All posts by Brad

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

‘Tis a grand time of year when you’re Irish. Or when you’re of Irish heritage, or simply wish you were. Perhaps you claim you’re Irish even though you’re not. St. Patrick’s Day, which is today, draws out the Irish in plenty of people all over the world.

But who was St. Patrick and why do people everywhere celebrate this day as an international holiday?

St. Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, he is the primary patron saint of Ireland. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.

Irish Music For St. Patrick’s Day

In his book, A History of Irish Music, William Grattan Flood writes, “No enemy speaks slightingly of Irish music, and no friend needs fear to boast of it.” So what is the story behind Irish music?

Today I am going to talk about four different types of Irish music.

1. Traditional Irish Music

Musicians sang early Irish songs a capella. They introduced pipes,  fiddles, and bodhrans (Irish drums) later. These instruments have become a staple of what we now know to be “traditional” Irish music. However, other instruments like the accordion, flute, and guitar have also become popular. Groups like Altan, The Chieftains and Celtic Woman provide traditional Irish tunes. They sing some of the most popular session songs. For example “Danny Boy,” “An Irish Lullaby,” “Rocky Road to Dublin,” “Irish Eyes are Smiling,” and “Finnegan’s Wake.”

2. Modern Irish Music

Who said that Irish music could only be old, sad and nostalgic? Many famous music groups from Ireland have blessed us with their sound, including U2, Sinead O’Connor, The Cranberries and Van Morrison.

3. Irish Harp Music

Francis Bacon once said that “no harp hath the sound so melting as the Irish harp.” Irish harp music dates back to the 10th-century Irish court when the harp was strung with wires of brass and plucked with long fingernails. It was the centerpiece of royal Irish music until it was eliminated by the British, surviving only as the dance music of the poor. Irish harp music, therefore, is considered the ancestor of Irish traditional music.

One of the biggest contributors to this form of Irish music was the blind harpist Turlough O’Carolan. The wandering harper lived from 1670-1738 and composed hundreds of tunes.

4. Celtic Music

Is there a difference between Celtic music and Irish music? Yes and no. Celtic (pronounced “kel-tic”) originally referred to a group of people who settled in Ireland, Scotland, Britain and surrounding areas. Celtic music in this sense is not specifically Irish.  Nevertheless, it is considered easy-listening, mood music that has an enchanting and relaxing feel.

Therefore, Irish music can be Celtic, but Celtic music isn’t always Irish. Some consider Enya to be modern Celtic music with a haunting Irish sound. Here is one of my favorites.


Spring Break

It was a typical spring morning in a rural south Texas town. Blue sky, a few puffy cumulous clones floating around, and a slight breeze blowing through the mesquite trees. A few residents were gathered outside the gas station/general store drinking coffee, enjoying this glorious South Texas Spring weather.

We were just a couple of College kids from SMSU on our way to South Padre Island. After driving all night we were just a couple of hours from our destination. Seven days of sun, sea, and sand. While my friend took his turn behind the wheel I was taking a well-deserved nap.

Suddenly I woke up from my nap to see a trailer stopped on the road ahead with our car headed straight toward it at 65 MPH.

LOOK OUT! I screamed.

We swerved to the left just in time to avoid a rear-end collision. The right side of our car smashed into the trailer, the impact sending us into a spin. We finally came to rest on the roadside 40 to 50 yards from the trailer we just hit. Miraculously no one was hurt.

After the Crash

Have you ever had a near death experience?  It changes your life. I attended church as a kid and always said I believed in God. But this was the first time I felt God was looking out for me personally. Andy had fallen asleep at the wheel. Had I not awoken when I did we would have smashed into that trailer and most certainly been killed. But God had other plans for my life.

Nine months after my near fatal collision I met Linda. We soon graduated and began climbing the corporate ladder. Over the next few years, we got married, traveled across the US and Europe, purchased our dream home, and had Lauren and Amanda. as Saturday Night Live ’s Garrett Morris would say: “Life was veddy veddy good to me.” I felt wide awake and so alive.

Little did I know this castle of sand I was building would soon come tumbling down.

Divided Methodist Church

On February 26, the United Methodist General Conference 2019 delegates passed The Traditional Plan 438 to 384. The judicial council raised several constitutionality issues. They addressed these issues with amendments to the Traditional Plan.

The Rev. Tim McClendon, South Carolina, called for a vote on the Traditional Plan as amended. This affirms the church’s current bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage.

Opponents mounted a last-ditch effort to bring back the One Church Plan. Delegates defeated the One Church Plan by a vote of 449-374. The Rev. Tom Berlin, Virginia Conference, spoke for a minority report for the One Church Plan.

Berlin told delegates that approving the One Church Plan did not force any pastor or church to perform same-sex marriages. Nor did it force anyone to change what they believe about the Bible. In addition the plan would allow conferences to ordain LGBTQ pastors. It would also allow churches to host, and pastors to officiate at same-sex marriages.

“If the Traditional Plan is voted in, it will be a virus that will make the American church very sick” he said. “Many pastors are going to leave, many annual conference will leave. … There will be trials, and they will be on the news. The only news about the church will be about people we don’t serve.”

Where Will We Go From Here?

Adopting the Traditional Plan is yet another milestone in the evolution of the Methodist Church. Time will tell how this ultimately unfolds. Will the church decide on an amicable separation similar to the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches?

I have family and friends on both sides of this controversial issue. Personally I disagree with the church’s position. I wish they would have adopted the One Church Plan. However, I understand and respect their decision. As Methodists we may be divided on this issue. However, we will survive.

My first encounter with a gay man came in the mid-1990s. He worked for me. We were on a business trip to San Francisco where we talked about his partner who died from AIDS. I was deeply moved by his story. Prior to that conversation I was admittedly a bit homophobic. His testimony put a human face on the issue for me. Since then I have met many gay and lesbian individuals and couples. Many of whom I consider good friends.

Regardless of what happens to the church I will try to live faithfully by the example shown by Jesus Christ.

John 13:34
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.