THE VOICE OF THE IRISH: The Story of Christian Ireland

Michael Staunton, Author . HiddenSpring/ Paulist $18 (280p) ISBN 978-1-58768-022-9

The fascination with Celtic spirituality continues unabated. Long before Christianity moved into Ireland, pagan spirituality prospered on this British Isle, and prepared the ground for the flowering of Irish Christianity. Staunton provides a helpful survey of the development of Christianity in Ireland. Opening his overview with a chapter on paganism and the movement of the Celts into Ireland from the Mediterranean, he describes the earliest forms of Irish Christianity under Patrick and Palladius the Deacon, then narrates the story through the Reformation and the 19th century and up to the present. In its earliest expressions, Irish Christianity differed from Roman Christianity primarily in its organization: Irish Christianity did not develop a bishopric, but instead grew out of the monastic movement whose form was more egalitarian. Consequently, Irish Christianity tended to focus on study and learning, a hallmark that culminated in the illustration of sacred texts in the Middle Ages. Staunton examines the conflicts between Protestants and Catholics in the 20th century and finds that Catholicism is on the wane in Ireland in this new century. He concludes that while the future of Christianity in Ireland looks bleak, Irish Christianity can rejuvenate itself by heeding the lessons of the past and interacting more fully with the political and social lives of its people. Staunton's evenhanded and objective historical survey provides a useful introduction to a significant chapter of religious history. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 03/03/2003
Release date: 01/01/2003
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