Monday, 10 February 2014

Summing up … second attempt


So a month has gone by and my Soul Search mission seems a long way behind me already. Maybe I’ve actually got this out of my system. Maybe I don’t need to sum up neatly. Maybe I can just say, “Been there, done that, no longer interested.”

I started 2013 with the tentative label “post-Christian monotheist”, and I reached the end of it without having to change that label. Am I a monotheist? I am prepared to be a theist, in the sense that I cannot say (as the fool doth in his heart) that there is no god with enough certainty to call myself an atheist, and yet I’m not particularly comfortable with the idea of being an agnostic, which is the category you might expect the unconvinced to fall into.

But one thing’s for sure. Christianity is a thing of my past. There will be no more churches. I can’t see myself ever again being lured towards such a belief system. It might look attractive and simple at the outset, but scratch the surface and you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to reconcile its myriad inconsistencies. Of course, you could just adopt a blind-faith attitude that stonewalls all argument and criticism, but that’s not a very mature or persuasive stance to take.

Oh yes, you have to be persuasive, because once you’re in, you’re supposed to evangelise and recruit and spread the word, like a lowly latecomer in a pyramid sales scheme. But at some point – and it may take years to reach that point – you’ll realise you’ve been sold a pup. I realised that a long time ago, if I’m honest about it, but I wanted to be really, really sure. And after fifty-odd churches, I'm about as sure as I can be … where Christianity is concerned, at least. I’m not ruling out other faiths; I am in no position to do so at this stage.

And before you ask, no, I don't think Christianity has value because it instils a sense of morality. Atheists/agnostics/secularists aren’t running around killing and robbing each other, or if they are it’s not because they're godless. If anything, it’s the religious folk who seem to do most damage, because their belief that their atrocities are in a righteous cause allows them to be so much more extreme and intolerant.

Religiously inspired codes of morality may reinforce the rules that civilised people would come up with anyway in the absence of religion, but that doesn’t mean that religion, or god, is the source of all morality. Anyone who says that if he/she wasn’t a Christian he/she’d be completely amoral and would be committing crimes left, right and centre is a person to be avoided. Being a dangerous person whose criminal and/or immoral instincts are suppressed by Christianity is nothing to be proud of. Being a civilised person who acts morally without needing to be told to is more to be desired.

Nevertheless, there are some areas in which a deity could be acknowledged – as a notional creator, for example, and I have no problem with that concept. The literal six-day creationists are barking, of course, but I can make room in my world view for a first cause, however that is to be understood.

I can also make room – indeed, I could hardly deny it room, if it’s omnipresent – for an overarching almighty entity that is too great and mysterious to be fully understood, however rational we try to be. But the physical paraphernalia attending the Christian version of this entity – all thorns and nails and tail feathers – is not the substance or manifestation of any god I can believe in.

So that’s where I am so far. Still pondering, but not beating myself up about it. Still doubting, but open to persuasion. And still blogging, occasionally, and trying not to get too riled by the intemperate commentators who insist on USING CAPITAL LETTERS ALL THE TIME!

Tee-hee, giggles the Soul Searcher. At least people are reading my blog -- it's been visited by people in 57 different countries. That's one for every week I've been writing it. Who'd have thought people as far afield as Benin, Chile, Qatar and Hong Kong would want to read about Edinburgh churches?

64 comments:

  1. One thing four sure u CANNOT be a true Christian. As true Christians do not come out of church on a Sunday and head for the nearest coffee-shop.

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  2. Dear Soul Searcher,

    Judging by the comments over the last few days, you are starting to attract some fruitcakes (some real cherry-pickers in there). You must be touching the right nerves. By the way, in reply to the Eccles 'caker' who thinks true followers would never touch a drop of coffee. I think Jesus would not mind.

    Best wishes

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    1. Quite, though I was thinking more along the lines of a Dundee cake. We're talking fruitcake with extra nuts!

      And I'd venture that my non-belief in the divinity of Jesus suggests rather more strongly than my fondness for coffee shops does that I am not a Christian. Indeed, the whole premise of the blog is that I'm not one.

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  3. I think if u read the recent comment re ur visit to a costa coffee shop on a SUNDAY, after attending a church service, u will find if u ask any individual who attends church if they would step out of kirk and head straight for the nearest coffee shop u would find the answer being a resounding NO! PS to the person who described a fellow blogger as an Eccles "caker", u COULD NOT be more WRONG!!!!

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  4. I rather think u R V ignorant of the FP tradition, inasmuch as when u visited the FP Church in Inverness I GUARANTEE u WOULD NOT have seen ONE FEMALE wearing trousers WHATSOEVER

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  5. Dear Ms/Miss/Mrs SoulSearch. When u visited the FP Church in Inverness in 2013, I GUARANTEE U WOULD NOT have seen One Single Female Young or Old in a pair of Trousers that also Would have been the case when u Visited the Free Church Continuing + the Gaelic Service in the Free Church of Scotland. U would NOT even have seen a female with Short hair in either of the 3 Churches mentioned in this BLOG. That is from a MAN NOT a fruit cake as described so DISGRACEFULLY in one of ur earlier Replies!

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    1. Au contraire, mon ami. As I recall, there were at least three short-haired women at St Columba's Free Church that day, and one of them was the minister's wife. I think you would have approved of her hat though. I must admit, I have often coveted her impressive range of headgear. As for trousers, I really can't remember. Unlike your good self, sir, I am not driven to fits of apoplexy by the sight of a female wearing trousers. In fact ... whisper it softly ... I am actually wearing jeans as I type this, and I could do with a trip to the hairdresser's.

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  6. Dear Madam. If u ACTUALLY read ur bible, u will find women should NOT cut there hair or wear "men's clothing" eg Trousers whilst attending church services

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    1. Jings, crivvens, help ma boab! What stone did ^ crawl out from?

      When I read the bible, back in the day, I do believe that the men mentioned therein were not attired in trousers, but in toga-like garments. So, methinks that it is U, Mr Anonymous, that is wearing the wrong garb to kirk? What now about men who get married in church and wear a kilt - heaven forfend, they're wearing a skirt after all!! Surely, is the act of going to church that counts, not what a person is wearing?

      There's many a church that offers tea and coffee in their hall after the morning service, so that the parishioners can meet and mingle. Failing that, why not use the nearest coffee shop.

      Furthermore, if there's one thing that irritates me further, it's people who chose to communicate via text speak and who don't know the difference between their, there and they're. As for SHOUTING by using capitals, it's the height of bad manners and hardly the behaviour of an upright Calvinistic man of the Church now, is it?

      This contributor (who is in the Outer Hebrides) has short hair and has been into an FP church without a hat and has worn trousers too! Oh mo chreach! Now, please don't U go self-combusting. I'll be keeping an eye out on the Sabbath (now, is that Saturday or is it Sunday? Hmm, abair ceist!) for the man dressed in a sheet, so I will know that he lives his life according to the very letter of God's word. Aye, thought not.

      I've had the privilege of reading this blog last year and I looked forward to the updates on a weekly basis. Soul Searcher wrote expressively about quite an interesting subject with candour and from a perspective that I could relate to! As for U Mr Anonymous, and you know which one you are, away and annoy someone else with your bile!

      Annonymiss

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    2. Thanks, Annonymiss. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog. I suspect that Mgr Fèin-losgadh-leis-an-fheirg will blow himself out pretty soon. If he really wants to be biblical, he could follow the example of A.J. Jacobs, whose talk on a year of living biblically is worth a listen. Link here: http://www.ted.com/talks/a_j_jacobs_year_of_living_biblically.html

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  7. Sir,

    I have eaten dried fruit all my life (a healthy type 1 diabetic never leaves home without some).

    I know a clootie dumpling when I see one...

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    1. Too many anonymous namesakes. Soul Searcher can't keep track.

      But she is laughing at thoughts of clootie dumpling.

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    2. Sorry for the continued anonymity Soul Searcher. I am guilty for throwing the first cake (so to speak). The Eccles/cloutie/fruit scone contributor is clearly setting his keyboard on fire with a wrath that cannot only emanate from a Free Church in the Outer Hebrides. That’s where I picture him, anyway.

      This is a great site for philosophical discussion and I really don’t want to lower the tone with a soggy bottom (bake-wise). I promise to put all ingredients back in the cupboard and to humor my wee Free-friend with good grace and best wishes in the future.

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    3. Anonymity is permitted. Who knows where our fruity friend may be? Nowhere near any Edinburgh Free Church congregations, that's for sure. He has a somewhat idealised notion of how their female worshippers should be attired, but I think if he actually attended Buccleuch, St Columba's or Leith he'd get a nasty shock. He might even need a good stiff coffee to help him recover.

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  8. PATHETIC BLOGGER who needs THIS? Its about time Ms, Miss Mrs Soul Searcher got a Genuine Job I think!!

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  9. Dear Soul Searcher + Friends. The contributor u r referring to is from/ lives on the Mainland and has NEVER been to the Western Isles in his life as its ALL ALKIES that reside in that part of Scotland. Yours Sincerely Mr A N Other

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    1. Oh dear, this is all becoming quite unpleasant and it's all so unnecessary. Why can't everyone just play nicely?

      Mr A N Other has made a sweeping and false generalisation about the good people of the Western Isles, and the Soul Searcher must disagree with him on this point as on so many others he has mentioned.

      If he's never been to the Western Isles, he's missing out. I'd recommend a little holiday ... beaches, historical sites, local cuisine, the whole tourist trail. But I should warn him, women have been known to wear trousers there, so he should brace himself before boarding the ferry.

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  10. Dear Soul Searcher. One thing I must disagree with, is ur assertion that the Western Isles is a must for the tourists especially when ALL ferries to the Western Isles are OFF. I reckon someone needs check out the Western Isles when its blowing a gale then see if they think its a tourist must!!!

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  11. Dear Ms Soul Searcher. Re ur comment that kilts are the same as Skirts. I have never seen a kilt with a zip on it but have seen plenty of skirts with zips. I reckon soul searcher should get a proper job!!!! from Mrs Blogger

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    1. Until now, I hadn't mentioned kilts at all. In fact, it was another of the ubiquitous "Anonymous" commentators who did so. But why should zips make a difference? The zip fastener was invented in the 19th century, and there's definitely nothing in the bible about zips.

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  12. The reason the majority of ur bloggers are anonymous, is simple if people left their details, the abuse they would receive is unthinkable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  13. Dear Miss Annonymiss and friends from the western isles. I doubt u would repeat ur stunt re attending an FP service in trousers and hatless, as the Revs in the western isles would give u "what for" for walking in to Kirk with short hair and NO hat especially on a Sunday!

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  14. Why not, I'll wear what I want and there's no Minister in the Western Isles or otherwise who'll tell me what to wear. I never said it was on a Sunday, did I? I can assure you it wasn't a stunt, merely practicality. As for a hat, well the good Lord gave me a good head of hair and I don't see any reason to cover it.

    Given that U (yes, u know who u are), saw nothing wrong with taking part in internet blogging on a Sunday, you're clearly not an FP of any moral standing, of you're even an FP at all? Either that, or you don't follow their teachings, as you can't access the FP website on a Sunday. "Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy"

    http://www.fpchurch.org.uk/

    Gales or Gaels, please don't be put off coming to the Western Isles, plenty to do and see here; even going to church, if that's what floats your boat, or even sails your ferry.

    Mr A N Other asserted "ALL ALKIES that reside in that part of Scotland", well I would like to reassure him that this is most certainly not the case! I'm sure all the folk heading to their evening service just now would be delighted by that generalisation. Even amongst the non God-fearing folk, there are more than several who are sober upright members of the community. If you've been here, then please don't judge. "Judge not, that ye be not judged"

    Ms Patti 'O Door

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    1. Well said, Patti. It hadn't escaped my attention that our self-righteous, mainland-dwelling, trouser-fearing friend was in breach of the fourth commandment. I'm also minded of Proverbs 26, about answering a fool according to his own folly.

      And Soul Searcher is looking forward to her trip to North Uist next month, whatever the weather.

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  15. Miss Patti 'O Door can rest soundly in her bed tonight and every other night full in the knowledge that the blogger concerned HAS NOT attempted to get on to the website u refered to as its been closed every single Sunday in life since 1893

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    1. Her point, had you the wit to pick up on it, was that your commenting on this blog, or indeed visiting any website, on the Sabbath was a breach of the fourth commandment. The irony appears to be lost on you.

      Oh dearie me!

      Anyway, you call yourself a blogger. Perhaps you could share with us a link to your blog so that we can all have a look.

      And who knew the FPs were internet pioneers 121 years ago? Kudos to them for having a website before the invention of the world wide web.

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  16. I do not have one, nor would I want one either for that matter!. My point to her and anyone else Miss Soul Searcher was that the FP website is NEVER open/ HAS NEVER been opened on a Sunday since the internet was invented!!! Dearie Dearie Me!

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  17. Soul Searcher what made u decide to spend a yr going round and visiting various churches in the first place of different faiths?

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  18. Thats surprising Ms soul searcher must be having a day off today

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  19. Oddly enough, on my way home from church yesterday, the (real or apparent) inconsistencies in Christianity were precisely one of the topics I was thinking about. How could Jesus have been both fully God and fully human? How can one God be three persons? Those were the two main ones that came to mind: maybe you can think of others. I have a vague idea how these problems might be tackled but doubt if it would be a good idea to try and elaborate right at the minute.

    I was surprised to see you say that 'it's the religious folk who do most damage'. Has any religious nut ever killed nearly as many people as Hitler, Stalin, Mau Tse Tung or Pol Pot? And they were all atheists, according to most history books, though I am aware that militant atheists, on the basis of no evidence known to me, sometimes claim otherwise.

    Maybe I should have written this in Gaelic but in English I can think three times as fast :-)

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    1. I was thinking of the many religious wars fought over the centuries, more so than about individuals.

      Tha thu ceart, Uilleim. Tha torr cheistean ann, agus chan ann agamsa a tha na freagairtean,

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  20. I wonder what Miss soul searcher's next project is going to be?

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  21. One church I noticed that u have not been to during ur year of church-going is the APC or to give it its full name: Associated Presbyterian Church

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  22. Miss/Ms Soul Searcher has been extremely and unusually quiet today. I wonder why that is?

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  23. I have only just noticed this article. Such fun reading all the comments. I must admit the issue of trousers had never crossed my mind, but I suppose if it gives people a way of distinguishing pretend Christians from real ones it might have some merit.

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    1. Hello, Gordon. Yes, it's been lively in the comments section recently, and the irate FP adherent has kept me very well entertained.

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    2. I wonder how he reacts to men in non bifurcated garments (i.e. kilts)?

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    3. Who knows? He seems to think he's found an ally in you, though. I wonder how much of your own blog he has read ...

      ... but what does my opinion matter, since I am merely a narrow-minded female?

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  24. Gordon I whole-heartedly agree with the point u make in your blog sent earlier today 18 February 2014 about distinguishing "so-called" christians from real ones. Its a great pity that the narrow-minded female who identifies herself as "soul-searcher" + friends think its hilarious to poke fun at an individual's personal christian views. I am sure she could have put her point across in a better way if she had actually taken some time to think about what he was saying

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  25. D says Its nice to see blogger Gordon's comments from 18 February agreeing with what the christian adherent was saying re females wesring trousers in church. I reckon "soul searcher" whoever/where ever she is, should apologise for mocking a perfectly reasonable argument.

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  26. Ochoin, ochoin, agus is e an t-amadan a th' aige ormsa!

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  27. To reply to two points in one answer: Gordon A kilt is part of a Scottish Male's Highland Outfit, The last time I checked Nowhere does it say that women SHOULD WEAR trousers. Soul Searcher repling in Gaelic is I would say the height of Bad Manners in view of the fact Many people in Scotland read ur blogs AND do not have a word of Gaelic. D

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    1. My blog, my rules.

      Until now, I've published every comment you have made, Mr Anonymous, but I wasn't obliged to, and there were some I felt tempted to delete without publishing. Let's face it, you haven't exactly been on your best behaviour yourself.

      I understand that you feel passionate about the points you raise, but calling me pathetic and telling me to find a proper job aren't the greatest tactics to use if you hope to win me, or anyone else, over to your way of thinking.

      The Rev Hutton said in his sermon that Christians can expect to be despised by the world. I suspect that this is a reaction you frequently elicit, if you insult people in real life as you do online.

      Commenting on someone's blog is like going to their house for tea. You try not to offend your host(ess) and (s)he will try to accommodate you genially. You never know, it could blossom into a beautiful friendship.

      Gordon has written movingly and with great honesty in his own blog about his relationship with Christian institutions. I'd recommend that you have a look at some of his blog posts if you haven't already.

      And I think he probably knows what a kilt is.

      You mentioned that you were a blogger yourself. I'd be fascinated to read your blog if you'd tell us where to find it.

      And on your own blog, of course, your own rules will apply.

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  28. Dear Miss Soul Searcher It was never my intention to OFFEND anyone and I can only apologise if I have done so, Its only recently that I have known that u had a blog and I am trying to read through them all. Of the comments that u have printed recently, the one THAT OFFENDED me the most was the ones printed on 11 February 2014 where I was classed as a complete "Fruit Cake" with extra nuts/clootie dumpling which seemed to be amusing to certain people. AT NO time DID I say anything to offend that anonymous commenter! I have also enjoyed reading ur blog from October 2010 re ur hatred of spiders and wondered (a) do u still hate them now?, and (b) what do u do if/when u see a spider etc now? PS i do not write a specific blog myself.

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    1. I've got nothing against spiders, and I wasn't writing a blog in 2010.

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  29. Soul Searcher Here is a thought or two for u to ponder: Maybe just maybe ur anonymous contributor was rather annoyed to be described in an earlier contribution as a "Fruit Cake with extra nuts on it" calling someone that AINT in my book V Christian, nor for that matter is having his comments described as BILE as was mentioned by a previous contributor V Christian EITHER for that matter. I suppose as they say u can't please everyone all of the time. Keep up the good work Miss Soul Searcher.

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  30. Soul Searcher I do apologise. I thought I read on one of your other blogs that you disliked spiders etc SORRY

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  31. After a year spent going round various different denominations both on a Sunday and on a Week-day, what would you say your conclusions are on the abouve exercise with regards to religion Miss Soul Searcher?

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  32. I am interested Miss Soul Searcher to know, how you decided on any particular Sunday or during the week for that matter, which particular place of worship you would travel to that weekend. Hope u enjoy ur visit to North Uist

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  33. Hi Soul Searcher Hope u find what u r looking for during ur "retreat" to North Uist.

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  34. Soul Searcher re your visit to the Free Presbyterian Church in Inverness. You should count your blessings, that so many were away that particular weekend. Had everyone been present that day, I very much doubt you would have managed to park your car in the church car-park.

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    1. Your pattern of behaviour:

      (a) Log on every 5 hours to see if anyone has taken the bait…

      (b) When (a) fails, repeat with: (i) some other alleged slight against Free Presbyterian Church traditions (hint: whatever you/the FP Church objects to, Jesus wouldn’t mind. I would bet my house on it). And before you explode at that last assertion or tell me it’s there in black & white in the Bible. Last I heard, Christianity preached love and forgiveness, neither of which can be argued against, unless you are coming from a place where hatred is a frequent and unwelcome visitor, (ii) an insincere apology where there has been an misunderstanding (on your part) regarding Soul Searcher’s alleged fondness for arachnids. You finish wishing Soul Searcher best wishes (only to log on 5 hours later to start on a different tack). Yawn.

      As a wind-up merchant, it must be very frustrating not to get the attention you desire (hint: try some humour/witticisms and you might just get a reply from others on this blog).

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    2. I'm not sure what he wants. He had my attention for a while, but I'm bored now. Nice to know he hasn't chased all my other readers away, though. :-)

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    3. I think you've been more than generous with your moderation.

      He keeps on digging though, doesn't he? In some senses, you've got to admire his tenacity. If only, he could work on his spelling...

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  35. HopeMiss/Ms Soul Searcher from Edinburgh enjoyed her retreat in North Uist. I look forward to seeing what her next project is going to be.

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  36. As someone who has NEVER writtten to this blog before from the comments I have read this evening soul searcher, there seems to be alot of cynicks out there. Maybe they should wind their necks in a bit and be gracious that when someone eg the male writter whom by the looks of it, you all have it in for at the moment makes a simple mistake has the good grace to apologise the least you cynicks should do is to accept the apology in the good faith that it was given in and let bygones be bygones.

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    1. You're the same guy who keeps writing in. I know this because: (a) whenever you want to emphasize a point you SHOUT, (b) you have a constant tone of righteous indignation even though you know you're the guy in question, (c) you text-speak and you never spell-check your blah blah.

      By the way, if you start getting creepy and follow Soul Searcher to Uist, you'll be easy to spot at a blackboard.

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    2. By their fruitcakeness ye shall know them, to paraphrase Matthew.

      I don't think Mr Shouty would set foot on Uist, North or South, (and, I suspect, especially not South) for fear of all the alcoholics he believes inhabit the Western Isles. Soul Searcher, on the other hand, is made of stouter stuff and fears neither Gael nor spider.

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  37. I was a faithful reader of your blog for the last few months of 2013. The comments on this post are HILARIOUS and just the bit of laughter that I needed in my life :D

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    1. Thank you, Rhea. I agree, some of Mr F.P. Outraged's comments are hilarious, if unintentionally so. The thing about the spiders had me completely foxed. For a moment there, I thought we might be heading for a fight about tackling household pests on the Sabbath.

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  38. In defence of my fellow male, maybe just maybe when he wrote enquiring about "spiders" he got ur blog soul searcher mixed up with someone's blog. I noticed just before I wrote this comment that there are quite a few different blogs from various individuals who identify themselves as soul searcher! Dave

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    1. That's possible. It's all quite surreal.

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  39. To the anaonymous blogger who accused me of writing all the previous comments which have appeared on this blog site including which he accused me of "shouting" and also accused me of not using spell-check. Three points I will make (1) I am mute and cannot speak at all, (2) spell-check is not available on my computer and (3) up until last night I had never written into this site before! Dave

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