My new book, co-authored with Claire Mitchell, Evangelical Journeys: Choice and Change in a Northern Irish Religious Subculture, (UCD Press, 2011) was recently reviewed in the Church of Ireland Gazette by George Irwin.
This is the Review:
This book is the fruit of very extensive research and analysis and explores a wide variety of backgrounds and faith journeys.
As an academic study, it is remarkably free of jargon and enables the general readers to gain a deeper understanding of how individuals experience their religion over time and of the factors and circumstances which influence expressions of faith.
The authors demonstrate that evangelicals in Northern Ireland are a very diverse group and that the stereotypes which surface from time to time in public debate are far from representative of evangelicalism.
A very important aim of this book is to explore the everyday life of evangelicals and how they are coping with the rapid pace of change in post-conflict Northern Ireland.
They affirm the conclusions of other published sociological studies with regard to the role of religion in providing a sense of identity in uncertain political circumstances and how this can lead to the deepening of division. However, this study shows that there is a wide variety of ways in which evangelicals engage with politics and social and ethical issues. It is a very complex picture.
Thanks to extensive qualitative research – mostly through in-depth interviews – the authors have been able to gain valuable insights into why and how religious beliefs change over time and to identify the factors which impact most significantly on people’s faith journeys.
The fieldwork carried out by Mitchell and Ganiel reveals an important link between political and religious change, but what distinguishes this study from so many carried out during the past generation is that it deals with the changing pattern of religious belief in a post-conflict situation.
This is a well-written book with extensive notes, bibliography and index sections. It will serve as a valuable textbook for those wishing to carry out further research in the complex subject of religion in Northern Ireland.
(George Irwin, Church of Ireland Gazette, 30 September 2011)