Merriman Summer School–The Challenges of Reconciliation

logoTopTomorrow the 2013 Merriman Summer School in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, gets underway, and I’m excited to be taking part.

The theme of this year’s school is ‘Ireland North and South: Two Societies Growing Apart?’ The five-day programme features a tantalizing mix of poetry, politics and music and is a reasonable 100 euros, with day tickets and single event tickets also available.

Speakers include politicians, journalists, academics and poets Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley. You can view the full programme here.

I’ll be speaking Thursday 15 August at 3 pm on a panel with journalist Susan McKay titled ‘Two women’s views, North and South.’

Susan McKay is speaking on ‘Our Country Also: The Outsider in Contemporary Ireland,’ while my contribution is ‘The Challenges of Reconciliation.’

I will argue that one of the biggest challenges of reconciliation lies in seeing sectarianism as A Problem for All of Us on this island, north and south – not just for the loyalist wielding the ceremonial sword against a PSNI officer or the dissident republican seeking to continue the ‘armed struggle.’

I’ve chosen to reflect on just two (among many) challenges to reconciliation:

  1. Understanding the particular ideological (or theological, if you will) themes within Protestantism that are challenges to reconciliation – and providing examples of how some Protestants are overcoming these challenges.
  2. Understanding that all of us are embedded in this island’s sectarian systems and that reconciliation is not just a task for the loyalists and republicans on opposite sides of the peace walls.

My contribution will draw on my own research on evangelical Protestantism as well as data from the Irish School of Ecumenics’ ‘Visioning 21st Century Ecumenism’ research project.

I’ll post the text of my talk on this blog after my session.

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