Wednesday, March 17, 2021


 My husband asked me an interesting question the other day.  He wondered why St. Patrick's Day is such a big deal.  "Who was St. Patrick?" he asked.  From the history I've heard, Patrick was the son of a wealthy family in Gaul (now France) who was captured and sold into slavery in Eire (now Ireland).  This happened hundreds of years ago, even before France, England, or Ireland were nations.  After a time, he managed to escape, returned home, and was converted to Christianity.  Then comes the surprising part.  He returned to Eire to witness to those who had enslaved him.  What a great example of loving your enemies!

It is said that the shamrock became an emblem of Ireland because Patrick used the three-leafed clover to illustrate the Holy Trinity.  And since it was green, and the moist climate of this island keeps the fields green most of the year, green came to be identified with the Irish, as well.  

Now, this was all before there were Protestants and Catholics.  There was one Christian church.  The word catholic actually means "one unity", and in the days before the Protestant Reformation, it actually meant just "Christian".  I believe after the reformation the Roman Catholic Church held onto this term as a way to show they believed they were still the 'true church.'

Enter the English, descended from Germanic and Norse (Norman-French) stock.  For centuries they battled and worked to subdue the original inhabitants of the British Isles, the Celts--who we know as the Welsh, Irish and Scots today.  Of course the bloodlines are merged in many places, and it's a fortunate person who can trace any pure line of ancestry now.  For myself, I've found evidence that I'm a mixture of all these bloodlines, with ancestors scattered throughout the British Isles, Germany, and Denmark.

The next stage of Irish history is still in evidence today, with the northern counties of Ireland, called Ulster, still part of Great Britain, while the rest of the island is the independent country of Ireland, called Eire by the pure in heart.  The Irish flag is orange, green, and white--an attempt at unifying the two forces represented by green and orange.

Green is the color Ireland loves, and it's associated with their patron saint--Patrick.  (By the way nearly every day in the calendar commemorates at least one saint.  For example, February 14 is the birthday of St. Valentine, a bishop in the early Christian church.  December 6 is St. Nicholas Day.)    Over the years green came to represent the Catholics of Ireland.

But orange?  This came about because in 1607, King James of the United Kingdom of Scotland and England, who was Protestant, began luring Lowland Scots over to Ulster, offering free land to those who had none.  Thus Ulster is largely Protestant, even to this day.  In the mid-twentieth century there was much sectarian violence between Irish Catholics and Protestants in Ulster.  The legacy of King James outlived him by over 300 years.

The orange came about because a nobleman named William of Orange (in Holland), a Protestant, became King of England because he was married to Mary, a descendant of King James.  I won't go into all the other fighting and strife linked to this, but there's plenty.  We see this pair in the names of our own American colonies, including Maryland, named for this Mary.  There's a college in  the east named William and Mary.  And the town of Williamsburg, Virginia is named for him.

Therefore, since the Irish Catholics had green, the Protestants decided to wear orange.  And there are Societies of Orangemen to this day.  During some periods in the nineteenth century when England was still trying to rule Ireland, the wearing of green was banned.  Some of you may have heard the song, Wearing of the Green, which depicts this.  Similar things were done by England in Scotland, such as the banning of wearing the tartan or plaids, which stood for each Scottish clan.  They also tried to suppress the speaking of the native tongue Gaelic, but in the late twentieth century we've seen a resurgence of  people speaking Gaelic.  Welsh, too.

Now of course, Ireland has finally gained independence from Britain, and the strife in Ulster has abated.  Many descendants of Irish immigrants live here in the United States.  I have ancestors from both Ulster and Ireland.  Rather than a religious observance of an early saintly man who came to share the Gospel with his former enemies, St. Patrick's Day is another day to party, much like St. Valentine's Day.  

I'm glad neither of these saints has been completely forgotten, though.  And today, on Patrick's supposed birthday, I'm wearing green.  I have to add one more note here, though.  My mother, bless her soul, didn't care much for the color green. Her favorite color was orange.  I wonder now if this was some unconscious family heritage she had, for many of her ancestors were among the English and Lowland Scots who emigrated to Ulster and later to America.  But she's gone now, so I'll never know for sure.

Oh, yes, and kids at school still try to pinch you if you're not wearing green.  I don't know where this came from, but I wonder if it was reaction by the Irish who'd been forbidden to wear green.  If they did, they got "pinched" by being arrested and thrown in jail.  At least St. Patrick's day is more harmless now. And so far, I haven't heard anyone saying it's not politically correct.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

A Hard Pill to Swallow


It really bothers me that the Church is at the forefront of persecutions.  In fact, as I look at history it very often has been.

First it was Christians persecuting Jews.  Even the great reformer Martin Luther expressed anti-semitic views.  After the Reformation it added persecution of Catholics.  Of course, the Catholic Church also persecuted Protestants.

The next stage was the enslavement of people of color, with all kinds of prejudice against people just because of the color of their skin.  I’m not sure the Church has ever recovered from any of these problems, though some of them aren’t as vocal or in the forefront now.

One that still appears in some church bodies is subjugation of women, making them second class citizens.  In some churches women cannot be pastors, and in some ultraconservative ones women are still not allowed to vote.

Now some churches are leading the campaign against LGBT, which they call ‘Homosexuality.’  They say this is different, that it’s a sin.  I could be wrong, but I don’t see it that way.  These same churches used to be opposed to divorce, but now a divorced and remarried man may become a pastor.  How is that ‘better’ than a gay person who is in a stable, one-partner, committed relationship?

Jesus associated with all kinds of people, and the 'religious right' of his time said he “…ate with tax-collectors and sinners.”  In our time, this could be translated as hookers and homosexuals.  He commanded us to love everyone, even our enemies.  Sure that’s a hard pill to swallow, but I believe he’s asking me to. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021



I’m getting tired of the right wing trying to take over Christianity.  The message I keep getting from many Christians is that you have to support Trump, whether you like him or not, because he’s a Republican and so is God. 

Really?  I’ve even heard some say Democrats are of the Devil.  A nice young man I know actually posted this on Facebook.  So sad…

The people elected Biden, he’s been inaugurated, but the Trumpites are still waving their huge flags and billboards—all over the Northwest and probably elsewhere.  Even the Democrats didn’t do that four years ago.  They didn’t violently storm the Capitol either and “Fight like hell,” as Trump told his followers to.  Yes that’s one sign of a cult—he doesn’t have supporters anymore; now they’re followers.  Trumpism is showing too many traits of a cult, as they blindly follow their leader, when they need to be following Christ.

I feel like my personal faith in Christ is being attacked by these people. 

I’ve been looking carefully at what the Bible says about how Christians should act:  Love one another, even your enemies; Respect the government, even if it isn’t perfect; Nothing in this world is perfect.  The Bible doesn’t say to lead violent protest marches.  It doesn’t say to “fight like hell”. It doesn’t say to hate and despise your enemies.

The problem I see is most Republicans are afraid to vote their consciences anymore.   Loyalty to the Party is paramount to everything else.  Guess who came up with that idea?  Another Party that still is trying to resurrect itself in Russia, and does rule in China.  Is that where we’re headed?  I pray we’re not.

The enemy isn’t the Democrats, it’s the ones who want us to sacrifice democracy for Party loyalty, who expect us to support a man who has proven to be corrupt and a liar, because he’s the only good choice the Party can come up with.  Come on, Republicans, you can do better than this!  At least I used to think that.  Now I’m not so sure.