Monday, March 17, 2008

SAINT PATRICK'S DAY

Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially St. Paddy's Day or Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa 385–461 AD), one of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on March 17. In the past, Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated only as a religious holiday. It became a public holiday in 1903, by the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903, an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament introduced by the Irish MP James O'Mara. O'Mara later introduced the law which required that pubs be closed on 18 March, a provision which was repealed only in the 1970s. The first St. Patrick's Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931 and was reviewed by the then Minister of Defence Desmond Fitzgerald. Although secular celebrations now exist, the holiday remains a religious observance in Ireland, for both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Church. The New York parade has become the largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world. In 2006 more than 150,000 marchers participated in it, including bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations, emigrant societies, and social and cultural clubs, and it was watched by close to 2 million spectators lining the streets. The parade marches up 5th Avenue in Manhattan and is always led by the U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment. New York politicians - or those running for office - are always found prominently marching in the parade.
Some Time in New York City is John Lennon's third post-Beatles album, and fifth with Yoko Ono, and was released in 1972. Primarily for its distinction as a dual "Lennon & Ono" album and being preceded by a controversial single, Some Time in New York City fared poorly critically and commercially compared to Lennon's previous two albums, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine. On it was a protest song The Luck of the Irish.
Which raises the question is the luck of the Irish good or bad? If we are to believe Bart D. Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill not only do the Irish have bad luck we all do and because we all suffer it proves there is not a God. In a review written for The Charlotte Observer by Rev. James C. Howell, pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church Ehrman is quoted as writing, "I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of life. In particular, I could no longer explain how there can be a good and all-powerful God actively involved with this world, given the state of things. ... Life is a cesspool of misery and suffering."
Ehrman seems to assume nobody ever thought of this before. He noticed the Holocaust, hungry children, Katrina -- and he concluded something titanically brilliant: God has a problem, which is God's failure to deal with suffering, so all that is left to us is to conclude God just plain isn't.”
Rev. Howell in the review comments, “I was shocked by this book, but not because Ehrman rejects God. Ehrman is a very fine scholar, and a task incumbent upon a scholar is to engage the best scholarship written on a subject. Christians have known for 2,000 years that suffering happens, and theologians have grappled with many wise, meaningful approaches to how we believe in a good God in a world where bad things happen. Ehrman seems not to have made himself aware of any of them, or he ridiculously misrepresents various ways we understand the intersection of God and suffering. None of the great theologians who have deftly explored these matters is ever mentioned.”
One of those theologians was C. S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain is a 1940 book by C. S. Lewis, in which he seeks to provide an intellectual Christian response to questions about suffering. The book is a theodicy, an attempt by one Christian layman to reconcile orthodox Christian belief in a loving and omnipotent God with the fact that people suffer, and is not intended to provide comfort to those actually suffering. Some have felt that it is useful to read it together with A Grief Observed, Lewis' reflections on his own experience of severe emotional pain.
On this St. Pat’s day I could deny God because I have a mental illness and was abused as a child and now find my health failing. However, I would have rather lived my life a free man with free will and suffered the natural course of life than have been a robot. God created humankind in His likeness not as computers or puppets. I thank Him each day for my freedom and for His grace and I serve Him of my own free will as was His plan from the beginning of time. Ehrman’s book is titled God’s Problem. God’s only problem is that His creation keeps rejecting His grace.
You can reach me directly at edcooper@projectdreamagain.com
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