The Scots have a history of trauma and deprivation from which has evolved an array of images and promulgations designed to ensure the perpetual flavour of Celtic and Gaelic broth and whiskey having as they do ancient pre-Roman ancestry. The depth of hardship is unimaginable for most. Yet seemingly it has furnished the peat, moss and fire of both imagination and performance.
The Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church
Faithful Contendings Displayed
P R E F A C E TO THE
U N D E R S T A N D I N G R E A D E R.
By John Howie
John Howie (14 November 1735 – 5 January 1793) was a Scottish biographer. His best known work was Biographia Scoticana, first published in 1775, which is often called The Scots Worthies. It deals with Christians and particularly Presbyterians especially in their strivings with church and civil authorities.
John Howie was an East Renfrewshire farmer from Lochgoin, who claimed descent from an Albigensian refugee. The author was the 28th descendant in a direct line, all of whom were called John. Although he was a plain unlettered peasant, cultivating the same farm which his ancestors had occupied for ages, a natural predilection for literary pursuits induced him to take up the task of recording the lives of the martyrs and confessors of Scotland.
By a minute observation of the church militant, thou wilt find that she has been often reduced unto this sad dilemma, SIN or SUFFER. Indeed, there is no allowance for sin, but there is such an arcana in the lot of the children and people of God, that if they resolve not to sin, then suffer they must. All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. For no sooner was the old serpent cast out of heaven, then he excogitated means to ruin the whole human species; and no sooner was that malevolent design in part accomplished, and that gracious promise promulgated in the garden, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, &c. then the conflict betwixt the flesh and the spirit, the righteous and the wicked, began. And no sooner was that red dragon mentioned, Rev. 12, cast out unto the earth, than he persecuted the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The acknowledgement of suffering and the antipathy arising therefrom are powerful tools of literary pursuit especially surrounding the subjects of religion and politics. Each has a theme based upon objection and answer, animated by revolution and the sword of God. It is by Hollywood standards a captivating introduction to what is assured to be an entertaining account. No doubt for those engaged in the absorption of these temporal and eclesiastical pursuits, the promise of clarity and distinction in this or after-life is invigorating. I cannot however resist characterizing the elixir as an ephemeral and misguided intoxicant. Granted my own perception of the mystery of life is lacking in the sets, costumes and scripts employed by others for the realization; but unrivalled entertainment is not to my mind unparalleled thinking.
To my mind it is but another example of superfluity for the advancement of self-interest while evading and avoiding the more poignant topic of analysis which is the reason for disparity among people, not the elevation of the mere fact of disparity coloured by the greedy and unproductive ambition for triumph, defeat and plunder. The record of the Cathars or Albigensians is an example of the nonsense of which I speak.
Catharism from the Ancient Greek: καθαροί, romanized: katharoi, “the pureones” – καθαροί.) was a Christian dualist or Gnostic movement which thrived in Southern Europe, particularly in northern Italy and southern France, between the 12th and 14th centuries. Denounced as a heretical sect by the Catholic Church, they were attacked successively by the Albigensian Crusade and then the Medieval Inquisition which eradicated the movement in 1350. Many thousands were slaughtered, hanged, or burnt at the stake, sometimes without regard for “age, or sex.”
Followers were described as Cathars or Albigensians who famously believed that there were not one, but two gods or deities, and that one of them was one good and the other evil. This was in contrast to the Catholic doctrine that one (benevolent) God created all things visible and invisible, as stated in the Nicene Creed. Cathars believed that the good God was the God of the New Testament, creator of the spiritual realm, whereas the evil God was the God of the Old Testament, creator of the physical worldwhom many Cathars identified as Satan. Cathars believed human spirits were the sexless spirits of angels trapped in the material realm of the evil god, destined to be reincarnated until they achieved salvation through the consolamentum, a form of baptism performed when death is imminent, when they would return to the good God as “Perfect”. Catharism was initially taught by ascetic leaders who set few guidelines, leading some Catharist practices and beliefs to vary by region and over time.
Reduction is at the heart of distillation; that is, the evaporation to the heavens is as much a process of decrease as it is of increase. Reduction is fractionation with the advantage of selection; namely, removing what is unrefined and leaving what is pure. The balance of yin and yang.
Yin and yang is a concept that originated in Chinese philosophy, describing opposite but interconnected, mutually perpetuating forces. The technology of yin and yang is the foundation of critical and deductive reasoning for effective differential diagnosis of disease and illnesses within Confucian influenced traditional Chinese medicine.
Personally I find it improbable to adapt a purity of thought while allowing extraneous contaminants to remain. It may certainly be adventitous to do otherwise; but it is a perdictable peril of its own making or adherence.
This morning – with uncalculated design – we fulfilled certain unwritten but productive necessities of life (nasal spray, eye drops and retail sporting goods; followed naturally by a car wash and vacuuming). Then by fortuity we gravitated to a well of sweetness where we purchased chocolate croissants, lemon scones, berry tarts and ham-‘n-cheese pastries. All this before eleven o’clock! And afterwards a purgative bicycle ride about Lands End, for one of our number a well-deserved nap, for all of our assembly lounging in the afternoon sunshine or perched on the balcony overlooking the sea while sipping a chilled coffee or munching on chips and avocado dip; and sharing our own renditions of nonsense.