Saturday, 18 September 2010

Secular society? No, the worship of Burns continues!

This week has obviously been a big week for the Scottish Catholic Church, with the arrival of the Pope in Edinburgh. Although my wife and children are Catholic, I was actually raised as a Presbyterian in Northern Ireland, though am no longer that religious at all. For me, once we go, that's it, and hence why I think the recording of our family history is so important, as it is probably the greatest gift we can leave the next generation.

I did however watch the coverage of the pontiff's visit to Holyrood, it was after all a great moment in Scottish history. It did amuse me when he met various dignitaries in a marquee in the grounds of Holyrood that the band struck up with the theme from the movie 'Gladiator' - quite possibly taking the theme of Rome a little too literally! :) (Thankfully they didn't play the best bit of music from the whole film, entitled "The Fall of Rome"! lol)

However, the Pope did warn that Scotland is becoming dangerously secular. That may be worth challenging. You see, it is quite clear that the Government's worship of Robert Burns is actually alive and well, and clearly on the increase. If you don't believe me, read the press release quoting Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop, where she has announced yet another £1.084 million to the new Robert Burns Museum in Alloway, now taking the Government's spending on the £21 million project to some £8.6 million. The reason why this strikes a chord with me is that Government minister Jim Mather has also just announced that he has asked the National Archives of Scotland, the General Register Office for Scotland and Registers of Scotland to consider merging to save money. As a genealogist, I have to say that I know which I think probably gives better value for money.

I may not be the religious man I once was, but one aspect of Presbyterian theology has always stuck with me - the fact that in the Bible there is no mention of a moral authority for the raising of one man in a hierarchy above another. Presbyterians have long argued that that does not justify the role of the Pope - to me however that also applies equally to John Knox (is the statue of him on the Mound in Edinburgh the true definition of irony?!), and let's face it, the establishment's continual obsession with Robert Burns!

(Actually, come to think of it, the Pope may be right. I think I'm going way beyond secularism...)

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