The Durham Chronicles– the Highland Fling

By now, everyone in the world knows that Will and Kate hung out at St. Andrews for a good while before they became king and queen in waiting, just proving that anything is possible if you go to St. Andrews….. which I did last Sunday, and stayed a couple of days with my friends Tom and Maggie Wright, and Scott and Deborah Hafemann. It would be hard to find nicer hosts, and the students were pretty great to, whom I met at my lecture, and in a luncheon meeting. St. Andrews definitely has one of the best NT faculties in the U.K….. to say the least.

But perhaps you know St. Andrews for it’s other main reason for fame (other of course that the Scottish Reformation being birthed there, and John Knox being jailed there etc…….), to wit, it is the birthplace of golf. During this excursion I played an excellent relatively new course, King’s Barns, right on the North Sea, as most of these St. Andrews courses are. It was a sunny day, but only 40 degrees tops, and with a 40 mile an hour wind coming off the sea, which played havoc with any shots up into the wind. But still, despite some lost balls, I still managed some good shots, and a good time was had my moi (I played by myself and was the first one on and off the course in 3 hours).

How you say, did I get there? By the trains of course, something America is woefully deficient in. I took a train to Edinburgh from Durham which took all of 2 hours, and then another one up to St. Andrews which is about another hour, and presto, I was in St. Andrews, and got lots of reading and sight-seeing done while riding along. It was and is awesome. BTW the trains were on time. It is true that the train service now is not as frequent as it was 35 years ago when I lived in Durham, but it is still going well, and on time. America’s love affair with those gas guzzling vehicles known as cars killed the passenger train in America. Absolutely made them extinct, except for a few major routes. It’s a crying shame. I remember being in the first grade in 1958 and riding the very last passenger train from High Point to Greensboro with my class. After that, no more passengers in High Point 🙁 Another thing I notice was that the food and drink service on the trains has certainly improved as well, as has the food and drink service at the stations. They even have real and decent coffee in the stations.

There are lots of fun foods to try in Scotland, such as Scottish brother, or haggis, or shortbread, or various of their special beverages. I especially like a lot of their carbonated fruit juices which are delicious. And then there are the strong cheeses…….which will clean out your sinus and clog up your nether regions all in one fell swoop. The truth is, Durham and St. Andrews are really too different worlds, and they have two very different religious traditions as well. Anglicanism is a pale and weakly thing in Scotland compared to other forms of Protestantism such as Scottish Presbyterianism. Then too, you run into a significant bit of Catholicism there as well…. in fact Mary Queen of Scot’s planted a tree in the quad at St. Mary’s College which is the theological college amongst the others at St. Andrews. Religious life is alive and well in both places…. despite the usual reports from the U.K. about the lack of church going.

Interesting stat of the week—-77% of Americans in a very recent poll attribute the decline of American culture and its ethical fibre to the lack of Bible reading. Of that 77% only 57% say they read it regularly. What’s wrong with this picture???

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