Saints, Spikes, and Shortbread

November 2, 2021

Welcome to a long overdue weekend recap! I thought the weekend recap might be back to normal this week, but I've been having too much fun to contain in a two-day period. Hopefully you can forgive the slight inaccuracy and enjoy reading about an exciting 4 days.

Friday, October 29

First, I must confess a vice to you, dear reader. I have been ensnared by that alluring siren of our day, which turns the minutes to hours and degrades one's attention span like as to a goldfish. By this, I mean the mobile app TikTok, where I spend (or rather waste) a few minutes each day. In TikTok's defense, a certain amount of its content is edifying and worth watching, and in this corner of the social media wasteland sits the Hebridean Baker.

The Hebridean Baker, also known as Coinneach MacLeod, is a TikTok personality from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. During the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, MacLeod began filming short recipe videos and uploading them to TikTok, as well as snippets from his daily life in the Highlands and short lessons in Scottish Gaelic. The account went viral, and MacLeod has just published a cookbook of cozy Scottish recipes accompanied by stories from his village.

On Friday night, MacLeod came to Topping and Company for a Q&A session and book signing. I discovered his TikTok account in the spring, and watching his videos made me more excited to come to Scotland, so I was eager to attend the event and buy the cookbook. Coinneach, his partner Peter, and their West Highland terrier Seoras were all in attendance, and they made the evening absolutely delightful! I got to meet Coinneach, and we spoke briefly about sightseeing in Nashville, which happens to be his favorite place to visit in the States. I'm looking forward to making some of the recipes from the cookbook when I return home at Christmas.

Saturday, October 30

After a lie-in on Saturday morning, I visited a few charity shops in town to find missing pieces for my Halloween costume. Having located the necessary items, I took a break to grab some chocolate ice cream and eat it by the pier (if you're family, you might know why ❤️). My residence hall put on a pumpkin carving event in the garden, so I stopped by and was persuaded to carve a pumpkin. I went for a cat design, which turned out quite adorable, if you'll permit me to brag.

I spent more time carving pumpkins than I had intended, so I quickly assembled my Halloween costume and got ready to head out again. The Celtic Society hosted a Halloween Ceilidh with live music and fancy dress (that means costumes, not tuxedos and ball gowns!). I dressed as a cactus, wearing a green sweater with pipe cleaners poked through the knit to make spikes. I always have fun in Scottish Country Dance lessons, but it was especially fun to dance with a live band in a hall full of costumed characters.

Chocolate Ice Cream by the Pier

Pumpkin Carving

My Cactus Costume (Spikey!)

Sunday, October 31

Not much to say about Sunday, since I followed my typical schedule: church, lunch, call Gran, evensong, dinner, and Scottish Country Dance lessons. It was very rainy on Sunday, and I'd had my fill of costumes and candy from the night before, so I decided not to go out for any Halloween festivities. Still, a lovely day, all things considered.

Monday, November 1

I didn't have any classes or tutorials on Monday, so I spent the morning and afternoon catching up on some studying. I'm currently reading the works of Catullus for Roman History and trying to catch up on making Greek flashcards. I also put the finishing touches on my London Fog reviews, which you might have read a few days ago--you can find them under the 'Blog' tab if not.

In the evening, I attended a church service to celebrate All Saints' Day. This is probably my favorite celebration in the whole church calendar, though I might give a different answer on Christmas and Easter. The church I attended celebrates both All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, so the liturgy was focused on what you might call "capital-S Saints," the especially holy men and women who are canonized and venerated by the church, or otherwise recognized and commemorated depending on your denominational tradition.

As much as I enjoyed the service, I prefer the Lutheran way of celebrating All Saints' Day. Having in mind Luther's insistence that we are all simul justus et peccator--simultaneously saint and sinner--we Lutherans incorporate all the faithful departed into our celebration of All Saints. This way of celebrating calls to mind not only the famous "apostles, prophets, martyrs" from Christian history but also "all the golden throng" of loved ones who have passed on and those who have died unnamed or unnoticed. Furthermore, it reinforces the promise of sanctification by God's grace for all His children, reminding us that we also belong to the communion of saints if we belong to Christ. We are surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses," both living and in eternal life, who support, inspire, and pray for us on our journey to perfect holiness. If we belong to Christ, we are never alone.

After attending the service, I met my roommate at a philosophy lecture put on by the Philosophical Society. The speaker, a lecturer in ancient philosophy, discussed Plato's characterization of the tyrant as friendless in book 9 of the Republic. Her interpretation of this point draws from the educational program discussed previously in the Republic; the tyrant cannot have friends because he has been ill-formed by a lack of education or a bad education. This reading of book 9 differs slightly from the traditional interpretation, which states that the tyrant cannot have friends because he is a tyrant. Rather, one purpose of a good education is to cultivate friendship and those qualities that promote good friendships. A tyrant becomes a tyrant because he is first ill-formed and incapable of true friendship. The lecture was really interesting, and it was nice to revisit some ancient philosophy having not studied it for a while. Don't be surprised of you see a blog post or a school newspaper article about the topic in the future. :)