Saturday 17 July 2010

Twa corbies? No, only one, but a significant one!

It can be quite unsettling, as one gets to know a new community and the awkward corners emerge. Not church related (although a fellow follower of the way here in Dunoon blogged about it as my first inkling of the issue)

The 'Jim Crow' rock on the shore at Kirn, just north of Dunoon, seems to be both a harmless and well known attraction (as 96% of local people apparently said in an online poll at the local paper) and a sinister call to a bygone age of racism and segregation, the 'Jim Crow' laws of racial segregation in the USA. 'This Fragile Tent's blog post on the subject gives plenty of context and background, and I don't think I have a lot to add to his insightful piece, but I can add a newcomer's perspective. When I drove past the rock on Thursday (four days after someone had greyed out the offensive racist paint), this is the sight one can now see.

As reported in the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard, the caricature (if that is what it is) has reappeared, just as it was before. The sense of local pride in a landmark, which is all that I had assumed it was until the blog and press coverage this week, has restored the image, over the KLF inspired grey.

How should a Christian respond? If it is rooted in the US history, it feels not too different to historical scars one can find everywhere. Black Boy Hill in Bristol, a city built on slaves, tobacco and such, is an example. Robertson's jam logos are another. But the rock has been like that since the early 1900s, long before US sailors, with their own history and context, were present in the Holy Loch (and we are now long after they've gone). There is another rock, a few miles down the A77 coast road on the other side of the water, down past Ayr, that has 'Jesus Died for You' painted on it, and has for several decades. That gets painted out and repainted on a fairly regular basis. One person's offensive statement...

It is part of the narrative of this place - and a slightly confusing one. I continue to explore the many narratives, inside and outside of the church buildings.

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