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Killing White Anglicanism

Sunday, November 23, 2008

This is a short excerpt from one of my recent papers I did for grad school.

There is a need for a grass-roots liturgical movement that may or may not be considered to be traditionally “Anglican.” Normally when one talks about being part of a “Global Communion” and in being united with “Anglican” values one talks about shaping the religious practice and theology of a certain church to conform (slightly or not) to that of the English Church and white culture; talk of via media, English Reformation, apostolic succession, tend to dominate the conversation. What some people forget to question however is why is it that the rest of the Anglican Communion is still focusing on Canterbury as its center when the majority of Anglican worshipers are in the Global South? There is a danger in talking about “Anglican tradition” as it tends to focus on England as the center. What should be asked, however, is how has the Global South has realigned Anglicanism? Instead of looking to the vestiges of England (in theology and liturgy) as common ground for all Anglican Churches maybe it is time the Church of England began looking at the practices of the Global South as the common unifier. Instead of looking at what aspects the Global South can adopt from the Church of England to better server their people (that is, contextualizing and acculturating traditional Western Christianity to one’s own culture and place) maybe it is time the Church of England (and especially the Episcopal Church USA) to begin to look at what aspects it can adopt from the Global South to better serve its own people (as both congregations are continuing to decline); this is, however, not an excuse for cultural appropriation. If this is controversial I then ask: Why is that controversial but the inverse of the Global South looking toward England still considered the norm; when in reality Canterbury is no longer the center of the Anglican Communion?

What this means for the Gospel is quite clear. One must look at the Gospel afresh, in a new light, in order to better understand the challenges that are confronting us in this ever shrinking globalized world. More often than not the Gospel has typically been confused with Western Anglo-Saxon culture.  In America the Gospel tends to be shackled heavily in WASP culture, which has deemphasized the political, emphasized subordination, and stripped the Gospel of any context other than personal spirituality. This has lead to a Church culture in the United States, which is still heavily inward looking and not outward looking. This in turn has led to problems of not only declining membership but also (for many of the laity) to ambivalence of the outside (of the Church, that is) world and to a continuing homogeneous elitist WASP culture where in the congregations of some churches look nothing like that of their surrounding areas. This can be seen in my home parish which is surrounded by a large Latino presence but is milky white on the inside.

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