Over the last two decades, global demand for kosher products has been growing steadily, and many non-religious consumers view kosher as a healthy food option: in the US over 60 per cent of kosher food consumption is linked to non-religious values associated with health and food quality. This book explores the emergence and expansion of global kosher and halal markets with a particular focus on the UK and Denmark. While Kosher is a Hebrew term meaning 'fit' or 'proper', halal is an Arabic word that literally means 'permissible' or 'lawful'. The book discusses the manufacture and production of kosher and halal meat (both red meat and poultry) with specific reference to audits/inspections, legislation, networking, product innovation and certification. It draws on contemporary empirical material to explore kosher and halal comparatively at different levels of the social scale, such as individual consumption, the marketplace, religious organisations and the state. It compares the major markets for kosher/halal in the UK with those in Denmark, where kosher/halal are important to smaller groups of religious consumers. Denmark plays an important role in biotechnology that is compatible with what we call kosher/halal transnational governmentality. The book explores how Jewish and Muslim consumers in the UK and Denmark understand and practice kosher consumption in their everyday lives. It also explores how 'compound practice' links eating with issues such as health and spirituality, for example, and with the influence of secularism and ritual.
Ireland’s referendum and the journey from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft
This chapter examines the implications for Irish Catholicism that the ‘Yes’ vote in the May 2015 referendum on same-sex marriage may have for the social and cultural position of the Catholic church in contemporary Ireland and in the future. His analysis channels the thinking of Ferdinand Tönnies, an early German sociologist and a contemporary of Durkheim and Weber, who used the German words ‘Gemeinschaft’ and ‘Gesellschaft’ to distinguish between two fundamentally different structural paradigms for social relations. O’Brien sees marriage as a core ideological signifier of ideological hegemony, and using the fantasy fiction of Terry Pratchett’s satire on religion entitled Small Gods as a lens, he looks at the referendum as a significant turning point in the definition of marriage, and by extension, in the transformation Irish society from the organic community of the Gemeinschaft, to the more postmodern and pluralist notion of the Gesellschaft.
Joe Cleary’s chapter examines what the future of the Catholic Church is now that one of the great threats to its hegemony during the twentieth century, communism, has fallen largely into abeyance. Will the Church continue to align itself with capitalism and ignore the steady grip of the associated neoliberal agenda that favours secular, material values over religious ones? In contemporary Ireland, it often seems as though a blind adherence to religion has been replaced by an equally blind embrace of neoliberalism. Cleary asks what psychological price the Irish will pay for their submissive compliance with the fashionable ideas of the moment and explores how a healthy relationship with the Church might be developed in such a changed cultural environment.
Vincent Twomey’s thought-provoking essay sees reasons for hope in the midst of all the problems currently besetting Irish Catholicism. He opines that people’s faith has withstood the turmoil within and without the Church and argues that there are signs of the kind of renewal that was recommended by some of the documents of Vatican II. Detecting these signs is important in revealing the newly opened up possibilities (and risks) for a more humble Church that seeks to fulfil its God-given mission to bring joy to the world of today. The re-evangelizing of Ireland will not happen easily: it requires placing more emphasis on the beauty of lived Christianity and, by extension, of everyday sanctity.
Church, State and modernity in contemporary Ireland
David Carroll Cochran
Using Charles Taylor’s A Catholic Modernity? as its starting point, David Cochrane explores the evolving role of Catholicism in Ireland over the last half century and concludes that the disentangling of the Church from the dominant political and cultural institutions of society has paradoxically extended many of the very values Catholicism celebrates. Due to the severing of its close traditional connection to the State, the Church has rediscovered its original mission to provide a prophetic spiritual voice, especially in favour of the poor, and to align itself more closely with the concerns of its founder, Jesus Christ.
Michael Cronin opens this chapter by observing that the greatest threat to Irish society has been the dominant discourse of neo-liberalism and the Market, which has come to be the deity to which all must bend. The Irish Church has traditionally been associated with a regime of fear and punishment, which is somewhat paradoxical given that the founding message of Christianity is one of hope, of the end of fear. In Cronin’s view, a more radical move for a Church, which has been brought to its knees by a multiplicity of cultural factors, would be to embrace empathy and a politics of hope, which might consist of no longer saying ‘No’, but ‘Yes’. The affirmation of justice for all, a more equal sharing of wealth, the creation of a climate where difference is embraced, these are the life-affirming and Christian principles on which the future of Irish Catholicism should be based.
The fraught relationship between women and the Catholic Church in Ireland
Sharon Tighe-Mooney’s chapter sees the divorce, contraception and abortion referenda of the 1980s and 90s as a watershed for Irish women, as these were issues that impacted directly on their lives. Tighe-Mooney examines the events of the past four decades in Irish society in the context of the weakening hegemony of the Catholic Church juxtaposed with the growing realisation by women, especially when the child abuse scandals broke, that their lives had been framed by a celibate male-dominated institution that displayed serious double standards in the area of human sexuality. She argues that in order to survive into the future, the Church will be increasingly dependent on women remaining active within the institution. As Irish women Catholics are demanding a central role in the running of a Church that has shown itself allergic to change, especially when it comes to gender equality, Tighe-Mooney wonders what the future holds for both groups.
Patricia Casey’s chapter argues that up until recently there was no tradition of a questioning laity, or indeed, clergy, in the Irish Church. Centuries of persecution had brought priests and laity closer, even though they were never viewed as equals. A coalescence of events at home and abroad in the form of the sexual revolution, the rise of Communism, the reforms of Vatican II, created a Western Church where personal choice took precedence over the dictates of Rome. In Ireland, certain myths such as Catholic guilt, the links between celibacy and paedophilia, the death of God, the delusional nature of all religions, began to gain traction. The clerical abuse scandals served to reinforce hostility towards the Church and to add weight to the aforementioned myths, which has resulted in a society that is becoming increasingly impervious to the Word of God. Casey sees the need for Irish people to become educated about their faith so as to be in a position to speak to a secular audience and to find space for their Christian faith.
Eamonn Wall’s discussion of Irish American Catholic experience reveals many similarities on either side of the pond, and some differences also. The Irish American authors and commentators provide unique perspectives on many facets of Irish life, including the unique role played by the Catholic Church. Among the authors discussed are Frank McCourt, whose account of a poor Catholic childhood in Limerick is so memorably captured in the best-seller, Angela’s Ashes, Colum McCann, Colm Tóibín and Mary Gordon. Similarly, the theologian Richard P. McBrien, journalist and writer Maureen Dezell, and sociologist Andrew Greely combine to illustrate the impact that the Irish Church has had on its American equivalent. Wall maintains that looking towards Ireland from the US, and drawing on American notions of egalitarianism and individual freedom, sometimes allows for a more dispassionate view of Ireland’s Catholic heritage and enables envisaging its future with a far greater clarity than can be achieved when change is all around you.