25 March 2009

Book Review: The Story of St. Patrick's Day

I know that I already wrote a St. Patrick's Day post on the day itself (and if you read that post, you already know that the day is properly referred to from now on as SpongeBob Day), but after rereading this book, The Story of St. Patrick's Day by Patricia A. Pingry, for the first time in a couple years last week, I just couldn't resist sharing it with you all:
Cover image of The Story of St. Patrick's Day by Patricia A. PingryWe got this book cheap somewhere maybe 4 years ago after St. Patrick's Day, figuring it would be a good idea to have around, since my side of the family is predominantly of Irish heritage, and my son was born pretty close to St. Patrick's Day.

The book starts simply enough, before tipping its hand a couple pages in:
A creepy St. Patrick teaching some huge-nosed peasants the Holy Trinity through the three-leaf cloverBefore you question the composition of this image, you must remember that this all took place before the Irish fell under the yoke of English tyranny, before they were manipulated into slavish subsistence farming and dangerous over-reliance on a single crop, when they had much more time in the middle of the day to sit about in a field in mixed company, picking clovers and being amused by the ramblings of a curious foreigner with a tragically compulsive hair-cutting obsession and the good luck of living in an age with a definite scarcity of mirrors.

So this is probably at least 93% accurate as to how it went down.

Of course, it wouldn't be a book about St. Patrick without mentioning the snakes:

St. Patrick boring and irritating the snakes out of IrelandWhat they seem to be saying here is that St. Patrick was a Parselmouth, and what's more than that, he was apparently a very irritating one. I believe in this picture, he's offering to hand out religious pamphlets, asking if they've heard "all the many great stories in the Bible featuring the courage and ingenuity of Our Serpent Friends..."

Note that most of the snakes have given up moving laterally along the ground and are resigned to flinging themselves off a cliff. Pretty much the same reaction I have whenever Jehovah's Witnesses come a'calling.*

And finally, we have to deign to acknowledge those persistent pagan traditions that weren't co-opted for expediency in winning converts:

I don't care WHAT the leprechaun told you, Seamus-- leprechauns are MAKE-BELIEVE!"And now, kids, ha ha, for a break from all that Real, Fact-Based Learning, here's a fun little story about how some silly people believe that tales of beings with magical powers who had wild, implausible, and unprovable exploits long ago are immutable fact, and that these beings continue to invisibly rule the world of the present day, watching over us all with stern disapproval.

"Remember: Though they may provide useful lessons and morals for all people, such stories are MAKE-BELIEVE and must always be clearly classified as such!"

I would love to see the lady's face on the page where one of the kids asks a question innocently making reference to "that story where Jesus cursed some guy who tried to take his pot of gold or whatever?"

So, to sum up: Guy shaking a stick to singlehandedly drive every single snake off an island the size of South Carolina: Fact. Leprechauns: Make-believe.

* Our downstairs neighbor let them in the building one time, and now I'm pretty sure they legally have a permanent invitation to ring the buzzer, per God's Law of Awkward Guilt.**

** Case number
God v. Who The F*** Do You Think You Are?


Mama Dawg said...

This was awesome.

St. Patrick was a Parselmouth. I believe, I believe! Is he related to Voldemort then? Cause if that's the case, how on earth did he become a saint with that black sheep in the family? Or is HE the black sheep?

Have you ever seen a black sheep?

Anonymous said...

Well, in the end the important thing is we get to eat cupcakes with green frosting and cookies with green frosting and green bagels and ...

Mrs. B. Roth said...

JWs make you want to throw yourself off a cliff, but you like the Mormon missionaries, right? (please refer to God's Law of Awkward Guilt, page 47, paragraph 3 - never offend your #1 commentors religious preference.)

Also, is St. Pat where we get the phrase "shake a stick at" ???

Swirl Girl said...

Your book sounds like it would be a good followup to what we're reading right now.

Let My Babies Go - the story of Passover as told by the Rugrats.

Momo Fali said...

How you came up with "93% accurate"? I believe it's more like 94.875%

beth said...

Why do we ever have to distinquish real from make-believe? I don't and I relatively fine.

Jenny Grace said...

Well. The Pope believes in Saint Patrick, that's how we know it's FACT. That's also how I know that condoms don't prevent the transmission of HIV.

Anonymous said...

1)Was that book printed in China? B/c the guy holding up the book in one of those pictures looks Asian...just saying.
2)You don't have to fling yourself off a cliff when the Jehovas come--just tell them you're an occultist and you can't wait to be welcomed into hell. It works for me.