I just arrived in midtown Manhattan and I really think the website for this smallish hotel should have noted that it is next to an Irish bar. Getting to bed early tonight is not going to be easy. This is going to be worse than being in the hotel room next to the ice machine at an Episcopal Church convention. It does seem that today is St. Patrick's Day and, in New York, this is a pretty big deal. I wanted to share the link of an interesting little item in a recent Wall Street Journal Houses of Worship column that offered a shoutout for a different Irish saint. I bring this up because St. Brendan of Ireland is my patron saint. So there.
What's the big idea of John J. Miller's piece? He wants to argue that Brendan, not Patrick, is the logical patron for Irish Americans. This is radical stuff.
The key question: Did the Irish get to North America ahead of the Vikings and, if so, was a missionary saint steering the boat?
If Irish monks really did make it to the Western Hemisphere, then perhaps Brendan is best understood as America's first immigrant. The story of Irish America, at least in its initial phases, is essentially the epic of a people who uprooted themselves, crossed an ocean and made homes in a place they'd heard about but had not seen.
And if the notion of displacing St. Patrick's special place on the calendar is too much to abide, then we can compromise: two parties instead of one. Or perhaps more piously, St. Brendan's feast day on May 16 can be devoted to good works as well as good ale.
I would say amen to that.
Actually, the whole subject of Celtic Christianity -- the symbols and the realities -- is very interesting and, a few years ago, came close to breaking out as a Godbeat news story. If you are interested in my take on it, click here.
Cheers. Anyone know where you can get a cheap Lenten supper in this town?