Anglican Communion in Crisis

About a week ago I got an email from Princeton University Press announcing the publication of Anglican Communion in Crisis:
How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism
by Miranda K. Hassett, a student in the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I find the thesis of the book itself interesting enough, but add to that the fact that Ms. Hassett earned a doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and there's a real possibility that she was a regular communicant at the Chapel of the Cross. (There is another Episcopal parish in Chapel Hill, the Church of the Holy Family, but when I lived there I knew almost no one from the university community who attended Holy Family.)

The press release describes the book this way:
The sign outside the conservative, white church in the small southern U.S. town announces that the church is part of the Episcopal Church--of Rwanda. In Anglican Communion in Crisis, Miranda Hassett tells the fascinating story of how a new alliance between conservative American Episcopalians and African Anglicans is transforming conflicts between American Episcopalians--especially over homosexuality--into global conflicts within the Anglican church.

In the mid-1990s, conservative American Episcopalians and Anglican leaders from Africa and other parts of the Southern Hemisphere began to forge ties in opposition to the American Episcopal Church's perceived liberalism and growing toleration of homosexuality. This resulted in dozens of American Episcopal churches submitting to the authority of African bishops.

Based on wide research, interviews with key participants and observers, and months Hassett spent in a southern U.S. parish of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda and in Anglican communities in Uganda, Anglican Communion in Crisis is the first anthropological examination of the coalition between American Episcopalians and African Anglicans. The book challenges common views--that the relationship between the Americans and Africans is merely one of convenience or even that the Americans bought the support of the Africans. Instead, Hassett argues that their partnership is a deliberate and committed movement that has tapped the power and language of globalization in an effort to move both the American Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion to the right.
It's rather interesting, isn't it, that the movement towards orthodoxy in the Episcopal church is described as "conservative" and on the "right", while the more heterodox elements are described only as manifesting a "perceived liberalism", guilty of nothing other than a "growing toleration of homosexuality".

Sounds like a great book. Well, authors rarely write their own promotional material: Princeton wants to sell this book, of course (though academic imprints usually don't care that much about sales, as long as all the major libraries have subscriptions). No doubt at the Episcopal Divinity School the divine Ms. Hassett will learn to think for herself.


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