‘I am. I feel rooted, four generations deep. That’s why I want to do it through your church. I haven’t gone to church for forty years, Gideon. I don’t believe any of the claptrap you no doubt come out with every week, I don’t believe it any more than you do, but…’ She looked at me steadily, and for the first time in our acquaintance I thought she was about to shed a tear.
‘But,’ I repeated.
‘One doesn’t abandon it all on a whim. The kirk, the kirkyard, my family, me, you — there’s something much bigger than religion going on in all that. Much bigger. The religion was just a phase, and it’s coming to an end. Do you understand what I’m saying?’
‘I think so,’ I said. ‘Like the Picts putting Christian signs on their ancient stones, but the stones surviving the Picts and their new religion.’
‘Something like that. When you’ve spent all your life steeped in history, learning it, teaching it, absorbing it, it becomes a very solid thing. It’s like this disease — it gets into your bones. It isn’t ephemeral or theoretical, it becomes part of you, and you part of it. And I feel a very strong obligation to that idea. If I believe in anything, that’s what I believe in, do you see?’
– The Testament of Gideon Mack, James Robertson