Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

September Books 5) Not of this World? by Glenn Jordan

This is a study of evangelical Protestants in Northern Ireland, published in 2001. It is a very interesting book, phrased as a series of conversations using extracts from dozens of interviews with self-described practising or former evangelicals; while some fit the stereotype of barnstorming bigots, there is a full spectrum of those whose faith leads them to ecumenism and cross-community outreach, in some cases even to support for Irish nationalism, or indeed to turn their backs on politics and get on with witnessing for a different kingdom.

Jordan himself is a semi-outsider; though a Belfast church-worker, he is from Bray, Co Wicklow, and has converted from Catholicism. He makes it fairly clear that his own sympathies are with those who choose to engage positively with politics and with their neighbours, but sensibly and compassionately resists moralising and allows all of his interviewees to give their testimony in their own terms.

2001 was a low point in the Northern Ireland peace process, and Jordan's interviewees are split between those disappointed with the results of the 1998 agreement and those gleefully claiming that they told us so. Most of them must now be voting for the DUP, whose remarkable swing to support of implementing power-sharing coincided with their rise to political dominance among Protestants. It would be interesting to hear from his interviewees now.

But basically, the book shows that if we want to, we can learn much more about people who we disagree with by listening to what they have to say than by yelling about how wrong they are. I found it very useful.
Tags: bookblog 2012, religion, world: northern ireland

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