Christianity and identity in ireland 6


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Christianity and identity in ireland 6

  1. 1. Christianity andIdentity in Ireland Week 6: Irish Religious Identities and the People of God
  3. 3. Formation of Protestant Nation• Sectarianism a fixture in Irish society after 1641• Penal laws ensured wealth was concentrated in hands of a few CoI Protestant families• Land: 1703: 14% 1778: 5%• Irish Parliament becomes incredibly important• Dublin by 1710 second largest city in British Atlantic World• Despite the grandeur and pomp of ascendency Ireland, Protestant power is undeniably weak by English design• 1717: Dissenting Protestantism legalised (though still prohibitions)• 1st, 2nd, 3rd class citizens• CoI official church; ALL had to pay “tithes” to state church
  4. 4. Trans-Atlantic “Patriotism”• Whig government treats Ireland as a colony (mercantilism)• William Molyneux, Jonathan Swift and others argue for increased “Irish” independence – Kingdom or colony?• Describe themselves as “THE WHOLE IRISH NATION” any problem with this?• Powerful “undertakers” (Gratten and Flood) gain prominence in Irish politics; Dublin Castle’s power curtailed, George III tries to rectify this• 100,000 Ulster Presbyterians emigrate to American colonies• 1775: American Revolutionary War begins, “no taxation without representation”• Networks of correspondence between American and Irish “patriots”• Benjamin Franklin in Ireland 1776• Formation of “Volunteer” forces• Appeal to Catholics• 1778 and 1793 Catholic “relief acts”• 1782: Irish constitution reframed• But this raises “the Catholic question”
  5. 5. Rural Unrest • Resistance to increasing pressures • Catholic agrarian secret societies to protect farmers – Whiteboys (1760s) – Ribbonmen (early 1800s-first reference 1817) – Oakboys (mid 1800s) • Peep o’ day boys (1780s) – Reaction to Catholic entry into linen industry in Co. Armagh • 21 September 1795 – Battle of Diamond – Foundation of the Orange Order • Originally: – Loyalist – Anti-Unionist
  6. 6. Rebellion to Union• Scottish universities centre of philosophical/scientific movement called “The Enlightenment”• Presbyterians split into conservative (“old light”) and liberal (“new light”) camps• Idea of Christian liberty abstracted to include idea of “universal rights of man”• 1791: Theobald Wolfe Tone publishes An Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland• Forms Society of United Irishmen• Manage to attract Catholics and Covenanters!• Still undercurrent of sectarianism• 1789: French Revolution• 1798 Irish Rebellion degenerates into sectarian massacres; 30,000 killed• Agrarian unrest continues unabated• Initially all groups are supportive of 1800 Act of Union
  7. 7. Catholic Emancipation • Many campaign for repeal of Act of Union • Urban: Young Ireland (Protestant) – Non-sectarian – Attracted many Catholics – Desired Irish Republic • Rural: Daniel O’Connell 1823 – Catholic Association – 1 guinea subscription = six months rent for labourer – Sub-category ‘Catholic rent’ for 1 penny • Popularized Catholic politicalisation • 1820 Catholics with land over 40 shillings could vote – No Catholics in Parliament • 1828 Daniel O’Connell elected as MP for Clare • Result: Catholicism equated with nationalism; politicisation of catholic population (democratisation) • Forced English Parliament to address Emancipation – O’Connell allowed to sit – Obligation for tithes revoked
  8. 8. Famine & Revival• Potato Blight strikes 1845 and 1846• Terrible relief policy under Charles Travelyen• Up to 1 million died – More from disease than starvation – Not just Catholics—but mostly!• Widespread evictions• Massive emigration – Significance of disgruntled ex-pats• Population decreased by 20%• 1859: “Great Awakening” begins in Connor• Mainly a Presbyterian phenomenon• What lessons can we learn from the Six mile Water Revival?• Revival helps to give sense of Protestant solidarity• EVANGELICALS BECOME INTROVERTED AND LOSE SIGHT OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY TO CATHOLIC NEIGHBOURS
  9. 9. ‘We know nothing that can protect her from the conspiracies and growing power of the Papacy but a widespread revival.’ --Rev. William Magill
  10. 10. • 1922: Partition; with two essentially confessional states religious identities and sectarian division become entrenched• But why did this happen?• Is there another story which gives us more hope for the future?
  12. 12. Communal Identities• Fredrik Barth: communities form identities by differentiation and exclusion• Identity is not an unalterable “essence” which can be “passed on” be “pure” or become “diluted”• “Constructed” by communities as they read/re-read “their” stories and traditions (e.g. theology) in light of particular circumstances• There are exceptions – but I am talking about popular religion and popular expressions of identity
  13. 13. Construction of Catholic- Irish Identity•Continentally trained Catholic Clergy wrote popular Gaelicpoetry•5 sectarian poems from 1650-70 re-published anddistributed in bi-lingual versions to elites and clergy through18th/19th centuries•Played on Gael (Irish language speaker) and Gall (foreigner)•10 surving manuscripts = ‘popular tradition’, 242 copies of‘Ireland’s Dirge’ (c. 1655) survive!•This combines in the late 17th/18th century withdevelopments in political philosophy to GRADUALLYcreate an idea of CATHOLIC NATIONHOOD
  14. 14. Extracts from An Síogaí Rómhánach (The Roman Vision) c. 1650 …Then none shall league with the Saxon, Nor with the bare-faced Scot, Then shall Erin be freed from settlers, Then shall perish the Saxon tongue The Gaels in arms shall triumphOver the crafty, thieving, false sect of Calvin… …True faith shall be uncontrolled; The people shall be rightly taught By friars, bishops, priests and clerics…
  15. 15. Irish = Gaelic Irish = CatholicCatholic = Gaelic
  16. 16. • Catholic forced to meet in illegal mass-houses or ‘sacathlans’• 18th century actually witnesses a rejuvenation in Irish Catholicism• Catholicism legalized in 1782• This combines with the spirit of ‘On Sunday, 30th May 1784, St Marys was “Enlightenment” and Progress” opened in Crooked Lane (now Chapel Lane). This was the first Catholic Church in Belfast• St. Mary’s built in Belfast in 1784 and it was built at a time when there was a strong ecumenical spirit within the town.• 1782 census recorded 365 Catholics Indeed, its Protestant inhabitants contributed living in Belfast substantially towards the cost of the building and the 1st Belfast Volunteer Company, under• 1866 45,000 Catholics living in the command of Captain Waddell Cunningham, lined the Chapel yard as a guard Belfast of honour, in full dress, and presented arms to the priest as he passed into the Chapel.’
  17. 17. Construction of Protestant-Irish Identity• Fredrik Barth: communities form identities by differentiation and exclusion“In Ireland Protestantisn is really Protestant .. All that the members of the Irish Protestant Church knows is that he is not a Roman Catholic (G. B. Shaw, 1904)• Increasingly Catholicism=Gaelicism; Royal Irish Society an attempt to claim ownership of Gaelic culture• Protestant identity formed by: – anti-catholicism (differentiaiton from Catholic-Gaels) – repressive English policies which curtailed the Irish Parliaments power (kingdom or colony?, Patriotism) – Minority position in Ireland, especially after Catohlic politicisation (Protestant solidarity)
  18. 18. Construction of Protestant-Irish Identity•Irish historical texts were re-read and mixed with reformedtheology in Protestant Ireland to justify their anti-Catholicism•Main argument was the degeneracy of Catholicism (an enemy of“liberty”) and the supremacy of Protestantism (a champion of“liberty”)•This focused on the Bible – the Catholic church forbade the lay-reading of the scriptures and thus deprived their people of truth;an open Bible is still an Orange symbol•The Catholic-Irish were therefore disloyal and dangerous becausethey were Catholic• Some proposed conversion but hindered by lack of funds,desire and doctrine of election•Increasingly out of touch with England but kept current byminority status
  19. 19. Examples:• James Ussher, 1620: “as Jehu said to Joram, “What peace can there be, as long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many? So I must say unto them: What peace can there be, as long as you suffer yourselves to be led by “the mother of all harlots.”• William Temple: The Irish Rebellion, 1646 – Catholics unconvertible• 1662: Act of parliament, all people instructed to go to their place of worship on 23rd October annually to remember the “the barbarous and cruel plot to extirpate the Protestants.” – Dropped from CoI calendar in 1859, not because of changing opinion but by decree from London Parliament• Archbishop of Armagh, 1745: “You are to raise in your people a religious abhorrence of the Popish government and polity, for I can never be brought to call Popery in the gross a religion… Their absurd doctrines… their political government … make it impossible for them to give any security of their being good governors, or good subjects in a Protestant kingdom.”
  20. 20. • Sectarianism thrives on stereotypes, and communal identities rooted in differentiation from the otherness of “others”• The darker side of our identity usually arises in times of crisis – E.g. 1912• Extremes help to normalise less- pronounced sectarianism
  22. 22. • The fundamental problem: Constantinianism• Problem II: Individualism• examples from church history?• The “Radical” reformation (Baptists, Mennonites) sought to address the political dimension of the church – Politics of Jesus, especially non-violence – Distinctive communities, “not of this world” – Prophetic responsibility to the world – Take seriously idea of “conversion” and new identity• Best exemplified in Ireland by Quakers and early Methodists
  23. 23. Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.2 Corinthians 5:15-21 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view;1 even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view,2 we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,1 not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.