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Why is the Church of Scotland known as "the Kirk"?

 
 
Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 01:24 pm
I've been reading "The Testament of Gideon Mack" -- a really wonderful book, by the way.

In the story Mr. Mack is a minister of the church of Scotland and the book constantly refers to "the kirk" (Sometime capitalized, sometimes not.)

Is a kirk like a parish -- a territorial subdivision or the church itself or what?

Thank you!
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 2,202 • Replies: 22
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 01:33 pm
'Kirk' is a germanised Greek term .... for 'church' (in Low German it's still 'kerk').

"The Kerk of Scotland" was the official name for the Scottish Church until 17th century (I believe) but was still used in the 60's of last century (when I was in Scotland a couple of times).
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 01:37 pm
Wikipedia article on 'kirk'
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 01:42 pm
Thank you!

I looked up "Church of Scotland" on wikipedia and while it mentioned "kirk" it didn't really explain it. I hadn't though to look under "kirk".

It seems that "kirk" can refer to the area, the church itself, and it's congregation depending on how it is used.

The language used in this book is incredible -- one of the many things that make it such a joy to read.
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 01:51 pm
boomerang wrote:
The language used in this book is incredible -- one of the many things that make it such a joy to read.


A glossary of archaic Scottish terms might be helpful then :wink:
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 02:00 pm
Wonderful! Thanks again.

Luckily, the parts that are otherwise incomprehensible to me are foot-noted. Even then I found myself reading aloud and trying to figure out what was meant for cheating. I sounded like Mo trying to figure out unfamiliar words.

Most of the book is set in our time which makes it easier to read (though I wish I knew more about Scotland's politics). It really seduces you into thinking your reading about some long ago legend then it shocks you back with mention of the Iraq invasion or a cell phone call or Batman or something.
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username
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 02:08 pm
PBS reruns a British TV series called "Monarch of the Glen", about the son of a Scottish laird (which is the Scottish version of "lord", incidentally) who had been living in London after a family tiff, who's conned into running home to take over the family estate. It's a romantic comedy. with breathtaking views of the Scottish highlands and a country house that'd make you want to mug the whole family so you could take it over. It's present-day as well. Sometimes the accents are so Scottish I have to listen on headphones and replay the tape to figure out what they're saying. Check out your TV program listings, you might like it.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 02:25 pm
username wrote:
PBS reruns a British TV series called "Monarch of the Glen", about the son of a Scottish laird (which is the Scottish version of "lord", incidentally) who had been living in London after a family tiff, who's conned into running home to take over the family estate. It's a romantic comedy. with breathtaking views of the Scottish highlands and a country house that'd make you want to mug the whole family so you could take it over. It's present-day as well. Sometimes the accents are so Scottish I have to listen on headphones and replay the tape to figure out what they're saying. Check out your TV program listings, you might like it.


It is an excellent novel by Compton Mackenzie, and one of series. The main action of the novel is described from the point of view of the character Caroline Macdonald, a young Canadian woman who has arrived to explore her "roots." From what i can see online, the television series only loosely follows the story line. Whether or not, i highly recommend the novel.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 03:03 pm
I'll have to check that story out in one form or another! Thank you both for the reccommendation.

I have a thing for books about clergymen -- that's what originally drew me to the book. I was surprised to find myself enjoying the Scottish angle so much. I will most certainly be reading other Scottish authors so it's good to have a name in my pocket.
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Setanta
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 03:55 pm
If you like stories about clergymen, i highly recommend The Vicar of Wakefield, by Oliver Goldsmith (1766), which is often touted as the first modern novel. It's hilarious, if you don't take it all that seriously (which sadly, many of the readers who originally made it a success did).

Although i don't hold a high opinion of him, and probably won't ever read any of his novels, Anthony Trollope was also interested in the lives of the clergy. His most famous novel on that subject was Barchester Towers (1857). His 1855 novel The Warden is also about cathedral and clergy politics and intrigues. The Last Chronicle of Barset also deals with the clergy. Frankly, i find Trollope tedious. He despised the middle class, while obsessed with their way of life. He believed in moral virtue, which is a principle theme, and probably accounts for the number of novels he wrote about the clergy, or in which the clergy, or a vocation in the established church figure prominently. He wrote more than 40 novels, which is 39 too many for me. I regret reading the one novel i did read, which, blessedly, i have completely forgotten. Couldn't tell you the name.

Of far more interest to you might be the novels of George Eliot. She was actually Mary Anne Evans, writing under a masculine pen name so that her novels would sell well in a prejudiced age. She came from a family of devout evangelicals, but lost her own faith, and seems to have been obsessed with religion and evangelicalism ever after. She published Scenes from Clerical Life, a collection of short stories, in 1858. Her first novel is Adam Bede, about a working class man who is devoted to evangelical Methodism, and is the very type of a quiet and reliable English stout fellow, who becomes involved with a young woman who becomes a "fallen woman." Most students of Miss Evans' life believe that the title character was based on her father (with the love affair being a fiction). She followed this with The Mill on the Floss, one of the worst, most turgid melodramas ever written, which is also thought to have had autobiographical inspiration, being a truly lame attempt to work out her estrangement from her brother after she lost her faith, while he retained his. I recommend that you do not purchase The Mill on the Floss, but to accept it if you are paid at least $10.00 to take it off someone's hands. Do not read it under any circumstances.

Her best novel is about evangelicalism, sexual frustration and disillusionment on the part of the main character, Dorothea Brooke. That novel, Middlemarch (1872) is universally considered her best writing (i agree), and is well worth reading.

So i recommend that you read The Vicar of Wakefield, Adam Bede and Middlemarch, and if you really must have novels about the clergy, then gird your intellectual loins, and plunge into Trollope. By the way, all of these are in the public domain, and you can probably find the full text of all of them online.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 04:12 pm
Ha!

I will most certainly keep all that squared away for future reference and thereby avoid tedium and revenge targeted towards book lenders.

Mr. B's grandma already put me off Trollope with her sneers so I've never ventured in that direction.

I'm typically drawn to the stories of the liars and charlatans -- "The Gospel Singer" by Harry Crews, "The Origin of the Burnists" by Robert Coover, "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn....
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 04:15 pm
Oh... yeah.... and Gideon Mack....

But he's a liar in the best possible way. He's quite nice about it.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 07:17 pm
And.... and... and.... oh gosh.... "Canticle for Lebowitz". That probably started my weird religious quest for quirky ministers.

As an unchurched 3rd grader the religion based on a grocery list has always stayed with me. I really have to reread that. A teacher would probably be fired for suggesting that book to a kid today.
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 07:46 pm
boomerang wrote:
And.... and... and.... oh gosh.... "Canticle for Lebowitz". That probably started my weird religious quest for quirky ministers.

As an unchurched 3rd grader the religion based on a grocery list has always stayed with me. I really have to reread that. A teacher would probably be fired for suggesting that book to a kid today.

certainly one of my all time top 10. fiat lux!
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 09:24 pm
Aha!

I knew we were kindred.

Don't you think we're undergoing the Simplification a wee bit early?
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dyslexia
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 09:52 pm
pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels-bring home for Emma
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LionTamerX
 
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Reply Sun 24 Jun, 2007 10:59 pm
Chiming in with a couple more titles in the clergy gone astray genre.
Two personal favorites:

The Damnation of Theron Ware by Harold Frederic

A Methodist minister has his horizons stretched by Catholics, Science, and a religious huckster... Hilarity ensues.

Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene

An old, simple, Spanish priest accidentally becomes a monsignor, goes on vacation with a communist... Hilarity ensues
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hannon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Sep, 2007 05:47 pm
the term "kirk" I believe came about from translation of the anglicised
word church, the vocal (phonetic) pronunciation of the "ch" in gallic~
is the same as that in it`s root language, gaelic (Irish) which hardens
the "che" sound to that of "ke" hope this helps, try looking online at the
irish "gaelic" language, related to scot`s and welsh languages
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Sep, 2007 05:58 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
'Kirk' is a germanised Greek term .... for 'church' (in Low German it's still 'kerk').

"The Kerk of Scotland" was the official name for the Scottish Church until 17th century (I believe) but was still used in the 60's of last century (when I was in Scotland a couple of times).


Scots still refer to the kirk, the Kirk Session, and so on.

It's a commonly-used term.
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McTag
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Sep, 2007 06:00 pm
hannon wrote:
the term "kirk" I believe came about from translation of the anglicised
word church, the vocal (phonetic) pronunciation of the "ch" in gallic~
is the same as that in it`s root language, gaelic (Irish) which hardens
the "che" sound to that of "ke" hope this helps, try looking online at the
irish "gaelic" language, related to scot`s and welsh languages


See Walter Hinteler's answer above- which I agree with of course- this has nothing to do with gaelic.
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