round the oak of thor

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 21, 2007

Great. Another pseudo-Celtic whack-fest featuring low-calorie designer paganism:

An Anglican and a Roman Catholic bishop are to attend the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, which begins next week. The Bishop of Clifton, the Rt Revd Declan Lang, and the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Price, will be at the festival on Sunday 24 June. ...

During the week, Celtic eucharists of earth, fire, air, and water will be celebrated in the "Healing Fields" zone. The eucharists -- developed by the Revd Adrian Prior-Sankey, a Baptist minister, and the Revd Mark Bond, an Anglican priest -- were part of an effort by Christians to be present among the hundreds of faiths, cults, and beliefs that would be represented on the multi-acre site, Mr Prior-Sankey said last week.

"The field is divided up into earth, fire, air, and water circles, and we are in the air circle," he said. His team leads worship in the hazel-framed, tarpaulin-covered "Coracle", where they offer prayers for healing. They send representatives to the daily forum for debate between different faiths.

"Celtic eucharists of earth, fire, air, and water will be celebrated ..." How would we know? Who could tell us if they happened to get it right? Celtic Spirituality is one of those entirely bogus inventions that bear no relation whatever to historical fact but appeal to romanticized feelings of conventional suburban rebelliousness. The scam artists who created the pre-history have no notion of what constitutes authentic "gaelicness" and none of the tools necessary to recover it if they did. What they pass off as Celtic Spirituality is derived at third-hand from some Hollywood producer's idea of Ojibwa religion, decorated at the margins with designs pilfered from the Book of Kells: it's Tonto speaking with a Wexford accent and nothing more.

Celtic Spirituality is a cousin to the German Faith Movement ginned up by the Nazi "theorist" Alfred Rosenberg. The Deutsche Glaubensbewegung folks went in for horns and pelts instead of hazel-framed coracles and ivy in the hair, but whether it's neo-druidism or neo-goddess worship or the Revd Adrian Prior-Sankey waving a wet reed, the point is the same: the feel of the wind in your face is the true voice of god and Catholic moral doctrine ain't. All attempts to recover a pre-Christian mythology are based on resentments targeted at universal ecclesial authority, and all of them, without exception, promise emancipation from irksome moral strictures. Today's Gaelic beech-huggers may protest that they have nothing in common with the Nazi neo-Norsemen, but their differences are superficial and unimportant. At bottom, each "recovered religion" wants to throw off the yoke of universally binding norms in order to indulge sinful liberties.

Ever known a wiccan or a four-winds cultist who gave it up because the ascetical demands were too stiff? Nope. Neo-pagans fast about as often as Elks.

The bishops mentioned above, by the way, do not appear to be implicated in the pagan stuff, in spite of the teaser with which the article begins. They're simply said to be attending the Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, and that may mean nothing worse than giving prizes to 12-year-olds for Irish dancing (a mild and salutary penance, on the level of watching someone else's children play Tee-ball). I have my doubts about the Revd Prior-Sankey and his Elemental Baptists, but it would seem that for the time being the episcopal traditions are in the clear.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 22, 2007 3:15 PM ET USA

    Let's not be hasty in our condemnation of Celtic spirituality, after all as Meg Q rightly points out that for the most part it means Eucharistic worship in Latin with a few classic vernacular hymns and perhaps readings. It also means a particularly strong attachment to corporal penance and to self-denial cf forsaking kin and country for the sake of spreading the Gospel. And we cannot ignore the impact of the penitentials on the Western Church's practice of regular confession. BRING IT ON!

  • Posted by: - Jun. 22, 2007 9:18 AM ET USA

    Ultimately this is all about worshiping oneself.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 21, 2007 11:39 PM ET USA

    Caption: Hagar the Horrible celebrates casual Fridays with a little pup tent patio reading of Kurt Vonnegut. ps Braveheart, you're getting a little portly in your Celtic old age.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 21, 2007 7:55 PM ET USA

    In case anyone missed it, I think they're gonna have an orgy. "The Sanctuary Marquee would be converted into a sleeping area."

  • Posted by: - Jun. 21, 2007 6:55 PM ET USA

    Considering that from the time of St. Patrick until c. 1963, my ancestors generally prayed in Latin, as a person of Irish heritage I find all this "Celtic spirituality" nonsense about as authentic as a cheap Chinese porcelain music-box painted with orange shamrocks and playing "Danny Boy". In other words - Piffle! (Don't ask what I think about the "Gaelic Mass"!)

  • Posted by: - Jun. 21, 2007 2:22 PM ET USA

    Although these psuedo religions are based on romantic visions of what may have been, you are right in sounding the alarm that this is paganism. They worship what they do not know and what they do not understand. The Church should not be a part of this in any form. The Bishop needs to walk away and stop seemingly to approve by his presence. This is where fringe christian churches (episcopals and unitarians) are headed as they allow all things under the sun to be worshiped

  • Posted by: - Jun. 21, 2007 1:04 PM ET USA

    Considering the moribund state of Anglo-Irish culture in light of the revival and expansion of Mecca, and the apparent desire of much of Western civilization to follow their British Isles cousins into looming extinction, this is rather like a whist game on the Titanic. It also speaks to the need for gainful and sweatful employment for a lot of people with too much time on their manicured hands. A strong dose of the coming reality, however, may do just the trick.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 21, 2007 10:37 AM ET USA

    Once again the shaft of Uncle Di's arrow (the one with the delicate Celtic runes) quivers as it emanates from dead center. Here in San Jose we were treated some time back to a mass confirmation ceremony in which (for Hispanic confirnees) the idea was to have them dance about doing made-up Aztec dances to made-up Aztec music singing made-up Aztec songs.