Monday, August 30, 2010

The Reformation in Scotland

To mark the 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation the National Library of Scotland is holding a 2 month exhibition of some rare texts and manuscripts during September and October. Details available here. At the same time, BBC Radio Scotland are broadcasting a new series entitled Scotland at Prayer, beginning on Monday 6 September at 11.30am. Here's the press release I was sent last week -

"...In 2010 Scotland marks the 450th anniversary of the Reformation, an event which left an indelible legacy in Scottish society. Billy Kay tells the story of the Reformation through this new seven-part series, Scotland at Prayer, detailing its effects on Scottish culture and exploring the history of the major religious identities which emerged out of it - Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Roman Catholic.

In this first programme Scotland at Prayer, examines the period of the Reformation itself, and the visionary nature of some of the innovations introduced by Knox and Melville. It also counters some of the myths, and discovers for example that John Knox was a claret drinking ladies' man who was regarded as one of the country’s first linguistic anglicisers.

Later in the series Scotland at Prayer, will explore the emergence of Evangelicalism in the Highlands in the Free Church and Free Presbyterian Church, and the survival of the tradition in Lewis. The story of other churches with a long pedigree in the country will be told - the Quakers, the Methodists, the Baptists and the Brethren - recalling the great religious revivals which swept through Scotland and the cultural forces which led to the spread of Brethren and Baptist churches in places like Ayrshire mining villages and fishing communities on the Moray coast.

Scotland at Prayer, celebrates the history of the churches, the faith of the people who belong to them, the local and national identity of their adherents, their influence on politics and culture, the effects of immigration, and the tension between the values of the past and the society of the present. For a majority of Scots, knowledge of other churches can be scant and based on stereotypes. This series will reveal the deep historic roots of all of the major Christian denominations in Scotland and explore their relevance to the future of the country..."

It'll be interesting to hear how the subject matter is handled. Part of me suspects that the Reformers (as usual) will be portrayed as iconoclastic vandals and dour-minded killjoys. I also suspect that Ulster will be a footnote, if we're even mentioned at all. Let's hope I'm wrong.