diamond geezer

 Sunday, June 18, 2006

Postcard from the Hebrides: Respect the Sabbath

I really shouldn't be writing this today. Sunday is the Lord's Day, a day of rest and worship, and most definitely not a day for indulging in ungodly pleasures such as shopping, travelling or blogging.

They take Sundays very seriously in the Outer Hebrides. The Presbyterian church and it's strict Bible-based teachings hold sway over the population, especially in the northern islands. Most villages are built around a large stone chapel, tall and unassuming with a single bell atop the roof, to which the locals flock each Sunday. Men in dark suits and wives in black hats drive cautiously to church for their weekly fix of praise and psalm-singing. Many of the services are conducted in Gaelic, and the pews are filled in numbers that churches on the mainland can only dream of.

The influence of the church on the island community is strong, especially on Sundays. All good Christians should be at home reading the scriptures or perhaps taking a meditative stroll along the beach, so virtually all local services shut down for the day. Shops are shut, none of the bus services run and it's impossible to buy petrol. The only alcohol being served is communion wine. And yes, this is serious Lord's Day observance, so even the use of children's playgrounds is discouraged on Sundays. A stern notice beside each entrance urges would-be frolickers to "Please respect the Sabbath" [photo], and if the gate can be physically padlocked all the better. Sometimes even the swings are chained up, allegedly, although I didn't see it myself.

But very gradually the special nature of the Hebridean Sabbath is slipping away. There are now a handful of flights in and out of the airport on a Sunday, and more recently a highly controversial sailing on the ferry between Harris and North Uist. Travellers and younger locals appreciate being able to get about the islands, but to many staunch Wee Frees this is just "another example of money-grabbing, culture-destroying commercialisation being imposed on the islands against the will of God". [I would link to the Free Presbyterian Church's website to tell you more, except it closes on a Sunday "in recognition of the Lord's day"]

Unusual though all this behaviour might seem, I guess it's nothing more than the typical British Sunday shutdown from several decades ago. Plan your visit to the Hebrides carefully and the enforced break is no hardship, although God help you if end up stranded without provisions, petrol or means of travel.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream