I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Harvesting Souls For The Lord

Harvesting Souls For The Lord

Niall Meehan
The Society for Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics, 1849-1950, by Miriam Moffitt, Manchester University Press, 320 pp, £60, ISBN: 978-0719078798 Ideology matters to everyone, though they may not call it by that name. Systems of thought give meaning to life and to death and what happens in between. Belief systems may encourage people to change their conditions of life and become autonomous social actors. They may also induce fear of the consequences of confronting agents and agencies of power. Ideologies are experienced, constructed and contested though interaction with powerful competing social forces. Religion is a form of ideology, the belief in a power that governs the forces and laws of nature and therefore the destiny of humanity. In the European transition from feudalism to capitalism, Christianity moved from a position where it was the status quo to one of adjunct to the secular power of capitalism, its belief in progress based on economic growth and subordination to the rhythms of industrial life and work. The great split in Christianity, between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, reflected this revolutionary change in outlook in which the latter was both an adaptation to changing power relations and a reflection of the emergence of the nation state. Passivity in the face of an all-powerful nature was superseded by acceptance of the laws of the market as the arbiter of human social relations. The fate of the emergence into history and society of the isolated individual was, it was argued, in his or her own hands. People compensated for all-powerful and impersonal economic relationships by engaging in a personal one with God, mediated only by contemplation of His word in the Book. To be educated, to read, was to be in a position to directly experience the God of the Bible. Protestantism seemed advanced, in the spirit of the age, in comparison to the pre-capitalist and idolatrous traditions of Roman Catholicism. It also claimed authenticity through direct unmediated insistence on literal biblical truth. The project faltered however once scientific inquiry, that other by-product of the Age of Enlightenment, demonstrated that the Book of Genesis account of creation was simply an imaginative fable. One tradition, which we know today as evangelical or sometimes fundamentalist Protestantism, and which believes in the literal truth of the Bible, was unfazed ‑ since the truth cannot be contradicted. In 1916 the theologian and evangelical activist Revd TC Hammond, denied…

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