1st Edition

Christian Modernities in Britain and Ireland in the Twentieth Century

Edited By John Carter Wood Copyright 2023
    174 Pages
    by Routledge

    174 Pages
    by Routledge

    The dramatic social, cultural, and political changes in the twentieth century posed challenges and opportunities to Christian believers in Britain and Ireland: many, whether in the churches or among the laity, sought to adapt their faith to what was seen as a new, “modern” world fundamentally different than the one in which Christianity had risen to a position of institutional and cultural dominance. Alongside the more long-term processes of industrialisation, urbanisation, and democratisation, the formative experiences of war and post-war reconstruction, confrontations with totalitarianism, changing relations between the sexes, and engagements with an increasingly assertive “secular” culture inspired many Christians not only to reconsider their faith but also to try to influence the emerging modernity.

    The chapters in this volume address various specific topics – from mass politics to sexuality – but are linked by a stress on how Christians played active roles in building “modern” life in twentieth-century Britain and Ireland. Tensions and ambiguities between “religious” and “secular” and between “modern” and “traditional” make understanding Christian encounters with modernity a valuable topic in the exploration of the complexities of twentieth-century cultural and intellectual history.

    This book will be of great value to students and scholars in the fields of history including modern British history, religion, and the intersectionality of gender and religion.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Contemporary British History.

    Introduction: Christian modernities in Britain and Ireland in the twentieth century

    John Carter Wood

    1. Religion and the rise of mass democracy in Britain

    Pippa Catterall

    2. Reframing the ‘laws of life’: catholic doctors, natural law and the evolution of catholic sexology in interwar Britain

    Alana Harris

    3. ‘The Relation of the Sexes’: towards a Christian view of sex and citizenship in interwar Britain

    Laura Monica Ramsay

    4. Going ‘part of the way together’: Christian intellectuals, modernity and the secular in 1930s and 1940s Britain

    John Carter Wood

    5. ‘Christian civilisation’, ‘modern secularisation’, and the revolutionary re-imagination of British modernity, 1954-1965

    Sam Brewitt-Taylor

    6. Clerical modernisers and the media in Ireland: the journalism of Fr Gerry Reynolds

    Gladys Ganiel


    John Carter Wood is a researcher at the Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz, Germany. He is the author of Violence and Crime in Nineteenth-Century England: The Shadow of Our Refinement (2004); The Most Remarkable Woman in England: Poison, Celebrity and the Trials of Beatrice Pace (2012); and This Is Your Hour: Christian Intellectuals in Britain and the Crisis of Europe (2019). He has written several articles and essays on the topics of crime, violence, media, gender, and intellectual history.