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13/01/2012

soil & blood, or Spirit?

Recently I read The Spark in The Clod by Jabez T. Sunderland, a Baptist-turned-Unitarian minister from Yorkshire who emigrated with his family to the USA in the late in the mid 1800s. It was a book that I initially started reading for historical reasons, to gain insight into the debate during his era over the connections between the emerging science of evolution and Christian faith - and to simply read the English language of old (a quirky interest of mine). A sort of looking glass into an age I have much interest in. But it turned out to be much more than that.

Although clearly speaking from a 19th Century perspective (with the odd reference to the now discredited racial eugenics of that era), Jabez T. Sunderland broadly articulates a vision of humankind very much in keeping with more modern theories coming from organisations such as The Centre of Progressive Christianity and The Centre for Process Studies. His basic premise is that humankind is caught up in the laws of evolution, progressing both in the material and spiritual sense, but also acting as a participant in the creative process- we are shaped by the changing world, but as creatures of free will with a high level of reason & conscience we can also act to shape it.

So with this having recently passed through my mind, I stood talking to an older, wiser friend yesterday about the Scottish National Party's campaign for Scottish independence - he is the direct descendants of Irish immigrants to England and commented that growing up with Northern Ireland, the rise of the National Front in England (linked in with immigration from Commonwealth countries) and European integration all as constant news topics left him thinking (and hoping) that this was all part of humankind's evolution to a place in time where tribes, competing nation-states, rival civilisations etc. became a thing of the past, where humankind realises it shares a common Spirit that transcends all other differences.  This has always been my thought and prayer, and still is.

And this is why despite my support for the Scots' right to choose their future, there is a question (alluded to here and here) over the campaign for Scottish independence - unbowed by all the politically-correct talk of Alex Salmond and co - of where it ultimately finds its source? Is it primarily a pragmatic campaign about greater democracy and economic justice, one which I would support wholeheartedly, or is it a campaign that goes back to ideas of soil and blood?

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