Identity crisis

“Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’" Hosea 2.1


Was John Buchan the archetypal exiled Scot? Without doubt his Scottishness remained important to him throughout a life which took him to Oxford, London, South Africa, Europe and Canada - and perhaps other places besides. Not only are his "shockers" laced with vernacular Scots and evocative descriptions of Scotland but his more serious historical and biographical works testify to his enduring fascination with his homeland and his fellow Scots. Having been raised in a Free Church manse, he retained his evangelical Presbyterian loyalty, serving as an elder in the Church of Scotland, Pont Street. In his politics he was nationalistic before that word became associated with separatism. And he nurtured an abiding affection for Scottish literature, particularly the poetry of Robert Burns and the novels of Sir Walter Scott.


Was all this simply "cianalas" (home-sickness) or was there something more substantial going on in his refusal to reinvent himself as an English gent or an imperial grandee? The evidence suggests that, for all his accomplishments and the plaudits which followed, Buchan understood that these were incidental to his real self; that personal integrity is what remains when all the accretions of life (good or bad) are stripped away.


In our transient age, with millions on the move and looking for a better life, while a privileged elite agonises over their image on social media, remembering and appreciating where we have come from and who we really are is more important than ever: for our personal integrity and to sustain the communities which will nurture future generations. Jesus promises us a new identity, not to obscure who we are but to redeem what we have become - in order that we can find our place in his story, which embraces all of creation - every nation and tribe and people and tongue. Our calling is not to escape but to live more intensely...

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