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A recent web search on the word Celtic identified 976 sites, while a similar search on Jesus Christ located 896. In our local book-and-music megastore, Celtic music is one of the largest categories—well behind rock but gaining rapidly on classical. In the same store, the word Celtic appears frequently among the titles of the spirituality book section.These Celtic spirituality books are generally beautiful, lavishly decorated with a colorful knotwork of intertwined beasts and plants. The contents are organized around the seasons or the Celtic Pagan holy days (Samhain, Beltane, and others). The spiritual content is generic and safe, usually preceded by some warnings about the difference between Celtic spirituality (which is inclusive, and hence good) and Christian religion (which is exclusive, and hence bad). The introduction from one of these books is typical: "This book is for people of lively, questing spirit who want to lay down a personal pattern of spiritual practice but who do not wish to practice this within a specific religious framework. The material within this book springs from the spiritual current of Celtic tradition."Thus Celtic spirituality becomes one more dish on a spiritual smorgasbord, alongside various ancient and exotic traditions. We are used to such a spread in these late-modern times, whose inhabitants (like the Athenians of Paul's day) are always hungry for the latest ideas.The current wave of Celtophilia might be of only marginal interest to the Christian—except that a substantial and rapidly growing Celtic Christian movement also exists within the evangelical Christian community. So the word Celtic occurs with increasing frequency in the books and music of Christian bookstores, as do the rhythms ...

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April 24, 2000

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