I never did Patristics. The Word of God as it is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament was really enough for us. Of course I did Systematics and a wee bit of the history of the time, but really it wasn’t my period.
Today however I was doing some reading (some of which I have posted and I came across “A letter to Diognetus”. Only a small part was cited in the passage I was reading but I was taught well at New College, so I followed it up.

A late 2nd century apology addressed to a certain Diognetus who is otherwise unknown. Diognetus was a tutor of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, who admired him for his freedom from superstition and sound educational advice (Meditations 1.6), but he is not likely to be the recipient, or even the assumed recipient, of this apology from around A.D. 200. The work itself survived (with other writings ascribed to Justin) only in a 13th century manuscript, formerly at Strasbourg but burned during the invasion of 1870.
It is widely believed that the last two chapters were added at a later time. There are two schools as to its dating, one which favors a date approximately 130 CE and the other which favors a date approximately 200 CE or even later in the third century.

This work is an apology for the Christians, although the term Jesus or Christ is nowhere found in it, as the author seems to prefer the use of the term “the WordThe Christians in the world.

Here is a rather fine consideration of what being a christian is about in a Pre Christian society, and might ring bells with other people in a Post Christian Society of the kind which we now live in.

“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.”

From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)

Prayer

Father of all holiness,
guide our hearts to you.
Keep in the light of your truth
all those you have freed from the darkness of unbelief.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Prepared by the Spiritual Theology Department
of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross

 

A letter to a leaver who is writing the usual ideas

The first point is that it is not in fact axiomatic that an Independent Scotland will be part of the EU. There is a difference between objecting to being taken out of the EU against the wish of the majority of the people who voted 62% to stay. In the same way that it is the will of the English and Welsh people to leave the EU it is the will of the Scottish people that they don’t.
The Scottish government has put forward a number of possible ways in which there could be different arrangements for Scotland in a BREXIT world than for a BREXIT rUK.
It is quite clear that the Westminster government has no concern for the very deep questions which are being asked in Scotland about the treatment of the relationship. The fine words of September 2014 have moved on to the reality in 2017.
Your recycling of Leave propaganda doesn’t do anything for you as you simply don’t understand the arguments for an independent Scotland. The EU does not affect Scottish domestic policy in the way that the UK does. The EU is a club, the UK is a structure in which we are immersed and with which the relationship has changed – for the worse since the 1970s which is nothing to do with oil, but everything with the relationship of Scotland with a lost empire UK.

If you read the writings of, for example, Yanis Varoufakis, you would be aware that there are a lot of people in the EU who while believing in the EU as an institution, are still highly critical of it. Yes the EU needs reformed. The problem is that in the same way as my old Communist (Moscow) friends were against the EEC as their masters didn’t want to see a strong united Europe, so the associated forces of the Right like Trump and Putin wish to see the Block which is Europe destroyed or at least reduced.

It boils down to whether you are a European or an Atlanticist. I am a European. Having said that when the people of an Independent Scotland go to the polls for the Great Referenda Day, when the Constitution of the Newly Independent Scotland is approved by the people, including whether it will be a Republic or a Monarchy, one of the votes will be whether we with to remain in the EU (assuming that we become independent before the UK leaves the EU) or whether we wish to join in the event of Independence not being until after the UK leaves the EU.
The necessity for this is that rather than the English view that Sovereignty lies with the Crown in Parliament, in Scotland the Sovereignty lies in the People. Thus it is the Parliament is strictly limited in what it can get the Scottish People into.
So in fact what you are writing about the `EU is flogging a dead horse. It may give comfort to you as a leaver pulling the tattered remains of the leave blanket around you, but in this discussion it is absolutely irrelevant.
I would like to thank you as I have had to write this rely and I’ll write it up into a Blog and I was going to have to say something on this one any way.

Recently we had an incident where John Mason the MSP for Glasgow Shettleston was reported as having  Tweeted words to the effect that while some spoke of Irish Murderers, he spoke of Irish Freedom Fighters. The splat in the context of an anniversary of the brutal murder of three very young RHF soldiers in the early days of the troubles.

I was involved in a Facebook discussion about this and had to write quite a long piece. Having re read it I decided that it was really quite good and should be after editing, used as a Blog. I think with the rather fraught political situation I should publish some of my better Facebooks as Blogs. you never know I might get some readers if I publish enough a and they are worth reading

I am pulled two ways in this discussion.

I have served with one of the people very much effected by the murder. I have e had parties of Army Cadets  down at the Arboretum we had a small ceremony for the cadets, some of which were about the age of the three young men, where we placed poppy crosses below their names on the wall. I also remember the contemporary sheer horror of what happened, and it was seen as if a corner had turned in the troubles, things got even more brutal, I suspect that a lot of people realised that innocence had gone.

I abhor the IRA in whatever guise they come. However, either you have had a war, one which the IRA basically lost or you have had a civil insurrection in which case you are going to hunt the perpetrators of the various illegal actions on both sides. That means that some of the troops will also be caught up. They were not choirboys and they were fighting one of the most ruthless and determined enemies. In 1914-18 there was a saying that what happened in France stayed in France. That is not possible in the multimedia age.

The first requirement is that rather than constant repetition of the horrors which may or may not be ultimately played out in the courts, there needs to be some way in which a line can be drawn. I don’t know how, but I am sure that the criminal courts, whether with or without juries is not the best way to bring the kind of justice which people need.

Ultimately there is a need for restorative justice, but how that can be accomplished is difficult to see just how that will happen. What Ulster needs is some kind of peace and justice commission as they had in South Africa, though it has to be stressed that the comparison of the Blacks in South Africa and the Catholics of Northern Ireland is simply miss matched,  neither was the British State even at the hight of the troubles as repressive as the Afrikaans regime in South Africa. Simply there was never a majority kept as second class citizens by a minority. There was a majority who were not as open as they might have been to the aspirations of the minority which is a very different situation.

At the minute there is the appearance that the historical investigations people  seem to be going for the Security forces one suspects as it would be better documented than the terrorists. I don’t have an answer. The problem is that probably the price of some terrorist getting named is some soldier – who was operating in a different climate betting banged up for something which they did which they shouldn’t have. We have deep questions here about what Justice is and the whole question of the Just Rebellion and ow it can be dealt with. I don’t pops to even address these questions here.

We then put this whole situation in the context of Scottish Politics. Most of us in Scotland would wish that Northern Ireland is not in the context of Scottish Politics. The Independence movement in Scotland last took to arms about 1820 in the radical war, and it is debatable how much Nationalism was involved. Since then there has been virtually no violence (I don’t want to dig up what little violence there was as that would be a distraction, there is no point in whataboutary ). As far as violence in Scotland is concerned there is a tradition of some violence between gangs and connected with some football supporters. This is a generally deprecated  example of some of the people who are mainly supporters of one of two Glasgow Football teams who would appear to spew sectarian hatred and have a fixation of violence. There is not reason why a mainstream SNP politician would have given this very much thought. The SNP, and those who seek an independent Scotland has generally avoided any engagement with the situation in Ireland despite attempts to draw them into the situation. This is to such an extent that there has been a reluctance to ask for help from Irish political parties on the successful operation of STV in elections.

I am atypical in that I’m an Ulsterman and I have some sympathy with the Unionist population of Ulster as they are dumped by Westminster. At the same time their contributions to the debate in Scotland has not been positive. I remember a letter from the politician whom you will know as Baron Kilclooney, and whom I knew as John Taylor writing a particularly unhelpful letter during the Referendum Campaign.
The Ulster Unionist (in the broadest sense) have been poorly served in their advocates in Scotland who are seen marching and causing disruption to the lives of the population, thus it is that when the Nationalist (in the broadest sense) Irishman speaks he seems the centre of sense. Thus probably the majority of people in Scotland will not really know much about what has happened across the ditch. Th politician who made the statement about the IRA is a rather strange person. Very Socially and theologically conservative, in a context of liberalism, yet he survives in a party which is extremely democratic in the choice of its candidates for election.

I doubt that Nicola will want to get involved in the question of the Three Murdered Scottish Soldiers. This is really because this is the concern of another devolved administration, and I’m not convinced that the Scottish Government would welcome any interference from the Welsh or Northern Ireland politicians about a similar issue. One has immense sympathy with David McCaughey as he seeks to find some relief from a horror which has been in his family for most of his life. He has a perfect right to ask his MSP for support, but while the terms in which the MSP declined that support was unfortunate, it is difficult to see what an MSP would contribute to the solution of the problem which is really a Westminster question as it would appear to involve international relations.

We have of course how the forces of Unionism swarmed all over the story. Of course partly it is part of the continued SNPBAAD agenda. There was however a much more subtile issue and that is of course to make the SNP in some way appear soft on terrorism. Now Unionists are not known for the subtlety of their thinking. They can’t quite get their heads round the idea that they are British Nationalists, or that people would want to leave the UK not because of a great hatred for the present situation, but rather because it is self evident that the people living in a country are likely to be better at choosing the right choices for that Country than those who do not live in it. Unionists are still tied in with blood and soil nationalism. It was the Unionists who by and lerge argued that people born in Scotland should have a say in the last Referendum no matter where they lived as they were aware of the many people who had had to leave the country because of economic conditions and who felt, not that they had to leave because of the mismanagement of the Union, but that the Union in a way was offering them salvation from the incompetence of the Scots.

There is another spin off from this, that the SNP can be accused of either being soft on Terrorism, or even better, well disposed to it in Ireland, The First Minister is pictured with ex terrorists at ministerial meetings, is the not proof enough? A moments thought would show that the last thing which the SNP would want to do is to become involved in any way with Sinn Féin,  because in the context of Ireland her relationship with the Government of the Republic is so important for a future journey in the EU, that  she would hardly be encouraging the greatest danger to politics in the Republic. It boils down to how much support with either side in Ulster give on the BREXIT situation? That is a much more important political issue than some murders no matter how brutal in the Ulster War.

What we have to accept however is that Good Friday Agreement or not, the people of the North of Ireland still are going to have to go through a long and difficult period before they become a normal country (if ever. It may be that too much blood has been shed for there to be a realistic prospect of genuine peace in the hearts of the people). It behoves everyone who has a voice in Scottish Politics to do as much as they can to avoid playing to any of the stereotypes, not to seek equivalence between the sides in the  conflict, but to accept that some terrible things happened about which no one can be proud.

 

I have just finished “The Invisible Church” by Steve Aisthorpe. For those who think that they might get any comfort for the established Church out of its pages, I’m sorry, don’t waste your time, you will find that probably that the institutional Church will continue its gentle slide, if not to irrelevance, a peripheral position in Society.

For those however who have drifted away from the institutional Church or who are uncomfortable with it, here is hope, here in fact is the ringing declaration that Christ still calls people to follow him, just that it may not be in the well-known institution and certainly that worshipping him does not necessarily have to take place on a Sunday between certain hours.

When I was being interviewed for my first Congregation, in reply to one of the questions about looking after the members or the wider community, I asked whether they saw a Church as a sheep fank? Over the years this imagery has broadened out to include ideas of whether Jesus told his disciples to be fishers of men or to be keepers of the aquarium. The problem is that no matter how we put forward these images, we are making the fundamental error to confuse the people of God in the community with the institutional Church. Even the most basic knowledge of words about God should mean that we distinguish between the two. The problem is that we haven’t. Ever since the Constantinian Compromise (when the Christian Church became the Church of the Roman Empire) the institutional Church had the franchise. For the next 1200 years they could even kill people for the good of their souls. Even after the Reformation, Christians killing Christians in love was still practiced. The Church was (and very largely still is) seen as the building to which never more than a minority of the population went willingly on a Sunday.

Now while it is understandable for people outside the institution to think of the presence being marked by a building, those inside the Church also have difficulties in seeing past the institution. They may not see their physical building as representing the totality of the Church, but for them the Church is at least the people who join with them of a Sunday and if they are being especially open minded they will also include other people who worship at a similar time and in a similar building. Those who are physically outside the Church are lost.

The question which “The Invisible Church” asks however, recognises that there are a large number of people who for one reason or another would see themselves as followers of Jesus but who do not have any relationship with the formal Church. It also examines, and rejects the ready-made – and all too easy answers which the Church gives itself for the people who while claiming a relationship with Jesus, are not attending. If you believe in the old traditional line of “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” and you seek to limit the Church to the people who have some kind of formal connection to some denomination in some God box, those who don’t come to your club are not really part of your understanding of the Church, no matter whether Jesus died for the elect or not.

The answer which Aisthorpe gives brings little comfort to those who seek the continuation of the institutional Church as it is presently known. Yes, that version of the Church will continue for those who like that kind of thing. It might even have the odd spurt of growth but the fact is that many more people will find their understanding of their faith in other forms of devotion. We could well find ourselves in a situation where a thousand flowers can bloom, which may well reflect the situation which there was in the early Church before the Council of Nicene set out what being a Christian was.

It is here that I see real problems. Just what are these thousand spiritual flowers about?  One of the major developments in current spiritual/religious development is the question of the Spiritual but not religious (SBNR). I have talked with some who would see themselves essentially in this group. I have a concern that their belief is effectively Syncretic. Here we find ourselves asking questions about just what Christianity is. In the book we are reminded of the distinction between what is effectively the Parish Church, rooted in a geographic community and the fact that the expansion of the Church through Europe was basically accomplished by monks. I am not convinced that the present model of Monasticism is one which actually points to a mobile Church, rather than one bounded by rules and Property. If however we go back into the Celtic model we find that we have Peregrinatio. This may well be a concept which we need to explore.

One of the big problems which I have is with people doing the non-institutional Church, is how they do what Christ has told them to do, which is baptize and celebrate the sacraments. Just exactly where do these come from? I am entitled to Baptize and celebrate communion because I believe that I have been called to do this and my call has been tested and upheld by the National Church. While I can accept the local congregation independent of those around is the nearest to the model of the Early Church around, there are problems about the institution from quite a small stage. How do you legitimize both the Kerygma of the institution and the Charisma of those called to preside at its offices.

In a funny way the model is a bit like Home Brew against the products of the commercial brewers. Done well home brew is very good, but the commercial breweries give a standardized product. With the Good News of Jesus, just what is the message? Theology once was the Queen of the Sciences, but with people walking out of the established Churches where actually are their boundaries? Is the theological wheel going to be reinvented? The whole basis of the earliest understanding of the Church which we find in Acts gives us the expectation of an almost immediate Parousia. Now let us assume that, while the essence of the Christian Faith is that the Parousia will happen someday, it is also that we live as if it is coming tomorrow, and work as if it is never coming.

It is here that I find the major problem. Yes, I too have effectively walked out the Church because it no longer meets my spiritual needs. I simply could not resonate with the last celebration of the Eucharist which I attended at a liturgical or theological or even an emotional level, so I have packed my bags, and quietly left the local institution without telling them secure in the knowledge that they will never miss me, but what now? I seek fellowship, but either I wasn’t in class that day, or it was never taught, what do we do in the situation where the Institutional Church no longer says anything to us, no longer in its widest sense proclaims Christ Crucified? Yes, I could have celebrated the Queen’s 90th birthday, the congregation held, in connection with the local Rotary club a great celebration, but is that the role of the Kirk? I remembered when I was the Queen’s well beloved and trusty, that I didn’t take an oath of loyalty, because my loyalty was to Christ alone.

Then I remember preaching in one of Scotland’s great Churches. It was the first Sunday of the epiphany. I remembered that 461 years earlier, George Wishart had stood in that very place, and, according to Knox who was there, Wishart was disappointed by the poor attendance in the Kirk, and prophesied that Haddington would suffer plagues, be occupied by strangers, “Because you have not known the time of God’s merciful visitation.” Within 2 months of preaching in Haddington, George Wishart was burnt at the stake in St Andrews and in April 1548 the 18-month siege of Haddington began, the people were occupied and it was a grim time. Out of events like these and the struggles of the next 20 years came another, Reformed Scotland, one where the understanding of the Church was not one of stability or peace at any price, but a Church which had the concept that the Church having been reformed, must always be being reformed. Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda!

The Church of Christ which appeared after the Reformation was one which spoke to the people of the time. It communicated the Gospel, or at least a form of it which resonated with the people of that time.

What has happened is that people have been too keen to think in terms of Orthodoxy, rather than Orthopraxis. In the Reformed tradition we have thought in terms of Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria. But so much has failed to come over in the translation. We have forgotten what we do discover in our readings of the Scripture. We have forgotten our God given Faith. We don’t think about the Grace which we receive from God, through the intercession of Christ. We don’t even really know what it means to live to the Glory of God. However, despite this, we are called to live lives which reflect what we have been given. We have been given nothing less than a Mission and that is living lives which are guided and enriched by the gifts of God.

However ironically Orthopraxis also involved correct worship, so we find ourselves in this circle, People walk away from the institutional Church and its worship because they do not find in Orthodoxy or even the more charismatic forms the praxis and at least as important the real fellowship which they crave. In other words, in their concern for the survival of the institution the members of the institution are killing it by failing to open it to the dangers which both threaten and enliven it.

The one thing however which we must remember is that God will not leave himself without a witness, just that it may well not be the manifestation of his Church which we are used to in the Community.

The Depute Leadership. I’ve been thinking about this one quite hard. In the SNP of today this is one of the key positions – depending what we want the Depute to do. I believe the it is basically arranging the workings of the Party while the Leader gets on with being FM.

One of the problems is that we are spoilt for choice. We have contenders who could grace any political party. Quite simply they level of talent on offer is tremendous. However, we have to make a choice.

First of all, I’m sorry, but I am not saying anything about Chris McEleny I simply know nothing about him, and there is precious little about him that I can access. He seems to be a fine hard working Councillor. The problem is that while once that may have been a positive advantage, today it is simply the lack of name recognition which is not going to help him.

Everyone who watched it was impressed by Alyn Smith’s speech in the European Parliament. With Dignity and passion, he put forward the claim of Scotland to stay in Europe. Alyn has told us that staying in Europe is an important part of our future and he has told us that he would see that being Depute Leader would help him to open doors in Europe, and yes, that is true and if he were to be running for Deputy Leader that could well be a vital job, a really high powered Party representative at Europe. But he isn’t. The job of Depute is working with the locals, with the Branches and the various constituency organisations. I know that Alyn did a great job going round Scotland at the time of the Referendum, and that by far the pest piece of Referendum literature was the Wee BLEU Book, and while we may be heading for another Referendum, the issue is the organisation of the party at its roots. To put it bluntly Alyn is far too useful where he is than he would be being Depute leader. Completely different jobs with different contribution to the life of the party.

In normal times Angus Robertson would be the obvious person. High profile at Westminster, and doing a brilliant job in proving leadership at Westminster, where the SNP is providing the effective opposition. He has even gained the grudging respect of the Political Establishment. But that is effectively a full time job. One can understand Angus offering to act as Depute and in normal time he would make a great job, but these are not normal times. The SNP has changed totally in the past few years. What was once a small group is now a mass movement. There are very real questions of just how do we go on. Those of us who attend Branch meetings notice subtle changes, these have the potential to be very positive, or to cause great problems. We know that there are those in the party who are already thinking of change to meet present realities.

It is into the situation that Tommy Sheppard has come. He is from a slightly different background to many who have been members of the SNP in the past, but I would argue that for the present job this diversity is a strength. He doesn’t necessarily think in what has been the traditional SNP box. He hasn’t the long standing connections to the Party which might mean comfort with the Status Quo. He is at Westminster, which means that he is just that wee bit removed from the day to day concerns of the people who are doing their politics at Holyrood and in local councils, but yet plugged into the problems which we in Scotland really face.

At the lowest level he runs a comedy club so running a political party as Depute should not be too taxing. Seriously, though we are in a new situation and it would be very easy to fall into simplistic ideas, one could think that as the SNP is bigger it should say the same things, just with a louder voice. I believe that of course we have the same core message, we should be in effect saying the same things about an independent Scotland which cherishes all its children equally.

We had had the Referendum and while there were different understandings of what a generation was, (or more prosaically how soon we could get away with another successful Referendum, it was clear that it was unlikely that Scotland would be having another Referendum on Independence any time soon.

The EU Referendum has changed all that. I am not sure that only a month or so after the Referendum that we are any more than beginning to think where we are, though Nicola in her brilliant speech has made it a lot clearer than it was

However, in these different circumstances we have to address different people in different ways. We can’t really know where an independent Scotland will go in so many ways. All we as the SNP can really do is to help in the delivery of that Independent Scotland and that it will be part of a team effort. I think that of all the candidates Tommy is the one most likely to be able to work in the new circumstances with its uncertainties and its challenges.

We already have an inspirational Leader, let her Depute get on in the Party with building it up.

I have a friend who is having great difficulties with the Referendum. Recently to demonstrate the British Nationalist view I posted the famous picture of Nigel from Nairn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYasj3D9MrY
He disagreed with me, and claimed that while Nigel from Nairn was atypical of the British Nationalists – a term which my friend can’t quite take on board, the Yes campaign is full of people who shout freedom at every opportunity and who constantly look back to the battle of Bannockburn.
I wrote to him as follows
I doubt very much if you could get a contemporary Scottish nationalist equivalent to Nigel in captivity.
The BBC were unfair to Nigel, (who lives in Nairn). He was jumping up and down at the rehearsal and they used him. I had a discussing with someone who was writing about him as this old Crofter sitting with his dogs. In fact he is a portrait painter, went to a leading public school and his Father was a doctor.
The reason why I’m fairly certain, that despite the No campaign’s best efforts they don’t have the old fundamentalist Nationalists any more. Sillars and Wilson still represent that wing, but they will not come up with any of the kind of rubbish which we get from some of the British Nationalists – just read the comments on even the Guardian pieces. So why the confidence? When Scotland voted overwhelmingly for devolution in 1997 the gradualist wing of the SNP had won. While it came in a poor second to the Labour party at the beginning (and there was a coalition between the first and the fourth party), by the 3rd Election in 2007, the SNP were the largest single party and at the next election they did what was supposed to be impossible they won a majority. The newfound responsibility of power had a rapid effect in sobering up the vast majority of Nationalists.
The Yes campaign is of course a coalition (as is effectively the SNP). The kind of Anglophobia which the media keeps looking for and even promising – the English Athletes will get booed at the Commonwealth games – didn’t happen, simply does not exist. This isn’t to say that there are not yobs that are racist, sexist, homophobic, but they tend to associate themselves with two large Glasgow football teams. Both these teams are firmly on the No side though a substantial number of individual supporters are now intending to vote YES. Thus it is that will the extremes of British Nationalism are found on the NO side, For example, to our shame the last European seat was filled by UKIP, now they are unlikely to vote YES, nor are the Orange Order.
The fact that we are having this Referendum has concentrated the minds of the people of Scotland, especially those who aspire to run their own country. People understand the inappropriateness of the negative attitudes to people who live in Scotland who come from other places, and there is a broad recognition that it is the Westminster Establishment which is the real enemy.
I would challenge you to come up with anyone who seriously sees Scotland’s future in the historically illiterate character of those who aspire for an independent Scotland which you have given us. We are concerned about the Environment and the UK government position on fracking, have problems about Trident. See it obscene that something like a quarter of the Children of Scotland will be brought up in poverty and that the life expectancy of men in parts of Glasgow is lower than in some third world countries. Of course there are those who will have been celebrating the life of William Wallace over the past couple of days – it is his anniversary, but it is not Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. It is more likely people ill look to John Maclean than medieval figures. Thus it is that we who are working for a YES vote on 18th September are very different from the people whom you have a mental image of. But then

Locums are best seen and not really heard. Yes, we have the privilege of preaching the Word every Sunday, but I think that we really should keep a low profile. Most Ministers have a story of the Locum from Hell. I once went into a very difficult situation. The locum had had a high old time he had run a communicants class and put off a bunch of decent kids. He provided a cave of Adullam and it was only when I went up to him at Presbytery and told him that if he didn’t back off that I’d report him to Presbytery and get him stopped that he quit. The interim Moderator has asked me to write something which is really going to be the beginning of my Blogging  career. See you soon