I WISH to present a different picture of Christianity today from that painted by Doug Clark in his letter of May 17 (‘Christ’s family values today’). 

I do so by quoting from the Church of Scotland's Faith Action Leadership Team Report containing the proposals on Israel/Palestine being put to the General Assembly. I must, in the interests of brevity, be more selective than I wish to be. However the whole report can be found on the internet (sections 10/11 and 7.1 to

For instance, the Assembly is asked to restate its 2015 call urging the UK government to recognise without delay the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as a contribution to securing lasting peace and justice for all.

In the Guardian on October 22, 2023, the Chief Rabbi is quoted as saying “Those who do not condemn, condone.” 

The aforementioned Team’s response is to maintain that “it is right for the Church to condemn the terror of Hamas, and to demand the release of every hostage. It is also right to condemn the widespread destruction of life, homes, hospitals, and health centres, by the Israeli military, and the deprivation of food and medicine which is leading to a humanitarian disaster.”

The report also draws attention to life in the West Bank being significantly affected “with lockdowns on all Palestinian cities [Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem etc] …. Violence has spread rapidly, with many Palestinians having been killed by military forces and settlers, with thousands injured.”

The recommendations of and sentiments expressed in the aforementioned report are those of many in Scotland outwith the Kirk.

In spite of the dwindling numbers sitting regularly in the pews on a Sunday morning, our national church still has a crucial role to play in Scottish life and overseas, its call, based on the life and teaching of Jesus, being “justice and love with equal rights for all”. 

Such a fundamentalist non-metaphorical understanding of both the Old and New Testaments’ teaching as revealed by Mr Clark is inadequate for the challenges of today.
John Milne, Uddingston.


The wonderful David Smith
I wonder if anyone else is as captivated by the articles by David Smith MBE in Saturday’s Herald Sports insert?

They are tucked away amongst the football news every Saturday, and it’s the first item I read. Sometimes there is a gap and my heart sinks.  He is clearly not well, but his articles are always inspiring as he struggles to recover from spinal tumours.

He describes the tension of awaiting scan results and the dread of difficult news, but the joy he feels in his return to the outside world is wonderful. 

His optimism is inspiring, his realism and fear is palpable. This week’s article ends, “There will be lots of dark moments and pain and in all of this I must hold on to this beautiful gift that is life.”
Thank you, David, for your example of positivity, hope and love of life.
Avril McDonald, Troon.


Correcting my own mistake
FOLLOWING my letter of May 15 (‘Lost names of Iona’), I waited a few days for someone to point out my error, but, in the absence of any criticism, I’ll have to put my hands up. 

In the first place, it was not Adomnan who Latinised a Gaelic word to create the name of an abbey. He was merely recording what Columba had done. 

Secondly, an urgent commitment elsewhere caused me to omit from my letter that their first Scottish location was referenced in his book as a haven. 

The closest Gaelic word for ‘haven’ in [Edward] Dwelly [Gaelic lexicographer] is “dionachd.” 
If one latinises it by removing the non-Latin sounds from the beginning and end of that word, one is left with the four letters which Columba must have liked in order to name his first abbey “Iona”.  
George F Campbell, Pollokshields, Glasgow.


Waverley is a she, not an it
AS I struggle to get my shiny head round the intricacies of gender pronouns with which younger people have to contend, it was a pleasure to see the photo of a pristine and well-attended Waverley strutting her stuff (“Full steam ahead”, May 18). I found less pleasure in the no fewer than three references in two lines to this elegant piece of Clyde history as “it”.

Perverse as it may seem, the passenger steamer King George V was a ‘she’, as were the St Columba, Chieftain, Clansman, the Lord of the Isles et al, so please let’s have a little respect for a lady gracefully steaming way past pension age.  
James Sandeman, Newton Mearns.


Safety on board the Waverley
SUMMER can’t be far away, as witnessed by your superb front page photograph of the Waverley gliding away from Pacific Quay at the start of its 2024 excursion season.

Whilst I am sure she would not be allowed to paddle off without meeting all the necessary safety rules and regulations, as a landlubber I cannot help having some concern at the passenger loading of almost 700. Many or most of them look to be crammed together on the deck, taking in the views and the fresh air.

However , I can see only two davit-hanging life boats which could only hold a fraction of the 700. In addition there appear to be a few white barrels which, for all I know, may contain some additional floatable safety emergency kit, but surely that cannot be all? Perhaps someone with detailed knowledge of the Waverley can provide reassurance of its capability to deal with the orderly evacuation of all passengers and crew should that ever be necessary.
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop, Ayrshire.

* Paul Semple, General Manager|Director, Waverley Excursions Ltd, responds: “Waverley is certificated to carry up to 785 passengers and as such is required to carry sufficient life jackets and liferafts to accommodate everyone in an emergency. Waverley carries two rescue boats and nine liferafts, giving a total capacity for 960 persons, thus ensuring sufficient space is provided should it be required for all passengers and crew. Waverley’s crew undertake statutory weekly emergency drills to ensure all crew remain fully familiar with the Evacuation Plan. This plan and Muster List is approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency”.