a not very presbyterian utopia

I was intrigued this morning to read an article on how the yes and no camps will be reconciled after the independence referendum in September. (Less than 70 days to go, btw.) For various reasons though I’m hobbled somewhat in terms of being able to comment at the moment.

Happily though, I’ve had some correspondence on the issue from an old friend, Jessie Morag, who offers some thoughts.

Jessie Morag writes:


Hi a’ ghraidh!

Today I only opened the paper and found an article on the referendum debate in Lewis! Did you see it yourself? You’ll have realised anyway the guy they’re calling Andrew is actually my second cousin twice removed on my mother’s side.

He makes some great points! In fact it was just the other day I was mentioning to Andrew it’s such a pity the way nobody is speaking out about identity. Some of us find it hard enough to be Scottish sometimes, the way the Lowlanders carry on! Would Central Belt rule any better for them up in the Islands than London rule? maybe it’s a silly question but that’s what they’re asking themselves and my cousin up in Muir of Ord would tell you the same.

But typical Sassenach journo! Didn’t Andrew just use the phrase ‘milk and honey’ and of course the journo starts dreaming up all sorts of allusions to religion. Did you see the bit where it says: “The yes campaign is an act of faith in the promised land, it resonates with a utopian language of Scotland’s Presbyterian history.”

I mean, what will they come up with next!

Don’t they know that More’s utopia is a bit different from the Millennium? Certainly the nationalist utopia is! Actually most presbyterians I know are a bit apprehensive about the kind of independence on offer. I was hearing from my sister in law’s cousin at the time when they set up the Scottish Parliament how they had to fight to even have prayers in the parliament because they wanted it to be secular. It’s as if they want to airbrush the Reformation out of our history altogether.

They definitely don’t respect the Bible when they’re making new laws anyway. Remember the so called consultation about gay marriage? They’re perfectly happy trampling underfoot what’s left of society’s conscience when they want to push through their liberal agenda, or progressive if that’s what they want to call it. As Uncle Angus was saying on the phone the other day: If these are the kind of values we have to look forward to after independence, we certainly can’t be voting yes. By the way, Uncle Angus was telling me the Continuings have put out a paper on the referendum, I’m sure you’ll have seen it. He says it’s awfully long, but after all we were disappointed with the Free Church papers, which were half for and half against, the very definition of swithering.

Well, the church is in a sorry state and you can’t help thinking there’s an element of judgment in it all. They say a nation gets the rulers it deserves and certainly there hasn’t been a clear voice from the church on all these moral issues in the past few decades.

When you think of the Reformers and the Covenanters and the Disruption worthies, and look where we are now. The sacrifices our forefathers made to give us the heritage we have in terms of our civil and religious liberties, and the best utopia they can offer us now is all this materialistic talk about oil and pensions! Plus a state guardian for every child in Scotland! I bet you Andrew is mortified, I would be!!

Well, I better not keep you my dear!

Cheerie an drasda and toodle pip!

Jessie M xx


(For anyone interested, the Free Church papers on independence are here, and the Free Church Continuing paper is here (pdf).)

Jessie Morag’s people are from Ballantrushal, although she now stays in the Central Belt. She prefers when you pronounce it ‘Jessie’ instead of ‘Chessie.’

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