemic and its affinity for “acting and thinking Catholic,” as discussed here. Pontificating on St. Patrick is extra fun for those in seminary or seminary’s inferior cousin, Bible college. They reckon that with their higher education they can inspire others to soldier forth as St. Patrick did, all while making sure you know about their affinity for beer. They are certain to slip it in there. It’s important to them that you know they’re not legalistic or anything about alcohol.

Visit a relevant Christian’s blog today or check his Facebook status and tweets. He’s sure to have written something about St. Patrick, probably something about him being a “rebellious teenager” before being sold into slavery and from there had a spiritual epiphany and ministered to the heathen Celtics before his untimely death. They’ll be sure to include his breastplate prayer about God being before him, behind him, above him, in him and through him, all of which beg the question my five-year-old asked, “If God is everywhere, is he in my underwear?” That’s the next question I’d like missional theology to broach.

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posted March 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I had someone post a long note on Facebook with “proof” that St. Patrick was not Catholic but was a Baptist missionary. Okay….he died a thousand years BEFORE the Reformation!

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posted March 17, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Yeah, that whole Catholic saint thing is a total sticky wicket. St. Patrick is obviously cool so he can’t be dismissed…on the other hand he was spreading the only Christianity around, which was *gasp* Catholicism, so from a certain perspective he might be said to have been doing the devil’s work with all that Eucharistic popery. Also legend has it that at one point while he was fleeing from his enemies God turned him into a deer so that he could escape. That’s not very missional.
I love your five-year-old’s question.

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posted March 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Cynicism aside, I do like St. Patrick a lot, chiefly because of “Patrick’s Rune,” which is a short-form of the lorica ( prayer for protection) “Patrick’s Breastplate,” the prayer that according to legend he prayed just before being turned into said deer. The Rune is gorgeous, shivers-inducing (and probably scandalizing, to Christian culture, being all power-of-naturey) prayer, used brilliantly as the central structure for Madeleine L’Engle’s A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

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posted March 17, 2010 at 11:01 pm

@ Sarah: Well, not *quite* the only Christianity around – your forget the Eastern Orthodox, the Copts, the Ethiopian Orthodox, etc. :)

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posted March 17, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Heh, yeah, I’m not really up to date on my church history. But still — Eucharist. Eek.

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posted March 18, 2010 at 8:32 am

@ Spinning and Sarah: It was the only Christianity available at that time in that place, and it was the very localized version of Catholicism–nothing at all standard about it at the time when Popes probably couldn’t even find Ireland on whatever maps they had available, and their power didn’t extend much beyond a Rome that was falling apart at the seams. Celtic Christianity would have a very distinct flavor for a very long time–heck, up to the present day.
As for all the “missional” stuff–every time I hear that word, I’m reminded of that slogan from the sixties (Stephen Stills would use it in one of his songs in the early seventies): “You must have a mission to be a good Christian.” (Or as Stills added on, “If not, you will be missing high mass, or the evening show.”

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posted March 18, 2010 at 11:22 am

why does the internet make it so hard to find anything about st.patricks day?!!!!!

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posted March 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

@ nobody in particular: I’ve seen some pretty odd books on “Celtic Christianity” issued by prominent evangelical publishing houses over the past several years. Have only read one, and I have to say that it was very, very poorly “researched” and presented. The material all came from secondary sources, and it looked as if the writer hadn’t done any actual research (like reading documents from Ireland, and/or about early Irish Christians and their customs) at all.
Which is probably where some of the “relevant” crowd are getting their ideas about St. Patrick and much else concerning Christianity in Ireland and Scotland.
No slam intended toward the “Celtic Christianity” folks (in general), but I do wish publishing houses wouldn’t issue books that are based largely on hearsay.

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posted March 18, 2010 at 7:48 pm

I loved this post. I was one of those emergents with a facebook note about St. Patrick.

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posted March 19, 2010 at 3:24 am

“Missional”: The latest “rebranding” of hmmm: a festering body.
Big business and the importance of being earnest.
How do I ‘pose to be like?
Give me that old time navel gazing earnest sense of fashion.
“[we] are, on the whole, a little more sincere . . . than [our]secular hipster counterparts.”
In Jezus name,

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stephanie drury

posted March 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Haha Jamin!

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posted March 21, 2010 at 2:25 am

relevance is like autotune. heres a perspective on the mad race for relevance on my more peculiar blog:

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posted March 24, 2010 at 8:23 am

is Patrick’s Rune a historical thing or did L’Engle write it herself?
heh, though as an actual nature worshiping pagan I might be flayed for learning something of his. I posted the lyrics to an *old* Irish song (thissin: ) and got my head bitten off by an angry celticish neo-pagan when I provided the translation for her…(it’s a very un-feminist song about original sin and Eve being responsible for all human suffering…I have to wonder if this band sings it tongue-in-cheek, though, since half of them are pagans too) pagans are amusingly touchy about Ireland…”never more repulsive words spoken in the noble Irish tongue!!!” sheash.
somebody needs to start a StuffWiccansLike blog. we brought a lot of the commercial bullshit and identity politics with us when we got chased out of protestantism for being queer. -_- there are amusing parallels. and I’m rambling.

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posted July 30, 2010 at 5:23 am

Its so true. It does get a bit cliched the whole thing. What was your response to the question your 5 year old asked?

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stephanie drury

posted July 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm

I think I told my 5 yr old “yes” or “kind of.” Can’t remember now…the questions have gotten even more complicated since then. :)
captcha: hinting absent

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