Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Intriguing Instances of Imaginary Irish Imps

Green beer can be fun, but on the whole St Patrick’s day generally leaves me nonplused. I’m sure there is a ‘true meaning’ of St Patrick’s day, but I am so sick of that old ax that I have no interest in grinding through March in addition to December and April. But today included two fun leprechaun ‘sightings,’ that I thought worth sharing.[1]

I took an ecology final this morning in Storer Hall, home to the department of Evolution and Ecology. The first thing you notice, when you walk into this building, is a large porpoise skeleton suspended from the ceiling. Ah, the musty eccentricities that pass for academic décor.[2]

But this morning, a festive prankster had included the inaccessible, expired, marine mammal in the festivities.

Props to the stealth pranksters for forgoing the obvious holiday for skeleton involvement in favor of one far less cliche.

Then, this evening, my reading group began our trek through volume 2 of NT Wright’s epic New Testament series: Jesus and the Victory of God.[3] The first 60 pages had some fun moments[4] but none were more entertaining than his description of Dominic Crossan: “(Crossan) has been described by one recent friendly critic as a ‘rather skeptical New Testament professor with the soul of a leprechaun.’”[5] The description is as apt as it is timely.

This post was prepared while listening to The Jungle of the Midwest Sea by Flatfoot 56

[1] Mainly because I don’t think I’ll get another post off before I leave for central Asia but I hope to post a travel blog when I return.
[2] The new geology building got a saber tooth.
[3] Affectionately known to us as J-VOG.
[4] He retells the story of the prodigal and casts the theologian as the older brother and the historian as the profligate suggesting that mature, robust, historical analysis (after a protracted period of polemical, ideological, antagonism) finally returns home with insights to offer the theologian, but the latter is too smug in his fidelity to receive it.
[5] This comment comes in the midst of an introduction to Crossan’s work that is effusive with praise including comments like ‘(Crossan) seems incapable…of thinking a boring thought or writing a dull paragraph’ and ‘Crossan represents…the high point of achievement in the new wave of the New Quest.’ Which makes the next sentence especially startling: “It is all the more frustrating, therefore, to have to conclude that (his) book is almost entirely wrong.” It is clear that Wright has a great deal of respect and affection for Crossan personally, but his analysis of Crossan’s work as tautological and thoroughly misguided is, in my opinion, 100% correct.


Joel said...

Granted, it's a long time since I was an altar boy, but somewhere in my Catholic upbringing I remember hearing that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland with a stick, and that's why he gets a holy feast day. Wikipedia makes no mention of this, but instead says that he saved the Irish from paganism and used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity.

Driving the snakes out of Ireland is probably a metaphor for driving out their pagan gods, but the internet does confirm that there are no species of snake native to Ireland.

JMBower said...

Snakes on a Sinn Fein?

sorry couldn't resist.

Yes, snakes = metaphor.

as per the title of the post?

instantly impressive!