Last year's St. Patrick's Day blog post, adorned with green beer, raised the basic question that faced St. Patrick: are human beings better off (1) under the direct sway of the Roman Empire, (2) under the direct sway of unconverted Irish, or (3) under the direct sway of a Christian monastery. Americans today generally believe (1). We live in a pagan or atheistic empire, and Ceasar promises to be our savior. The vast majority of Americans would recoil in horror at the idea of living the life of St. Patrick.
But in many ways, it was the lifestyle of hard work and faith that made America the most prosperous and most admired nation in history. During its first 200 years, America was in many ways a monastic nation: there was close community (as compared to today's anonymous, atomistic impersonalism) and a daily routine of work, prayer, invention, study, and commerce. Medieval monks were the first capitalists, and the Christian faith -- not Rome -- was the foundation of Western Civilization.
St. Patrick has some good advice for us on how to Christianize a pagan nation -- the parallels between pagan Ireland and moslem Iraq are obvious, but U.S. government policy in no way resembles the Christian approach of St. Patrick.
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