100 days – Day 25: anent The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Today sees the start of the Church of Scotland’s annual gathering in Edinburgh, The General Assembly.
One small – but, in the view of many of us dinosaurs, important – word in all the proceedings will be missing, lost, abandoned, discarded: the Kirk has dropped that wonderful archaic word “ANENT” (meaning “about” or “concerning”) from its legislation. e.g. there could be an “Act anent the Prevention of Admission of Bampots into the Ministry” (I made that up, but it would have saved a lot of congregations a lot of grief over the years)
The reason for dropping it: While the old Scottish word “anent” has served the Church well for many years it is a term which has dropped out of common usage. Many people find it difficult to understand our continued use of this term in the title of contemporary legislation.” (the Church’s Legal Questions Committee).
And Michael Hance, director of the Scots Language Centre, added: “It’s a bit odd that the Kirk, a centuries-old institution, impervious to change, should have selected this Scots word and decided to remove it.”
In this regard, I’m reminded of this old story:
There once was a modernising minister who moved to a congregation that worshipped in a rather dark and gloomy sanctuary.
He felt that it should be brightened up and came up with the idea of installing a chandelier. Not only would it literally brighten up the church but would be bright in an aesthetic way.
He took the idea to his Kirk Session. “I think that we should consider getting a chandelier”, he said.
Before he went on to describe his plans, he was interrupted by an old Elder (why are they always “old” in these stories?) who said “Moderator, I object!…..
….. firstly, none of us can spell “chandelier”…..
….. secondly, where can we can we get someone who knows how to play it….
…..and, lastly and most importantly, what the church really needs is more light!”
What the Church needs is more light. How true…… may the General Assembly 2014 make a start in finding it: generating light not heat in this coming week!
But, fear not! The word still lives! Even although it’s now crafted in Taiwan…….