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Saint Patrick’s Day Muse: When Red Messes Up the Green, White, and Orange March 17, 2015

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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Today is Saint Patrick’s Day.  It’s the day when people wear green, drink awful green food-coloring beer, and eat green eggs and ham and other green things.  In America, it is, anyway.  And it used to be a day when if you didn’t wear green, the other schoolkids would pinch you.

I’m not wearing green today.  Not a stitch.  I will probably have no green beverages, unless it’s lemon-lime Kool-Aid.  My wife will no doubt see to that one.  I hope there are green beans, and not green eggs and ham, on the table.  Well, at least I hope the ham isn’t green.  I like food coloring in Kool-Aid and cake frosting.  That’s about it. I didn’t even bring Key Lime yogurt today, although that’s a nice thought.  OK, some food coloring is ok with me in my yogurt too, just don’t overdo it.  There are food manufacturers who use thousands of tiny bugs shells and eggs to make food red.  I don’t mind, but tell me I’m eating a bug, don’t hide it.  Generally, if I want a bug I’ll buy it, dry-roasted and covered in chocolate or garlic salt or something, and I’ll eat it.  Trust me.  I’ve had crickets, and even worms.  They were weird.  I did not eat the mealworms.  Ugh.  I wonder what they use to make stuff green, when there’s an abundance of plant material that could be used for both reds AND greens.  Like for instance, strawberries, those are actually red.  I bet there’s a natural way to make beer green, using plants and not animals or “mystery carcinogenic green dye substance # 1138” or “soylent green.”

I wonder if they did the traditional, annual “Pollute the Chicago River” in Chicago, this year, and “Pollute the White River,” in Indianapolis, and “Pollute the City Waterway” in whatever other city they used to do that in that I wasn’t aware of.    It’s OK, add a little bleach and the water looks crystal clear again.  You worry that bleach is poisonous?  That’s actually just a vicious rumor.  It’s only toxic from overexposure, concentration, or in incorrect combination with other compounds, and we would think that a normal American would read the label and follow instructions about things like that..  But we meant to say, add a little “Water Clarifier Compound 2999.”  It’s natural.  We chlorinate our water in almost every city, and some bleach is made of chlorine.  Unless your water filter gets that, you’re probably drinking it now.

I didn’t set out to write about food coloring although that’s a very interesting thing to read up on.  I recommend it after you decide I’m never going to get to the point, and you quit reading my blog.  But I do have a point.

Saint Patrick’s day is a celebration steeped in Irish history.  The legends aside, Saint Patrick is credited with bringing the Bible, and the Christian faith, to Ireland.  So is Sir William of Orange.  Little did they know, while doing the Lord’s work of evangelizing, that Saint Patrick would become a Catholic Icon and Sir William would become a Protestant one.  But they did, and then the factions of Christianity began a history of conflicts that were more about power and money than any religious pursuit.  If you in America were ever pinched as a child for not wearing your green, that’s a Catholic persecuting you for looking like a Protestant.  Or an idiot bullying you for not conforming.  How far we’ve come from Jesus.  Or even Paul and Peter and Apollos.

I don’t know whether William or Patrick would have gotten along.  In Ireland the factions became so …factious, that they fought each other, shot at each other, or blew each other up with explosives.  If I have learned my history and if my vexillology research has paid off, The flag represents history and is a prayer for the country, really.  Vexillology?  Don’t vex me; look it up for yourself.  Green, for Catholicism, which came first, on the left. White in the middle.  Orange for Protestantism which came later.  What’s the white for?  It’s a prayer for peace between the factions of Christianity, who have to coexist or die trying, on their little island paradise.

What I love about America is we’re supposed to be free to practice whatever religion we want, as long as what we do in its’ practice is legal.  Or we can decide religion is irrelevant.  It’s fine.  We can speak our mind as long as we’re not bullying or threatening another person.  I would like there to be a lot less red dye in my food.  I would also like there to be no more red, for bloodshed, in the name of religion, or whatever you want to call the belief system that motivates you.  No more beheadings from the Islamic State.  No more beheadings at all, for any reason.  No more kidnapping and torture and rape, Boko Haram.  No more buying and selling of human beings, anyone.  Other people are not livestock, they’re people, just like you, equal to you.  No more persecution of Jewish people, Neo-Nazis (or anyone else).  I live in America and Israel is supposed to be our ally, for heaven’s sake.  And we’re supposed to get along with the rest of America’s citizens.  No more bashing people for being normal humans, Christ-followers.  You may have discovered something that helps you avoid, and find absolution for, what you now consider to be a “sin,” but normal people don’t have that until you teach them.

If you’re supposed to love, your hatred of people only shows that you have failed.  If you’re supposed to follow a peaceful religion and you’re murdering people because you have some misguided belief, it doesn’t make you a hero, it makes you a murderer.  If your beliefs are based on hatred of a person just because they exist, I’m sorry to inform you that you’re a failure as a human.  Please, let’s have no more bloodshed or criminal activity or oppression in the name of any religion. You can call it your religious practice, but I know it’s just cruelty and power-mongering at the least, and criminal at worst, and there’s nothing religious about it. I know tolerance is supposed to be the new “in” virtue, but I have zero tolerance for any of that.

If you want one, today’s the day:  have a green beer.  Or a plain one.  Or mix it up.  While you’re at it, buy one for the guy who symbolically represents the other color on the flag.  You may think you’re on the right side.  You may think the person on the other side is on the “wrong side.”  But please, respect the white stripe, don’t stain it or spoil it for the rest of us.  If you want a red one, just have a Jamaican beer instead.  And again, buy one for your neighbor.  Make friends.  If you can’t get along and you must stir trouble, please just go home and stay there until you learn how to cooperate with the rest of civilized society.

I would rather have a celebration than fight someone.  It’s Saint Patrick’s Day!  Yet another excuse to have a party.
You don’t have to be Irish, or Catholic, or Protestant, to learn or celebrate the meaning of the white stripe.  I think we should all strive to live out the hope of the symbolism of that flag.  See the white stripe in the middle?  The other two colors are supposed to represent you and whoever else you meet.  Live the white stripe:

Practice peace.

~ MoeJoe


Saint Patricks Day, White Stripes, and True Colors March 5, 2014

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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I hate Saint Patrick’s Day.  It’s a monument to ignorant conformity and violent stupidity.  It was supposed to be a celebration of a legacy, a one-man campaign to lead others to God’s truth.  But instead, it is an annual excuse to drink too much, to revel, and to pollute the Chicago River, or whatever other waterway you live by.   When I was growing up, it was the bullies’ way to drag me, an unwilling participant, into a fight I didn’t care about.  As I’ve aged, Saint Patrick’s Day Parades have become less and less about Saint Anyone, and more and more a celebration of the Great American Pagan.
I grew up in a school where most of the kids wore green, without a clue as to what it meant.  And many of us were Protestant.  If I wore green no one would pinch me, if I didn’t wear green everyone would pinch me, and some of them really hurt.  It was war on the kids dumb enough not to wear green.  And then my mom ruined it for me, by teaching me about different religions.  She said Saint Patrick was a Catholic church saint, and Protestant people and Catholic people didn’t get along in some places.  She said pinching was nicer than killing, though, and there has been lots of killing in Ireland where the fight was between Protestants and Catholics.
I never wanted to be a martyr, but I was a Protestant, so I asked who Protestant people celebrated in Ireland.  She told me about her grandpa, who always wore a bright orange tie on Saint Patrick’s day.  He celebrated his Irish ancestry and the legacy of Sir William of  Orange.  She made green and orange crochetted shamrock pins we could wear. I could choose, a pinching shamrock or a non-pinching shamrock.  I tried to be proud of my Protestant, Irish heritage for a year or two.  I tried covering it up a year or two.  I didn’t like being pinched, and I didn’t like proclaiming I was something I wasn’t, even if the ignorant kids had no idea why they pinched the kids who weren’t wearing green.  They pinched even if a kid had merely forgotten what day it was.
Those kids.  I wish I could call them idiots for their lack of historical knowledge and their hypocrisy at acting Catholic when they went to the Protestant church.  Some of my schoolmates weren’t Irish, either.  Saint Patrick was just a Christ follower whose name and symbolism and message were hijacked by Catholics after he was dead.  Catholics claimed him, not the other way around.  But those green wearers were smart, for going along and wearing green camouflage to avoid being bullied. 
Certain people who encourage diverse lifestyle choices have also hijacked St. Patrick’s Day, and march in parades to celebrate their behavior choices and habits.  They also hijacked Noah’s covenant symbol of God’s promise to not destroy the earth by flood again.  They say everyone’s behavior choices should be celebrated and no one should be persecuted.  They say that people of any stripe or color or choice should be celebrated.  But if I don’t wear green, I still get pinched, so that’s a lie– they clearly don’t mean that.  I WISH it were true though, because we should all enjoy each other and get along. 
I don’t want to fight.  I don’t care what your habits or choices are.  Do whatever you want.  But call it what it is.  And please, if I don’t want to conform to what you think ought to be normal, don’t force me to conform, or bully me when I don’t.  Many people celebrate conformity, even if conforming takes on the hypocrisy of accepting something one doesn’t like, if everyone else is accepting it.  Bullying becomes the norm against whoever doesn’t think like the majority, or the powerful few, want us to think.
Saint Patrick is supposed to have used a shamrock to show people how God could exist as a trinity.  Modern people want to make their own God in their own image so they can decide right and wrong for themselves, so they hijacked that symbol and then told people that 3 in 1 wasn’t enough.  Now they say good luck comes in the form of a 4 leaf clover.  Subtle, but I take it to say that if you find one, the 4th leaf means you’re a god too. 
I want to celebrate.  I want to enjoy life, parties included.  I want to be invited.  But I don’t want to lie about what I am and what I stand for, and I don’t want to be persecuted or pinched or shot or blown up for what I believe in.  The Protestants and Catholics say they have been at war in Northern Ireland since King James II, allegedly a Catholic, was defeated by King William III (aforementioned as William of Orange), allegedly a Protestant, in 1690.  In the modern era, Northern Ireland has been split by civil war, more about land ownership and power than about religion.  Periodically parts of Ireland are laid waste by murderous bombings from one side or another, neither one of them doing a good job of proving how Christ-Like they are.  But each claim to do it for their church.  It doesn’t matter to me why one says they kill or bully.  It’s still evil.  
I think I’ll wear black and purple on March 17.  The black is because I’m in mourning for all of the hatred, violence including pinching, and hypocritical bloodshed between different people who claim to be Christ followers, who really should live in peace.  The Irish flag has a green stripe for Catholics, an orange stripe for Protestants, and a white stripe between them for peace.  The purple is because I like purple and I have a purple shirt that has a dreadlock wearing smiley face on it and the caption “Smile, Mon.”  I’m going to stay home and avoid all of the revelry and green-dyed waterways and beer.  I may even drink something without any artificial color added.  Water is good.  Or, keeping with a Jamaican motif, maybe I can avoid the rainbows and oranges and greens, and find something with a Red Stripe.  Either way, whether we like orange or green, whether we choose water or coffee or hot tea or beer, as I try not to judge your choices, please try not to be my judge.  There’s a higher authority, a higher standard we can all reach for.  I need the margin of the white stripe of peace between us.

If you’re celebrating, be safe.  Whether we wear green, orange, purple, black, white, or rainbows, if you think of me in my purple shirt, “smile, mon.”  And look into the truth St. Patrick stood for.  It’s simplified pretty well in First John 4:7-12.  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+John+4%3A7-12&version=NIV