The fall of a Titan
When grown men, and in spite of themselves, cry spontaneously in front of a TV camera, we can know that something profound is going on in their lives.
picture Jane Barlow
IF you live outside of Scotland I am not sure of how the prevailing culture is in your country, but for us here, there is a maxim which seems to run through our society and shapes the psyche of the male of the species.
What every young boy aspires to be is a big boy; and what every young boy learns is that ‘Big Boys don’t Cry’.
But if that is not universally true, what is generally the case is that Big Boys from Glasgow – Scotland’s most macho city – don’t cry.
And what is certainly the case is that Big Boys from Glasgow wouldn’t want to be seen crying in front of a TV camera that was projecting its pictures onto the main evening news. Yet that is exactly what happened recently when Rangers Football Club went into administration.
As the Rangers fan was being interviewed the ‘Big Man’ (as they call any ‘big men’ in Glasgow in tones combining affection, respect and fear) was overcome with emotion which welled up as tears flooding his eyes. The Big Man’s raw and spontaneous burst of emotions were not helped by the fact that the part of the Administrator’s task is to identify the whereabouts of some missing millions. So compounding the ignominy of the Club’s collapse is the added stigma of questions relating to personal and corporate probity.
As a backround to this, one needs to know that Rangers FC is one of the two biggest names in Scottish football. But it’s not just a football team, it’s an institution; and an institution which goes back through generations of fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers.
Since the club’s formation in 1872 the fans have, since then, cheered on the terraces, drank in the pubs and sometimes fought in the streets. The club’s arch-rival is Celtic and the ritual clashes of ‘Old Firm’ games have often been the occasion of and focus for the religious sectarian Protestant/Catholic strife which sadly runs as a malevolent and divisive thread through Scotland’s largest city. [Though Edinburgh is the capital, Glasgow and Greater Glasgow is by far the largest conurbation. Glasgow which is indigenously Protestant became, with Liverpool, the home of immigrant Catholics from Ireland during the Great Famine of the late 1840s.]
But the Big Man’s tears might be symptomatic of a wider malaise; and an even deeper despair.
It seems that hardly a month goes by without one scandal or another hitting the headlines as one after the other ‘totem pole’ – be it person or institution – is brought to its knees. We have seen – over the past couple of years – our banking system, political establishment, the national economy, the police force, the national churches (both the Church of Scotland the Roman Catholic Church) and public figures within all of these rocked and shaken to the foundations. As we see one domino after another topple, there is perhaps on opening being created in human hearts and minds to search for ‘those things which cannot be shaken’.
And it is tempting to think that the Lord may have a hand in it all. It would seem that much of what has been cloaked in darkness is now being exposed in the penetrating glare of the electronic information age. Jesus forewarned: "for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known". (Matt 10:26). And we are challenged by the psalmist: "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place?" (Psalm 24:3(.
In my reading for the next article in the ‘Drilling Down’ series I thought I had accidentally left a book in the seat compartment of an inter-city bus. When I enquired of the bus company the lady at the Lost Property department told me that she hadn’t come across it, but also suggested that perhaps someone would have been interested to pick it up and hand it in. I shrugged: “It was about the Ten Commandments, so I don’t think anyone would be much attracted to it.” She immediately responded: “Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure....”.
Perhaps, just perhaps, in the swirling fog of moral relativism allied to the economic woes; rising threat of serious public unrest; the collapse of trusted institutions and the personal failures of high-profile public figures, the man (and woman) in the street is open in a new way – open to THE way, to THE TRUTH and NEW LIFE that will never fail.