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01 November 2016


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If your neighboring community of Christians is forced to flee for their lives, as has happened in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, all the more for the Muslim communities. Note the Christian communities of these countries and Syria are the oldest such communities in the world - they are generally more prosperous than their Muslim neighbors and have the means to flee.

One exception - the Copts of Egypt - who are an oppressed minority who I am told by colleagues who ran a business there in the seventies were the people who did the work as the 2IC's while a Muslim ran the show.

Of course generalized chaos and destruction makes everybody in the region worse off - I'm talking about long-term demographic trends.


I'm talking about a 40-year period. SOmetime you might want to do a tour of the middle-eastern communities in places that receive immigrants - California, Michigan, Ontario, Canada - Egyptian Copts, Lebanese Maronites and Orthodox Christians, Iraqi Assyrians and CHaldeans, Palestinian Christians - who arrived in much larger numbers than their Muslim neighbors because they were being persecuted and had the means to leave.


No worries - happy to answer - all the varieties of Celtic Protestantism I noted above are in my heritage, as well as Catholicism (my great-great-Uncle was a Bishop). IMHO the intensity of Protestant-Catholic rivalry in the Celtic tribes is because other than their religion they are historically the same peoples divided by social organization and ideology.

It took various empires over 2,000 years to subdue the Celtic tribes - my own most recently in 1745 when the Clan Chief sent out the war call and mustered 3,000 men in support of Prince Charles Stuart at Culloden. within a month half were dead and the tribe scattered and dispersed as imperial shock troops. That memory lives in my family's oral history.


Yup - I was concerned that my reply had not posted after several hours - thanks for doing so.

And thank you for your labors in maintaining and moderating this site - and attracting a diverse and intelligent group of commenters. I have learned a lot from the community and hope to contribute from time to time in my own small way.



Old people take naps. pl



Longtime lurker here, I am headed to Israel and the West Bank next week with family. Any books you would recommend bringing along or underappreciated sites to visit?



Best book: https://www.amazon.com/Holy-Land-Oxford-Archaeological-Earliest-ebook/dp/B008C7W20O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1478261083&sr=8-2&keywords=Holy+Land+Guide+Book

I would make sure to visit Caesarea on the coast https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesarea_Maritima and Chateau Belvoir overlooking the Jordan River. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belvoir_Fortress

David Habakkuk

divadab, LeaNder,

As someone whose roots, on his father’s side, are very much in the world of ‘Celtic Calvinism’ – on my mother’s, in the lost world of Anglo-Catholic socialism – I think it is important not to simply a very complex history.

It can sometimes be a problem with people who immigrated to the United States that their perceptions of the countries from which they came, and those of their descendants, become stuck in the past.

In relation to the Scots, some certainly became ‘imperial shock troops’. Others ran the Empire.

A good account of how some parts of British society used to operate quite well comes in an hilarious account by the philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner of how in the late ‘Thirties, as a not long arrived Jewish refugee from Prague, he was given a scholarship to Balliol, one of the most famous of Oxford colleges.

The Master at the time, Sandie Lindsay, was a Scot whose first degree was at Glasgow. His recruitment principles – not oriented towards creating the kind of ‘imbecile clerisy’ we have now –were accurately described by Gellner:

‘Lindsay practised Portuguese colonial policy, that is keep the natives peaceful by getting able ones from below into Balliol. Balliol he wanted to be one-third upper-class, one-third grammar-school, and one-third Scotsmen and foreigners. In his view the upper-class were to teach the others manners, and he used the grammar-school to introduce some brains into the upper class. He put it as brutally as that.’

(See http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/units/gellner/InterGellner.html .)

One could multiply examples. The classic novels of imperial ‘derring do’ were written by another Scot who went to Oxford on scholarships, and had a distinguished career as an administrator and Tory politician, John Buchan.

In the real world of intelligence, a pivotal moment was the appointment of the Scottish physicist cum engineer Alfred Ewing as Director of Naval Education in 1903. He was instrumental in the recruitment of the ‘professor types’ into cryptanalysis, and the creation and running of Room 40 in the Admiralty in the First World War – out of which Bletchley Park came.

(The King’s College, Cambridge connection, which brought ‘Dilly’ Knox and Alan Turing to Bletchley Park, came from Ewing.)

As to Wales, the history is very different. There is, obviously, no parallel to the Scottish Enlightenment. The development of Welsh education in the second half of the nineteenth-century, however, was spectacular – and intimately bound up with the role of coal, iron and steel in South Wales.

A pivotal figure in the process was the great entrepreneur David Davies of Llandinam, who was instrumental in 1884 in the creation of the port of Barry, to export the ‘steam coals’ which were then the only fuel which could generate enough pressure to power a warship or an express train. (It was my father’s home town.)

Himself a totally self-made man, who started with nothing, he repeatedly lectured his fellow-countrymen on the need to get education in English.

(See http://www.britannia.com/celtic/wales/eighthwonder/wonder7.html .)

And they did. In Barry, Major Edgar Jones created one of the greatest of the Welsh ‘County Schools’.

The history of his family is an interesting case study. His girlfriend and fellow-student at University College Aberystwyth, Annie Gwen Jones, went out after graduation to tutor the granddaughters of another great Welsh entrepreneur, John Hughes, from near Merthyr Tydfil, who had – quite literally – created the Donbass. (Donetsk was, originally, Yuzhovka.)

Decades later, their son Gareth would go from Aberystwith to Trinity College Cambridge, from which he graduated with Class Honours in French, German and Russian. At the height of the famine caused by collectivisation, he would walk through the Donbass, and produce the only significant on-the-ground reporting on it in the Western press.

I must declare an interest in this, as my grandfather was an early pupil of Edgar Jones, and later a close colleague, in charge of education in the local authority.

It was a culture which was imbibing the latest in ‘advanced’ thinking and writing, but was still deeply rooted in the ethos of nonconformist religion, in particular Methodism – which was indeed, in Wales, largely Calvinist rather than Arminian.

My grandfather much disliked Welsh linguistic nationalists. In the same year as he was commissioned into the Royal Navy, he gave his son the name of a (fictional) Anglo-Saxon king.

Politically, sectarian Protestantism can lead in all kinds of directions.

It can easily engender millenarian fantasies. It can also produce a belief that the proper rule is by an ‘aristocracy of the godly.’ Another direction in which it can develop is in some ways deeply conservative – to a belief that civilisation is always a precarious venture, and catastrophic collapse an ever present possibility.

One finds this in Buchan, as in greater writers deeply influenced by Calvinism, notably Melville and Kipling. Although I grew up in England and identify strongly as English, that pessimism is a part of my father’s tradition to which I still hold strongly.


That memory lives in my family's oral history.

That's pretty impressive. But please consider me puzzled. Really hard for me to understand. No change to find that single political outside event that shaped oral traditions in my family. Not enough time for such historical reflections? ... On the other hand, it's pretty easy for me to grasp the military tradition in Pat's family...

IMHO the intensity of Protestant-Catholic rivalry in the Celtic tribes is because other than their religion they are historically the same peoples divided by social organization and ideology.

Meaning? Tribe is stronger then e.g. "the Kirk" (notice random choice)? I wonder why you sort out Bonnie Prince Charles' failed attempt as such a relevant orally delivered family matter. Maybe I should read up on the nexus religion and power in the UK beyond Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit all the way back to the Celts.

Consider me even more puzzled now.



"other than their religion they are historically the same peoples divided by social organization and ideology" In England maybe yeas but in Scotland the Highlanders who were more Celtic tended to be Catholic and the Lowlanders who were more Germanic tended to become Protestant. On the Continent the Croat Catholics and the Serb Orthodox were also basically the same peole with the same language. pl

Trent Smither


Jerusalem, Old City:
1. the Wall, Friday before sundown to see the yeshiva boys come down to start Shabbat.
2. Austrian Hospice, for dessert or beer.
3. wander around the Armenian Quarter when you need a break from the noise and intensity of Jerusalem.
4. we used to sneak up onto the ramparts of the wall around the Old City, but I think there is also paid admission. Worth it to get a sense of scale and proximity.
5. there used to be two Armenian bars right inside Jaffa Gate (on the right as you enter the Old City) which were oddly tourist-free. Good places to relax.
6. New Gate as a stress free entrance.

Tomb of the Patriarchs

Outside of Beersheva is a geological weirdness called the Maktesh Gidol and Kitan (the big and small craters). The town of Mitzpeh Ramon isn't much more than the hostel, but if you like to hike, this is (or at least was) an under-the-radar spot. Aside from the astounding colors in the sand and mud (purple!) you can also see golden eagles and fantastic ibex.


Much appreciated sir, thank you.

The Beaver




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