to the Isle of Harris Proposed Superquarry
Inquiry Theological Testimony
First published in Journal of Law and Religion, Hamline University School of Law, St Paul, Mn., (www.hamline.edu/law/jlr ) XI:2, 1994-95, pp. 757-788 and appendix, pp. 789-791. An accompanying article by Professor Alesia Maltz, Commentary on the Harris Superquarry, was carried in the same issue and reflects upon the theological arguments made in the Harris public enquiry vis-a-vis the American constitutional position on religion, pp. 793-833.
and Harris - Cultural Background
Isle of Harris, famous for its traditionally woven Harris Tweed fabric, is part
of the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides archipelago off the North-West coast of
Scotland. Harris and the Isle of Lewis are one island, the largest in the
Hebrides, with a 1991 Census population of 22,381. Many inhabitants are
indigenous Gaelic speakers. Principal employment sectors are fishing, tourism,
weaving, crofting (small scale agriculture), and the public service sector.
Unemployment is significant, standing at around 12%.
the Reformation, missionary efforts assured practically 100% conversion of the
inhabitants from an almost completely lapsed Catholicism to Protestantism.
Pre-reformation Highland Catholicism had incorporated many elements of nature
spirituality subsequently dismissed as “pagan” by Presbyterianism.
Today Lewis and Harris retain the highest rate of church attendance in Britain.
There are four main church groupings: the 1) Associated Presbyterian Churches
which broke away from the 2) Free Presbyterian Church, which was a break-away
group from the 3) Free Church of Scotland, which broke from the established 4)
Church of Scotland in the 1843 Disruption.
all churches, Island theology draws heavily on Calvinist interpretations of the
Fall, original sin, the centrality of Christ in the work of salvation, Sabbath
observance and maintaining ethical standards in the community appropriate to it
being largely a community of believers. These issues transcend schisms between
island is the only part of Britain where Sabbath observance extends to there
being no shops open and no public transport on Sundays. This enjoys broad
support from both religious and secular segments of the population. Many of the
latter accept it as being important in defending a less-pressured way of life.
The Coastal Superquarry Concept on Harris
1991 a Scottish businessman, Mr Ian Wilson of Dunblane, announced that he had
procured a stake in mineral rights at some half-dozen key deep-water mountainous
locations in Scotland. He proposed to develop the concept of the “catalytic
superquarry is a quarry capable of extracting 3 - 20 million metric tonnes per
annum, compared with a conventional large quarry size of some 200,000 tonnes.
These superquarries would be coastal, so that rock could be shipped from remote
sites in the Scottish Highlands to provide motorway and building aggregate in
those parts of England and the rest of Europe where, what Wilson called
“environmental shock” (ibid.), has inhibited further local quarrying
developments. They would be “catalytic,” in that they would catalyse other
mineral development from satellite quarries (e.g. marginally commercial garnet
on Harris) and catalyse other forms of local business which, Mr Wilson claimed,
would lead to “sustainable development” in “crofting enterprise zones.”
Sustainability would be assured on Harris because, whilst the initial planning
application for the quarry would be for only 60 years, the island’s southern
mountain range has sufficient rock to carry on for hundreds of years if wished.
The mountain is substantially made up of anorthosite, a hard, dense calcium
aluminium silicate feldspar ideal for the construction industry. Some ten
million tonnes a year would be extracted and shipped possibly as far away as
teaming up with the local landlord and one of Britain’s biggest construction
companies, Redland Aggregates Plc (market capitalisation circa $7 billion), a
planning application was lodged in 1991. Initially, the application received an
estimated 90% informal backing from the local community. People accepted the
company’s arguments about creation of jobs. Projected job numbers ranged from
about forty to four hundred, depending on who was speaking. Having no yardstick
against which to appreciate the magnitude of the project, most lacked awareness
of the social, economic and ecological down-sides.
Theological Antecedents, Influences and Objectives
of us who became opposed to the quarry were generally people like myself who had
grown up on the islands and then travelled widely, or incomers seeking an
alternative way of life to the industrial mainstream. These might be thought of
respectively as “outside insiders” and “inside outsiders” to the
community. “Inside insiders” - i.e. indigenous resident community members -
were mostly silent in the early stages of opposition campaigning. For
them to have been otherwise would have been to risk responsibility for splitting
a community central to their identity and wellbeing. Better to allow the thin
ice to be stepped on by those who had more external buoyancy. In this respect
and in small communities around the world, inside outsiders and outside insiders
can be seen to play an important advocacy role in articulating divergent
positions of the community and thereby avoiding conflict at the core. It is a
community’s defence, learned by the lessons of history, against the divide and
rule vicissitudes of change. It is a stalking-horse role
where those engaging in advocacy must recognise and accept their ultimate
dispensability if the outcome goes messily against them. Such a shift from
stalking-horse even to scapegoat can be their ironic contribution to the
little formal co-ordination but much informal sharing, those of us objecting to
the quarry worked through due procedures at the local authority planning stages,
and through the national and local media to raise awareness of the cultural,
ecological and economic adverse consequences that the quarry might have.
campaign was not all negative. We also stimulated proposals that lead to an
alternative “strategic development plan” to create non-destructive jobs in
This has now been taken up by pro- and anti-quarry factions alike, resulting in
the “Harris Integrated Development Plan.” It has already created ten jobs.
my own role in opposing the superquarry was to contribute to the conventional
secular arguments as befits a human ecologist. As opposition grew and mainstream
organisations like Friends of the Earth and Scottish Natural Heritage took up
well-researched anti-quarry stances, I shifted my stance towards the
theological, which had always been a personal motivation from Quaker, liberation
theology and ecofeminist perspectives.
Lord’s Day Observance Society and local churches had, from the outset,
expressed concern about the possibility that the superquarry would bring Sabbath
working. I felt moved to bring a wider theological perspective towards which, it
was clear from discussions with local clergy, the churches might be marginally
sympathetic, but unable themselves to address due to the range of pro- and
anti-quarry perspectives in their own congregations. Two of the three clergy I
consulted in South Harris also doubted the theological priority of the issue
relative to the deeper central concern of “man’s
sinfulness” and salvation through Christ. However, one of them considered the
quarry would end religious life as he knows it in Harris. None challenged the
a pre-Inquiry meeting in the Scottish Office in the summer of 1994, I asked
whether theological considerations related to what the World Council of Churches
called the “integrity of creation” might be entertained. I argued that as
Sunday work had been accepted as a legitimate area for the inquiry under the
category of cultural considerations, so should other theological concerns. The
Inquiry Reporter, Miss Gillian Pain, agreed to this. Had there been any question
as to the relevance of such evidence in a Government inquiry, it would have been
my intent to point to the significant place of religion in Scottish civic life:
the very outer doors of the Scottish Office under whose auspices we were
sitting, for example, having a biblical mural with the words of Jesus cast into
them (Mat. 4:19).
subsequently set about preparing the “precognition” (inquiry body of
evidence) published here. A few months earlier I sounded this theme out in
simplified form via a letter in the Stornoway
the main local newspaper. It drew no published reaction whatsoever, though I was
given private verbal encouragement. I would not have expected letters of praise
to appear in the newspaper, but was reassured that there was no condemnation
from any church leaders. Had there been any of weight, the theological case
could probably not have proceeded because it would have been discounted from the
outset by many local people.
knew that a lot of people would privately read the scriptural references cited.
I trusted that this would work with its own power and open up new directions of
thought, contemplative prayer and private discourse. The Bible can be read as a
profoundly ecological text. However, most Scots have not reflected much on its
contemporary significance in such matters. To do so is salutary.
parallel to all this, other threads were starting to weave into the tapestry
that would finally emerge. During the summer of 1994 I travelled in North
America with support from the Konrad Zweig Trust. I was exploring with people
like the well known American therapist, Jane Middleton-Moz, the relevance of
what might be called a “transatlantic cultural psychotherapy.” By this I
mean the need to address the disempowered cultures left behind from the Highland
Clearances in Scotland, the broken Native American cultures resulting from
settlement of our people on their
land, and the breaking, globally dominant culture to which we nearly all now
was working with the idea that just as a psychologically sick person can benefit
from coming to know painful truths in the process of psychotherapy, so perhaps
cultures sickened through carrying the effects of intergenerational trauma can
heal through social processes parallel to psychotherapy. In my work with
Scottish indigenous land rights on the Isle of Eigg
I had used the principle of re-membering and re-visioning in order to re-claim
... all in a spirit cognisant that “only forgiveness breaks the law of
So too with the superquarry it seemed we had to re-member and re-vision right
relationship with the Creation in order to maintain a claim on the children’s
future. Such focus on the quarry might accrue wider benefits too as the
community were forced to think about their place in history and geography. Just
possibly, the superquarry proposal could be a shot to the cultural immune
system. As such, it could draw us to a greater wholeness of awareness; an
awareness, as Edwin Muir put it, that “still from Eden springs the root as
clean as on the starting day.”
theological sources feeding into this were diverse but convergent. They became
powerfully important to me as the strategy of superquarry opposition unfolded.
They were mostly contextual, liberation-orientated, prophetic process
theologies; mainly though not exclusively Christian. I was surprised, often,
working at my computer to be moved to tears by their power to grip the soul
whilst pausing to contemplate, or play some ancient tune on my penny whistle. I
have been asked to describe some of these sources and their impact as much as I
feel comfortable so to do.
central metaphor was the triple process of “naming, unmasking and engaging the
powers” described by American theologian, Walter Wink. He sees spirituality as
being the interiority of outward forms such as nations, institutions, companies,
people, etc.. Spirituality shapes the dynamics of power in the world. The
“powers” are inevitably “fallen,” but capable of redemption. To work
with redemptive processes we must first “name” the powers - find handles to
grip onto. Then we can “unmask” them - reveal their workings and motives.
Only then can they be “engaged,” - not destroyed, but called to a higher
vocation. In the third text of his award-winning trilogy, Wink devotes
substantial analysis to the domination system.
It seemed to me that the superquarry company was an embodiment of this system -
caught up in layers of illusory maya, unable to see that the name being honoured
by faceless shareholders sheltering behind limited liability, limited
responsibility status, was Mammon: or Moloch ... that Old Testament god to which
the children’s wellbeing and lives were sacrificed to buy present prosperity.
Unmasked, the quarry was about the psychospiritual dynamics of profit and a
blind enslaving fetish that jobs are all there is to wellbeing. Even Ian Wilson,
“father of the superquarry concept,” acknowledged that, “Quarries make bad
neighbours.... The industry itself, the quarrying industry in the UK, if it
could get off with raping the Highlands would do so. I mean they are business
named and unmasked, the challenge becomes less heady, more pragmatic.
“Engagement” of the powers becomes a matter of repudiating the abdication of
governance in resource use; of calling on government to encourage aggregate
recycling, resource substitution and to the national development of policies
consistent with minimal natural capital usage. One appendix to my theological
submission was therefore a paper on ecological economics arguing against the use
of discounted cash flow predicated “contingent valuation methodologies.”
These provide a veneer behind which nature’s destruction is justified.
powerful influences were Gutierrez’s theology of liberation. Gutierrez sees
liberation as simply being “to give life.” (cf. John 10:10). It is a
there is liberation from social situations of oppression and marginalization
that force many ... to live in conditions contrary to God’s will for
their life. But ... also needed is a personal transformation by which we live
with profound inner freedom in the face of every kind of servitude.... Finally,
there is liberation from sin, which attacks the deepest root of all servitude;
for sin is the breaking of friendship with God and with other human beings....
recognises the centrality of history, politics and psychoanalytical insight
to soteriology; his implication being that if we are not living the Kingdom here
and now - if we are merely waiting for “pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die” - we
are actually dying to the immanence of heaven and life eternal (cf. Luke 17:21).
Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire has developed practical tools for working out
such a liberation theology of “full humanisation” through community
education. Freire calls for “conscientisation” - the process of helping
people to become aware of how they are oppressed and what they can do to become
more free. Freireian pedagogy is developing a well-tried reputation in Scotland,
especially through adult education workers.
It seemed to me that what he developed for a Brazil where fully 1% of the
population own only 45% of the land could equally be of value to problems of
community disempowerment in a Scotland where, according to the Scottish
Landowners’ Federation’s own figures, just 0.08% of the population own 80%
of private land.
Illich with his insights into the nature of work and vernacular livelihood,
cross-cultural Hindu-Christian scholar and Edinburgh University Gifford
lecturer, Raimon Panikkar, with his understand of the centrality of right
relationship to the rhythm of Being - of the Creation
- these were other important influences. They were complemented by ecofeminist
perspectives, Christian and otherwise. I drew strength from the poetry of
Adrienne Rich. Her understanding of national despair in America and the
importance of bringing poetics into politics speaks equally to our need on this
side of the Atlantic.
And Alice Walker and Audre Lorde
... their writings about the passions of love, the dancing of life through
oppression and cherishing the wounded Earth ... these literally cradle the
wearied campaigner in great black Earth-mothering arms. I thank them all. They
shaped the deep ontological dynamics, drawing me deeper into a relationship with
the threatened mountain,. Roineabhal,
and the human and other ecologies it supports. This surprised, delighted and
sometimes shocked me. Only through poetic prose have I been able to hint at it.
Chief Stone Eagle Herney
of my North American study tour took me to visit Leon Dubinski and his
co-campaigners on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. They work closely with the
Mi’Kmaq first nation in trying to prevent the superquarrying of Kluscap (Gluscap,
Glooscap) or Kelly’s Mountain. The mountain is sacred to the Mi’Kmaq people.
They believe that their prophet, Kluscap, will return there. Kelly Rock are a
quarry company who consider aggregate production to be a better use of Kluscap.
To stop this the Grand Chief of the Mi’Kmaq Grand Council and the traditional
government appointed Sulian Stone Eagle Herney to lead a campaign of opposition.
As well as being War Chief of the Mi’Kmaq Warrior Society, Stone Eagle is also
a sacred peace pipe carrier. The latter rested more comfortably with my Quaker
pacifism. In addition, he is director of the First Nations Environmental Network
- the only First Nations national environmental organisation in Canada.
was unable to meet with Stone Eagle whilst in Canada, but with his wife’s
permission swam from a boat and meditated in the sacred cave on the mountain.
This was in August 1994, and the theological testimony in the public inquiry was
not to be until November. But the ideas crystallised rapidly and often more
reluctantly on my behalf than this account might suggest. I could see both the
power and, almost, the absurdity of the whole thing. A hem of embarrassment
skirted passion built on conviction fuelled by righteous indignation. However,
with the help of North American and
Scottish friends, four objectives for the theological witness were taking shape
in my mind. They were:
help stop further quarrying on Harris and wherever else such extraction is
undertaken in a way inconsistent with social and ecological justice;
inconsistent with reverence towards
nature and one-another;
explore the use of liberation theology in Scotland, particularly as applied to
our deprivation from control over the land and the socio-ecological and
psychospiritual consequences thereof;
so in a manner that might spiritually inform understandings of “sustainable
development” consistent with Agenda 21 of the Rio Summit. This recognises
sustainable development as being that which addresses current needs without
compromising those of future generations. Most states, including Britain, signed
up to it at the Earth Summit in Rio, 1992;
encourage reflection in Scotland upon the desirability of
reincorporating a theology of immanence alongside and complementary to
the prevailing theology of transcendence, and so doing within a theological
framework acceptable to mainstream Presbyterians;
develop a cathartic historical understanding of oppression, intergenerational
poverty, community disempowerment and the land question between native peoples
on both sides of the Atlantic, through common grieving, sharing, forgiveness and
forward vision involving spiritual insights from diverse perspectives. This is
what I conceptualised as cultural psychotherapy.
discussed these ideas once back in Scotland by telephone with Stone Eagle. I
believed he would introduce an important international dimension and attract
publicity to the issue accordingly. Given the mandate he holds from his people,
there was probably no other person in the world with comparable superquarry
campaigning experience. He agreed to come. Eagle totemism (there are breeding
eagles on both Mt. Roineabhal and
Mt. Kluscap) played an important role in his agreeing to give time and in
establishing relationship between us. It was also a gift for the press, as
evidenced by such headlines as “Stone Eagle to fly in for battle to stop
Rev. Prof. Donald Macleod
my own lack of theological weight in Highland circles, I felt we also needed a
prominent theologian appropriate to Hebridean religious culture. I re-read an
address given by the chair of systematic theology at the Free Church College,
Professor Donald Macleod, at the annual Scottish Crofters’ Conference in
It contained veiled criticism of
the quarry concept. I called, and asked for his help. Yes, he was indeed
strongly opposed to the quarry. He would be prepared to address the Inquiry as a
supporting witness. He would, of course, speak as a committed Calvinist.
Macleod is considered to be one of Scotland’s greatest and most controversial
contemporary theologians. Credited with coining the phrase that “Adam was a
crofter and only the Fall gave us landlords,” he is a Presbyterian liberation
relevance to ecotheology of John Calvin’s thought (as distinct from some
articulations of Calvinism) is potentially profound. Calvin was a man fascinated
by what he called the “beautiful theatre” of the created world, in which we
might do well “to take pious delight” in meditating upon nature’s
phenomena as God’s creation.
Macleod is the focus of a bitter feud which has been running for a number of
years within the Free Church between conservative and radical fundamentalists.
Reviewing this after the public inquiry was over, The
Scotsman (Scotland’s newspaper of record) remarked:
liberal in the Free Church of Scotland is someone who believes that women can be
admitted to church not wearing a hat.... Prof Macleod’s fundamental beliefs
... would mark him out as a dangerous fundamentalist in almost every other
branch of the Christian church. (An) expert said Prof Macleod’s evidence at
the Lingerabay superquarry inquiry summed up the professor’s problems (with
conservatives in his church). The professor shared a platform at the inquiry
with Stone Eagle, a Red Indian whose protest against the quarry was based on Red
Indian spirituality, and a Quaker, Alastair McIntosh. Despite his willingness to
share a platform on a Highland issue with a pagan and what many in the area
would regard as a heretic, however, his evidence to the inquiry was impeccably
with Calvin were particularly apparent in parts of the verbal introduction to
his written text at the Inquiry hearing. For instance:
people of Harris live conscious of the glory of God. What I'm asking is to
reflect whether this project is to the glory of God. Do we have God's mandate to
inflict on Creation a scar of this magnitude that might detract from Creation's
ability to reflect the Glory of God? I know that Roineabhal is not in itself an
area of what you might deem to be "beautiful." It is nevertheless an
area of magnificence and grandeur and, by being such, bears eloquent testimony
in my judgement to the majesty and grandeur of God's Earth. In my view no hole
in the ground could bear that testimony as Roineabhal presently does.
it was that an uneasy alliance, what the press dubbed “The Quaker, the
Calvinist and the Mi’Kmaq Warrior,” ended up sharing a common platform on
9th November 1994 at the Inquiry in Harris.
Was it Worth it?
editor of this journal has allocated the role of evaluation to Dr Alesia Maltz.
In addition, I should like to give some personal reflections.
Inquiry report is expected probably in the second half of 1996. It is unclear
whether Miss Pain will consider the theology to have been very relevant. What is
clear is that the theology, and all the other inquiry evidence constituting the
vast bulk of the proceedings, had considerable public impact as the subsequent
68% anti-quarry referendum result was to show.
will never be able to tell how much this was due to the theology, but it can be
quantified that some forty pieces, almost all positive, appeared in the UK and
Canadian quality and local press alone. It was covered on the BBC World Service,
regional radio stations in both Canada and Scotland, even the BBC Radio One
national pop music station, and Canadian CBC TV. There was a special reception
for Stone Eagle on behalf of the Lord Provost
(Mayor) at the City Chambers of Glasgow. As he and his invaluable co-worker and
cultural interpreter, Ishbel Butler Munro, departed Glasgow airport some half
dozen members of the public spontaneously came up to thank him “for what you
are doing for Scotland.”
senior member of the community on Harris presented him with the summit rock of
Roineabhal to take it symbolically into safe asylum. Stone Eagle was upset by
this saying, “What have a people come to that they should decapitate their own
mountain”. The “elder” replied: “It’s better than having a
superquarry,” And so Stone Eagle formally accepted the summit, a six-inch
pyramid of stone wrapped in Harris Tweed. He did so, he declared, under the
terms of the same 1752 Treaty by which the people of the Hebrides had been
looked after when dumped in Nova Scotia during the Highland Clearances.
Macleod was extensively interviewed by the Gaelic broadcast media, and local
bards later wrote Gaelic poems praising the beauty and providential qualities of
Professor Macleod and Stone Eagle have subsequently suffered what they consider
to be character assassination attempts. For Professor Macleod this had minimal
linkage with the superquarry issue.
Stone Eagle suffered what we consider to be a hatchet job at the hands of the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV crew. It was suggested to me by insiders in
the BBC that they set him up to make an example of First Nation activists.
In Edinburgh, my colleagues and I have suffered a failed but enervating
attempt by our University to close down the Centre for Human Ecology in May 1995:
however, media suggestions that this was due to our various “campaigning”
activities oversimplify the situation as campaigning aspects of our work, being
consistent with responsible academic freedom, enjoyed strong support from some
quarters within the University.
Scottish Natural Heritage, the government’s own environmental advisory agency
who finally forced the Inquiry, have suffered a 10% cut in its $64 million
budget. The press suggested that:
it has had its wings clipped for being too good at its job ... (having) aroused
the ire of both ministers and the development lobby ... (through such
involvements as) intervention in one of the biggest environmental issues in
Scotland in the 1990’s, the ... superquarry on Harris.
am told by an expert witness and senior University colleague that resonances of
our arguments were successfully used in another quarry Inquiry at West Linton in
lowland Scotland’s Pentland
Hills. He stated, “Not only were these arguments the most persuasive, but
prior to Lingerabay they would probably not even have been entertained by an
Inquiry reporter.” At a recent debate in the Master of Science class I teach
in human ecology,
Ian Wilson, with whom I have a cordial face-to-face relationship, volunteered
that the arguments outlined above have probably thwarted his superquarry hopes
on Harris. However, prudence dictates our being less optimistic than he is
have been acutely aware of personal tensions in undertaking this work. They
varied from feeling on a lonely, costly and uncomfortable path; a
path which at first looked as though it might serve only as a pathetic and
self-embarrassing act of witness; to elation and a sense of privilege, with
attendant dangers of spiritual pride, of ego-inflation, especially as the
campaign successfully generated mass media attention.
so often in world affairs, one must depend upon the region’s other local
paper, the West Highland Free Press, to put everything in perspective. It ran
nearly a full front page declaring, “Media
out in force for “transatlantic cultural psychotherapy session.
Penned by Jason Allardyce, imitatable only by Compton Mackenzie who wrote
“Whisky Galore,” it provides that bit of a laugh and keeping in place that
is maybe needed when doing this sort of work. Have this laugh on me.
There was so much scope for good copy. Here was the streetwise Indian in
ceremonial head-dress who communicated not with smoke-signals but through
electronic mail on the information superhighway and who had been involved in an
armed stand-off (Oka) in 1990 over proposals to site a golf course on land
claimed by the Mi’Kmaq (sic) people ... Professor Macleod (asking), ‘Do you
have God’s mandate to inflict on the Creation a scar of this magnitude which
detracts from the Creation’s ability to reflect the glory of God’ ... As for
Mr McIntosh? He came, he saw, he bamboozled. His precognition was prefaced by a
poem and closed with a chapter on ‘The fallacy of the presumption of
symmetrical depreciation in the substitutionality of natural and human-made
capital’ which left more than a few people scratching their heads....
Stornoway never saw the like and Harris probably never will again.
text that follows is the testimony made to the public inquiry.
Inquiry on the Proposed Harris Superquarry
on Theological Considerations Concerning
Superquarrying and the Integrity of Creation
Alastair McIntosh - Principal Witness
Reverend Professor Donald Macleod - Supporting Witness
(Professor of Systematic Theology, Free Church College)
Sulian Stone Eagle Herney - Supporting Witness
(Mi'Kmaq First Nation People, Nova Scotia, Canada)
inquiry precognition (evidence) is submitted to The Scottish Office Inquiry
Reporters Unit, 9th September 1994, in accordance with letter Ref. P/PP/75/W/4
of 19 July 1994: Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 - Application by
Redland Aggregates Limited to Develop a Coastal Quarry at Lingerabay, South
Lewisian Gneiss Outcrops
landscape of lumps of stone.
I know there's grass
a few scrubby trees,
the rock is everywhere,
its bones out at all angles,
man squats uncomfortably between.
called 'close to Nature'
'the bare necessities'
continually being nudged to awareness
of where we come in the end.
Yet out of this place have grown
tongue's impassioned flowering,
to the Case and its Witnesses
superquarry proposal for Lingerabay near Rodel on the Isle of Harris in the
Hebrides aims to address European and possibly American market demand for
aggregate, mainly for road building and coastal defences.
The market currently operates largely in the absence of environmental
planning for such resource demand. The proposed superquarry will extract some
ten million tons of rock per year from Roineabhal - the highest mountain in the
National Scenic Area of South Harris. The quarry would be an open cast operation
spread over sixty years, leaving the mountain cratered in perpetuity with one of
the biggest holes in the world. Whereas the quarry's proponents have attempted
to assess the economic benefits, they have undertaken no quantification of the
current and intergenerational economic costs and externalities. Neoclassical
resource economics, with its presumption of the validity of discounting future
cost/benefits, fails to deal with issues of intergenerational equity (see
Appendix 6). Theology can and does address such issues.
the focus of my submission to this public inquiry is to be the sacredness of
Creation and the attitude of reverence towards nature which this calls for
throughout the fulness of time.
is common knowledge that questions of theology are central to the concerns of
many people in the Western Isles. For a majority, the most credible theology is
that of the Old and New Testaments, perhaps as interpreted through the
Presbyterian Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1647. Out of respect for this, I
shall place my primary though not my only argument within these terms. The
witnesses are as follows:
background relevant to this work is that I grew up and was educated on the Isle
of Lewis in a Church of Scotland family. I subsequently joined the Edinburgh
Central Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends - the Quakers. Around 1973
as a young student of geology, I drafted a letter to the Highlands and Islands
Development suggesting that a quarry at Lingerabay would provide employment. I
have since changed my mind, having seen on islands elsewhere in the world the
effects of such massive developments on the environment and small communities,
and having considered the consequences in terms of intergenerational justice of
taking away a people's place. As a recent letter to The Scotsman put it,
"first they cleared the people; now the want to clear even the rocks."
Through letters and articles in the press, public debate, and close contact with
indigenous and incoming residents of Harris, I have been involved with the
current superquarry debate from the early stages. Initially this involved
arguing on cultural, environmental and economic grounds. Now, as these areas are
being competently covered by reputable environmental agencies, I have shifted my
emphasis to an area not otherwise being covered - that of the integrity of
the University of Edinburgh I direct the Master of Science degree programme in
Human Ecology, which studies the inter-relationships between humankind and the
environment. I am a trustee of the Isle of Eigg Trust, both as a founder and as
recently re-elected by resident islanders to help them bring about community
development and control over the land resource. My work with the superquarry
debate should not be taken as being associated with these organisations, though
it is germane to both human ecology and community land tenure.
Reverend Professor Donald Macleod
Macleod is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Free Church College in
Edinburgh. Through such outlets as his columns in the press, he has become
widely respected in the Highlands for his social theological exposition, which
impresses Christians and non-Christians alike. He has generously agreed to
assist me by being a supporting expert witness to enable the Inquiry to weigh
the theological case. His evidence will concentrate on the first two chapters of
Genesis, exegising the concept of stewardship, affirming God's involvement in
Creation, and thereby reinforcing my central argument that our use of natural
resources should be undertaken reverentially.
Sulian Stone Eagle Herney
Inquiry will be aware that not all interested parties in the Lingerabay
Superquarry debate will be of a Presbyterian, or even of a Christian
disposition. It may even be that it is not outwith the bounds of insight that
the apparent contradiction between Christian and ostensibly non-Christian
systems of spirituality are less mutually exclusive than might once have been
assumed (see Appendix 7 press correspondence). Accordingly, and out of respect
to the wide spectrum of Scottish opinion, I have elicited the supporting witness
of another expert, Sulian Stone Eagle Herney, Warrior Society leader of the
Mi'Kmaq First Nation Peoples in Nova Scotia.
significance of a perspective from Nova Scotia will not be lost on many
Highlanders who were forcibly cleared and exiled there in the nineteenth
century. Mr Stone Eagle is the Indigenous Peoples' Representative on the
National Steering Committee of the Canadian Environmental Network. He has been
authorised by the Grand Chief of the Mi'Kmaq as "the only appointed Grand
Council representative who was mandated by the late Grand Chief Donald Marshall
to do whatever he can to preserve our sacred mountain." This is Kluscap (Glooscap),
or Kelly's Mountain, on Cape Breton Island. Like the mountain on Harris, it is
subject to a superquarry proposal (see Appendix 7). I had the privilege to visit
this special place in August and to share perspectives with local residents when
giving a public address on Scottish indigenous land rights at the Alexander
Graham Bell Museum, under the auspices of the University of Cape Breton.
is my view that Mr Stone Eagle's witness will help to supplement, or at least
for some, to illuminate spiritual insight which has been lost to many of us in
the modern era. Environmental theology has long been neglected within
Christianity. However, global concerns have lead to a resurgence of new
interest, ranging from the Pope's convention in Assisi, to formative conferences
of the World Council of Churches, to new journals like "Theology in
Green," to Professor Macleod's Presbyterian presence here today. I believe
that the ecotheological insight of other native peoples like the Mi'Kmaq can be
of educational value to us. This is quite independent from the question of
whether their approach to indigenous religion is "true," any more than
whether certain tenets of Christianity are "true." As St Paul
recognised, the insight of the Spirit often outmanoeuvres the rigidity of the
word. Mr Stone Eagle's theological reflections on superquarries derive, almost
uniquely in the world, from his direct involvement in the issue on behalf of his
people. As such, leaving aside any differences between religions, I consider his
views might be found to have bearing here in Scotland.
the Presbyterian Christian viewpoint within which it is culturally appropriate
here to frame my main argument, the fundamental question concerning a
superquarry or any other articulation of human life must be whether it is
consistent with what the Westminster Shorter Catechism calls the "chief end
Will it further the glorification and enjoyment of God?
Will it do so not just today, not even for the next sixty years, but "for
answer must depend in large measure upon whether nature - the Creation - is
considered to be irredeemably accursed or essentially blessed. If nature is
hopelessly fallen, then the extent to which we violate it probably does not
matter; but if nature is blessed, or merely temporarily fallen, then we should
treat it with a reverence not unlike that accorded to another salvable
does Highland theology say to this? Post-Reformation Presbyterian opinion has
often portrayed nature, like humankind, as being profoundly fallen. But this
must be carefully understood historically, especially in the context of that
exodus - both actual and psychological - which constituted the Highland
prophetic voice of socio-ecological theology became profoundly distorted in the
19th century Highlands.
As Professor Donald Meek has shown
it was to resurge as an indigenous liberation theology of the land, culminating
in the 1886 Crofting Act. However, this was not before the seeds of a theology
had been laid which diminished the implications of God's immanence. Significant
numbers of pre-Disruption Established churchmen had preached, with respect to
Clearance and famine, "that the Lord had a controversy with the land for
the people's wickedness; and that in his providence, and even in his mercy, he
had sent this scourge to bring them to repentance."
Hugh Miller cited people of Sutherland responding that, "We were ruined and
reduced to beggary before, and now the gospel is taken from us."
legacy to the 20th century has been a deficiency of clearly articulated Highland
environmental theology. In part, this is because, at least until the inter-war
years, Hebridean people in particular naturally lived an ecological way of life. Being theologically
explicit about environmental stewardship was not necessary. However, the modern
advent of technologies and markets which can destroy our fisheries, soils and
mountains now calls for renewed exegesis.
partly by the Seoul conference of the World Council of Churches on
"Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation," the 1990s have seen a
massive growth in scholarship demonstrating the potential "greenness"
of the Christian faith. Regarding the fallen-ness or otherwise of nature, Calvin
deWitt of the University of Wisconsin discusses Biblical images of the Earth
passing away such as that of Romans 8:19-23. He would probably enjoy broad
ecumenical consensus in concluding that:
the problem is not with the creation itself, but with sin. Earth is being
crushed under the weight of human sin and evil powers. Thus the images of the
earth's passing are those more of refinement and purification - to rid creation
of evil - than of outright destruction and replacement. Moreover, God's interest
in creation is evident in the promise that those who destroy the earth will
themselves be destroyed (Rev. 11:18, etc.).
is much to suggest that, whilst God is perhaps not to be confused with creation
(pantheism), God is immanent or deeply present in creation (eg. the panentheism
of Psalm 104 or Job 37). The Catechism and its commentary confirms that
"God executeth His decrees in the works of Creation and Providence,"
that "He created all things, and still sustains them, and that in creation
and providence we see God executing His own decrees." Indeed,
the works of providence are centrally about God "Preserving and Governing
all His creatures and all their actions."
is further stated in the Catechism that the world which God still sustains was
created "very good."
It is therefore taught that, whereas humankind may have fallen into "an
estate of Sin and Misery,"
the nature of God's post-flood covenant with Noah (and with all who come after
him and with all living creatures) is that God will never again lay waste to the
Earth. The rainbow is set as a
reminder of this,
a symbol to be observed with frequency in the Western Isles.
Biblical claim that the Noahic covenant is "for as long as the Earth
endures," for "endless
suggests that God is concerned with the ongoing
conservation of nature.
The Psalms support this, praising nature's nature-conserving Creator who "sendeth
forth" his spirit and "renewest the face of the earth.... who laid the
foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.... the high
hills ... a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies."
And Isaiah has this to say to nature's desecrators:
earth dries up and withers, the whole world withers and grows sick; the earth's
high places sicken, and earth itself is desecrated by the feet of those who live
in it, because they have broken the laws, disobeyed the statutes and violated
the eternal covenant.
himself frequently sought composure in the mountains where he would go to teach,
pray, or simply find peace - eight times in Matthew's gospel alone.
Composure of the soul remains an essential function of such places to this day -
the moreso because so many locations in Europe have already been desecrated.
Indeed, the kind of tourism which Harris attracts might be understood partly in
terms of secular, if not sacred pilgrimage.
Scottish Natural Heritage acknowledge the "spiritual" importance of
Natural Heritage Areas, as does our Government's recent policy document on
sustainable forestry. Spiritual insight on socio-ecological global crisis is
also appealed to by the Secretary General of the United Nations. In 1989 he
built upon earlier words of U-Thant, calling for, "... a fundamental change
in societal attitudes ... draw(ing) upon not only the intellectual but also the
spiritual resources of the world community."
With such a commission, what does Scripture have to say about economics as it
might affect decisions about the superquarry?
says that God offers us not riches in the first instance, but simple livelihood
of right relationship
with ourselves, community and nature. And the courage to advocate justice
to make this possible now and for our children's children's children. And the
possibility of coming to know the deep truth of eternal life through that
theology of forgiveness taught by Christ, which unlocks the infinite vastness of
love: a love to be found beyond the "eye of a needle;"
to be found in an economics of considering the lilies and not doubting
"wherewithal shall we be clothed;"
to be found in seeking no more security than our "daily bread;"
to be found in that Kingdom which is "within" us or "all
must not, in the despair of "little faith,"
assume that only by desecrating nature is there any economic future. To do so
would be to spurn the rainbow in an effort to blast out a crock of gold. The
advent of the Harris Integrated Development Plan suggests there may be
We should not sell the family silver before it has had chance to shine, for the
ebb-tide of environmental awareness is now globally on the turn. And know that
if we worship Mammon, we lose sensitivity to the implications of consuming
environmental capital. The natural revenue basis for future generations is then
irrevocably and unjustifiably undercut.
superquarry debate, driven largely by transportation policies based upon the
"great car culture," places the Highlands and Islands in a devil's
dilemma. Without economic development, it seems as if our communities might be
further undone. But with the wrong sort of development, we answer more to Moloch
than the land ethic of, say, Leviticus 25.
then, can the above theology say to conflicts between nature and economy? I
would suggest the key lies in the concept of reverence. To be reverent
means to be concerned with the integrity of a thing or person; to value it for
itself; to work with it symbiotically, in celebration of its being, with that
grace which is consistent with the "saying" of grace, and not with a
graceless spirit of mere utility.
superquarrying of Roineabhal at Lingerabay would be theologically justified only
if it can be undertaken reverentially; if it can be felt as part of the movement
of love. It would mean enquiring whether government have considered reappraising
national transportation policy to minimise the need for further motorway
construction and coastal defences against damage perhaps already done to nature.
It would mean recycling used rock otherwise dumped in landfill sites. If new
quarries really are needed, then in accordance with the so-called "Silkin
reverence would entail assessing whether they are best located in National
Scenic Areas, or at sites already despoiled by industrial activity.
would hold that these considerations have not been addressed by proponents of
the Lingerabay quarry.
Proceeding would therefore inexcusably violate the integrity of Creation. It
would pre-emptively contradict that great vision of Isaiah; that prophesy which
in today's broken world calls more and more loudly and sweetly:
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed.
- Isaiah 55:12-13
Free Church College, Edinburgh
Lingerbay Quarry Inquiry: Theological Principles
an extent that has no parallel elsewhere in the world, the ideology and culture
of Harris are underpinned by presbyterian theology. So far as ecological theology is concerned, however, there is
nothing distinctive in presbyterianism and my perspective merely reflects the
broad Judaeo-Christian tradition.
most important influence on that tradition has, obviously, been the Jewish
Scriptures, particularly the early chapters of the Book of Genesis.
But I believe that the basic emphases of that tradition have a force
beyond that of a mere external canon. They
commend themselves to the deepest instincts of men and women, as, interacting
with their environment, they experience both awareness of the existence of God
and a sense of responsibility to the world in which He has placed them.
points I would wish to emphasise may be summarised as follows:
1. God as Creator has
absolute sovereignty over the environment.
We must use it only in accordance with His will; and we shall answer,
collectively as well as individually, for all our decisions in this area.
2. Theologically, the
primary function of the creation is to serve as a revelation of God.
To spoil the creation is to disable it from performing this function.
3. In the Judaeo-Christian
tradition there is an intimate link between man and the soil.
He is taken from the ground; his food is derived from it; he is commanded
to till and to keep it; and he returns to it.
This implies a psychological as well as theological bond. Although such facts should not be used to endorse naked
territorialism they do raise the consideration that rape of the environment is
rape of the community itself.
4. The precise
responsibility of man to his environment is defined very precisely in the Judaeo-Christian
Man has to "keep" it (Genesis 2:15).
This is not simply an insistence on conservation.
It designates man as guardian and protector of the ground.
Man is the servant of the
ground (Genesis 2:15). This is the
usual meaning of the Hebrew word popularly rendered to us as to till.
Christian theology has largely failed to recognise this emphasis.
Any insistence on the more widely perceived notion of man's dominion must be balanced by the less familiar but equally important
concept of man as servant.
5. There is no place in the Judaeo-Christian tradition for divided guardianship of the land. In particular, there is no place for the idea that agrarian rights may belong to the people while mineral rights belong to someone else. This dichotomy is central to the current debate. From a theological point of view the present arrangements, while perfectly legal, are indefensible.
6. Man's relationship with his environment has been disrupted by the Fall. One primary symptom of this is that he is always tempted to allow economic considerations to override ecological ones. In the present instance the divinely appointed guardians and servants of Lingerbay are the people of Harris. Unfortunately, these very people are now suffering a degree of economic hardship that threatens the very survival of their community. Torn between their love for the land and their need for jobs they face a cruel dilemma. Capitalism offers to help them in characteristic fashion: it will relieve unemployment provided the people surrender guardianship of the land (thus violating their own deepest instincts).
am prepared to clarify, amplify and defend the above positions as required.
First Nation, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
The following statement is printed as received by electronic mail, sent via the Nova Scotia Environment Centre. Please see Appendix 7 which gives background information on the Mi'Kmaq and the credentials of Mr Stone Eagle. This will help to set his witness pertaining to Harris in the wider context of his remit from his people. [Nb. this appendix is not part of what was published in the Journal of Law and Religion. It is in the original enquiry submission and supporting documentation, which is available for puchase – click the “Book Ordering” button on this website].
his statement, Mr Stone Eagle points out that his is an oral culture; not one in
which truth is heard best in writing. As such, he requests the Inquiry
Reporter's permission to extemporise somewhat around the main points listed
below, rather than merely reading the statement before being subject to cross
might be considered particularly appropriate with a theological presentation
which, in his belief, will hopefully be given through divine guidance from the
Great Spirit. In some Christian traditions such as Quakerism, this is what would
be recognised as "speaking under the leadings of the Holy Spirit." I
hope that such extemporisation will be considered appropriate within limits of
time deemed fair to other parties and reasonable by the Inquiry Reporter. -
Nova Scotia Environmental Network
Wed, 7 Sep 1994 23:42 EST
Public Inquiry on the Proposed Harris Superquarry
Sulian Stone Eagle Herney, Mi'Kmaq First Nations, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
Brother and Sisters from the Mi'Kmaq territory to your territory.
an Indigenous person of North America whose Grandfathers met your Grandfathers
on their arrival to my territory several hundred years ago, we, the Mi'Kmaq
First Nations have endured many trials and tribulations that were caused by the
two Nations coming together.
the history of the Mi'Kmaq First Nation we have never been defeated in war. We
never ceded our aboriginal rights that were handed down to us by the Creator.
to the arrival of the visitors to our shores, we, the Mi'Kmaq First Nation, had
our own traditional form of government, laws and education that was totally
different from the laws that were imposed upon us by the visitors to our
philosophy and spirituality has always been one where man was not dominant over
the creation of other life forms, which we shared this territory with. It was
always our belief and still is our belief that the Creator had placed the
Mi'Kmaq people as caretakers of Mother Earth.
Somewhere in the past hundreds of years the majority of the Indigenous
people, perhaps because of the influence of the non‑natives to our
territory, became parasites of Mother Earth, thus destroying her natural bounty.
is with the resurrection of our traditional values and codes of conduct that our
elders reintroduced to this generation, that reawakened the true Mi'Kmaq Spirit
and spiritual connection to Mother Earth and the Creator. We, in Mi'Kmaq
territory continue on a daily basis, to create solidarity with other Nations in
N. America. We continue to create unity among all First Nations people with the
common believe that the true philosophy of our grandfathers is the answer to
save or to slow down the environmental destruction that is plaguing all of
is my firm belief, that we, of this generation have no hope in solving the
environmental deterioration that is ongoing as we speak. However, I also have
firm convictions that we of this generation, may be able to slow down the
destruction of our Mother Earth enough so that the next generation that will be
replacing our leaders will find the solutions and the cure for Mother Earth.
we fail to do so Mother Earth will cleanse herself of the offending organism
that is killing her. This is our teachings.
destruction of any mountain, river or forest is horrifying to all of us whether
it be the Hebrides in Scotland, the Shetland Islands or an oil spill in Alaska
or the destruction of the Sacred Mountain in Nova Scotia. It is no longer
tolerable to pretend or ignore these assaults.
Your mountain, your shorelines your rivers and your air are just as much
mine and my grandchildrens as ours is yours.
To say that I am concerned about the proposed destruction in your
territory, is to say that I am concerned about the destruction here in North
is my duty and my responsibility to the Creator and all life that I must get
involved, with or without your blessings. Coming from a Tradition such as I come
from it is customary among our people, to speak from the heart. It is customary
that we place faith in the Creator to give us words of wisdom.
It has never been my practice nor will it ever be, to prepare a written
text to be delivered to any committee, forum or audience. I have found this
practice to have served me well for an number of years now and I have in my time
had the privilege or misfortune to speak to delegates to as high an office as
Ministers of the Canadian government to citizens of Canada, United States and
have never been able to shed a tear on cue. However, I have shed tears because
of honesty. If I fail your criteria in being unable to present a written text
more than what is here, I do apologize. But I also guarantee you, my belief
instills me to deliver and my testimony will not let you down. For it is my firm
conviction that there is a divine hand that guides me.
again I sincerely hope I am able to meet your requirements and that you are able
to accept my witness. If not I gratefully thank you for your consideration and
if I do indeed have the honour of being your guest, I will be grateful and
honoured to assist in your battle to protect Mother Earth. For if I can assist
you in your battle for the protection of land which should be shown reverence
because the work of the Creator is sacred, then I am assisting my grandchildren
who must take over my position once I have entered the Spirit World.
Appendix: The Fallacy of the Presumption of Symmetrical Depreciation in the Substitutionality of Natural and Human-Made Capital
The style in this internet version is not consistent due to the merging of
several different documents. In the published version, of course, notes were
standardised to Law & Religion’s house
 Mackenzie, W. C., History of the Outer Hebrides, Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1903.
 Carmichael, A., Carmina Gadelica, Floris Books, Edinburgh, 1992.
 Wilson, I., Scotland's Hidden Wealth: Large Coastal Quarries and their Potential Role in Developing a Scottish Integrated Mineral Strategy, Conference Proceedings, 1st March 1991, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, 44 pp., Edinburgh, 1991.
 Private notes on a meeting between Ian Wilson, Malcolm Slesser, Ulrich Loening, Alesia Maltz and Alastair McIntosh, Centre for Human Ecology, June 1991.
 See Harry Barton, The Isle of Harris Superquarry: Concepts of the Environment and Sustainability in 5:2, Environmental Values, 97-122 (1996).
 In lion hunting, an unwanted horse would sometimes be put out to attract the animal being stalked.
 Letters by McIntosh, A. and Callaghan, I. in Stornoway Gazette, 30th April 1992 and 7th May 1992; Harris group to look at quarry alternatives, West Highland Free Press, 29 May 1992, 5.
 McIntosh, A. Theology goes against superquarry, 31 March 1994, 11.
 McIntosh, A “A Collector’s Item” or community ownership - the Isle of Eigg debate, Edinburgh Review, 88, Summer 1992, 158-162. For analysis of Scottish land usurpment and contemporary conscientisation-based approaches to restitution, see Alastair McIntosh, Andy Wightman., Daniel Morgan, The Scottish Highlands in Colonial an Psychodynamic Perspective, Interculture: International Journal of Intercultural and Transdisciplinary Research, XXVII:3, Montreal, 1994, 1 - 36; or by the same authors: Reclaiming the Scottish Highlands: Clearance, Conflict, Crofting, The Ecologist, 24:2, 1994, 64-70.
 Panikkar, R., Nine Sutras on Peace, Interculture, XXIV:1, Montreal, 1991, 49-56.
 One Foot in Eden, in Dunn, D. (ed.), The Faber Book of Twentieth-Century Scottish Poetry, faber and faber, 1992, 29-30.
 Wink, W., Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1992.
 Ian Wilson, speaking from the floor at an openly tape-recorded public lecture on the Harris superquarry proposal by Dr Alesia Maltz at Centre for Human Ecology, University of Edinburgh, 15 October 1991.
 Gutierrez, G., The Power of the Poor in History, SCM, London, 1983.
 Gutierrez, G., A Theology of Liberation, SCM, 1973, xxxviii.
 Ibid. 20-21.
 Freire, P., Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1971; Kirkwood, G. & C., Living Adult Education: Freire in Scotland, Open University Press, 1989; Crowther, J., Martin, I. and Shaw, M. (eds.), Popular Education and Social Action in Scotland Today, forthcoming from Moray House Institute of Education, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 1998.
 Illich, I., Shadow Work, Open Forum, 1981.
 Rich, A., What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics, W.W. Norton, 1993.
 Walker, A., Revolutionary Petunias (1988) and Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful (1985), both The Women’s Press, London.
 Lorde, A., Sister Outsider, Crossing Press, Freedom CA, 1984.
 In Gaelic “bh” is pronounced “v”; thus “Roin-e-val”.
 McIntosh, A., Journey to the Hebrides, Scottish Affairs, 6, 1994, 52-67.
 Stone Eagle to Fly in for Battle to Stop Superquarry, The Scotsman, 17 September 1994.
 Macleod, D., “We sing today not the landlord’s song ...”, The Crofter, 27, Isle of Skye, 6.
 Calvin, J., Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III:XIV:20.
 Wright, R., Fundamental Feud, The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 24 May 1995, 14.
 McIntosh, A. (ed.), Theology and the Isle of Harris Superquarry Public Inquiry (collected papers), Centre for Human Ecology, 15 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, August 1995, 101 (available $25 airmail, 154 pp.).
 Massive swing of opinion against superquarry, West Highland Free Press, 26 May 1995, 1.
 Iain Aonghas MacLeod, Roineghal, Stornoway Gazette, 25th May 1995, p. 9 & 1st June 1995, p. 4.
 Wright in The Scotsman, op. cit..
 CBC Fifth Estate documentary, Stone Eagle: Better Known as Billy, early December 1994. Stone Eagle’s principal detractor in this film, a Mi’Kmaq anthropologist, recently approached him in the street and without solicitation said, “I’m sorry, Sulian.” Our complaint about serious misrepresentation was investigated but not further acted upon by the CBC ombudsman. For legal reasons I must emphasise that I have no firm evidence that the CBC did set out to frame Stone Eagle.
 Editorial, All you need is ... wisdom, New Scientist, London, 10 June 1995, 3, and letters, 1 July 1995, 48.
 Unfortunately, as this article goes to press, University administrators have made a fresh move to destroy the Centre for Human Ecology by axing all staff positions and suspending the MSc course as of September, 1996. See A Narrow Kirk in Edinburgh, New Scientist editorial (May 4, 1996) defending our “tradition of fearless inquiry.” We are currently considering setting up an independent Human Ecology Centre and perhaps even a free university.
 Watson, J., Red light puts brake on green quango, Scotland on Sunday, Edinburgh, 24 December 1995, 6.
 22 November 1995.
 The $5,000 cost was largely met by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Christendom Trust, an anonymous Hebridean-based company, a Canadian industrialist and farmer born in Harris and many well-wishers. I record profound appreciation to them and those who gave non-financial support, especially various colleagues in the University of Edinburgh (though this work was conducted under personal auspices), colleagues at the College of the Atlantic in Maine, my mother, Ian and Jane Callaghan, Dr Donald Murray and many others who might not wish to be named on Lewis and Harris.
 Jason Allardyce, Media Out in Force for “Transatlantic Cultural Psychotherapy Session”, West Highland Free Press, 11 November 1994, front and back page.
. Westminster Shorter Catechism, p.7. (see Appendix 2) (Knox Press 1991).
. See Appendix 3: McIntosh, A., Wightman, A., Morgan, D., Reclaiming the Scottish Highlands: Clearance, Crofting and Conflict, The Ecologist, 24:2, 1994, 64-71.
. See for example, Hunter, J., The Making of the Crofting Community, John Donald, Edinburgh, 1976, 94 - 106.
. See Appendix 4: Meek, D., The Land Question Answered from the Bible: the Land Issue and the Development of a Highland Theology of Liberation, Scottish Geographical Magazine, 103:2, 1987, 84-89.
. McLeod, D., Highland Clearances: Donald McLeod's Gloomy Memories, Archibald Sinclair, Glasgow, 1892, Nevisprint facsimile reprint, Fort William, undated, p. 35.
. Ibid. p. 174.
. See Appendix 5: McIntosh, A., Journey to the Hebrides, Scottish Affairs, 6, 1994, 52-67.
. deWitt, C., The Environment and the Christian, Baker Book House, Michigan, 1991.
. Op. cit., p. 11.
. Op. cit., p. 12.
. Op. cit., p. 11.
. Op. cit., p. 15.
. Gen. 8 - 9.
. Gen. 9:11-13.
. Gen. 8:22, translation as used by the WCC at Seoul, or, "while the earth lasts" (NEB).
. Gen. 9:12.
It is worth considering how many future people our decision about destroying
the mountain may affect. This is impossible to assess with confidence
because we do not know the likely duration of the human race, though life on
the planet can be expected to continue for at least the 4,000 million (4
billion) years it has already been around for before the sun goes into
supernova. However, we can arguably speculate numbers on the basis of the
Biblical presumption that humankind will survive for the duration of the
as part of the South Harris Igneous Complex, has probably been standing for
1,870 million years.* If future populations
of Harris were to average around 2,000, and the average human lifespan to be
three-score years and ten, then if the mountains endure for as long as they
have already endured, the decision to demolish Roineabhal will affect scenic
appreciation for a future 53 billion residents. This takes no account of
visitors. It also neglects ice-ages which would very substantially reduce
the number of habitable years. Nevertheless, the effect of thinking of
future generations in any sort of numeric terms is salutary.
* Piper, J.D.A., Post-Laxfordian magnetic imprint in the Lewisian metamorphic complex and strike-slip motion in the Minches, NW Scotland, Journal of the Geological Society, 149, London, 1992, 127-137.
. I am grateful for thinking inspired on this by my visiting academic colleague from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor Orin Gelderloos. See, Gelderloos, O., Ecotheology: the Judeo-Christian Tradition and the Politics of Ecological Decision Making, Centre for Human Ecology and The Iona Community, Wild Goose Publications, 1992.
. Psalms 104:30,5,18. NEB translates "conies" as "rock-badgers." This text might be seen as apposite by those who are concerned about the effect of the quarry on the Lingerabay otter population.
. Isaiah 24:4-5, NEB trans..
. Mat. 4:8; 5:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3; 26:30; 28:16 (Nb. in the original text I had wrongly cited Mat. 14:23 as 14:27).
Regarding the notion that the Harris superquarry might become "a major
tourist attraction" (Vol. 1, 11.59, Council Joint Report), on a recent
visit to a 3.5 million ton superquarry where the Cape Breton Island causeway
connects to Nova Scotia, I asked the duty manager if tourists often came to
visit. He indicated that I was their first.
view has been expressed by, for instance, Mr Ian Wilson, that the Lewisian
Gneiss glaciated scenery of Harris "already looks like a moonscape, so
the quarry would make no difference and might improve it." This is a
matter of opinion. It is arguably the case that some of the greatest poetry,
song and music of the European tradition have come from such Cetic fringes
on the Western Edge of the continent, as John Killick's poem about
"Lewisian Gneiss Outcrops" printed on the cover of this
presentation indicates (from Bruce, G., with Rennie, F., eds., The
Land out There: a Scottish Land Anthology, Aberdeen University Press,
1991, 6). Perhaps places like Harris are here to be sources of such creative
inspiration. Perhaps this is what the world needs now, and will demand
increasingly in the future. The contribution of the Hebrides to global
economy, the justification for subsidies, etc., is partly output in terms of
inspiration to poetry, music, art and the many fruits of spirituality.
White, Professor of 20th Century Poetics at the Sorbonne,
is one powerful Scottish voice speaking to the relationship between
ontology and nature. He writes about the poetics of deep relationship with
place: "(It is) in those rock-piles - that the poetics lie ... poetry,
geography - and a higher unity: geopoetics ..."
(White, K., Elements of Geopoetics, Edinburgh
Review, 88, Summer 1992, 163-178).
with Professor Macleod's view (below) that "the primary function of the
creation is to serve as a revelation of God," Hugh MacDairmid
demonstrates how, even for an agnostic or atheist, Scottish landscapes like
Harris call us to considering matters of ultimate concern - theology. In his
epic poem, "On a Raised Beach," we see how secular pilgrimage
draws the soul towards holy pilgrimage - pilgrimage which reveals the
wholeness of all, the integrity of creation. (I am grateful to Tom Forsyth
of Scoraig, Wester Ross, for drawing my attention to the meanings of
pilgrimage in the context of our mutual work with the Isle of Eigg Trust.)
On a Raised Beach
must be humble. We are so easily baffled by appearances
do not realise that these stones are one with the stars....
men find the faith that builds mountains
they seek the faith that moves them. Men cannot hope
survive the fall of the mountains....
stones go through Man, straight to God, if there is one....
thinks God is easier to know than they are?
to reach men any more, any otherwise, than they are?
stones will reach us long before we reach them....
happens to us
irrelevant to the world's geology
what happens to the world's geology
not irrelevant to us.
must reconcile ourselves to the stones,
the stones to us.
I lift a stone; it is the meaning of life I clasp
is death, for that is the meaning of death;...
Though slow as the stones the powers develop
rise from the grave - to get a life worth having;
in death - unlike life - we lose nothing that is truly ours.
- Hugh MacDairmid, from Bruce, G., op. cit., pp. 13-14.
. Centre for Human Ecology, University of Edinburgh, information publication, 1990.
. Isaiah 11:9.
. Amos 5:24.
. Mat. 19:24.
. Mat. 6:19-34.
. Mat. 6:11.
. Luke 17:20-21, NEB alternative translations.
. Mat. 6:30.
. My focus here on theological arguments should not be allowed to give the impression that I am not also concerned about employment. In a letter to the Stornoway Gazette in April 1992 I put forward ideas about local strategic planning, based on work undertaken on the Isle of Eigg. These were expanded on by Ian Callaghan and eventually contributed to the community's and their councillors' thought on the Harris Integrated Development Plan. With my American colleague, Dr Maltz, I have also made proposals for value-added employment related to the Harris Tweed industry - one of Harris's biggest potential economic unique selling points. Dr Maltz is following this through, looking at sales potential in Maine and Nova Scotia.
. I am aware that my argument based on reverence can be weakened (though not undermined) if the presumption is made in a naive sense that non-renewable natural capital can be substituted for by human-made capital deemed to be of equal or greater value to what has been destroyed. Accordingly, I explore this question in Appendix 6, entitled: The Fallacy of the Presumption of Symmetrical Depreciation in the Substitutionality of Natural and Human-Made Capital. This paper is presently being reworked into a more academic form with Gareth Edward-Jones, an ecological economist colleague at the Scottish Agricultural College, hopefully to be published in a journal of ecological economics.
One theological perspective from which this view of reverence can be readily
derived is that of a realised
eschatology - an eschatology (that is to say, an understanding of the
end of all things) which sees the Kingdom of Heaven as being potentially
with us in the here and now. This is consistent, for instance, with Luke
17:20-21. In this text Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven comes unawares, that
it is "all around" or "within" (NEB).
Quaker theology as derived from Barclay's "Apology," this is a
logical implication of Trinitarian theology and of the Incarnation which, by
the Grace of the Holy Spirit, restores to our vision the immanence of the
divine. Thus the ontological position becomes as it was with the Word
"in the beginning" (John 1:1-5). In this way the world is
potentially made anew in the transformed human heart, thereby answering the
petition of the Lord's Prayer that "Thy Kingdom come ... on Earth"
of Matthew 6:10. For many Quakers, such a theology dissolves any essential
need for separate sacraments such as communion services, since all is taken
up in "the sacrament of the present moment." It is arguable that
the ecological consequences may be a recognition that our lives are involved
in "re-setting the seeds of Eden" (Mike Collard, Eire).
I stress that the above exegesis is only one basis from which an understanding of reverence may be derived. For many people in the world, a sense of reverence arises quite outwith any theological context, Christian or otherwise. This happens as a natural and deeply felt movement in the heart, made amenable more by sensing and feeling than by rationality. As such, whilst having chosen to frame my main argument in theological terms as is fitting in the Western Isles, I hope that its conclusions might find merit with others who did not, as I did, grow up in a Presbyterian Hebridean context.
The Silkin Test is a principle of environmental assessment which says, of
exploitation of a non-renewable resource, that we should:
Ensure that exploitation is "absolutely necessary" in the
Determine that there is no possible alternative source of supply.
3. If these conditions are satisfied, then ensure that restoration is carried out at the earliest opportunity.
. Some experts, including Martin Kirk who I have faced on a debating platform with Mr Ian Wilson, would hold that the future market for aggregate is unsteady, to the extent that the superquarry concept "is clearly flawed" and represents "the mistaken belief that 'biggest is best'." - Kirk, M., Coastal Quarry or Superquarry? A review of strategy for hard-rock coastal quarries, Quarry Management, August 1993.
Internet Users Please Note:
The material on this page is original
text as submitted to the publication stated beneath the title. As the editing
process means that some parts may have been cut, altered or corrected after it
left my hands, or I might have made minor subsequent amendments, please specify in citation
“internet version from www.AlastairMcIntosh.com”
as well as citing the place of first publication. Note that author particulars,
including contact address(es) and organisational affiliations may have changed
since first publication.
material is © Alastair McIntosh and/or first publishers. However (and without
prejudice to any legal rights of the original or subsequent publishers), I give
my permission for it to be freely copied for non-commercial educational purposes
provided that due acknowledgement is given. Please advise of any uses that might
particularly interest me. For commercial enquires, please contact original
publishers and/or email me, mail@AlastairMcIntosh.com.
Thanks, folks, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
To RETURN to any sub-index from which you approached this page, click BACK on your web browser. To return to my homepage, click www.AlastairMcIntosh.com.