Saunders Lewis’ Williams Pantycelyn (1927) was the most exciting and controversial work of literary criticism to appear in twentieth century Welsh letters. In ten memorable and often brilliant chapters, Lewis analysed the work of the eighteenth century hymnist not according to the usual Protestant norms but in terms of medieval Catholic mysticism on the one hand and the then novel Freudian and Jungian psychology on the other. The book caused a literary and critical storm. Among those who affirmed its counterintuitive nature was the poet T. Gwynn Jones; its thesis was rejected by the philosopher E. Keri Evans while the preacher-poet Moelwyn Hughes found the volume objectionable in the extreme. Such was the power of Lewis’ analysis, however, that for more than a generation it came to embody a new orthodoxy in the scholarly understanding of William Williams. It was not until the 1960s that this orthodoxy began to be overturned. The accompanying essay describes how this process evolved.
The early response to Williams Pantycelyn by Saunders Lewis
The Star in the Cross: the effect of the early imperial laws of Rome on the...
The Star in the Cross: the effect of the early imperial laws of Rome on the relationship between the Church an...
The relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews has always been difficult, and this article explores the way in which the early imperial laws of Rome influenced that relationship. Having discussed a selection of laws, consideration is given to how they affected the social standing of the Jews in a growingly Christianised world. There is also a discussion of how a few of the early anti-Jewish laws seemed to be reintroduced during the Middle Ages, as well as during the horrific event which proved to be fateful to the Jewish-Christian relationship, the Holocaust. The article concludes by examining the significance of those imperial laws and questions the relationship of the Church and the Jews in the twenty-first century.
(The voice of Welsh missionary women, 1887-1930)
This article explores the cultural implications of female celebrity acquired through involvement in the colonial missionary activity of the Welsh Presbyterian Church. Women were directed to perform particular functions in the process of constructing Christian communities in British colonies, among which were the conversion of other women and the provision of descriptions and explanations of the mission to a home audience. Along with lectures and sermons by missionaries on furlough, and missionary exhibitions, the main transmission route for this communication was the denominational missionary press. This article examines the ways in which the female missionaries presented themselves and their work to the audience at home in the missionary press between 1887 and 1930, and suggests that the images they presented, and the undertones that can be found in their writing, were the main inspiration for Welsh Presbyterian women to support the missionary cause, and form themselves into a remarkable movement that became a vital channel for the sponsorship of missionary work.
Lewis Edwards and the 'trahison des clercs'
This article focuses on three essays published on the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Immanuel Kant by the theologian and scholar, Lewis Edwards, in the Traethodydd between 1846 and 1853. Edwards is considered here as representative of the religious leaders of Wales in the second half of the nineteenth century. His work is examined for evidence of attitudes towards the philosophical developments of the period which could offer an explanation for his failure to defend Welsh language and culture in the face of the spread of English.
The article argues that Edwards’ commitment to the speculative reasoning on which contemporary Calvinist theology was based prevented him from responding directly to the intellectual challenge represented by modern thought. In the three articles considered here, which present Kant’s thought as expressed in the first Critique, together with Coleridge’s philosophical theology as it is presented in his Aids to Reflection, we find clear evidence of Edwards’ unwillingness to accept any challenge to Calvinist philosophy. The picture he presents of the work of these two authors is defective and misleading. A major part of both Kant’s Kritik and Coleridge’s Aids is a destructive criticism of the baseless pretensions of speculative reason. Edwards chooses to ignore this entirely, so as to maintain his belief in the power of the human intellect to intuit truth without reference to empirical evidence.
It is argued here that this wilful blindness to modern thought was an important factor in motivating the intellectual treason of which Edwards and his contemporaries stand accused. It is also suggested that this treason undermined not only Welsh language and literature, but also the Calvinist religion Edwards was determined to defend. In refusing to face the challenge of modern thought, Edwards left his students with no means of adapting traditional teaching to meet the requirements of a changing sensibility. The eventual result of that was a degree of alienation from the Nonconformist past, the effect of which continues even today
Faith’s reaction to modern science
A version of this article appeared originally in The SCM Core Text on World Christianity in the 20th Century, co-authored with Dr Martin Conway (London: SCM Press 2008). Having set the debate between Science and Christianity in its historical context, it explores a range of contemporary scientific questions such as Quantum Theory and Relativity, Cosmology, The discovery of DNA, Genetic Manipulation and Advances in Medical Treatment. The final section examines Roman Catholic responses, Evangelical and fundamentalist approaches and ecumenical responses to some of these key issues. The article concludes by affirming that an engagement between Christian theology and contemporary developments in science is essential if the contemporary articulation of faith is to have meaning and coherence.
Muslims in Rural Wales: disconnection, faith and belonging
In recent years, considerable attention has been given to the experiences of minority groups which are marginalised within a rural context. However, little attention has been paid to religious minorities in rural regions. This scarcity of attention is surprising considering the attention paid to religion in issues of multiculturalism and inclusive citizenship. This paper discusses the experiences of one particular religious group, Muslims, in rural west Wales. The article concentrates on experiences of absence from the landscape (i.e. the physical landscape and the broader images and values that convey ideas about places), which can create difficulties in fostering a sense of community. It also looks at local Muslims’ construction of the landscape in moral and Christian terms. The paper suggests that these experiences transcend ideas of ‘exclusion/belonging’, and attest to a complex relationship between local Muslims and this rural region.
Y Meddwl Modern: Weber – Ellis Roberts
Max Weber is recognised as one of the foremost founders of modern sociology. This volume places him in the tradition of sociology and outlines some of his major contributions: his idea of 'verstehen' or 'sociological imagination', his involvement in the great debate about the relationship between capitalism and the Protestant religion, and his 'ideal types' or definitions of the basics of particular regimes.
Lleisiau o'r Lludw: Her yr Holocost i'r Cristion – Gareth Lloyd Jones
Discussion of Christians’ attitudes towards the Jews over the centuries and the possible contribution of the Christian Church to the Holocaust.