Building Bridges to Nowhere, Sheltering Trolls.

Not far from my home in Tolsta is the famous ‘bridge to nowhere’, an incongruous monument to Lord Leverhulme’s progressive plans to develop this island. The improbably elegant bridge sits between moor and machair, never having performed the function for which it was originally intended – linking two communities divided by miles of untamed wilderness.

Leverhulme thought that his ideas for Lewis were going to bring prosperity and ease of life for a people who had just come through the Great War and suffered the unimaginable tragedy of the ‘Iolaire’, only to be forgotten by the government which had promised homes fit for heroes. The new landlord was filled with philantrophic design, planning to give these hard-pressed people a shiny, modern island.

But they didn’t want his ideas. They didn’t agree with his vision of progress. All they wanted was what they were used to – crofting and the traditional life with which they had grown up. Eventually, Leverhulme understood that he was beaten and retired from the scene with good grace.

Scroll back a few centuries, to 1598, when King James VI high-handedly granted ownership of Lewis by Crown Charter to a group of gentlemen from Fife. The plan was that they would colonise and thereby civilize the island, and the islanders. They would bring in the culture of the outside world and the local barbarians would be forced to conform.

The local barbarians were not in favour of this plan. They razed the new settlement to the ground and forced the interlopers out. King James was outraged and denounced the people of Lewis as ignorant and barbaric.

Well, perhaps they were, but they knew that no one should be able to tell them what to do with their birthright. Centuries of doing things their own way, including the glory days of Tighearnas nan Eilean, the mediaeval Lordship of the Isles, had left them with no appetite to see their cultural heritage further dismantled by the Scottish king or anyone else so wholly ignorant of the Gaelic world and its ways.

Leverhulme gave up when he knew he was beaten; the Fife Adventurers had to be driven away, but both have something in common. They approached Lewis with a mind to ‘improve’ it, giving no thought to whether their idea of progress concurred with that of the people.

Cultural imperialism, they call it. When the representatives of the dominant culture tell those of the minority one that their views do not count, that they are imagining threat where it does not exist, that their interpretation of their own identity is mistaken . . . what else are we to call it?

And yes, I am talking about what is happening in Lewis right now. It needs saying again and again, because I just don’t think it has been taken seriously enough.

Some people in our community believe this is just a wee spat on the internet – the likes of me stupidly debating with trolling secularists who don’t even live in Lewis. There is a creeping, insidious – and let’s call a spade exactly what it is – lying narrative being used by people who call themselves ‘ secularists’ but are actually just negative and bitter enemies of Christ.

They tell us Lewis is centuries behind everywhere else, that we have been duped by a power-hungry church and, like the sheep we are, have followed blindly wherever the ministers have wanted to take us.

It offends me beyond words that anyone thinks that this is acceptable, or that it should go unchallenged.

Christianity does not consist of staying silent when God is maligned by ignorant people; it consists of offering them the truth, that they might have the same chance of being corrected that we were blessed to get. Oh, they will call you names for it. They will say that you too are ignorant, narrow-minded – closed-minded, even. Your intelligence and your integrity will be called into question.

One of them almost silenced me recently by calling me ‘publicly pious’. It would be a deliciously apt way for an unbeliever to shut my mouth, wouldn’t it? By making me believe that my witness is nothing more than Pharisaic.

My silence is what would make me a Pharisee, however. If I opted to remain quiet now, I would be caring more for what my reputation is before men; and I wouldn’t half seem like the ideal meek, quiet Christian – the kind the unbelievers want.

They would love us to be quiet and stand aside; they want us to be ashamed of who we are. Most ludicrous of all, they will have you to believe that they are reasonable, seeking ‘compromise’. You know, that thing where I want the door closed, you want it ajar, so we compromise and have it half-open.

I am not justifying myself to them. They have their opinion of me, which is neither here nor there. But I do have some concern for what other Christians make of everything that is going on. And them I do owe some kind of explanation as to why so much of my writing lately has been on this theme.

This is not a war of words only. Nor is it just happening online – it is having negative and divisive consequences for this community. Our Saviour and His church are being maligned. We, His followers, expect abuse for His sake. But that does not mean we allow lies about who we are in Him to go unchallenged, in case those lies should become a stumbling-block to any as yet outside.

The secularist manifesto in Lewis suggests that they are about unity and progress, while the church is about power and control of the 19th century kind. All I am saying is beware, because theirs is exactly the kind of bridge that leads to nowhere.

And, if I’m not mistaken, it shelters the very worst kind of troll.

5 thoughts on “Building Bridges to Nowhere, Sheltering Trolls.

  1. That Im afraid is the usual nonsense we hear from those who dont really have a valid claim of abuse. No one has abused you. They may have said you were wrong or being economical with the truth but not abuse Im sure. If you must make claims of abuse you need to lay it out plain and clearly otherwise no-one will believe you. For the moment I dont.

    As for compromise (anyone remotely serious about their writing would know the meaning of ajar.) when your position is that no compromise is possible, we secularists must take that for what it is – a denial of basic human rights.

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    • I didn’t claim I was abused, Mr Gordon and, frankly, you have an inflated sense of the importance of your views to anyone other than yourself. Perhaps you should seek help for that, as well as your compulsive trolling.
      My opinion is a denial of human rights? So, what, I’m not allowed to hold an opinion unless it’s been state-approved? Don’t make me laugh.

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      • A liar for Jesus as well then – you seem unable even to be able to read.

        I think it is you who has the inflated sense of self importance – you really shouldnt be blogging when you cannot comprehend a simple sentence. Perhaps you should seek help for your continued insistence that no compromise is possible as well as your inability to comprehend English.

        Your opinion is not a denial of human rights – obviously – but your opinion supports a minority view that is keeping in place a system that restricts the human rights of all the members if the community.

        Yes you are being publicly pious and its a disgusting fawning sycophantic behaviour for a grown woman to espouse. You need to grow up. Perhaps if you read your holy text a little more closely you would find that you are encouraged to keep your view private and to worship in private.

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      • You really are being a thoroughly unpleasant troll. I don’t know what inadequacy you are making up for by this behaviour, but I hope it works for you. Yourself and the groups you represent cannot engage with an argument without becoming personal, that much is obvious. Not one of your bullying friends on WISS has made a cogent response to anything I have said.
        My opinion ‘supports a minority view . . .’ You have zero evidence for its being a minority view and, in fact, I believe you are quite wrong in this assertion. However, as yourself and your colleagues at WISS never tire of saying, it’s not a numbers game. I am entitled to hold a view supporting anything I like. Your argument is with the council and with local business owners, not me, or the church I belong to.
        If you knew anything at all about the Bible, you would realise why your last paragraph is so sad. God’s people worship and witness in public so that people like you can be offered the same chance we were given. Pile on the adjectives all you like (towards whom is my sycophancy and fawning directed?), you need Him every bit as much as I do and deep down, Mr Gordon, you know it. Your hatred speaks volumes about your inner turmoil.

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  2. The only reason you get such public and frequent disparaging, Catriona, is that we have been silent for far too long. And, for the most part, we all still are. Shame on us. And you have many more for you than against you…. though numbers matter nothing when you have The One with you. Cò th’ agam anns na neamhan àrd, ach Thusa, Dhè…? Agus cò eile a dh’iarradh sinn…

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