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Fri 6 April
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Wednesday 4 April 2018 8.30 - 10.30
U-1 - REL01 : Christian Modernities in Britain and Ireland in the Twentieth Century
PFC/03/030 Sir Peter Froggatt Centre
Network: Religion Chair: Hugh McLeod
Organizer: John C. WoodDiscussant: Hugh McLeod
Samuel Brewitt-Taylor : The Changing Meanings of ‘Secularization’: Radical Christianity and the Invention of the ‘Secularization’ Teleology in Britain, 1930-1966
This paper charts the changing meanings of the term ‘secularization’ in British media discussion between 1930 and 1966. Taking as its point of departure the postmodern realization that modernities are always invented rather than given, it argues that radical Christianity played an important role in the wider re-imagination of British ... (Show more)
This paper charts the changing meanings of the term ‘secularization’ in British media discussion between 1930 and 1966. Taking as its point of departure the postmodern realization that modernities are always invented rather than given, it argues that radical Christianity played an important role in the wider re-imagination of British modernity as necessarily and intrinsically ‘secular’ which occurred in the early 1960s. Until the mid-1950s British discussion almost always assumed British culture to have a Christian core, and it therefore usually employed the term ‘secularization’ in a non-teleological sense, as a form of declinism: secularization’s imagined analogues included ‘paganization’ and ‘idolatry’, and it was consistently imagined as being reversible through Christian activism. To imagine ‘secularization’ as a historically necessary process, unstoppable by human agency, required either a materialist theory of history, or a providentialist interpretation of ‘secularization’ as God’s will. By formulating a version of the latter, radical Christians played an important role in the conceptual revolution which took place in the early 1960s, whereby British culture internalized a vision of modernity, not merely in which the churches were thought to be declining, but in which modern Britain was imagined as definitively and irreversibly post-religious. (Show less)

Peter Catterall : The Churches and the Rise of Mass Democracy
The advent of mass democracy in the early twentieth century impacted widely on civil society organisations, such as churches, just as it did on political parties and electoral sociology. Additionally, it changed the milieu in which the churches operated. This was not least through the elevation of the Demos, the ... (Show more)
The advent of mass democracy in the early twentieth century impacted widely on civil society organisations, such as churches, just as it did on political parties and electoral sociology. Additionally, it changed the milieu in which the churches operated. This was not least through the elevation of the Demos, the idea of the nation, with the advent of mass society and the social pressures that went with it. Political conflicts seemed to move onto a different class-based plane. The parallel rise of state provision of welfare services similarly threatened to marginalise the churches’ social significance. Their moral authority was meanwhile affected by the advent of new forms of national broadcast media. This paper will investigate how the churches responded to all these developments both in the pulpit and the pew. It will do so by using a series of prisms looking at churches as social institutions, as agents of political mobilisation, as moral and ethical guardians and as associational cultures. In the process it will offer some taxonomic observations, drawing upon analysis of varying religious cultures, on how these responses varied across national boundaries. (Show less)

Gladys Ganiel , Therese Cullen : The Communications Revolution in Ireland and the Changing Role of the Catholic Media: Fr Gerry Reynolds and Intercom, 1969-1975
The Catholic Communications Institute was created in 1964 by the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, and included radio, television, and journalism courses, as well as the magazine Intercom. There was a weekly programme for Radio Eireann, ‘Network,’ and the iconic Radharc television programme on the state broadcaster, RTÉ. Radharc, which means ... (Show more)
The Catholic Communications Institute was created in 1964 by the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, and included radio, television, and journalism courses, as well as the magazine Intercom. There was a weekly programme for Radio Eireann, ‘Network,’ and the iconic Radharc television programme on the state broadcaster, RTÉ. Radharc, which means vision, view or panorama in Irish, ran from 1962-1996 with a film unit staffed entirely by Catholic priests. It produced over 400 programmes, filming in more than 75 countries. This paper explores how the Catholic Church responded to the wider ‘communications revolution’ in Ireland through these initiatives, and especially through the lens of the Catholic Communications Institute’s Intercom magazine, which was edited by Redemptorist priest Fr Gerry Reynolds between 1969-1975. Based on biographical interviews with Reynolds and analysis of the issues published under his editorship, it demonstrates how the magazine attempted to develop a more critical, reflective, and outward-looking faith for a rapidly changing Irish society. In a context in which television had become widespread for the first time and media coverage of religion became more thoughtful and critical, Reynolds’ work in contributing to a cautious ‘modernisation’ of Irish Catholicism was more likely to draw criticism from the church hierarchy – including the hard-line Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid – than the priests and laity who believed that a more critical Catholic press was key to realizing the promises of Vatican II. (Show less)

Alana Harris : Reframing the ‘Laws of Life’? Catholic Doctors, Birth Control Advice and the Evolution of Catholic Sexology, 1923-1963
In 1935, the Roman Catholic doctor Halliday Sutherland published The Laws of Life – a best-selling pamphlet which explored the orthodox Catholic position on contraceptives, marriage preparation and sterilization but most controversially (leading to its ban in Ireland, despite the Archbishop of Westminster’s imprimatur) included a fulsome description and chart ... (Show more)
In 1935, the Roman Catholic doctor Halliday Sutherland published The Laws of Life – a best-selling pamphlet which explored the orthodox Catholic position on contraceptives, marriage preparation and sterilization but most controversially (leading to its ban in Ireland, despite the Archbishop of Westminster’s imprimatur) included a fulsome description and chart outlining the ‘safe period’. This publication marked Dr Sutherland’s re-entry into the birth control fracas following the infamous libel court case brought by Marie Stopes in 1923 in which she objected (ultimately unsuccessfully) to Sutherland’s critique of Married Love (1918). This paper explores the varied contributions of British Catholic medical practitioners like Sutherland, and others throughout the 1950s, whose contributions to the evolution of British sexology before the development of the Pill have not been acknowledged. In their extension of licit ‘family limitation’ and attempts to refine the Knaus-Ogino ‘rhythm method’, these committed Catholics sought to reconcile, and indeed creatively integrate, their faith positions and professional expertise. This paper therefore charts the scientific complexities, and intra-ecclesial conflicts in the ways these men and women sought to mesh ‘natural law’ theory with modern medicine. In arguing that during these decades a distinctive form of ‘Catholic sexology’ evolved, this paper ruptures modernization accounts which focus exclusively on the advance of ‘secular’ sexual knowledge and contraceptive technologies, while also challenging complacent chronologies that date the advent of the ‘modern sexual (Catholic) self’ to the Humanae Vitae (1968) crisis. (Show less)

John C. Wood : “Going Part of the Way together”: Christian Intellectuals, Secularity, and the European Crisis, 1937–1949
For many academics, public intellectuals, and media commentators, the crises of the 1930s and 1940s – especially, totalitarianism, global war, and post-war “reconstruction” – were signs of an epochal transformation in the “modern” West. Christian thinkers were on all sides of debates about what a “new order” should look like ... (Show more)
For many academics, public intellectuals, and media commentators, the crises of the 1930s and 1940s – especially, totalitarianism, global war, and post-war “reconstruction” – were signs of an epochal transformation in the “modern” West. Christian thinkers were on all sides of debates about what a “new order” should look like and the strategies for getting there. In this paper, I examine a British-based but internationally well-connected Christian intellectual group brought together by the missionary and “ecumenical statesman” Joseph H. Oldham between 1937 and 1949. What I refer to retrospectively as the “Oldham group” considered how “true” freedom could be restored in a social order dominated by “materialist” worldviews and the erosion (or obliteration) of genuine forms of “community”. Rather than idealising past societies, its members sought to make Christianity more relevant to social thought in new circumstances. A complicated double movement resulted: the group critiqued “liberal” theologies as too secularised for downplaying transcendent elements of Christianity. At the same time, it condemned many Christians’ refusal to incorporate “secular” (usually scientific) knowledge and to accept the “autonomy of the secular” in some spheres of life. Adapting faith to secularity while also maintaining its distinctive power and qualities was a complex, ambivalent endeavour; however, Oldham and his companions were broadly convinced that it would be possible to go at least “part of the way together” with non-Christians in building a better society. (Show less)