Last year I entered a short story in a competition to raise funds for the Royal Hospital For Sick Children, Edinburgh.
The subject was to be about anything that connected a child with illness. It gave me the chance to set down an account of my experience, as a child of seven, in the 1940s.
Although I am an atheist, I am sorrowful to see the situation in which the Roman Catholic church finds itself; the troubles being heaped upon the heads of priests and nuns and the loss of good reputation ("Church in crisis", The Herald, February 26 and Letters, February 26 & 27).
It isn't for me to pass comment, but may I just note I spent a year in a heart hospital in Lancashire, run by an order of Irish nursing sisters. It was a beautiful old house in large grounds, very quiet and peaceful. The nuns were lovely to that seven-year-old sick child, with their quiet beauty. The two priests who came to minister were also gentle and kind. Altogether my stay there was wonderful. I didn't know that, without drugs or therapy, I was being "quietly healed".
When the time came for me to leave I was so sad, leaving the sisters and my friends behind. I still have the letters my school friends sent to me the Christmas I spent there. I have read them every Christmas since and I remember those marvellous, devoted people. I am forever in their debt. My parents said it was a "small miracle".
If the Christian churches in Scotland and the UK have so much political and temporal influence they have not been very successful, since roughly 1789, in holding back the advances of secularism.
Similarly, a Scotland which in the common cliche is held back by Calvinist (or Catholic) guilt seems to have done quite well at making a mess of the temporal world with the rest of flawed humanity.
What troubles me is the implicit suggestion in Ian Bell's article that Christianity should shut up and not speak out in the public forum ("Why do churches think they have a right to dictate politics?", The Herald, February 27).
The main churches in Scotland still have hundreds of thousands of believers. Even a small church denomination such as the Free Church of Scotland, with 12,000 members, is a bigger body than the cells and clubs of secularism.
I do not want to see the voice of the Christian church, a crucial part of Scotland for centuries, stilled now or persecuted in future by its dedicated secular critics.
24 Coates Gardens,
The memberships of political parties are dwarfed by those of the Christian churches in this land.
Politicians legislate beyond the contents of their manifestos. Democracy is a dishonest and an undignified scramble for power, even if it is better than dictatorship or totalitarianism. Christianity represents the human aspiration for transcendence.
Christianity's humanity has contributed much to the amelioration of the human condition.
It still catches the imagination of more of the global population than any other narrative. Its advocates are worth listening to.
Rev Dr Robert Anderson,
Blackburn and Seafield Church,
5 MacDonald Gardens,
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