For some reason, the Scottish are often portrayed as semi-barbaric wildmen living in the hills, descending to the civilized world only to raid and loot. They're shown wearing kilts, swinging giant swords, and speaking in the crazy brogue that has become synonymous with tartans and plaid.
Ironically, Scotland has often been the anchor of civilized intellectual stability in a crazed world. Not only was it the center of the Enlightenment through the work of philosophers like David Hume and Thomas Reid, it was (and this is more important) a salient outpost of the Protestant Reformation in Europe.
Anything you think you know about Scotland because you watchedBraveheart is wrong, first of all. While there was a guy named William Wallace who fought for Scottish independence from England, he was far from the dirtball portrayed by Mel Gibson, a lot taller, and never wore a kilt (kilts were adopted in the 16th century, over 200 years later, and only in the Highlands).
In the movie, Wallace is portrayed as somewhat bloodthirsty, a bit loose in his faith, and willing to sleep with another man's wife. In fact, he was a devout Christian whose ideals led him to defend his land and his people from the grasping, tyrannical hand of the English monarch.
Entire books could be written on the faults and lies ofBraveheart, but that's not really worth our while. More important is to draw attention to the positive aspects of Scotland's history, those things that show a people dedicated to the pursuit and defense of truth, particularly the truth as presented in God's Word.
As one of the capitals of the Protestant Reformation, Scotland produced the great John Knox, a physically weak man who was mighty in the Gospel and holiness, standing against a corrupt government and church on behalf of Christ. He was often in great personal danger, but succeeded in recovering the true Gospel from apostate clergy and establishing Presbyterianism.
Not all Scots were Protestants, of course, and there were pockets of strong Catholic opposition to Knox's reforms for a long time, especially among the Highlanders who are often portrayed popularly as staunch anti-Romanists. But the spirit of Protestantism held on in the Northern Kingdom, and to this day Scotland remains an officially Protestant country.
Few places on earth have as thoroughly captured the imagination of so many as Scotland. While it has long been an outpost of orthodox Christianity and stalwart intellectualism, it's also undeniable that there's something unearthly about the lonely moors, the mysterious lochs, and the vast wildernesses of the Highlands and Lowlands alike.
Perhaps this tension has made Scotland such a place of fascination. Not only is God's hand seen in the sophistication of Scottish society, it's present everywhere in the savage beauty that the land's poets have sung for ages. We hope the books we offer below will be a gateway of wonder for the uninitiated, and a welcome portal for those who've been away too long.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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