Friday 25 August 2023

The wise and foolish Scottish nationalists

Then shall the second independence referendum be likened unto ten Scottish nationalists, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Alex Salmond. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them as they opposed drilling for oil: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While Alex Salmond tarried because he lost the referendum and had other difficulties, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, Alex Salmond cometh like a blowout; go ye out to meet him. Then all those Scottish nationalists arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; It’s Scotland’s oil and we are not going to share it with you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while foolish nationalists were away, Alex Salmond came there was still lots of oil in the gusher; and they that were ready went in with him to the divorce: and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the foolish nationalists, saying, Alex, Alex, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I knew you not because you opened not to me and therefore remain British foolish virgins.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Scottish independence cometh.

It is important that Christians have a sense of humour about faith. I therefore have no objection to Kate Forbes comparing a second Scottish independence referendum with the second coming of Christ. It may indeed be that the second referendum will take some more work.

But there is something quite odd about Kate Forbes and Christianity and indeed Kate Forbes and the SNP.

Let’s say she is one of the wise virgins, metaphorically rather than literally now. I don’t know whether the wee free church still believes that we are predestined to salvation and predestined to damnation. But I think it probably must because it goes with Calvinism and the rejection of good works during the Reformation.  This always struck me as making the parable of the wise and foolish virgins rather pointless as there would be nothing much you could do about whether you had enough oil in your lamp or not. You were predestined to be wise or foolish from the beginning of time. But in that case the parable is pointless.

More importantly I don’t know why she has devoted her career to the SNP and the cause of Scottish independence. The point of the parable is to be prepared for the second coming of Christ. Then why is Forbes playing around with breaking up the UK? What has that to do with preparing for the second coming? Let’s say the bridegroom arrives. What were you doing Kate? Why is your lamp empty? Oh, I was campaigning to split Scotland from England. In Christian terms it looks foolish. In what way did that further the goal of Christianity? In what way was it being ready?

Christianity has nothing whatsoever to do with politics. It is not socialism because Jesus tells us to give to the poor voluntarily. He doesn’t want to force us to do so by means of taxation or law. The New Testament provides a moral system rather than a political one. It is about helping others and helping yourself if you can “this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

It is very hard to reconcile Christianity with Scottish nationalism. How does “It’s Scotland’s oil” which is the foundation of the modern SNP fit in with Christian altruism? How does “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” fit in with turning your neighbour into a foreigner with whom you no longer wish to share formerly shared resources?

But more importantly Christianity is indifferent to this world because its focus is on the next. The expectation at the time of Christ was that the second coming would be soon. Jesus did not come to overthrow the Roman Empire as some people hoped the Messiah would. The independence or otherwise of a part of the Roman empire Judea was a matter of indifference to Christians as were other issues that concern people greatly today such as race, sexuality, transgender and slavery.

If it didn't matter to Jesus if Judea was independent how could it matter to him or Christianity if Scotland were independent. 

This is not to say that Christians like people who follow any other religion, or none cannot engage in politics. It is long since that Christians expect the second coming to be imminent. So too few Christians think only of the next world.

No one would have thought anything of it if Forbes quietly went to her wee free church every Sunday, but she makes an enormous issue of her Christianity, without explaining why a Christian should want Scottish independence. If it has nothing to do with Christianity, and its hard to see how it could have, after all there are Christians all over the world and the Bible says nothing about secession, then why go on so much about Christianity?

Worse there is something insincere about someone who tells us about her opposition to homosexual marriage and transgender and who holds various socially conservative views, who also chose to take a job in Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Government without making her opposition to Sturgeon’s progressive views known publicly at the time.

Why didn’t Forbes vote against the Gender Recognition Certificate legislation like Ash Regan. The vote took place on 27th October 2022 and Forbes was on maternity leave having given birth on August 4th, but she could have voted remotely without leaving her own home. But that would have involved resigning so instead she did nothing.

So too many of Forbes’s views suggest that she would be happier with Alex Salmond’s Alba party. Scottish nationalism today can be divided into the woke and the unwoke. The wise and foolish virgins. Alba is happy to drill for oil. Alba is keener on business and more conservative on economics. Alba hasn’t much time for the Scottish Greens and thinks the focus should be on Scottish independence rather than progressive issues like transgender.

Forbes is happy to appear with Alex Salmond at the Fringe, but like rather a lot of SNP politicians who appear to share many views with Salmond and share few views with Humza Yousaf, she chooses to remain in the SNP.

I can understand why. Alba will win no seats at the next General Election and quite possibly no seats at the subsequent Scottish Parliament Election. It is like the elephant graveyard in Tarzan movies. If you lose your seat, you join Alba. If you are going to lose your seat you join Alba. If you are old and blame MI5, you trudge off to Alba graveyard to die amongst the bones, the ivory and the fossils.

But then how to explain Kate Forbes? She is constantly on manoeuvres rather than keeping her lamp trimmed. If the SNP loses half of its MPs next year, she may hope for another chance at being leader? Such ambition for a wise virgin concerned only about the second coming. 

But then she may be sure of being in the elect even if she is not sure of being elected or indeed of a second referendum. Were you already chosen at the beginning of time Kate? Do let us know.

But what if she did win the SNP leadership? She might bring the prodigal son Alex Salmond back into the fold. She might kill the fatted calf for him and all the other Alba misfits. Even Angus Brendan MacNeil may be forgiven his folly with the foolish virgins and his perfidy at standing against the SNP.

Perhaps she thinks there is one SNP, and one mediator between Salmond and Sturgeon, the woman Kate Forbes for how otherwise could she hold together the woke and the unwoke and a party that contained both Nicola Sturgeon (assuming she is not elsewhere) and Alex Salmond? 

For only foolish virgins would be left alone in the same room as the "bridegroom" especially if their lamps were not lit. They would not stay virgins for long.