The Literacy of the Irish

There’s no other way to talk about my other favorite part of How The Irish Saved Civilization than just to quote Thomas Cahill extensively. So here are some the best sentences of the whole book:

“Like the Jews before them, the Irish enshrined literacy as their central religious act. In a land where the old literate civilizations were sinking fast beneath successive waves of barbarism, the white Gospel page, shining in all the little oratories of Ireland, acted as a pledge: the lonely darkness had been turned into light, and the lonely virtue of courage, sustained through all the centuries, had been transformed into hope (p 164-65).”

And more:

“The Irish received literacy in their own way, as something to play with…Within a generation the Irish had mastered Latin and even Greek and, as best they could, were picking up some Hebrew. All this was fairly straightforward, too straightforward once they’d got the hang of it. They began to make up languages. The members of a far-flung secret society, formed as early as the late fifth century (barely a generation after the Irish had become literate), could write to one another in impenetrably erudite, never-before-spoken patterns of Latin…not unlike the languages J.R.R. Tolkein would one day make up for his hobbits and elves… (p 164)”

It just seems that they loved literacy, words, and writing so much that they couldn’t help themselves but to embellish, creating some of the most famous and beautiful written works of literature. And when I say beautiful, I don’t mean well-structured sentences. I mean beautiful — like decorative. Go look up the famous “Chi-Rho” page in the Book of Kells.

I thoroughly enjoy hearing about these funny, country scholar-monks going about their copy work with such gusto. I wish that I was always as enamored with the written word as they were.


New Art!

I’m pretty sure I’ve never purchased art in my life! Until now.

Decorating a house may be the biggest challenge that I’ve ever undertaken, as far as long-term projects go. And I’m not very good at it – at least I feel like I’m having to learn from scratch. I’m constantly asking myself:  “What’s my style? What do I want our house to ‘feel’ like? How do I not spend a lot of money on things that serve no purpose and will be out of style within five years???”

I’m learning new things every step of the way, and, while it’s a little fun, it’s also been a bit stressful.

When it came to actually finding things to put on the wall online, I pinned what I liked on Pinterest, and then proceeded to look at these particular pictures for months, just wishing that there was some way I could duplicate them myself for little or no money at all. I have a hard time buying things that aren’t practical. And art, as you know, has no practical value (or so I tell myself).

And then, after months of agonizing, I bit the bullet and bought them.

And today they came!! I haven’t been so excited for something to come in the mail for a long, long, time. Here’s what I ordered:

First Art Purchase Ever

First Art Purchase Ever

I can’t wait to get them up! There’s just one more coming for Iowa, and then I can frame and hang them. I’m from Montana, my husband’s from Iowa, and we live in Minneapolis. Perfect. I’ll show you how it turns out when I get everything framed and on the wall.