loren Eric Swanson: How the Irish Saved Civilization

Friday, July 15, 2005

How the Irish Saved Civilization

This past couple of weeks during my Nordic walking I've been listening to Thomas Cahill's "How the Irish Saved Civilization" on my IPod. Today I'll talk about this at our 4pm meeting of Books and Brew. Cahill traces history from the fall of the Roman empire and the sacking of the Roman empire by the barbarian invasion, beginning in 406 AD to take us nearly to the present. Because of Patrick, Ireland became an island of scholars and saint who delighted in books and took upon themselves the laborious task of copying the great works--especially the Latin works into books of their own. As Roman civilization fell, books and libraries burned and knowledge lost and even the memory of knowledge lost, Ireland's civilization rose and when stability returned to Europe it was the "white martyrs" (those who left Ireland for the sake of the gospel) who took the gospel and their beloved books with them establishing monestaries and towns throughout Europe. In the 12th century Ireland was attacked by the Vikings and eventually succumbed to their force. But they left their mark on all of Europe and us as well.

Cahill argues that Christianity in Europe, after Constantine was suspiciously political since it was a political advantage to convert. Ireland "was the only nation where the gospel did not come by force" so Patrick had to persuade these Irish folk to become Christ-followers. A wonderful complementary book to this is "The Celtic way of Evangelism" which is worth serious contemplation.


At Friday, July 15, 2005 2:58:00 PM, Blogger Bill Petro said...

Cahill is a historian's historian. By that I mean he often can't helped by being sidetracked back to Augustine or others. But that's forgiveable, his treatment of Patrick is useful.


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