This is a continuation blog post about my speaking tour in the UK.
After a great time with Tom and Maggie Wright, I left St. Andrews, heading north for Aberdeen, before I would need to head south from Scotland to England.
I arrived in Aberdeen at the start of the weekend and had some time to poke about the city and work on polishing some of the talks I would be giving over the next couple of weeks.
The Lament Psalms in Aberdeen
On Monday morning I was picked up by Grant Macaskill, the Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis at the University of Aberdeen. We drove to “Old Aberdeen,” where part of the university campus was located. There I spoke on the lament psalms (“Voices from the Ragged Edge: The Gritty Spirituality of the Psalms for a Broken World”) in the School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy.
Lament was was one of the topics I had addressed in St. Andrews and it was the topic Grant specifically requested for my Aberdeen visit. Not only did this topic relate to the interests of many graduate students, but the lecture was attended by Brian Brock, Lecturer in Moral and Practical Theology, who has co-edited an important volume of essays called Evoking Lament: A Theological Discussion (T & T Clark International, 2009), in which he has a chapter on Augustine and lament.
I had a great discussion with students in a variety of fields, including biblical studies, systematic theology, and practical theology on the value of the lament psalms for the church’s processing of pain and suffering, in prayer to God.
Meeting Grant Macaskill in the Islands Group at SBL
I had originally met my host Grant Macaskill (who is an excellent New Testament scholar and ethicist) at the Society for Biblical Literature (SBL) meetings a few years ago, in a session on Islands, Islanders, and the Bible. Although most of the presenters in these sessions were from either the Caribbean (like myself) or the Pacific islands, Grant did a beautiful paper called “Gaelic Psalmody and a Theology of Place in the Western Isles of Scotland.”
His paper and mine (which was called “Islands in the Sun: Overtures to a Caribbean Creation Theology”) were both published in Islands, Islanders, and the Bible: Ruminations (Semeia Studies 77; Society of Biblical Literature, 2015).
The Jamaica-Scotland Connection—Past and Future
Grant and I managed to carve out time for some preliminary talks about a possible doctoral program in theology that Aberdeen might co-sponsor with the Jamaica Theological Seminary and the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology.
Having been made aware of the possibility of a joint PhD with Aberdeen by my colleague Easu McCaulley, I had been deputized by these two schools to begin the conversation; Grant and I discussed some intriguing possibilities about how we might go about developing a workable doctoral program in theology between Jamaica and Scotland.
It is not well known, but Jamaica and Scotland have numerous historical ties, including our flags. It turns out that the Jamaican flag was modeled on the Scottish flag, due to the advice of Rev William McGhie, a Church of Scotland minister who was living in Jamaica at the time of independence. This has led to an organization called Flag Up Scotland Jamaica, that is dedicated to developing ties between the two countries.
When my lecture was over, Grant put me on the train to Durham, which was the start of a long, but leisurely trip, from Aberdeen through Edinburgh, then on into England.