Thursday, August 09, 2007

Highland evangelicalism and the Clearances

The church history of the Highlands is a fascinating area of study, particularly the development of a distinctive evangelical Presbyterian spirituality. The best history of this thus far is the book 'The People of the Great Faith - The Highland Church 1690-1900' by Douglas Ansdell, published by Acair, paperback, 240 pages, £15.99. Yet this is rather detached from its subject - especially in comparison with John Kennedy's 'Days of the Fathers in Ross-shire'.

A new book now yields the fruits of vital ground-breaking research in relation to the religious culture of the Scottish Highlands and Islands in the nineteenth century. It represents the first full-scale examination of Christian social teaching amongst the Highland Churches during this period.
Land, Faith and the Crofting Community: Christianity and Social Criticism in the Highlands of Scotland 1843-1893 is by Allan W MacColl is published by Edinburgh University Press. The book gives particular focus to the Clearances and dispels the myth that the Calvinism of ministers and people led them to subject themselves in a fatalistic passivity to the forces of oppression. Ministers have often been accused of doing little or nothing to help the thousands who fell victim to eviction and are often reckoned to have told people being turned out of their homes that their troubles were a punishment for their sins.

Dr Allan MacColl is currently training for the ministry of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Allan gave a lecture on his book which can be listened to at The lecture is deeply interesting and summarises some of the main findings of the book.