I realised on Tuesday that I hadn’t been back in the
University Bookshop The Bookshop at Queens since my undergrad days.
The Maths section has shrunk back to a single bookcase. Where have all the Schaum Outline books gone? I’ve nearly got more in the Billy bookcases downstairs! Turns out that reading lists have gone out of fashion for the kind of Mathematics and Computer Science courses that I took, with text books and materials able to be found online.
We had gone across to the launch of Malachi O’Doherty’s new book, Empty Pulpits: Ireland’s Retreat from Religion. He argues that the drop-off in the supply of priests is more than just a reaction to recent scandals. Yet it’s not that Ireland is giving up on faith altogether. Nor is it wholeheartedly embracing atheism.
Introducing Malachi at the launch, William Crawley started his speech with the quip
“Thanks for coming tonight to witness this spectacle of a lapsed Protestant launching a book by a lapsed Catholic about collapsed religion.”
He went on to point out that
“the prophets of the new spiritual revolution are more likely to be singer-songwriters, artists, poets, and novelists.”
You can read William's full sermonette over on his blog.
Amid the shelves of books and the tinkling of breaking glass (yes - people couldn’t hold their drink even that early in the evening) there was an eclectic mix of people milling around chatting having listened to William’s introduction and Malachi’s response. Nice to catch up with some Facebook friends in real life!
It’ll be a week or two before I get started on Malachi’s book, but I am looking forward to the challenge and provocation that he brings to all his reflections - on paper, in person or on air. And interested to see whether he finds parallels between Catholicism and Protestantism decline in Ireland.