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Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We went out to dinner at the Celtic Grill tonight, intending to meet up with the other Northwest Arkansas bloggers. Unfortunately, we either got there too late, or we couldn't pick them out of the crowd. We really need a cheer or something to find each other next time.

Even if we'd been able to find them, the prospect of enduring the noise and crowd while waiting for supper was daunting, and we didn't want to be out too late. I'm sure the company would've been worth it, but we finally decided that O'Charley's sounded Irish enough, so we ate there instead. Sorry, guys.

In other holiday news, I spent a few minutes this afternoon explaining the significance of St. Patrick to some friends. Having grown up in Arkansas, it isn't at all strange to me for someone to not be familiar with even famous saints. You've got Google and Wikipedia handy, so you can go read Patrick's biography for yourself. The gist of what they wanted to know was why a 4th century Roman-British missionary should be important to non-Irish, non-Catholic, or even non-Christian 21st century Americans.

For the full-length answer, I highly recommend Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization. The nutshell is this: Europe's emergence from the dark ages was heavily aided by the monastic tradition of Christian scholarship that had been preserved in Ireland. No Patrick, no Christianity. No Christianity, no monks. No monks, no reseeding of Western Civilization.

That's enormously simplified, but you get the gist. You really should read the book.

Despite being raised in the Methodist church, I really do think that we Protestants threw out some good ideas with our break from Rome, with saints among the best. Disregarding issues that many Protestants have with venerating and praying to saints, I think we have given up a wonderful source of inspiration and role-models. I grew up knowing all the "real" saints: the Apostles, the four Evangelists, Paul, etc, but it wasn't until later that I learned of the multitude of other saints.

I think that's a real shame. Living up to the examples of the well-known saints is a pretty lofty goal, and their life experiences often seem far-removed from outs. Fortunately, there's probably a saint who faced spiritual trials and burdens similar to yours. They triumphed over their obstacles, and so can you.

So even though Patrick the Man is obscured by the shrouds of legend, let's all take a moment today to consider Patrick the Saint -- perhaps the only saint whose day is widely celebrated by nearly all Christian denominations -- and to think of the myriad other saints whose lives could be examples and inspirations for us as well.

2 Comments:

Blogger Valerie said...

Yes! We were there! Joe and I were at the bar. Too many people there to get a table. I left about 8 PM. Next time, we have got to exchange cell numbers so it's easier to find each other.

3/19/2008 7:50 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Ah, that could explain it! I was looking mostly for a group at a table like last year. We also weren't able to get there until about a quarter after 8, so you were already gone.

Next year definitely calls for cell contact.

3/19/2008 8:15 PM  

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