A Reading List For the Referendum Part II

You can read part one of my reading list for the referendum here.

With only a week to go there may not be much time to read these before the vote but if you can find the time I’d recommend searching them out. As imaginative explorations of the alternative they will remain fiercely and wonderfully relevant after September 18th so even if you don’t get a chance to get a hold of them in the next week they make worthwhile reading for the months, years and decades to come.

Assembly instructions:

Take Honey from the Lion by Doug Gay. A fantastic book that calls political theology to be more practical and practical theology to be more political. It is a heartfelt, nuanced case that is realistic and idealistic. Gay argues that there is a defence to be made of nationalism that can be understood in a Christian ethical framework. The chapter where he makes a tentative step into what Scotland could be is moving and inspiring, if you manage to read any of this before the referendum – read the chapter ‘Transforming Scotland.’

Attach to Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. A beautiful, oh so hipster, work that imagines a vibrant vision of a transformed and transforming society rooted in our heritage of transformation stretching back to the Old Testament and shit. The tawdry and depressing metaphor that you ‘can’t put a fag paper between’ say Labour and Conservative can be blessed and reapplied as say ‘you can’t fit a maple leaf’ between ordinary radicals/new monasticism and the common weal. Coming from very different places but converging and harmonising wonderfully. An ordinarily radical, newly monastic church could well serve the common weal. The common weal is an inspiring movement to put ‘everybody first’ rooted in Scottish traditions of seeking the common weal (akin to commonwealth) of society. A society that is both dynamic and caring. They are well worth checking out.

Turn over and screw on Independence, An Argument For Home Rule by Alasdair Gray. Spiky, engaging and refreshing. Written in his inimitable style Gray articulates a reasoned, impassioned and offbeat case for home rule. He is unashamedly prejudiced, jaundiced and hopeful. The case made is that ‘out goers and incomers make, made every land.’ He is enflamed about what Scotland is and could be and is disarmingly open to anybody to get involved in this peculiar and invigorating project of nation building. Imagine if the white paper and Scottish Independence was a sixth of the size, had contained scarcely any policy suggestions and was instead a magical realist romp through social, cultural and personal history.

Line up with The Village Aginst the World by Dan Hancox. A bit of a tangent this and I have only just started reading it but it is a journalist’s account of a wee village in Andalusia that has ploughed its own furrow, an anarchist, communitarian, free WiFi for everybody and €15 a month mortgages for everybody. The picture that is beginning to emerge in the opening chapters is a complex one, but it makes a refreshing alternative to the ‘what’s in it for me?’ and negativity we often encounter. This wee village unashamedly pursues utopia and defies the limits of what is possible despite being as flawed and stretched as the rest of us.

Finally check to see if you have Bowling Alone by Robert Putnum. I have only managed to read the first few chapters of this book (written fifteen years ago in an American context) about the rise and decline in community engagement. A wonderful creation myth or Greek tragedy of contemporary communal endeavour and essential reading in the event of trying to realise the common weal.

As a footnote I am also reading Iain MacWhirter’s Road to the Referendum. Written a year ago it is a highly readable big picture account of how we have arrived at the referendum, relevant to those outside Scotland who are baffled and intruiged. It makes for interesting reading now considering how much has changed in a year. In an early chapter I’ve read he addresses Cameron’s refusal to put Devo Max on the table as a third option. SNP wanted it. He suggests it is ironically the SNP who are more invested in cooperating with the rest of the UK than the UK is interested in cooperating with itself.

Hey maybe you can take one of these titles with you for when you are queueing up to vote. Queuing to vote! The turnout looks like it is going to be incredible.

Exciting times to be alive.


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