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Scots: Discussion thread

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softwareNerd
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I've made this topic as a starting point for the reading-group "How the Scots Invented the Modern World"

I don't know what's the best way to proceed. I figure we'll learn as we go. Maybe someone should take the con and decide... Tenure? Athena?

We can use this thread for administrative things: planning, scheduling, etc., and start more thread(s) for actual content-discussion.

For starters, here's a list of folk who have expressed interest in reading this book:

  • Athena
  • aleph_0
  • Tenure
  • softwareNerd
  • taegann
  • brian0918
  • Pokarrin
  • Musenji
  • AristotleJones
  • Shinokamen
  • Jinu

Edited by softwareNerd
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  • 3 weeks later...

I've read the book now; I'm ready to start discussion whenever we can agree on a time and format. May I suggest Friday to create a new thread and start on the first chapter? I say Friday because most people have more free time on the weekends, so we're likely to get more (and more substantial) involvement.

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As part of the background to reading this book, I wanted to sort out the various kings and queens of Scotland and England during those centuries (approx. 1500 through 1800). I drew up a little graphic for my use, and am attaching it to this post in case anyone else is interested.

post-1227-1231380424_thumb.jpg

Edited by softwareNerd
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Chapter 1

Based on my reading, the thesis of Section I of this chapter is that the Scots originated the concept of popular self-rule through their very democratic selection of ecclesiastical authorities and established the first truly widespread reading public in Europe because of the creation of Parish schools whose intent was to teach people to be able to read and understand the Bible. He describes how the spread of literacy had the unintentional effect of creating an interest, somewhat ironically, in secular thought as well. In section II, he describes the ill-fated first Scottish attempt to emulate English colonial expansion by founding a colony in Panama. It failed miserably because of a combination of poor planning and active hostility from the English and Spanish governments that led to resupply problems. The Darien colony is seen by the author as the catalyst for the first stirrings of Union sentiment, at least in Scotland.

I'll come back tomorrow with some actual thoughts, but I thought it would be appropriate to start out with a quick synopsis to get things going.

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May I suggest Friday to create a new thread and start on the first chapter?

Can admin involved with this book discussion link any new thread notifications to the old threads so people know the discussion has moved somewhere else? In other words, I made sure I received emails for the original discussion about this book, so that I would know when the actual discussion was to begin. I have the book, and have renewed it once already, waiting for anybody to start things off. Silence. Today, I discovered this thread, and don't know how many other threads are active about this book that I haven't found.

Is it possible that in the book discussions, that we can stick to one thread, or at least properly notify people in that original thread that the discussion has moved somewhere else so they can keep up in a timely fashion.

If you keep moving the discussion around without letting people know, I'm going to just drop the idea and go on to other books and projects.

Kewl timeline softwarenerd.

Stay Focused,

<*>aj

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Okay, I've merged the two threads into one so that people who use the "notification" get an email when someone posts to this thread.

</ end admin note>

Pre-Chapter 1: Reading the first chapter raised a question: when did the Scots get this powerful Protestant church? From movies on Henry VIII, I knew that England became Protestant sometime in the early 1500's, but what about Scotland?

Turns out that Scotland turned to Protestantism just a few decades after England did, and without particular coaxing from England. John Knox is credited with pushing the Scottish reformation. He studied Calvinism in Europe and returned, gathering followers among Scottish nobles. It was not an easy victory; the powers that be tried to stop him. However, in the end, the Protestants were successful. Mary Queen of Scots abdicated her throne. Her 13-month old son was crowned at a service at which John Knox presided. James was brought up in the new Church of Scotland. [scot protestantism was "Presbyterian" while English was "Episcopalian". ] So, that's how Protestantism came to Scotland. Oddly enough, Henry VIII's daughter, Elizabeth I, did not leave an heir, and James of Scotland was the closest in the bloodline. So, he ended up becoming king of England and Scotland.

It appears that the Church of England retained some features of the old Catholic-style church, with more of a hierarchical structure, while the Scottish kirk appears to have had a more democratic structure. Perhaps this is because the former was established "from the top" by a king, while the latter was more of a movement from "below". [in the context of the times, "below" does not mean from peasants, but from sympathetic lesser nobles and some influential non-nobles, exerting upward pressure.] Given its less cynical history, it is not surprising that the Scottish kirk would take doctrine more seriously.

Chapter 1 opens around 1700. The author says that the English church was becoming more liberal under the influence of "Latitudinarians". A key figure, Englishman John Locke, wrote his "Letter Concerning Toleration" in 1689. Meanwhile, as the chapter relates, the Scottish kirk was able to execute a college student for blasphemy. We see some influential Scots trying to stop the execution, but the kirk prevails. The execution of Aikenhead shows us the power of the kirk, but we later see that is marked the end of the old era of religious domination.

Edited by softwareNerd
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  • 2 months later...
I'll come back tomorrow with some actual thoughts, but I thought it would be appropriate to start out with a quick synopsis to get things going.

Has anyone other than softwarenerd and pokarrin read this book? Anyone got beyond the first chapter?

I read and enjoyed the book, but had to return it to the library. I intend to buy a copy next time I'm in the city.

What I remember from the book is that our present industry and inventive dissatisfaction was born in the Scottish culture as a response to having their claymores taken away, and that that problem solving optimism became the backbone of the British Empire, and then the better part of english epistemology travelled to north america. As a canadian living in british columbia, it is easier to see the scottish antecedents at most street corners, and i was startled and pleased to notice that about 4/5ths of my inventive clients have scottish names.

I know a lot of you have other commitments, but if anyone read the book and has more general comments, I would like to hear them.

Stay Focused,

<*>aj

Dwell on the solutions, not the problems. (Terry Goodkind - paraphrased)

Edited by aristotlejones
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