Religion and National Identity: Wales and Scotland, c. 1700-2000.

Author:Jones, Preston
 
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Edited by Robert Pope. Cardiff, Wales: University of Wales Press, 2001. xii + 355 pp. n.p.

The chapters that comprise Religion and National Identity were first presented at a conference in Edinburgh in 1999. Readers interested in gaining a feel for that types of questions now being asked by scholars in the fields of religion and culture in Wales and Scotland will gain much from this book.

The book's title suggests that there are, or have been, distinct Welsh and Scottish religious-national identities, but editor Robert Pope dispels that idea in his introduction. "[T]he definition of Scottish and Welsh identity is far from straightforward," he writes. "Scottish and Welsh life is, and to some degree always has been, diverse and pluralistic." As D. Densil Morgan maintains in his useful overview of Christianity in Wales in the twentieth century, evangelical Christianity (i.e. Nonconformity) was "massively influential" in Wales in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and, as most Nonconformist churches conducted services in Welsh, much of that influence was spent on behalf of the preservation of Wales's ancient tongue. Indeed, apart from the work of the Baptist, Calvinistic Methodist, Congregational, and Wesleyan churches, it is likely that Welsh would be in worse shape today as a living language than it is. Yet Nonconformists have not been Welsh's only friends. Contributor Frances Knight shows that one of Wales's fierce late nineteenth-century advocates, J. Arthur Price, spoke no Welsh and was an Anglo-Catholic. This reminds us, as the upcoming scholar of religion in Wales, Trystan Owain Hughes, points out, that in the twentieth century some prominent Welsh nationalists turned away from Nonconformity and toward Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism because they perceived that these...

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