Postcolonial Thoughts on Western Christian Heritage
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The language of heritage permeates Scripture, encouraging Christians to approach church history like a family history. But the notion of ancestry also constrains the world’s Catholics and Protestants to trace their confessional descent from Europe, rendering them perpetual latecomers in the historical chain. Ancestral Feeling systematically diagnoses the postcolonial problems generated by an ancestral outlook. But, applying critical theories in cultural studies to the study of church history, the book experiments with ways that the Western Christian inheritance can awaken the memory of one’s own ancestors.
Writing a personal reflection on her family’s history in British-ruled Hong Kong, Renie Chow Choy engages autobiographically with England’s ecclesiastical art, architecture, music, and literature, in order to affirm her attachment to a heritage normally associated with English national identity.
For global and immigrant Christians brought into a relationship with English Christianity by colonialism but are bypassed by its history, this book makes a bold declaration: England’s Christian heritage is also our story.
1. ‘Religious Ancestry’: Christian Historiography and English Imperialism 34
2. ‘Religious Ancestry’: The Postcolonial Critique of Christian Historiography 53
3. The Ancestor Effect 75
4. Ancestral Hardship and the Western Christian Canon 97
5. Ancestral Nostalgia and Ecclesiastical Heritage Sites 121
6. Ancestral Migration and Christian Cultural Capital 148
"A superb book: hopeful, eloquent and timely. Skilfully weaving personal narrative with variegated threads of scholarship, Renie Choy crafts a heartfelt case for an inclusive approach to English Christian heritage and our ancestral past, to find in both a home with many mansions." -- The Rt Revd Dr Andrew Rumsey, Bishop of Ramsbury and Joint Lead on Church Buildings and Cathedrals, Author of English Grounds
"Remarkable and rewarding. A brave and complex book that ought to be essential reading not only for anyone interested in postcolonialism but for everyone who cares about the history and future of Christianity." -- Dame Averil Cameron, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History, University of Oxford
"Choy traces Christian experiences from the bottom-up: from the Christians of past European colonies and other latecomers to the Western Christian tradition who find an inexplicable and sometimes conflicted sense of recognition when visiting Europe. Choy's personal reflections provoke fruitful thought for Christians hailing from places peripheral to Europe who still find it a spiritual homeland for their faith." -- The Most Revd Andrew Chan, Archbishop of Hong Kong and Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
"This pioneering book discusses the structure of ancestral feelings through the postcolonial lenses of nostalgia and amnesia, roots and routes, ambivalence and dissonance, identity and identification, and affinity and affiliation. I highly recommend it to faculty, students, and the general public who want to interpret English Christian heritage from postcolonial and global perspectives." -- Kwok Pui-lan. Dean’s Professor of Systematic Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University