Tuesday 25 January 2011

Burns vs Paul...?

25th January - the conflation of Burns' Night with the feast of the conversion of St Paul.

I idly ponder who would be the dominant force?

Burns is a strong character, with his hatred of religious hypocrisy (Holy Willie's Prayer), his love of women that brought him to the penitent's 'cutty stool' in Tarbolton Kirk, and his potent mixture of socialism, nationalism and penchant for begging letters. His eyes glowed when he was excited, according to the encounter with a youthful Walter Scott (I was paying attention to the 'Immortal Memory' at Innellan Burns' Supper last week!). Burns is regarded as a leading light in the new Scottish establishment that grew out of the post-Culloden Hanoverian ravages, culminating in Scott's re-manufactured vision of a tartan Scotland that even captured the sartorial delight and support of later Hanoverians. The birthday of Rabbie Burns, celebrated today, started something significant and lasting.

Paul is just as strong, with his fervour and zeal to eradicate the unorthodox new movement that was contaminating his Pharisaic Judaism - he stood and held the coats as Stephen was stoned to death after giving a powerful sermon. And Paul was just as fervent and zealous after his conversion (on the road to Damascus, we hear, in Acts) to spread the word that this new movement was the new covenant, the grace-filled, faith-dependent means to be renewed with God. His writings (authentic, disputed and under his name) give the feeling that it would be a bit of pain to be stuck with him in a lift for terribly long. He would rather make his point known - and the answer, regardless of the question, would be Jesus (not a squirrel). His conversion, celebrated today, was a hard one.

So, who would be better...?

In homage to that radical commentator on matters of media and culture, Harry Hill: there is only one way to decide this sort of thing...

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