Many fundamentalists (especially those of college age) have a love affair with all things Irish that borders on obsession. This yen of fundies for Ireland is a bit confusing on its face. After all, fundies don’t approve of liquor, Roman Catholics, dancing, luck, or kissing people merely based on their ethnic heritage. In fact, they think so little of Ireland that it’s a fairly popular missionary destination. But regardless of all these flaws, what many fundamentalists do approve of is traditional rhythmic folk music played by white guys. And the Irish have plenty o’ that. (So do mountain-dwelling banjo-pickers but that’s a post for another day.)
Now this is not to say that fundamentalists will listen to all Irish music or singers. U2, The Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly’s music would never pass music checks at any Fundy U worthy of the name. But when it comes to the instrumental folks songs or hymns played in “Celtic” style, many fundamentalists have love for it that borders on obsession. You’ll rarely find a church bookstore without at least a few CDs of “Celtic Hymns Played Slowly and Drearily Volume III.”
But what is Irish music really but songs of love and loss and oral histories that are sung to variations on tunes as old as time. Are they really that different from the folk music sung by people in Botswana, Kyrgyzstan, or Poughkeepsie? What sanctifies the Irish to sing and play what would cause others to fall from grace with God?
Perhaps it does all come down to color. And I’m not talking about green.