Evangelicalism and Conflict in Northern Ireland – Available at a Discount

evangelicalism&conflictI recently learned that there were a couple spare copies of my 2008 book, Evangelicalism and Conflict in Northern Ireland (Palgrave 2008), resting idle at the Irish School of Ecumenics at the Trinity College campus in Dublin, left over from the Dublin book launch way back in 2009.

It’s a hardback academic book and sells at various prices on amazon, but I can offer copies for £20 or €25 to readers of this blog. Email me on gganiel@tcd.ie if you would like to purchase a copy.

To give you a flavour of the book, here’s a portion of a review by Patrick Mitchel of the Irish Bible Institute in Dublin, which was published in Evangelical Quarterly in 2010 (Vol. 82, No. 3, pp. 274-276):

Evangelicalism and Conflict in Northern Ireland: Reviewed by Patrick Mitchel

Published within a series on the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion, this book is refreshing in a number of ways. … Familiar both academically and personally with complexities of ‘the North’ and its evangelical subculture, she [Ganiel] offers a nuanced and constructive analysis of the role of evangelicalism in conflict resolution within the contested space that is Northern Ireland. Along the way, much light is shed on the changing and variegated nature of northern evangelicalism itself.

Ganiel’s approach is creative in that it ‘gets behind’ easy stereotypes through a combination of sociological analysis and extensive empirical research. The big picture that emerges is of diverse evangelical communities in transition. Far from the popular caricature that in conflicts with religious dimensions it is the most religious people who are strongly resistant to compromise, Ganiel shows, using solid evidence, that religious motivations can actually be powerful factors behind identity change. For this reason, her concern, argued in chapter 2, is that religion should actively ‘be incorporated into conflict management and conflict transformation strategies’ rather than excluded from the public sphere …

What is particularly interesting is Ganiel’s claim that ‘traditional’ evangelicals have demonstrated significant identity change in adapting to the political realities of the post Belfast Agreement era. While they tend to focus on moral issues, pray for revival and feel marginalised by government policy, they recognise, however reluctantly, the existing pluralist political order. Ganiel compares this group to the religious right in the USA campaigning for legitimate representation in the public square. …

The author also argues rightly that the ‘mediating’ evangelicals – such as ECONI/now Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland (CCCI), Zero28, Evangelical Alliance and ikon – represent a stark contrast to older ‘traditional’ evangelicals, namely: in their engagement with pluralism; embrace of Anabaptist themes; emphasis on social justice and peacebuilding; and their passion for the church to be an alternative counter-cultural community. In all these areas, ‘mediating’ evangelicals parallel beliefs and policies of Canadian evangelicals.

The North American parallels are not only analytically helpful, they act as a reminder that the evangelicals studied in this book fit patterns of belief and practice typical of evangelicalism globally. Ikon, for example, fits within the wider Western ‘emerging church conversation’. What is ‘new’ about ‘mediating’ evangelicals in Northern Ireland is not that they are unique, but that their existence challenges assumed orthodoxies of both traditional unionism and fundamentalism (a word Ganiel tends to avoid but, used technically, accurately describes both Paisleyism and people like the late Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority in the USA).

A concluding chapter draws themes together and argues persuasively for a reassessment of the popular, but unthinking, orthodoxy that judges evangelicals as barriers to peace better excluded from the public sphere. Ganiel is optimistic that identity change is not only happening but its existence proves mistaken those who dismissed the possibility. She finishes with some practical policy implications for those engaged in conflict transformation that I hope will be read and listened to. …

In summary, an essential read for anyone seriously interested in evangelicalism in Northern Ireland but also a useful demonstration of how any expression of evangelicalism is in a continual process of adaptation to its changing political and social context.

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