Text of Comment and debate on faith issues in Scotland...Comment and debate on faith issues in Scotland...
June 2015Issue No 250
Comment and debate on faith issues in Scotland
2 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
Magna Carta is an English document written in Latin by French speakers. It has acquired iconic status. It was proposed that the 800th anniversary of its signing on 16 June 1215 should have been a public holiday. There was one Scot in attendance at its signing: King Alexander II who owned land in England. A century later one of Robert the Bruce’s complaints before Bannockburn was that Edward II didn’t obey his own country’s laws as agreed in Magna Carta.By the time of the Union of the English and Scottish
Parliaments in 1707 Magna Carta had been superseded in England by parliamentary statutes. Cromwell (Oliver, the republican hero, not Thomas, the royalist sycophant of Wolf Hall fame) had dismissed it as Magna Farta. For him it was for the benefit of French robber barons, not the common man (sic). Only three clauses have not been superseded. Two of them enshrine privileges for the English Church and the City of London. The third guarantees the right to trial by jury.The Scottish Church did not inherit comparable
privileges at the Reformation. There is no Scottish
Corporation comparable to The City. The power of juries is exaggerated. First the Crown and then Parliament added judges to ‘guide’ them in their deliberations. The right to trial by jury in Scotland comes from a different legal tradition. There are 15 members as against the 12 of Magna Carta. Scotland also has majority decisions and the non proven option.One of the underlying tensions today between the UK
and Europe is that unlike other countries the UK has no written constitution. Human rights in the UK depend on Parliamentary statutes verified by the convention of the monarchy. This has long vexed members of the Scottish legal profession. There is a draft constitution before Holyrood which seeks to locate human rights in the people rather than in Parliament. It traces this idea back to the Declaration of Arbroath (1320) which it claims is more egalitarian than Magna Carta.These are not the minutiae of law. They are issues which
will determine the future relationship between the UK and Europe and, possibly, between Scotland and England.
In the 200th edition of Open House (March 2010), philosopher John Haldane commended the magazine for serving the need of Scottish Catholics to think out loud and in exchange with one another, mindful also of the interest of other Christians. As Open House reaches the milestone of its 250th edition, a scan through back copies reveals what its readers and contributors have been thinking about since 1990.Not surprisingly, for a magazine founded by lay people
and committed to keeping alive the spirit of Vatican II, the role of lay people has been a constant preoccupation, with a particular focus on the contribution of women. From the theological literacy of lay people to the need to ensure their proper representation within a hierarchical system, the issue turns up again and again. The late Bernard Aspinwall said in the 40th edition that ‘We need some local means of expressing lay aspirations, educating lay adults in theology and canon law, and allowing them to play a fuller, more effective role in a thoroughly Scottish Catholicism’. Ten editions later, Ian Willock wondered whether the shortage of priests was a crisis or an opportunity.In the summer of 1997, Rev Norman Shanks, then
leader of the Iona Community, wrote of strengthening ecumenical links through celebrations to mark the 1400th
anniversary of the death of St Columba. Irish President Mary Robinson was one of the ‘pilgrims and penitents’ who came to Iona that year.Rev Ian M Fraser continued to develop Open House’s
ecumenical links with his regular reflections from the Reformed tradition and his contribution to the board.The relationship between Catholicism and contemporary
culture has featured since the beginning, aided by a regular selection of stimulating reviews. Michael O’Neill’s letters from America, together with features on politics and international justice, have reflected global interests as well as the changing political landscape of Scotland.So what now for Open House? The role of lay people
has become even more urgent as the number of clergy plummets. The creation of women bishops in the Anglican tradition has highlighted deficits in the Roman Catholic tradition. The Open House conference on church governance in autumn 2013 demonstrated how denominations are facing the same problems. The Catholic Church in Scotland is struggling to find solutions from within its own tradition. With its commitment to ecumenical engagement and lay empowerment, Open House’s capacity to think out loud, and encourage people to join the conversation, is more important than ever.
Thinking out loud
250th edition of Open House
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 3
The chair of the Open House board offers a personal memoir of the magazine’s origins and its development over 250 editions.
In the beginning
Page 3 In the beginning
Page 5 Family fortunes?
Page 7 Lough Derg
Page 8 Catholic culture and Scottish writing
Page 10 Jairus
Page 11 A giving of self: the life of Margaret Sinclair
Page 13 The plight of Syrian children
Page 15 The kindness of strangers
Page 15 Notebook
Page 16 Letters
Page 17 Living Spirit
Page 18 Reviews
Page 23 Obituary
Page 24 Moments in time
Thank you to all those who contributed to this edition of Open House.
Open House, which was founded in Dundee in 1990, is an independent journal of comment and debate on faith issues in Scotland. It is rooted in the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and committed to the dialogue which began at the Council - within the Catholic Church, in other churches, and with all those committed to issues of justice and peace.
Cover design by Dominic Cullen.
Born in Dundee some 16 years ago, but probably conceived in Aberdeen a good while before that, Open House has reached its 250th edition. The major progenitors were Ian Willock, Denis Rice and Tony Robb, who was the first editor of the magazine; perhaps the Holy Spirit was the midwife. Ian, Denis and Tony had first met in Aberdeen in the 1960s, where Ian had become a Catholic. All were buoyed by the Second Vatican Council and had seen the vision of a reformed church using the talent of all as we strove to realise the Kingdom. The vision was dimming. They were determined to reignite it. I was carried along by their enthusiasm.
They had come up with the idea of a lay-led magazine for Scotland ‘from the Catholic tradition’, a sort of Scottish Tablet, to try to resurrect the vision of Vatican II and provide an outlet for positive lay and clerical thinking on the future of the Catholic church in an ecumenical Scottish environment. From conversations with Ian over the years I knew he had a radical edge; but he was essentially a liberal, with strong views on the increasing failure of the Church to follow through on Vatican II. But he had a great respect for the institutions of the Church. By that stage I had given up on institutions and had at last learned that the Church and God were separable. It did not stop me going to Mass, but it enabled me to devote my energies to secular arenas in which lay people had a voice.
Nonetheless I was attracted by Ian’s idea of attempting a fully lay-led Catholic publication on religious
issues. He had a track record in publishing. He had created SCOLAG, a monthly publication on social welfare law in Scotland, for which I had written several articles. This was the first ever legal journal in Scotland not produced by a mainstream publisher and not addressed to the areas in which Scots lawyers traditionally earned their fees. It exists to this day. It seemed to be exactly what the Scottish Catholic Church needed as well. I knew he could do the practical production things, about which I had no clue. I knew too that Tony had a history of delivering contributions on religious matters more radically than Ian, and Denis seemed to stand somewhere in between them. Their enthusiasm was infectious and I caught it. My major contribution in the early days was to suggest the title of the magazine – based on a column which ran regularly in the Scotsman, a newspaper we read at that time.
Ian, Denis and Tony had a large network of contacts in the mainstream and on the fringes of the Church, some of them priests, and I added a few of a slightly younger generation. They had a vision of selling 1,000 copies a month; I was less optimistic and did wonder where the money would come from to finance the venture. It came: some from religious orders and societies who shared our aspirations, some from individuals with the same vision, but most over the years came, I suspect, from Ian. Our model of governance was classic for the time. We didn’t have one. I collected and banked subscriptions.
The bank statements went to Ian and stayed with Ian. Whoever did the monthly mailing, including labelling, enveloping and posting the magazine, usually paid for it themselves. This was normally Ian with the dedicated assistance of Elizabeth his wife and Denis. My kids helped me do it several times, but they cost more than the postage.
We have never reached the magical 1000 subscribers, but we have almost washed our face some years, albeit only with the assistance of many people who add a donation to their annual subscription. Ian fought us every time we suggested increasing the annual subscription to cover costs. He was determined no subscriber should ever be excluded for lack of resources and was sure that donations would make up the shortfall. He was almost right, probably at some cost to himself, and we need to address this issue still. Another 100 subs would see us in the black. Our major salesforce is existing subscribers. Get us one new sub each and we are in clover!
When Ian moved towards retiral (in his mid-seventies) Open House received a great gift in the shape of James Armstrong. James literally took over, at the invitation of the then ‘committee’. We needed proper governance and he brought it. There was, of course, a price to be paid in terms of a departure from our Heath-Robinson informality, and it did not suit everyone. It did, however, usher in a new era of proper management, presentation of accounts and development of the product. The ultimate outcome is the magazine of today. We owe James a great debt of gratitude.
And so to today, and, more importantly, tomorrow. To use the market language, we have a product which is professional, inspirational and aspirational; we have an editor who is doing an excellent job in acquiring and presenting a balance of content which reports, reflects upon, and anticipates important issues in the life, spiritual, temporal and international, of Scotland and the world; she also entertains and challenges. We have contributors who give of their time and work free of charge at a level which could clearly attract payment in other sections of the media. We have a committee of dedicated people and an editorial board
who turn up at meetings without expenses and work in a glorious harmony to improve the magazine, support the editor and look to the future. And we have a readership which is faithful, responsive and encouraging. All we need is more of them!
We also have a Pope who is re-opening windows pretty well shut by his two predecessors. He wants us as Church to be part of living the mercy of Christ for the whole world. We want that too and Open House gives us a vehicle to express this to all the people of Scotland. One of our bishops subscribes to Open House, but maybe we should reinstate Ian’s original practice of sending all our bishops in Scotland a complimentary copy, a practice Tony and I opposed to no effect, so that, if they do not consult us, we nevertheless advise them. Anybody want to sponsor that?
I suppose I never realised the
formality of magazine production when I first became involved with Open House. It was only when I became the subscriptions person and received an official note from the National Library of Scotland reminding me that I had not sent them, as the copyright library for Scotland, copies of issues no 10, 11 and 12 that I realised we had established a new institution. That institution is now in its 250th manifestation. For that, thanks are due to many people - and the Spirit. May she guide us as we continue to become a living Church.
Dr Jim McManus is a former Professor of Criminal Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University and now advises criminal justice authorities in Council of Europe member states.
4 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
Open House lecture
Key moments in Scottish history: the Catholic responseProfessor Gerard CarruthersFrancis Hutcheson Chair of Scottish LiteratureUniversity of Glasgow
Saturday 24th October 2015Dundee (venue tbc)Professor Carruthers is a distinguished scholar and contributor to the study of Scottish literature. He is currently Principal Investigator on the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, ‘Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century’, which underpins the first phase of the new Oxford University Press edition of the Works of Robert Burns, for which he is General Editor. He was Principal Investigator of a major project which produced an online edition of the letters of James Currie, Robert Burns’s first editor. He is Convenor of the ‘Burns Scotland’ partnership (the National Burns Collection), a member of the Abbotsford Library Joint Advisory Committee and he played a major part in re-establishing the Universities’ Committee for the Teaching of Scottish Literature in 2008. He serves on the council of the Scottish Catholic Historical Association.
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 5
Pope Francis’ convocation of an extraordinary synod on the Family has met extraordinary reactions, and tensions run high approaching the next meeting in October. Pope Francis’ frank speaking has exposed fault-lines simmering under the surface of the Church, revealing conflicting models not just of family but of Church, ministry and the vocation of lay people. While cardinals issue statements and clergy sign petitions, those at the sharp end long to hear the voice of the shepherd they recognise, speaking to complex, often painful realities. Whatever is happening globally or whatever flaws are exposed, they will be evident in our church too. I want to look first at the consultation process in Scotland, then at what other issues the Synod has exposed before suggesting a third hermeneutic. I hope this reflection begins to articulate both tensions and serious questions. Francis’ collegial governance has
back footed Curia and bishops alike, as the unprecedented questionnaire before the first session illustrated, seeking to engage people’s experience. Although responses were not reported, the conflicted tone of the gathering was. Some were over-excited at the prospect of change while others muttered that ‘Francis was present but Peter was not’. Francis himself, suggesting more prayer than gossip, affirmed the Synod was cum Petro et sub Petro. The midterm report met with dissatisfaction but we now have the lineamenta (preparatory report) with 46 questions, preparing for October.1
Our Parish Pastoral Council was aware that the Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) had online materials within weeks of October 2014. While the 46 lineamenta questions were reduced to just six (only on marriage), the CBCEW did give a submissions deadline for Pentecost Sunday, May 24th.2 The Secretariat of the Scottish Bishops Conference assured us each diocese would post resources on their respective websites. Still waiting in January, we progressed our parish reflection hoping materials would appear. An email, late on a Friday, days before Lent, informed us the questions were online. There were no materials; just six questions, cut and pasted from the CBCEW site. The deadline for submissions was February 22nd, just 18 days compared to four months in England and Wales. This was confusing, since the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh offered 30 questions and a different date for submissions.3 Did anyone make a submission under such constraints?
There has been no real effort to consult the faithful in matters of doctrine. Faith is not a democratic process but is rather, in Newman’s analogy, like consulting a barometer to gauge the fact of the atmosphere, like taking the pulse. The failure to do so means a discerning response to this moment of grace is less likely. Does this failure reveal merely disorganisation in our local church or something more worrisome? Fear of, or resistance to, opening up a Pandora’s box? This failure to consult is open to interpretation but it has only bred deeper frustration among an increasingly disenchanted laity. The discussion at the Synod has
polarised around two words, Law and Mercy, and the personalities who champion each. Cardinal Burke came to prominence in the Roman Signatura in the late 80’s. A vocal supporter of Summorum Pontificum, (Pope Benedict’s 2007 letter on the celebration of the Roman Rite) he is best known in Canon Law circles and as the doyen of the movement for Liturgical Reform. He contributed a chapter on canonical nullity in Remaining in the Truth of Christ; Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, in response to the Synod’s midterm document.While Kasper’s Christology and
Ecclesiology was a staple in the formation of a generation of priests post Vatican II, it is his most recent book, Barmherzigkeit, which catapulted him centre stage. Mercy; The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to the Christian Life is a systematic exploration of this key
Family fortunes?A parish priest reflects on the tensions and questions surrounding the next meeting of the extraordinary synod on the family in October.
Synod on the family
This failure to consult is open to interpretation but it has only bred deeper frustration
among an increasingly disenchanted laity.
6 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
theme. Pope Francis says ‘this book has done me so much good’, moving him to ask Cardinal Kasper to give the opening address at the synod gathering last October, and probably influenced the convocation of the jubilee Year of Mercy.4 These polarising hermeneutics may
desensitise the urgency of the pastoral issue before the Synod but they also reveal the situation within the clergy and the laity. The clergy locally is a divided
presbyterate. No fewer than 461 priests signed an open letter pleading for no change in church practice, two dozen of whom are ministering in Scotland. Cardinal Nichols chided them for taking a sensitive issue to the media, but Bishop Mark Davies praised their courage! No Scottish bishop commented.
We have witnessed a neo-clericalism in the last decades, priests talking of the need to ‘strengthen our Catholic identity’, or to ‘teach the people their faith again’. Aligned with a certain approach to liturgy, such a priest can be defined as cultural warrior, guardian of faith as an objective possession, needing connection with neither world nor experience. What of the other (5,000) priests who did not sign the letter? One blogger suggests we are ‘just spineless wimps more interested in comfort and careerism’. It is more complex, for our silence cannot be presumed to be
either cowardice or assent. We have been neutered by fear and, worse, numbed as the vision that motivates us – to celebrate Word and Sacrament, to build inclusive, gospel-based communities, engaged with the wider world and with fellow pilgrims – is replaced by a revisionist ecclesiology. What prevents us galvanising into a forum of support (as in Ireland) or speaking out in honest acknowledgement of the parlous state in which we find ourselves? The People of God are the real
casualty of this revisionism. The chasm that exists between family as now lived and the ideal we present is deep indeed. People already know the demands of the ideal proclaimed by the Church. They do not need instruction as much as they long to be heard and healed when they do not match that ideal, often through no fault of their own. We are confronted daily with the realities of life and rarely do those realities fit into the categories of our textbooks. Is it all we can do, reducing the preaching of the gospel to lay the heavy burden of exclusion or speak in a language that maims? In seminary I heard often, ‘a
pastoral priest is a thick priest’. Clearly, pastoral action with no theological grounding is intellectually lazy. However the equation works in the opposite direction, for a theology with no praxis will be an intellectual abstraction. The last time we focused so explicitly on God’s mercy was on publication of the encyclical Dives in Misericordia (1980). As you would expect from a phenomenologist, St John Paul elevates Experience as the place of encounter of God’s mercy, providing a third hermeneutic. It is precisely in our concrete experience that God’s mercy ‘appears as a correlative to the interior experience of the individual languishing in guilt and enduring every kind of suffering,’ a mercy, when contrasted with divine justice, is more powerful and profound.5 We need to re-site the Synod in
actual concrete situations, for the hermeneutic of experience reveals the gap the New Evangelisation confronts, between what is taught and what is lived. Rather than see a hole to be filled with a restatement of orthodoxy or by a change in teaching, could it not be an opportunity for solidarity, witness and healing?It is unlikely we will see change to
church teaching this October. That must not excuse us from exploring solutions to the situations in which people find themselves. In terms that apply to the whole church, after the recent referendum in Ireland, Diarmid Martin has said we must re-engage with our distanced people. It is dangerously deluded if we think this will happen by continuing with old styles and tired language. We need courageous leadership, radical openness to the Spirit in concrete experiences and a willingness to temper law with the more profound gift, the mercy of God. Otherwise, the only game we will play is Family Mis-fortunes.
2. Scripture for small groups, a study document for priests and a faith sharing document for all; available for download.
3. Edinburgh offered a PDF with 30 questions based on the 46 of the lineamenta. The deadline for submission was March 13th. The websites of the diocese of Aberdeen and Motherwell did not have any information except a link to the Vatican website and the lineamenta. There was no synod information available on the websites of Paisley, Dunked, Argyll and the Isles or Galloway.
4. Mercy; The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to the Christian Life , Paulist Press, 2014. The opening speech published as The Gospel of the Family Paulist Press, 2014.
5. St John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, CTS, London, 1980, No.4
Fr Jim Lawlor is a priest in the Archdiocese of Glasgow.
We have witnessed a neo-clericalism in the last
decades, priests talking of the need to ‘strengthen our Catholic identity’, or to ‘teach the people their
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 7
For over 1500 years pilgrims have travelled from near and far to the shores of Lough Derg in Donegal, where they have awaited transportation by boat to what has often been described as one of the most arduous pilgrimages in Christendom. The Lough Derg Pilgrimage lasts for three full days and in that time people are pushed to their physical and mental limits. Pilgrims are expected to fast for three days, surviving on black tea or coffee and toast, and during this time maintain a vigil of prayer.
The exact origins of the pilgrimage may have been lost through the passage of time but the fundamental basis of the experience remains as it has done for a century and a half. A litany of prayers, known as a Station, is to be followed methodically, barefoot.
Upon arrival pilgrims are shown to their bed space in dormitories. They leave behind all they have brought with them, including their socks and shoes.
In the centre of the island there are a number of ‘Penitential Beds’ which are the remnants of the old beehive prayer cells used by the monastic community that lived on the island back in the ninth century. They are the oldest remaining structures and form the central part of the prayer programme. The prayers could be called body prayers. The emphasis is on kneeling and walking while reciting basic prayers - Our Father, Hail Mary and Creed. The specific and prescribed prayers to make a Station are outlined in the guidance booklet given to each pilgrim on arrival.
At the very heart of the three day pilgrimage is the 24 hour vigil, where pilgrims journey together in watchful prayer. Liturgies celebrated during the pilgrimage include the Eucharist, Reconciliation and the Way of the Cross.
Nine Station Prayers are completed over the three days. The first, second and
third Stations are made on the Penitential Beds on day one. Pilgrims make the fourth to seventh Stations together in St Patrick’s Basilica during the night Vigil. The eighth is completed during day two and the ninth before departure on day three.
In the 1950s it was not uncommon for there to be close on 1,000 pilgrims on the island at any given time. They come for many reasons, though the underlying purpose is to cleanse and purge the individual of sin. For many it is a time of prayer and of taking time out of the busy schedule of life to meet with others on a similar journey. Ultimately it is an opportunity to connect or reconnect with God at a deeper and more meaningful level.
As society moves forward we ask ourselves in today’s world: is Lough Derg a relic of the past?
In a world where we are often too busy for God and too busy for others, here at Lough Derg pilgrims have no choice but to connect with others and hopefully
with God. The world of modernity has been left behind. Regardless of status, all are treated alike; with limited food, little sleep and barefoot, all journey on the same path. Everyone pays the same charge, eats from the same bowl, drinks from the same cup and walks the same
journey. It is this experience of unity that draws the pilgrims closer together as they help and encourage each other through the journey of Lough Derg.
In life we all need a little time out to take stock of where we are, where we have been and where we are going. To connect with others on a similar quest is surely no bad thing.
The three day pilgrimage season at Lough Derg runs from 29th May to 15th August. For more information go to www.loughderg.org
Michael McAndrews works for Castle Craig Hospital, an alcohol and drugs residential rehabilitation centre near Edinburgh.
Penitential Beds at Lough Derg. Photo courtesy of Fr Robert, Lough Derg.
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Scotland’s Catholic literary heritage is, of course, of much longer standing than the 1690s. We have the Celtic Christian poetry and song of the nation, an especial point of scholarly interest since the late 19th century and, more recently, translated and explored with great ‘modern’ historical sensitivity by Thomas Clancy, Gilbert Markus and others.
In the medieval period we have the sophisticated theology embedded within Robert Henryson’s Fables or his Testament of Cresseid; we have the rhapsodic hymnal of William Dunbar to the Blessed Virgin; we have the Bishop of Dunkeld, Gavin Douglas writing his Eneados in the very early 16th century. It is no wonder that critics such as Edwin Muir in the 1930s were apt to see the period from James I to James V as a golden age of Scottish culture, spiritualised by the great Christianity of Western Europe and self-confidently independent – both in nation and in language.
The Reformers of the later 16th century, we are told, had a puritanical streak that accounted for a subsequent dearth in Scottish drama. They transformed good, honest ‘folk’ songs into po-faced religious allegories in the Gude and Godlie Ballatis. They also deplored William Dunbar, a priest who hung around the profane and conceited court and was capable of writing work of sexual innuendo and scurrilous, scatological content, which he seems clearly to have enjoyed.
This medieval world was largely - but not entirely - lost to Scottish scholarly consciousness following the
Reformation and down to the later 19th century. As it gradually won antiquarian acceptance, there was some wriggling among the douce Presbyterian scholars who largely powered the revival of Scottish history and literature. So that, for instance, that brilliant anti-clerical, anti-Dominican, satire, The Freiris of Berwik is read as showing the corruption of the pre-Reformation church. In fact, it points to the universal appetites, selfish and hypocrisy of human nature – even among the religious.
‘Celtic’ [ie non-Roman] Christianity is seen from the perspective of the later 19th century to imbue pre-Reformation Scotland. From 1882 that fine organisation, the Scottish Text Society, began to publish a multitude of Scottish medieval volumes, replete with Protestant editorialising, about the fine, skilful literature of the era, but the benighted religious consciousness of its authors.
What the early scholars of the STS and elsewhere were attempting to do was mend a rupture between differences in doctrine. From the 1720s to the later 19th century, there were repeated attempts to Protestantise William Wallace, whose ‘independent’ stance was seen not only as a patriotic national one, but a Proto-Presbyterian outlook!
It is interesting to note the cautious reappearance of Wallace and St Columba in James Thomson’s great poem-sequence, The Seasons (1726-30). Columba and Wallace are read, respectively, as dissenters from the absolute authority of Rome and of England.
This idea of the ‘interpretation’ of culture brings me to the 1690s. I see 1692 as the year in which a Catholic, or at least anti-Reformation outlook, thuds back into Scottish culture. Passed around in manuscript form, Archibald Pitcairne’s drama, The Assembly, or Scotch Reformation, lashes the Presbyterian general assembly, picturing puritanical, Calvinist ‘fanatics’, who nonetheless, as in the case of the aptly-named Timothy Turbulent, are lecherous and acquisitive.
The Assembly needs to be better known, principally because of its historical self-awareness. It riffs on David Lindsay’s Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis (c.1554), where corruption in the body politic is diagnosed. Lindsay’s play is ambiguous in Scottish literary history: on the one hand, with its critique of church wealth in the face of poverty within the Scottish commonwealth, it is read as a text of the reformation. And so it is, if that reformation has a small ‘r’. Lindsay himself, even if he criticises the Pope, was theologically in essence entirely orthodox in the Catholic sense: believing in Transubstantiation and the view of God, grace and the world as taught by the pre-Reformation Church.
Pitcairne is reprising Lyndsay’s method: of seeing the church (this time the Presbyterian church) as housing careerist churchmen whose obscure points of Protestant revelation mirror indulgences and other ‘fine points’ of theological nicety by the pre-reformation clergy of Lindsay’s play.
Pitcairne might have been a Deist at heart, perhaps even an Atheist, and he
Catholic culture and Scottish writingThis is the first part of a talk by Glasgow University’s Professor of Scottish Literature to the Glasgow Newman circle in April, which covers the period from the 1690s to the life and times of Robert Burns.
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 9
gathered around him in the late 1690s and early 1700s a group of largely Episcopalian devotees. But his play and the inspiration it provides to his followers represents the first mainstream reception of some kind of Counter-reformation.
What remains too little grasped is how the Pitcairne circle is crucial in the ‘revival’ of 18th century Scots language poetry.
The book-printing projects emanating from the Pitcairne circle include James Watson’s Choice Collection of Serious and Comic Poems (1706, 1711 & 1715). Watson, a Catholic, prints poems in Scots, English and Latin: the overall idea is that the Jacobites (the Catholics and Episcopalians) do poetry and song – unlike those Puritanical Presbyterians. Part of that conceit is that it is both high culture – renaissance sonnets – and low culture – drinking songs, bawdry. The idea is that the Stuart-loyal grouping in Scottish culture is fully rounded in its enjoyment of human experience – including the physical.
Scottish literary critics see Watson’s Choice Collection as reacting against the Union of 1707, even though the key volume is published the year before; and as promoting Scots-language poetry. This is true to a limited extent, because it is poetry in general that Watson is promoting in literature-denying Calvinist Scotland, and the ideological mainstream is not – as too much 20th century Scottish criticism has read it – nationalist reaction; rather it is dynastic and confessional loyalty that are midwives to the revival of Scots literature in the 18th century.
One example: David Irving’s Lives of the Scottish Poets first published in 1802, and reprinted often over the next 30 years. To begin with it covers the lives of five main poets: Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson, Alexander Ross, Alexander Geddes and Robert Burns. After the first edition, this selection is cut down to Ramsay, Fergusson and Burns. A narrative is developed of Burns the Presbyterian Poet, which delineates the cradle confessional identity of Scotland’s national bard. However, we should be aware of what Burns is doing
– inspired by Ramsay and Fergusson (both strongly Jacobite, and anti-Presbyterian in their cultural outlook), Burns imports to his native Ayrshire not only poetry in Scots, but stanza forms such as the ‘Habbie Simson’ form: the stanza form found in Holy Willie’s Prayer. This is alien, Jacobite, Catholic, Episcopalian. Before Burns’ time there is a repository of song in Scots in Ayrshire, but poetry in Scots does not really feature. After Burns, people believe that poetry in the west has a continuous tradition in Scots. Burns spawns a lot of Scots-language imitators, but – at least down to the 1820s - the language of choice for Presbyterian poets is English. As the rest of the 19th century unfolds,
the notion of Ayrshire Scots Poetry becomes seen as a normality rather than essentially a post-Burnsian innovation.
Burns does multiple things because of his great pluralistic, Enlightenment context: he castigates Calvinist hypocrisy in Holy Willie’s Prayer and celebrates Presbyterian culture in The Cottar’s Saturday Night. Burns says to his cradle community: Presbyterianism is plain and beautiful at its best, not culturally evacuated as one side of Scottish and English propaganda had pretended.
Burns Presbyterianises Scots poetry. He also grasps other denominational currents in his work - that Tory, pro-Jacobite tradition which accounts for Auld Lang Syne. There are several versions of the song before Burns. Burns’ great gift is to expand that specific context into something more universal – it becomes a great, generalised anthem of parting at the
point when emigration and globe-trotting are becoming more widespread.
But as well as over-writing an earlier confessional context, Burns writes Catholicism into his work in ways that are often ignored. Bishop John Geddes was the Catholic prelate who provided Burns’ first European audience by arranging subscriptions for Burns’ ‘Edinburgh’ edition for the Scottish Colleges in Spain and in France, the Scottish mission ‘agent’ in Rome and the three Scottish Benedictine Houses in Franconia or Germany. These outlawed places with their whiff of Jacobitism had a certain romance, and Burns was tickled pink by Geddes’s interest and its consequence.
Taking up residence at his new farm in Ellisland from late 1788, Burns was determined to maintain contact with Geddes. In a letter of February 1789, the poet tells Geddes he has frittered away his time in licentious or at least flippant pursuits. He will now ‘attend to those great and important questions, what I am, where I am, and for what I am destined’. In the same letter he expresses satisfaction with his wife and his new farm. What we have is a serious-minded, philosophical, monogamous Burns, savouring the simple, hard-working life.
In this new phase of his life in Dumfriesshire, Burns is hanging out with a new set of well-to-do people: often Catholic –like his physician, William Maxwell. Another man who provides Catholic influence is Captain Robert Riddell who gives the poet the run of his library at his home in Friar’s Carse. The association with Riddell leads to Burns signing one of his poems, ‘a Bedesman’ (that is, a hermetic reciter of the Rosary), this name being used also by Riddell as a creative antiquarian pseudonym. This poem is also one of thirteen new texts in Burns’ holograph inserted in the ‘Geddes Burns’, an ‘Edinburgh’ edition of Burns’ Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1787), which Burns had borrowed from John Geddes. These texts reflect on life and human frailty, sorrow and God, making for a kind of present to Geddes, a little slice of his inner life, when Burns
Burns says to his cradle community: Presbyterianism is plain and beautiful at its
best, not culturally evacuated as one side of Scottish and English propaganda had
10 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
eventually returned the book to the Bishop.
There are other places where the subterranean presence of the old faith is felt: for instance, in Burns’ great mock-epic Tam O’Shanter’ (1790). Part of the ghoulish attraction of old, ruined, Alloway Kirk where the witches, ghosts and locals dance and cavort while the Devil plays the pipes is that before it was the site of a derelict Presbyterian Kirk, it had been the site of a ruined Catholic kirk. Burns’ poem is actually about psychology more than about the supernatural: about the fear of what we already are – the darkness is inside us rather than lurking out there. The ruined (Catholic) kirk site is part of what the
Ayrshire folk have been, now externalised. This is one of a number of sub-texts in the poem where Burns is saying don‘t make monsters: human nature is that which is to be understood. This is part of Burns the Enlightenment artist – a great writer of objectivity and, at the same time, subjectivity.
Professor Gerard Carruthers is Francis Hutcheson Chair of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. He will give the Open House anniversary lecture in Dundee in October – see the advert on page 4.
During the six days my nine-year old son Hugh lay dying in Intensive Care, from a head injury caused by a fall from his bike, I scoured the Bible for support, looking especially at Jesus’ healing miracles. The story I kept returning to was about Jairus’ daughter in Luke’s Gospel (8.41-56). Jairus goes to find Jesus to ask him to come to his house and save his dying daughter. As they approach the house a man comes out and says not to bother Jesus since the girl is already dead. Jesus replies ‘Do not be afraid. Only believe and she shall be saved’. He then goes into the room where the dead girl is, holds her hand, and tells her to get up, and she does. I tried to believe my faith was strong enough to believe Jesus could do the same for Hugh, but he didn’t. Not surprisingly the story is one of
the bits of the Bible which provided no consolation after Hugh’s death, and I only paid attention to it again when I heard it at Mass several years later. What struck me was that this time Jesus said to Jairus ‘Do not be afraid. Only believe’ with no assurance that his daughter would be saved. I wondered if I’d misheard or my memory was defective but when I got home and checked the Bible, I found it was same story but from Mark’s Gospel (5.22-43) not Luke’s. ‘Only believe’ can be paraphrased
as ‘just trust’, which was a phrase a counsellor had encouraged me to think up for myself years before when I had a spell of clinical depression. It was meant to be a sort of mantra to use whenever I felt depressed, frightened or generally out of my depth, to remind me that God is there at all times and wants the best for me, despite appearances
to the contrary. Unfortunately, the words ‘just’ and ‘only’ make it sound something easy to do but, in fact, it’s just the opposite; it needs effort and will and perseverance and much of the time I failed to trust even before Hugh died. It was immeasurably harder after, but, hearing that other version of the Jairus story suddenly made me realise that Jesus was telling me that the one and only thing that matters is to trust in him and that, eventually, I will see, in the words of Julian of Norwich, that ‘All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’. We just have to trust.I cannot pretend that I have led a
life of unruffled serenity ever since that moment; I still worry, get frightened or worked up or depressed and discouraged over what afterwards I recognise are the stupidest of trivialities. But I think I now reach that recognition much sooner and calm down quicker, tapping into the deep vein of underlying trust that whatever has happened or will happen is God’s will even though I’m not going to find out how or why this side of the grave.Probably many people reading this
would dismiss it as naïve optimism, but I don’t believe that those of us who have experienced the death of a child can ever be accused of seeing life through rose-tinted spectacles. We have learned realism the hard way, and if, coming out on the other side of grief, we are still able to trust, we may be able to give others hope that all the suffering in our world is not meaningless.
This is the third of four reflections by Ian Campbell on the death of his son, Hugh, written between 2004 and 2013.
Alloway Kirk. Photo by Dominic Cullen.
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 11
Margaret Sinclair was born in Edinburgh in the first year of the 20th century, the third child of Dundonian mother of Irish background and a father from the capital who had converted to his wife’s Catholic faith. They stayed in a tenement flat off the Cowgate, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city, where her father worked as a corporation road-sweeper. There were eight children in all, six of whom survived infancy. They were a close, good living and
devout family, where the rosary was recited daily and where the children were taught love of God and respect for themselves and their neighbours. Near to their home stood St Patrick’s church and the parish elementary schools where they were educated. This was the world of Margaret’s childhood.At school she was remembered for
her eagerness to please rather than for any great aptitude for learning. In the playground and the street she was a happy girl with a ready laugh, protective of the younger children and a mender of quarrels among her peers. At home too she was a peacemaker, and when her mother struggled to cope with her hard life she was her greatest support. At fourteen she left school and
found employment as an apprentice French polisher, working for several different firms during and after the Great War. Her natural instinct was on the side of labour, and by the time she was twenty she was active in her Trade Union. She was respected by
her fellow workers.In her leisure time she dressed
fashionably and enjoyed parish dances. Raised as she was in the grey city she loved the beauty of rural Scotland, and every year took a week’s break in the country with her sister Bella.Prayer had been central to her life
from childhood, and now she would spend an hour every evening at prayer in the girls’ bedroom, where she had set up a small shrine to the Madonna. She had a particular devotion to the Sacred Heart, and among the saints she was drawn most to St Thérèse de Lisieux and Francis of Assisi. She was a daily communicant, even though this often
involved her fasting until lunch time or even all day to fit in with her working hours. Her piety and goodness affected all those around her, more than one of whom came into the Catholic Church under her influence.It was in fact in an attempt to bring
him back to the practice of his faith that she befriended a young man, Patrick Lynch, at this time. He was hoping for a deeper relationship, and promised to reform if she would walk out with him. When she agreed he kept his word and soon became an active member of his parish. Eventually he asked that they become engaged, and (because her parents supported it) she agreed, though reluctantly and against her better judgment. She knew in her heart that it was a mistake and more than once sought to break it off, but relented each time. By trying not to hurt him she let the situation drag on, only causing more hurt when she finally ended it.She was already thinking of the
religious life and in spring 1923 applied to join the London convent of the Poor Clare Colettines. They were a contemplative community, enclosed from the world, but included several ‘externs’ whose task was to beg provisions in the neighbourhood. Typically Margaret chose this ‘lesser’ and more demeaning work, believing that ‘being inside’ was ‘too high up’ for her. She entered the convent in July and
spent a year in the novitiate. When
A giving of selfA writer and historian recalls the life and spirituality of a young woman from Edinburgh and outlines the campaign to have her declared a saint.
12 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
she made her first profession in February 1925 she was radiant with happiness. But within a fortnight she began spitting blood and was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the throat. She was sent at once to Marillac House, a sanatorium in rural Essex.She spent nine months in Marillac,
in great pain borne with remarkable fortitude and joyful obedience to God. Victims of TB of the throat are almost always irritable and demanding, but she was unfailingly cheerful, full of laughter and grateful for every least kindness. Her smiling eyes left visitors deeply moved, and several were already calling her a saint.In her last months she apparently
had mystical experiences, conversing with Jesus, and she longed for death, to see him face to face. On 24th November she died. Her body was returned to the convent and laid in a coffin awaiting burial – the room was empty, but some witnesses spoke of a sweet perfume there, as of violets.Her fame spread swiftly. By 1927,
when her body was brought back to Edinburgh, a committee had already been formed to promote her cause for canonisation. In 1931 permission for
a formal process was granted. Sworn witness statements were recorded and forwarded to the Vatican that year and again in 1952, but it was not
until 1977 that Rome finally examined the evidence and declared her ‘Venerable’. Since then there has been little
progress, though several cures and numerous favours have been claimed for her. It is hard to explain why the matter has been so protracted. Her body is now back in St Patrick’s, which has become again the hub for devotion to her. The present Archbishop, Leo Cushley, is seeking to promote this devotion, and to re-ignite her cause.In her spirituality we find echoes of
the two saints to whom she was especially devoted. She had something of Francis’ humility and submission to God’s will; like him she ‘made her whole life a prayer’, and it was not by chance that she chose to join his Second Order. Similarly, many people have remarked upon the striking parallels between her and St Thérèse – their young lives cut short, their simplicity, piety and patient endurance of physical suffering. Margaret lived her own Little Way – without fame or special talents, down-to-earth yet with a goodness that set her apart, passing unspoiled through often harsh environments and elevating them.Her life story falls naturally into
four phases – child, young worker, convent sister, and terminally ill patient. Of these, it is the first, second and last that are best known and have received most attention: she is a patron of childhood, of workers, and of the suffering sick. The third phase – in the convent – was by its nature hidden, and so is less known and less recalled. Yet in her eyes it was the most important – she was already consecrated to Jesus, and this was to be the fulfilment of that consecration, the sacrifice of self in the obscurity of the monastery by which she hoped to draw ever closer to him. She however endured another kind
of sacrifice – to see her hopes thwarted, to endure great pain and to die far from everything she loved. This was a different ‘consecration’, one which she gladly embraced as a ‘splinter of the Cross’ uniting her even more closely with God, and which the outside world was able to witness and record.
Dr John Watts is the author of nine books and several articles, mainly on Scottish religious history. A revised and expanded edition of his short biography of Margaret Sinclair, A Beautiful Fragrance, is due out soon.
She had something of Francis’ humility and
submission to God’s will; like him she ‘made her whole life a prayer’, and it was not by chance that she chose to join
his Second Order.
Gerry Hughes SJ
Glasgow University Chapel17th August 2015
Followed by a reception in Turnbull Hall, where Fr Hughes was the Catholic
chaplain from 1967-1975.
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 13
Throughout the world, there may be as many as 51 million people who are forcibly displaced. They are categorized as refugees; internally displaced persons (those who do not cross an international border and are technically protected by their own state); asylum seekers and stateless people. There are also forcibly displaced persons who have taken on a new status as returned refugees. Those who are fleeing from natural
disasters make up around a few million of the total; the overwhelming majority are forcibly displaced because of conflict, war and persecution. Children constitute almost half of the world’s displaced persons and many spend their entire childhood as displaced persons. They share with their families the condition of being refugees, internally displaced, asylum seekers or stateless. Some of the children, however, may be separated from their families, or may be their only surviving member, and this makes them even more vulnerable, at risk of abuse, neglect, violence, trafficking, exploitation and forced military service. The rights of refugee children are
protected under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (and the 1967 Protocol) and article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). These rights are also protected under article 22 of the Convention of the Rights to the Child (1989): state parties shall take appropriate measures to protect and provide humanitarian assistance to
children seeking refugee status (or children considered to be a refugee) whether unaccompanied or accompanied by their parents or another person. The total number of accompanied
or dependent children for 2013 (latest figures) in the UK is 6,276 – of this figure, 3,548 of the children are nine years of age or below. The most recent figures from the Refugee Council indicate a rise in applications from unaccompanied children in the UK to 1,841 in 2104. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) defines unaccompanied children seeking asylum as: ‘A person who is under the age of 18 or, in the absence of any documentary evidence appears to be under that age’. The UKBA guidance states that if there is a doubt about the person’s age, he/she should be treated as a child unless an age assessment proves that he/she is an adult. Since 2012, the largest number of
unaccompanied children has arrived from Albania (617), followed by Eritrea (446), Afghanistan (168), Syria (129), Vietnam (98) and Iran (71). Even more unsettling are the ages of the unaccompanied children: 62% are aged between 16 and 17; 28% are between 14 and 15; 6% are under 14 and 3% are age unknown. The statistics provide insights on a superficial level. The charity The Children’s Society provides deeper insights. Many of these vulnerable children are coming to the UK from situations of serious conflict and
violence and will be suffering the effects of trauma. They are also learning to engage with a new language and culture. It is instructive to illustrate this with the example of Syrian children who have been forcibly displaced.
The civil war in Syria, a consequence of the escalation of the divisions caused by the anti-government demonstrations in March 2011, has had devastating effects for the population. Save the Children estimates that one in three children have experienced violence of some form and 7,000 have been killed. A large number of children, between
Children and conflict
STEPHEN J MCKINNEY
The plight of Syrian ChildrenThis article introduces the global phenomenon of forcibly displaced children and highlights the challenges facing children displaced as a result of the conflict in Syria.
The civil war in Syria, a consequence of the escalation of the divisions caused by the
anti-government demonstrations in March 2011, has had devastating effects for the population.
Save the Children estimates that one in three children
have experienced violence of some form and 7,000 have
14 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
1.6 and 2 million, are among the 3.9 million refugees who have fled Syria and are now located in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Lebanon and Jordan are small countries and are struggling to cope with the influx of Syrian refugees: one in five persons in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee; one in thirteen in Jordan. Some of the children who have fled
have been physically wounded and maimed or even imprisoned and tortured. Many have witnessed family members being killed. The children face serious mental health issues associated with the trauma and stress of their experience. They face further challenges in the temporary accommodation available to them, whether within or outwith Syria. Sometimes the stress affecting
families spills into domestic violence, witnessed or experienced by the children. Poor sanitation leads to the spread of disease and a scarcity of food can means that children suffer from malnutrition. In some places the children have to work to support their families. Many Syrian children who have fled to Lebanon and Jordan with their families have found work in the fields, the farmers exploiting a workforce that will accept lower pay and poor working conditions. Syrian children are also employed in factory work, street selling and some are involved in the drug trade and prostitution. If children are not working they can be confined to home, which is typically an overcrowded apartment, a tent or some form of rudimentary shelter. The UNHCR, the UN’s refugee
agency, reports that some of the Syrian children who have been born in exile in countries like Lebanon have not been
issued with birth certificates. The UN Declaration of Human Rights states in article 15 that everyone has the right to nationality - but only individual states can confer nationality. Lebanon and Jordan are willing to register the births of Syrian children but some Syrian families are confused by the registration process or do not possess the relevant identity papers required. The lack of a birth certificate has serious consequences as it increases the likelihood of the children being classed as stateless. This can make it very difficult for any future return to Syria or for legal entry to another country.There are also significant numbers of
children who have been affected by the internal displacement of between six and seven million people within Syria. World Vision reports that there have been outbreaks of measles and polio because the Syrian heath service has been disrupted by the war. Almost a third of the health centres in Syria have been ruined or damaged and around half of the children have not been immunized to protect them from measles. Before the crisis in 2011, there were no recorded cases of measles, but by the end of 2014, 594 children were suffering from the disease – a disease that can be deadly when combined with malnutrition. Unicef is supporting campaigns to vaccinate the children across the country, though these campaigns have been hindered by continuing fighting. When children are forcibly displaced
to other countries their education will often suffer. This is exacerbated in developing countries where 86% of the world’s refugees (in the Middle East, Africa and Asia) are located. The resources for school may be scarce and there may be few teachers.
Their schooling may be disrupted or, for period of time, non-existent. This can also have a serious impact on internally displaced children. The lack or limited access to education can be interpreted as a breach of their human rights and also as a serious barrier for their future development. A follow-up article will examine the
effects of forcible displacement on the education of Syrian children.
Stephen J. McKinney is a professor in the School of Education, University of Glasgow. He is the leader of the Research and Teaching Group, Creativity, Culture and Faith and an associate member of the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change. He can be contacted at: [email protected]
Save the Children (2015) Untold Atrocities. The Stories of Syria’s Childrenhttps://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/images/untold_atrocities.pdf
The Children’s Society (2015) Unaccompanied Childrenhttp://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/policy-and-lobbying/young-refugees-and-migrants/unaccompanied-children
UNHCR (2011) Mapping statelessness in the UK.http://www.unhcr.org.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/images/Updates/November_2011/UNHCR-Statelessness_in_UK-ENG-screen.pdf
World Vision (2015) FAQs: Syria’s War, Children and the Refugee Crisis.http://www.worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/syria-war-refugee-crisis
Holiday breakThere will be no edition of Open House in July, but we’ll be back in August.
To contribute an article or share your thoughts on any of the issues raised in this edition, email the editor at ed[email protected] or send a letter to Mary Cullen, 66
Cardross Rd, Dumbarton G82 4JQ by Friday 31st July.
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 15
When Aneurin Bevan, architect of the NHS, died in 1960, the Socialist Medical Association published a pamphlet on the great man’s services to the health of the people. One of the contributions was written by Methodist Minister, social worker and journalist Donald Soper, who described the National Health Service as one of the most transparently Christian political acts in British history.
He gave three reasons for his analysis. First was its contribution to public
justice. The two great enemies of security, he observed, are economic stringency and personal ill health, which tend to go together. The public assumption of responsibility for such eventualities with the creation of the Welfare State and the ‘jewel in its crown’, the NHS, lifted a great burden from ordinary people.
Second was the introduction of better health for all. How many of our fellow citizens, he asked, went through life in the mists of failing eyesight, in the blur of deafness, condemned to inadequate diets and chronic ailments because they could not afford the remedies that the more privileged enjoyed?
Third was the facilitation of community. Society in his view needed to realise itself as a community rather than as ‘so many millions of human beings pursuing personal individual objectives’. He thought it futile to expect such a sense of mutual responsibility without an outward and visible political structure to encourage it. For Soper the greatest single contribution the NHS made to peace and goodwill was the creation of a ‘large scale means of passing from an individualistic to a co-operative society’.
My recent experience bears out his analysis. I was diagnosed with cancer early this year and since then I have seen over and over again how the NHS has created a space where people care for one another. Outside the hospital
in the run-up to the election, TV cameras filmed politicians highlighting management problems; inside people appreciated the time and trouble taken by consultants to explain their diagnosis and treatment. And while I am enormously grateful for the prompt and highly skilled medical and nursing care I received, and for the love and support of my friends and family, it was the solidarity of people I had never met that testified in unexpected ways to Soper’s vision of the NHS as an expression of our common humanity.
I met women who had been collected and taken home from hospital week after week by a network of cheerful volunteer drivers. People waiting at clinics spoke of the care and courtesy shown them by hospital staff. All the doctors I encountered went out of their way to relate to their patients as people. One phoned to ask how I was, another gave me his secretary’s number to call when I had a scan so that he could follow it up immediately, another arranged a time for treatment that would allow me to fulfil existing commitments.
In the 14th chapter of Mark’s Gospel we meet a woman who anointed Jesus before his final journey to Calvary. He commended her because she had ‘done what was in her power to do’. We don’t know her name, any more than we know the names of all the volunteer drivers or all the people who create the climate of care in cancer wards. But in giving people the space to do what it is in their power to do, the NHS has created something extraordinary. It faces many challenges, but we should remember that it operates not just on skills and technology and management systems, but on the kindness of strangers and the politics of love.
Mary Cullen is editor of Open House.
The kindness of strangersOgilvie bookletMotherwell priest Michael Briody has written a little pamphlet on John Ogilvie to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the martyr’s death.
Attractively produced and only 12 pages long, it covers Ogilvie’s life and times, his martyrdom and his path to sainthood.
In the introduction, Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen recalls the tragic circumstances of Ogilvie’s death, as Christians, divided by the Reformation, killed other Christians. He quotes GK Chesterton: ‘Christians killeth Christians in a narrow duty room’.
But he says that Ogilvie’s faith, courage and integrity give his life a contemporary edge, and this little booklet is a useful addition to the events and publications which mark this anniversary year.
Copies cost 75p each plus 55p post and packing for up to nine copies; for 10-19 copies add £1.50; and for 20 or more there is no postage charge. Cheques should be made out to ‘RCDM St Michael’ and sent to Fr Briody at St Michael’s, 133 Glenmanor Ave, Moodiesburn, G69 ODL.
National PilgrimageJohn Oglivie was born near Keith in Banffshire, and to mark the 400th anniversary of his martyrdom there will be a national pilgrimage on 4th July in Kynoch Park, Keith, beginning at noon. Mass will be celebrated by bishops and priests of Scotland at 3pm.
Scalan PilgrimageThe annual pilgrimage to Scalan in the Braes of Glenlivet takes place on Sunday 5th July. Mass will be celebrated at 4pm.
A secret seminary was built at Scalan in 1716 to train priests in Scotland after the Penal Laws outlawed the
16 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
practice of Catholicism. The Scalan seminary lasted until 1799, when it moved to Aquhorties, near Inverurie.
To get to Scalan, head north from Tomintoul on the B9008 and five miles on, beyind Auchnarrow, Scalan is signposted on the right. From Chapeltown on Glenlivet, the last mile and a half is along a country track.
Save the dateWe are delighted that Professor Gerry Carruthers, a regular contributor and supporter of Open House, and acclaimed scholar of Scottish literature, will give a lecture in Dundee to mark the magazine’s 250th edition. Details of the event, which will take place in Dundee on Saturday 24th October, will be available in the August edition. Dundee was the place where Open House was launched and where it is still printed.
You will be able to book a place at the lecture, entitled ‘Key moments in Scottish history: the Catholic response’. In the meantime, save the date.
See advert on page 4
Memorial serviceA memorial service for the late Gerry Hughes SJ will take place on 17th August in Glasgow University Chapel and not, as we reported in last month’s Open House, in Turnbull Hall. There will be a reception at Turnbull Hall after the service.
See advert on page 12
Pilgrimage of Justice and PeaceThe World Council of Churches has launched a new interactive website to promote engagement of churches with the vision of a ‘pilgrimage of justice and peace’. The Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is an initiative of WCC member churches, inviting Christians and all people of good will to work together on the issues of justice and peace in order to heal a world filled with conflict, injustice, violence and pain.
The new website - www.wccpilgrimage.org offers resources for congregations, organisations and
groups. The website encourages sharing and learning from each other’s experiences.
Visitors to the website can contribute comments, upload their own related documents, or share their ideas through video or sound.
The concept of a pilgrimage of justice and peace is an overarching theme for programmes and activities of the WCC, which was developed at the 10th Assembly held in 2013 in Busan, Republic of Korea.
The WCC website also offers a study guide and other resources which can be downloaded:http://www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/pilgrimage-ofjustice-and-peace
Homeless JesusThere is a follow up to the article about the Homeless Jesus statue which was blessed by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square (Open House May 2015).
Tony Frey, secretary to the artist, Tim Schmalz, has emailed from Toronto to say that 12 of the statues have been installed in cities in Canada and the United States. The first one in England will be located in London outside Methodist Central Halls across the road from Parliament. He is asking about the possibility of having one in Scotland.
Schmalz is a convert to Catholicism. His intention is evangelical. The sign that the blanket covered figure represents Jesus is that the sticking out feet are pierced. Someone said of the statue: It is easy to sidestep a vagrant. It is not so easy to sidestep your beliefs.
Art is not cheap. The total cost of installation is in the region of £25,000. One way of realising such a sum would be to have 25 people who would each pledge to raise £1,000. It must be money that is not diverted from helping the homeless directly.
Any reader interested in the evangelical potential of such a project is invited, in the first instance, to contact the Editor.
Priesthood in the 21st CenturyI was sorry to read Jim McMillan of Glasgow’s letter (Open House 249) criticism of Peregrinator’s article in the previous issue. Although put off by the author’s need for anonymity - does the Inquisition still frighten Catholics? - I found his arguments about the need to reform the way we organise ministry quite compelling.In fact some 16 years ago Fritz
Lobinger, then Bishop of Aliwal in South Africa, published his Like His Brothers and Sisters - ordaining community leaders (NY: Crossroad, 1999) arguing exactly the same points as your anonymous correspondent. It is not a question of ‘giving a few lay people some say in the running of the organisation’ but of destroying clericalism by a root and branch reform of the way the Church manages ministry. This is what Pope Francis’ Joy of the Gospel is essentially all about, but lacking the practical proposals of Bishop Lobinger and Peregrinator.
Simon Bryden-Brook, London
Your correspondent Peregrinator in the April Open House makes a very good case for altering the status of the Tridentine secular priest as the sole means by which most of the Church receives the Eucharist. Of particular importance in the provision of the Eucharist was Pope Francis’ removal of celibacy as a condition of ordination for priests in the Eastern Rite in January 2015.
Christ’s Eucharistic imperative cannot be carried out today because of the world-wide shortage of secular priests. All that is required is to move the provision of the Eucharist from the thousand year old secular priest model to a different method.
All correspondence, including email, must give full postal address and telephone number.
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 17
the method, with thoughtful observers like Peregrinator and others tending to veer towards an elite, or permitting priests to marry. This school of thought unfortunately still embodies the idea of the traditional secular priest. The Glasgow group ‘To Feed the Flock’, of which I am a member, suggests the possibility of a parish electing some members as duly Ordained Ministers, celibacy being therefore irrelevant.
To see in Sunday Mass a parent, a relative, a well-known parish figure bring the Eucharist and the spiritual energy of the Church into their lives, in their own Church and their own district, is something they must not be denied. The finest hour of the traditional Tridentine priesthood may be the effectiveness with which it can help to bring about a new tradition. Is there really a genuine problem about doing this?
James Kelly, Glasgow
The way aheadFr Mike Fallon asks whether his thoughts on the way ahead for St Andrew’s and Edinburgh - allow priests to do what only they can do and invest in the resourcing of lay people – strike a chord (Open House 249). They do, and not just for Edinburgh and St Andrew’s. Your editorial, ‘Opportunity Knocked’ sums it up: what is needed for the church in Scotland is a crash course on baptismal responsibility for those who are still listening – before it is too late.
Edward Collins, Glasgow
Nuclear weaponsCan I reply to my anonymous critic regarding nuclear weapons in last month’s Open House? Firstly, the matter is not ‘complex and highly controversial’. It is utterly simple. There is only one question we must ask ourselves, and that is: ‘Would I press the button’? If the answer is no, then don’t tolerate anyone threatening to do so on your behalf.
Military strategists do not claim that British deployment of nuclear WMD ‘prevented a Third World War’. The
writer simply adopts the whole demonology of deterrence, reflecting the self-righteous assumption that our bombs are good, others’ evil. America has already used the bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and would certainly have used it for a third time, if the USSR had not developed its bomb.
Trident is neither independent nor a deterrent. It is American controlled, and a first-strike offensive system. It was designed at the height of the Cold War, in order to enable Britain alone to devastate Moscow.
The writer rehashes Jim Murphy’s ‘multilaterlism good/unilateralism bad’ line. The fact is no British nuclear weapon has ever been negotiated away. They have never even been put on the table. As Bruce Kent said, ‘a unilateralist is a multilateralist who means what he says’.
We have always upgraded our weapons, decreasing the numbers but increasing lethality and usability. Thus, the obsolete free-fall W177 was replaced by the superior Polaris missile, Polaris upgraded by Chevaline, and Chevaline by Trident. We have taken no steps towards de-escalation and elimination.
It is not a question of NIMBY. Trident cannot be relocated anywhere else because it needs the support system at Coulport, where 200 H Bombs are buried deep underground by the shores of Loch Long. This site was chosen because it was remote from important towns (too bad Glasgow!). You don’t have mountains like that in England. So, a nuclear-free Scotland means a UK without Trident.
The moral high ground is not ‘so called’. It is where Christians must stand. Nuclear deterrence is a sin crying to heaven for vengeance. As Archbishop Hunthausen of Seattle said: ‘Our nuclear war preparations are the global crucifixion of Jesus’.
Brian Quail, Glasgow
Letters for the next edition of Open House in August
should reach the editor by Friday 31st July.
Now the Lord said to Abram: ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a
great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. Genesis 12: 1-2
BenedictionA blessing on all our departuresWithout them, we cannot walk the way.
A blessing on all our companions,Bread of friendship, bread for the soul.
A blessing on all travellersBorder-crossers, wanderers in strange lands.
A blessing on all the stages on the wayAnd those who give us guidance.
A blessing on all those we leave behindAnd on their journeys.
A blessing on our lostness and delaysThese too are life.
A blessing on our arrivalsHomecomings, new beginnings, bright horizons.
A blessing on the Trinity of journeys.Giver of the Way, Jesus of the Way, Spirit of the Way.
From Kathy Galloway, Talking to the Bones SPCK 1996.
I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come?My help comes from the Lordwho made heaven and earth.
The Lord will keep you from all evil:he will keep your life.The Lord will keepYour going out and your coming inFrom this time on and for evermore.
St Columba’s prayerBe a bright flame before me, O Goda guiding star above me.Be a smooth path below me,a kindly shepherd behind metoday, tonight, and for ever.
18 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
Alfred HitchcockPeter Ackroyd
With the cameo trademark appearances in his films and personal introductions to his long running television dramas, Alfred Hitchcock is probably the only film director that the public can instantly identify. In case we forget him, there have also been two recent films where his portly frame and slow Cockney drawl have been recreated, most effectively by Anthony Hopkins, and two years ago the world’s top critics, consulted by the distinguished cinema periodical Sight & Sound, voted Vertigo the greatest film ever made, pushing the long running Citizen Kane into second place.Dozens of books have been written
about Hitchcock and many even about individual films. There are ten books about Psycho including two exclusively about the famous shower scene alone and one by Janet Leigh, the actress who was actually dispatched so gruesomely in the shower. Perhaps the most detailed work about Hitchcock, and certainly the largest and heaviest, is the work by the French film director Francois Truffaut. In these circumstances it is indeed brave of Peter Ackroyd to take on a new biography of the highly visible and documented film maker, even though the writer is a very experienced biographer, with work
ranging from Thomas More and Charles Dickens to Charles Chaplin.Alfred Hitchcock was born in
London in 1899, the son of a greengrocer and fishmonger of Irish stock. In 1926 he married Alma Reville who was a screenwriter and editor, and remained and worked with Hitchcock for the rest of his life. He made his name in the twenties and thirties as the director of several early British classics of the screen including The Lodger and Blackmail before moving permanently to Hollywood in 1939 with a succession of acclaimed works, mainly thrillers, such as Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Psycho and The Birds.It is possible that Ackroyd is
Hitchcock’s best qualified biographer because he too is of a modest background, a prodigious worker determined to succeed, and was born in London and brought up a Catholic. They both claimed to be celibate, despite Hitchcock and Alma having a daughter Patricia who acted in several of his films.With these similar backgrounds it
is not surprising that the first third or so of the work deals more fully than other writers with Hitchcock’s Catholic upbringing, his London life and gradual progress to fame as a director.He describes Hitchcock’s schooling
as Orthodox Catholic, including a period as an altar boy before briefly attending a Salesian school and finally entering St Ignatius College where he attended daily Mass and applied himself to the study of Latin. Hitchcock later said that his Jesuit masters installed in him the order, control and precision which he later brought to his work, as well as a sacred rather than a secular view of the world.Hitchcock made thrillers but only
one of them had an explicit Catholic theme. I confess (1952) centres on a priest who cannot reveal the identity of a murderer because he was told in the confessional. The priest himself is then accused and tried for the killing. The film was set in Quebec which Hitchcock found an eminently suitable location as it was a largely Catholic city with the crucifix dominant and the priests still wearing their long black cassocks. The film possesses dignity and restraint in handling the spiritual imperatives of Hitchcock’s Catholic upbringing, particularly that it is not permissible for a priest to break the secret of the confessional, even although it results in his own condemnation. The film was not a great success. Hitchcock told Truffaut why: ‘We Catholics know that a priest cannot disclose the secret of the confessional, but the Protestants, the atheists and the agnostics all say “Ridiculous! No man would remain silent and sacrifice his life for such a thing”’.The youthful Hitchcock was not
popular and spent a lot of time on his own – looking around and observing and visiting the picture palaces to watch Chaplin films. After a short career in advertising he secured a position in the bottom rung of the film industry, working with Alma Reville, who was already in production. They were assigned two co-productions which were filmed in Germany and were highly influenced by German expressionism and the techniques they encountered there. He and Alma married at
Brompton Oratory in 1926 and Hitchcock never made another film without fully consulting her. His stock rose rapidly and he moved to Elstree studios, foundedand run by John Maxwell, a Glaswegian solicitor.
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 19
The Hitchcock thriller was soon born with the still successful and entertaining The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes before it was time to leave England for America in 1939. An indication of their success, Ackroyd reports, is that the family sailed from Southampton on the Queen Mary accompanied by a cook, a maid, his secretary and two dogs!While not attempting a detailed
analysis of each film, the author does provide a very comprehensive account of the director’s meticulous preparations for each work, the story, the script, the setting, the casting, the costumes, the production and the budget. Despite the sometimes spectacular use of locations, the Statue of Liberty in Saboteur (1942) and the literally cliffhanging climax on Mount Rushmore in North by Northwest (1959) Hitchcock much preferred working in the studio and particularly on a single set - the apartment in To Catch a Thief (1955) and the tenement in Rear Window (1954).Much has been made of
Hitchcock’s treatment of his actors and he did admit to saying that they should be treated like cattle. Classically trained actors in his early films such as John Gielgud and Michael Redgrave resented this demeaning attitude but Hollywood stars such as Gary Grant and James Stewart were untroubled. Grant said ‘All I have to do is disregard everything he says. I guess what’s in his mind, then do the opposite. Works every time’. When a troubled star asked about motivation, Hitch would say ‘Your salary - that’s your motivation’.Ackroyd has little to say about the
so called obsession with his leading ladies, a list of some considerable pulchritude which includes Joan
Fontaine, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Kim Novak and Tippi Hedren. The latter accused Hitchcock of bullying and ruining her future career after The Birds and Marnie but we are left to make up our own minds about the ageing director in this regard.The French director Francois
Truffaut (Jules et Jim) published Le Cinema selon Hitchcock in 1966. In the early fifties he had been one of several young writers, later directors, at Cahiers du Cinema who ‘canonised’ several directors, including Hitchcock, and portrayed them as Auteurs. No matter who wrote, produced or filmed them, the director was the author because of the formal, detailed and organised nature of their films. Hitchcock was pleased and flattered by this recognition, particularly as he was not wont to praise or even mention his collaborators. In return he granted Truffaut unlimited daily access for his book which Ackroyd readily acknowledges is probably the definitive work on Hitchcock’s films.Among the extensive preparations
made by the director before each film was the choice of writer and long discussions about the evolving final screenplay. We are told that the director was very keen on well established novelists and playwrights and brought some of them on board. In 1929 he consulted Sean O’Casey and from their discussions, went on to direct Juno and the Paycock. In Hollywood, he worked with Thornton Wilder on Shadow of a Doubt which he once said was his own favourite film and with John Steinbeck, Brian Moore, and Evan Hunter (a.k.a. Ed McBain). The major revelation is that the Scottish playwright James Bridie (Gog & Magog) worked on three of
Hitchcock’s films in the 1940’s including Under Capricorn.Hitchcock’s own final link with
England was early in 1980 when he finally received his knighthood from the Queen. Asked about the long wait, he said ‘I guess she forgot’! He remained a knight for just a few short months and died of renal failure in April 1980. Alma followed him in 1982.The writer feels that some of
Hitchcock’s work might be construed as a Catholic vision with emotional rather than rational power. However, above all else he had a strong sense of the audience and of keeping them glued to their seats with a mixture of anxiety, fear, curiosity and suspense. This interesting, sympathetic and detailed biography illustrates how and why Hitch still keeps us permanently glued to our seats.
Truth and Relevance (Catholic Theology in French Quebec Since The Quiet Revolution)
Montreal & Kingston, London, Ithaca: McGill-Queen’s University Press 2014.
240pp. ISBN 9780773543256
This book will be of interest to many readers of Open House. It gives a history of the fifty-year decline of the dominant Christian church in Quebec, in the face of secularisation and neo-liberal
20 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
consumerism. What Quebecers refer to as ‘The Quiet Revolution’ describes the church’s retreat from what had been an all-pervasive role in society prior to 1960 (running public services such as hospitals, schools, care-homes etc.) to a present-day role on the margins of public life, critiquing the morality and social justice of secular government’s policy-making. The Quiet Revolution took place in a single generation, with overwhelming support from the (majority Roman Catholic) population of Quebec. All of which will remind many
Open House readers of parallel developments much closer to home: in the Republic of Ireland (whose history and culture, like Quebec’s, has Roman Catholic roots) and in Scotland, where the Church of Scotland’s profoundly influential role in Scottish public life has ebbed greatly over the same period. Baum’s book describes how this decline has generated the development of an exciting new theology in Quebec, as Christian theologians have engaged with modernity and responded creatively to the church’s changed role in society, drawing on the oldest traditions of the Church and also taking inspiration from the Second Vatican Council.Scottish Christians of all
denominations will find much to recognise and agree with in this book’s account of the historically-dominant church’s role shifting dramatically from being the establishment to critiquing the establishment, from wielding power to speaking truth to power. Baum clearly sees this development
as something that has realigned the Church with its original mission, and he cites the approval of contemporary popes for the emergence of a theology of social justice that is relevant to the modern
world in which we now live. Baum’s discussion of this emerging
theology is as relevant to Scotland in 2015 as it is to Canada in 1984. Baum writes: ‘That preaching the gospel called for a dialogue between faith and culture was a topic dear to John Paul II. ‘On his trip to Canada in 1984, he
relied on the Gospel to denounce currents in Canadian culture, and at the same time detected in the same culture elements in keeping with the Gospel that deserved integration into theology and gave relevance to Christian preaching. While people in the communist world were oppressed politically, he said, and people in the Third world were oppressed economically, Canadians, he continued, were culturally oppressed: their consciousness was invaded by individualism, competitiveness, and the addiction to consumerism, mediated by the dominant culture of their society. ‘At the same time, the cultural
current that made Canadians work for social justice and resist economic and political imperialism was in keeping with the Gospel and deserved the support of Christian preaching. To show his approval of the liberation theology produced by the Canadian bishops at that time, the pope cited a sentence from their 1983 statement “Ethical Reflections on the Economic Crisis”: The needs of the poor must take priority over the desires of the rich, the rights of workers over the maximization of profits, and the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion, and production to meet social needs over production for military purposes’.Baum writes further that: ‘To
understand the work of theologians in Quebec, it is important to realise that for them something radical has taken place: the inherited Catholicism has been left behind
and a new kind of Catholicism is taking shape, to which they wish to contribute. Theologians in Quebec see themselves as servants of the future. In reliance on the Gospel, they face the dark side of contemporary society, offer a critique of the Catholic tradition, and propose the reform of Church and society: a project, they believe, that can only be done in the Holy Spirit. Their effort is encouraged by the observation of Benedict XVI in his encyclical Spe Salvi of 2008: Flowing into the self-critique of the modern age there also has to be a self-critique of modern Christianity, which must constantly renew its self-understanding, setting out from its roots’.This is an inspirational book that
instils great confidence that contemporary Christian thinkers are finding the truth and relevance of Christ’s teaching for our time, and fashioning from it a mirror for princes of the modern world.
Honourable Friends? –Parliament and the fight for ChangeCaroline Lucas
Granta Books (paperback) 2015
Michael Cockerell’s recent documentary ‘Inside the Commons’ allowed cameras, for the first time, to roam about the Commons to take a behind the scenes look at the workings of Parliament. Cockerell took six years to get the relevant permissions, to
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 21
FILMStill Alice (2014)Director: Russell CroweStars: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney
They flee from me who sometime me did seek: thus, famously, Sir Thomas Wyatt who, as a fellow prisoner bereft of friends in the Tower of London, witnessed the execution of Queen Elizabeth I’s mother Anne Boleyn. They were both 35. In Still Alice much is made of the fact that the eponymous ‘heroine’ is only 50 when she is struck down with Alzheimer’s. She has been a star, a professor of linguistics lecturing all over the world. She has to give up her work which she describes as her
life. She becomes, essentially,
headless. Her husband, daughter and
son have to get on with their jobs. In
what sense then is she, still, a queen? Is she still anybody, as the title suggests? Do people with Alzheimer’s become non-persons?It wrong footed the reviewer that
the lovely Julianne Moore (whose mother was from Greenock) plays such a part. The earlier dementia strikes the more challenging it is. But that is not typical. Up to one million older people are affected by it in the UK today. Most of these are women. They were mostly our mothers, as Sally Magnusson, with a sense of outrage, reminds us. Women may live longer but they do not live better. This is hardly surprising considering what they have to put up with in life. What is surprising is that so many relatives flee the scene. In the film the one who is left with mother is the unsuccessful one, an
make what in the end was an informative if unsurprising insight into what MPs get up to on a daily basis, in our name. Caroline Lucas MP had an easier job with her insider’s view Honourable Friends? – Parliament and the fight for Change, her reminiscences and impressions of her first term in Parliament as the sole representative of the Green Party in the ‘mother of parliaments’.Profiles of politicians nearly always
refer to the 24/7 nature of the job and how little time they have to themselves. Surprising then that so many parliamentarians find the time and space to become authors. Among the recent crop of politicians, William Hague, Alan Johnson and Nadine Dorries have all published at least one book. Caroline Lucas, hoping to nurture the putative green surge and exploit her significant public profile as the (still) only
Green MP in the UK Parliament, has followed suit.Lucas’s popularity stretches
beyond the boundaries of her Brighton constituency and through her eyes the reader gets some sense of what a strange, idiosyncratic place Westminster is. A workplace where you have a spot to hang your sword, where despite the electronic age voting is still done by walking through the lobbies, where (some) men behave badly towards their female colleagues and where applauding is bad form. Lucas has some suggestions for making it a more accessible and fairer place. Good manners is a good start.Critics of the Greens argue that
they are anti-technology that their stand against the development of new modes of travel and power generation is anti-progressive. Lucas turns the argument around. What we really should be doing is
deciding what we want from the economy in terms of sustainability, lifestyle and working hours and then design the economy to service those needs rather than generating wealth for its own sake.Lucas begins her book by quoting
Petra Kelly, one of the founders of the German Greens: ‘We can no longer rely on the established parties, nor can we go on working solely through extra-parliamentary channels. There is a need for a new force, both in Parliament and outside it.’ Lucas’ book taps into the anti-
politics mood of the moment. As well as a peek behind the scenes it takes some time to details some key Green policies. A good primer for anyone looking to understand how 21st century British politics is changing.
22 OPEN HOUSE June 2015
out of work actress. It is time for a feminist critique of modern ageing. In the film Alice
herself says she would rather have cancer because she would not feel so ashamed. But then she contradicts herself by saying she is not suffering, she is struggling. The truth, in Stevie Smith’s words, is that she is not waving but drowning. In a world free of infection, a long life is guaranteed. It becomes a struggle to keep waving. What is there to be ashamed of as we gradually feel ourselves going under? Infants soil themselves before they acquire self control. If we live long enough we will lose the privacy we have jealously built up.The film is from a book written by a
neuroscientist and it focuses on someone for whom losing language is ‘hell’. Alice’s last public speech is to the Alzheimer’s Society describing her experience. While she is still able to she plans her suicide. She is only thwarted at the last moment. For her life without the ability to converse is not worth living. Suicide is about
feeling the loss of relationships. The question is whether the loss of memory means the end of relationships. A number of different approaches are currently being explored in order to maintain relationships. Visitors can be given a playlist of music that has remained in the memory of their relative or friend. Older men (if they survive long enough!) can be helped by newsreels to share memories of football games from the past.Not long ago there was a surplus of
children many of whom were dealt with hardily (to put it no more strongly) in institutions. There were few old people, usually well enough off to be kept in the family. Today it is reckoned there is a surplus of older people. While the few children we
have are treated like royalty older people are confined to institutional care that could be described as ‘hardy’. A climate of opinion wants to relieve families by using medical facilities to kill them. Senescent
units need to be better than Victorian orphanages.The last words we
hear Alice mumble are that it’s all about
love. In the great classic of growing wiser the ageing Lear says: love, and be silent. Speech is an overvalued achievement. Talk deceives as much as it reveals. Scripture instructs us to care for the orphans and widows in their need (Letter of James 1.27). Vulnerability is part of being human. In the brief prime of life that might not bear thinking about. Every Friday the night prayer of the Church (Compline) is from Psalm 88/89: You have caused my companions to shun me;
You have made me a thing of horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
My eye grows dim through sorrow.
It is a call for solidarity with all who are afflicted in any way that together we may experience the promised resurrection of the body.
ReviewersNorman Barry is the long time film reviewer for Open House.
Florence Boyle is the treasurer of Open House.
Lewis Cameron is a retired sheriff.
Paul Matheson is an equality and diversity officer for the police and a music reviewer.
Scripture instructs us to care for the orphans and widows in their need (Letter of James 1.27).
Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin in a scene from Still Alice.
Co-directors Richard Glatzer, left, and Wash Westmoreland. Glatzer died in March 2015 from complications resulting from motor neurone disease.
June 2015 OPEN HOUSE 23
ObituaryMargaret HarrisonMargaret Harrison, peace campaigner and one of the founders of Faslane Peace Camp, has died aged 96.
Margaret was a committed Episcopalian who, from a young age, took to her heart Jesus’ command that we love one another. From this core belief she pursued a colourful life of non-violent protest as she dedicated herself to helping end what she saw as the scandals of world poverty and war. She was a visible presence at the Aldermaston marches in the 1950s and 1960s where she walked 52 miles carrying placards between London and Berkshire. In 1961 she spent her first night in jail as the first Scottish woman arrested for anti-nuclear activism. A lifelong member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Margaret was detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure 14 times for protesting against Polaris and Trident missiles.
She and her sister Lizzie Burnett were a familiar presence at many anti-Trident demonstrations, where they marched under a home-made banner which read: ‘God does not need the devil’s weapons’.
Margaret’s most notable achievement
was the founding, with her husband Bobby, of the Peace Camp at Faslane in 1982 sited just outside the Clyde naval base, home to the UK’s nuclear submarines. There, the first protesters camped in makeshift tents; later there was a string of caravans which housed a dedicated group of protesters. The camp still exists today, a silent, but resolute presence and reminder of an alternative to nuclear weapons.
At the age of 60, Margaret and Bobby cycled on a tandem from Iona to Canterbury in support of Christian CND.
Margaret was born in Dennystown, Dumbarton in 1918. Her happy childhood was spent in the east end of the town, where she often escaped to the glen to pick primroses and skilfully avoided the eagle eye of Lord Overtoun’s gamekeeper. After leaving school, Margaret worked as a tracer in Denny’s shipyard. She met her husband Bobby while cycling through the Trossachs. Bobby was also a pacifist and remained a Quaker all his life. They married in 1945 and had two daughters, Ruth and Anne, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
In her youth Margaret was a member of the Scottish People’s Theatre, and later Dumbarton People’s Theatre, and was a talented entertainer. She wrote poetry and contributed on a regular
basis to the local press.She and Lizzie were founder
members of the Dumbarton branch of Amnesty International and staunch supporters of Christian Aid. They were to be seen selling flags in all weathers until well into their 80’s. Margaret’s lifetime achievements were acknowledged publicly in 1982 when she was awarded the Freedom of the Burgh of Dumbarton for her services to peace, along with her husband Bobby, her elder sister, Lizzie, and local Church of Scotland minister, the Rev Arthur MacEwan. To mark the occasion, the district council commissioned individual portraits by the then unknown local artist, Stephen Conroy.
At Margaret’s memorial service in St Mungo’s, Alexandria, tributes were paid by family and friends and a letter was read out from her old friend Bruce Kent, who had often stayed with Margaret and Bobby when visiting the peace camp at Faslane.
All her life Margaret devoted herself to peace. She was a very modest woman who inspired many by the actions she took and the words she spoke. She will be remembered with affection and admiration by the communities of Dumbarton and Alexandria and beyond.
Moments in timeWe enter the grounds of the Overtoun estate, just outside Dumbarton, passing near to Overtoun
House, which is a fine nineteenth century baronial-style mansion, built by James White, a wealthy chemical manufacturer. After the Second World War, the building was used as a maternity hospital and it is now occupied by a Pentecostal Christian group. The path takes us past a pool
surrounded by tall trees and through a gate into an open area recently taken over by The Woodland Trust. We traverse a grassy meadow with scattered groups of trees, formerly used for grazing sheep but now surrounded by thousands of young native saplings of various species, mainly oak, alder, rowan and Scots pine. Volunteers were asked to help, and my son and I planted a few but we cannot remember which ones.As we climb, an extensive view
unfolds over the town of Dumbarton with its distinctive castle rock and the river Clyde leading to the distant mountains of Argyll. We pause to rest near a pile of stones, the remains of an old sheep-fold, and spot an orange-tip butterfly; some of its favourite food plant, lady’s smock, is growing nearby. Above us loom the
Lang Craigs, a line of steep cliffs, formed of volcanic rock, which dominate the north-east view from Dumbarton and form the western end of the Kilpatrick Hills. The sky was blue when we set out but it is now hazing over from the west. A buzzard soars high over the nearby moorland and bluebells are in flower on some of the grassy slopes, where long ago there were woods.The path circles round the end of
the Lang Craigs; on the left there is a steep slope down to a burn whose bare slopes reveal lines of distinctive limestone rocks, known as the Ballagan beds. Beyond, the newly-built deer-proof fence strides across the moor, designed to prevent deer or sheep from nibbling the growing trees. We come to a gate where the path continues into a forestry plantation, which covers the ground behind the crags, but we climb a steep slope and sit down for our lunch near the highest point of the Lang Craigs. There is a magnificent view from the mountains of the Trossachs to Loch Lomond and Argyll and the lower hills of Renfrewshire. Suddenly we hear the call of a cuckoo, just twice, but one of the iconic sounds of summer in the hills.
Tim RheadTim Rhead is a pastoral assistant in the Episcopal Church.
OPEN HOUSEBoard members:Florence Boyle (Treasurer); Ian Fraser; Elizabeth Kearney; Jim McManus (Chair); Jennifer Stark; Michael Turnbull.
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