Friday, June 16, 2006

Forget about those buggy whips ... !

Seems like everyone is talking about "global Christianity." John Allen returns to the theme in this week's Word from Rome. I loved this awesome analogy:
"Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" has passed into the cultural idiom as a synonym for blithe indifference to an underlying crisis. I would suggest that much conversation in Western Catholicism these days is more akin to arguing over which buggy whips are best, while ignoring the emergence of the car; that is, a completely new world is taking shape, one destined to render many of this era's debates obsolete.
Things like how to deal with the priest shortage, or issues of sexuality, ordaining women and so on. This just isn't what's at the center of things. However, also a wanring to conservatives who would like to hitch the Christianity of the global South to their own battles.
Yet if the expansion of Catholicism in the South contradicts leftist predictions of demise, the corollary does not follow, i.e., that it is an endorsement of conservative Catholicism in its Western form. In fact, experts such as Sanneh say the growth of Christianity in the developing world has precious little to do with Western ideological debates, and is far more connected with the way Christianity interacts with indigenous cultures and their concerns.
[Quoting Lamin Sanneh. Yours truly compiled some stuff on this awesome scholar of world Christianity, just the other week.] And an event to look forward to:
On June 19, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice will convene a summit in Cairo of Catholic bishops and other leading figures from Africa, the Middle East, and Europe to discuss human rights and democracy in Christianity and Islam. The idea is to explore the potential Christian contribution to fostering peace and stability in the developing world, and to confront radical currents within Islam.
[Just a small quibble. I think "upside down church" is a little old now. Yah, you put quotes around it. Just drop it, John! :)]

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