Slugger O'Toole

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Profile for GarethHiggins

Executive Director, Wild Goose Festival: www.wildgoosefestival.org Writer, consultant on conflict issues, film critic.

Latest comments from GarethHiggins (see all)

GarethHiggins has commented 1 times (0 in the last month).

  1. Comment on Debating the Churches’ Role in the Peace in Northern Ireland
    on 20 December 2011 at 3:42 pm

    As one of the co-authors of ‘Religion, Civil Society, and Peacemaking in Northern Ireland’, I’m grateful to see a conversation about the issues raised in the book here on Slugger. I was largely disappointed, however, in the panel discussion, which seemed to continually return to one critical focus of the book at the expense of its wider narrative: i.e. what might be seen as an all too typically northern Irish emphasis on complaint (the panel seemed to devote most of its time to resisting the book’s assertion that churches at the institutional level did not provide the kind of leadership that might have helped engender change on the part of their members, as if this was a personal attack on the members of the panel, all of whom were themselves involved as individuals), while a large part of the book is actually a sociological analysis of what church people may have actually got right in their efforts to address a rapidly moving and dangerous situation. I point out both what I perceive as the failures and achievements of church figures not out of superior judgement nor self-aggrandizement, but as a fellow traveler who believes in the possibility of churches to be agents of change for the common good.

    To respond specifically to a comment made earlier, I’m not happy that that academic publishers charge so much for their product. Anyone who has published with an academic house will tell you, this does not serve the author’s bank balance, but is rooted in what I consider to be an outdated system of library purchase and exchange. I hope this will change in the near future – there is no need to charge commercially uninviting rates in the context of the kind of economies of scale permitted by ebooks and print on demand. I would also echo Denis Bradley’s suggestion that the book, or at least some of the ideas in the book, could be used as the basis for some further conversations/gatherings/conferences, not so we can engage in further complaint or whataboutery, but take a serious look at what religious figures in a still highly religious society could contribute to the post-conflict period, rooted in an analysis of what was done and left undone in the past.

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