lutherYes, I know it’s not until 2017, but a recent radio conversation about St Patrick’s day sparked me to think about the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The radio interviewer asked the Lord Mayor of Dublin, “Wasn’t St Patrick’s Day originally a religious festival?” The mayor replied, “Yes, but it has grown to be so much more now.” He proceeded to tell the interviewer that St Patrick was a Welshman who came to live in Ireland. “So,” the mayor said, “St Patrick’s Day reminds us how good it is to be welcoming of people from other cultures. So all people everywhere can join the day’s celebration.” Boy, do they ever! Even the Mexican restaurant where I ate supper on March 15th served green rice and printed “Happy St Patrick’s Day” on their receipts!

I think this illustrates what can happen when your special day gets hijacked by the culture. First, they will try to widen its appeal. (If this is not financially motivated, I’ll eat a bowl of Lucky Charms.) Second, there is the “let’s not offend others by excluding them” attitude. It is just not cool to imply, “Irish only,” and make everyone else feel left out. This culture is ready to welcome any excuse for a beer, even green, and to join in a rowdy brawl. Third, let’s secularize and reinterpret the meaning of the celebration. (It’s already happened to the Reformation. I was stunned to hear high school history teachers assess its impact only as a political and economic event!)

I’ve heard 2017’s festivities called a celebration of the 500th anniversary of “the Protestant Reformation.” Talk about losing your brand name! This was not the Anglican Reformation, nor was it the Calvinist Reformation. It was the Lutheran Reformation. I can’t wait to see what the media will do with it. I suspect that by the time publicists are finished reinterpreting it, people will be left scratching their heads and thinking, “What was all of commotion about back then, anyway?”

- President Cripe