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Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism Hardcover – 1 May 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (1 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069112518X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691125183
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 569,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Hassett...has written a fascinating book that studies the strong relationship which has developed between the conservative wing of the American Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Africa. Hassett did her research at St. Timothy's Church, located in the southeaster US, and in the Church of Uganda...This book is an excellent analysis of the current division within Anglicanism, the significance of the partnership between conservative Episcopalians and African Anglicans, and the consequences for the Anglican Communion."--R.M. Kollar, Choice

"Miranda Hassett tells the story of the emergence of an alliance between conservative American Episcopalians and African Anglicans. The book describes...how certain Episcopalian conservatives [reached] out to Southern leaders, how they developed networks, shared concerns, and planned strategies to ensure that a conservative resolution on human sexuality would be passed. There is a fascinating chapter on the part played by money, power, and influence in the new alliance. Any bishop...struggling to understand the future of the Communion would benefit from reading Hassett's fascinating and well-written book."--Mary Tanner, Church Times

"[An] evenhanded, informative and wholly admirable book. Hassett has provided not only a measured, balanced and sober account of a sometimes mystifying sequence of events, but also a brilliant study of the complexities and surprises of globalization."--Sam Wells, Christian Century

"In an era in which those involved in the debates over theology and morality in the Anglican Communion increasingly rely upon caricature and overly simple explanations, Anglican Communion in Crisis stands out for its closely argued, nuanced discussions and its unwillingness to follow any single party line. [T]his is a book that deserved to be read by anyone with a serious interest in the current state of the Anglican Communion."--Robert W. Prichard, The Weekly Standard

"This is a fascinating book. It goes beyond the superficial news reporting to deal substantively with the undercurrent of issues impacting the Anglican Communion. . . . This is a surprisingly balanced and very disciplined anthropological study that asks a series of very fundamental questions that could be the basis for future research. . . . This is not a political tome. It is a serious work of anthropology that deserves wide readership for its discussion of cultural and political dynamics as much as the continuing 'reasoning' within the Anglican Communion."--David R. Smedley, Amazon.com

"This gem of a book based on Miranda Hassett's dissertation in anthropology urgently needs to be read and discussed by many throughout the Anglican Communion. It will appeal to those still trying to understand what happened at Lambeth 1998 as they prepare for Lambeth 2008, as well as others looking for a fresh perspective on the global Anglican Communion controversy."--Joseph Duggan, Journal of Religion

"This book heralds and makes accessible the New Pentecost of the global Christian community in all its many voices and plural wonder. For this, the academy and the Church are in Miranda Hassett's debt."--Ian T. Douglas, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"[T]his book is essential reading."--New Directions

From the Back Cover

"Other scholars have addressed the liberal-conservative dynamics in American religion, but few have addressed the issue on a more global scale. This is an impressive book."--Randall Balmer, author of Thy Kingdom Come and Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory

"The link between conservative American Episcopalians and African Anglicans has been apparent for a decade or more. Now Miranda Hassett describes how this link has taken shape and how it works. Anglican Communion in Crisis is an important and timely book that gives insights into religion as a globalizing force and into the changing shape of religious conservatism."--William Sachs, author of The Transformation of Anglicanism

"Anglican Communion in Crisis is admirable for the clarity and consistency of its arguments about the current ideological divides within the Anglican Communion. Miranda Hassett manages to describe some fraught theological debates while remaining sympathetic to the various positions. There is much fine scholarship here."--Simon Coleman, University of Sussex

"Anglican Communion in Crisis is a detailed analysis of new networks between seemingly unlikely global partners--conservative American Episcopalians and predominantly East African Anglicans, united in their opposition to liberal Anglicans' growing openness toward homosexuality. This is the only thorough examination of these important global alliances that includes both textual and anthropological analysis. This is an important work for anthropologists of religion, for church historians, and for scholars of globalization."--Pamela Klassen, University of Toronto


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Quentin D. Stewart on 28 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
The author goes out of her way to debunk Philip Jenkins's now famous book "The Next Christendom," (Jenkins, a former Roman Catholic, now Episcopalian, attended Lambeth in 2000 and was impressed by the influence of the conservative Evangelical Anglican contingency from the Global South), but even if you value Jenkins's insights into global Christianity you will find this interesting book extremely, for she hashes out some of the nitty gritty of power politics and complex cross cultural relationships that have been formed by rich, white Anglicans in the North and non-Caucasians of the Global South. Haskett, upon writing this book, was about to become an Episcopalian priest in the USA, but was also trained as an anthropologist. She did "field work" in a conservative Anglican church in the southern USA that had placed itself under the jurisdiction of the Province of Rwanda, and then spendt an equal amount of time in interacting with Anglicans in Uganda. Her field work consisted of many interviews with conservative Anglicans in the USA analyzing their complex relationships with African Anglicans trying to ascertain what both parties got out of the bargain so to speak. The writer herself was a bit mystified by all the fuss caused by the debates over homosexuality, but she did a fine job of portraying conservative view points as fairly as possible.

Although the book's title claims to depict the entire Anglican communion its focus is primarily the relationship between conservative Episcopalian churches in the USA such as the Anglican Mission to the Americas (AMiA) and their African allies. Though limited in scope I found the book fascinating. This is actually the author's doctoral dissertation revised for publication and one does occassionally note the "dissertationese" in the work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Nothing Else Like It, But Could Have Been So Much More 30 Dec. 2007
By John M. Linebarger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is nothing else in print that covers the same territory as Miranda Hassett's "The Anglican Communion in Crisis," not even Philip Jenkin's "The New Face of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South." In an era of global shifts and realignments within the Anglican Communion, this is a timely book, and I'm glad I read it.

Hassett's book is obviously an updated version of her doctoral dissertation in anthropology from UNC at Chapel Hill. It focuses on events in the Anglican Communion from 1992-2002, and has been lightly updated to include subsequent developments. Hassett's strengths include a focus on fieldwork (largely in Uganda) and a remarkably even-handed approach to thorny theological and political issues. (She admits in a footnote that she is personally pro-gay rights, yet is willing to criticize the excesses of the liberal wing of the Episcopal Church when it is warranted by her fieldwork data.) She also makes insightful comments, which often are contrary to prevailing wisdom, about the nature of globalization and about Philip Jenkins' thesis of a global religions shift.

However, it could have been so much more. The organization of her book is somewhat choppy and structurally unclear; her prose is frequently turgid and bloated; many of the references to globalization literature seem gratuitious and intended to satisfy her dissertation committee; and the updating of her dissertation to include events since 2002 is uneven. Her focus on Uganda is useful from a fieldwork perspective, and no dissertation can be expected to cover everything. However, developments in the Provinces of Nigeria and the Southern Cone, which have proven to be equally significant from a realignment perspective, are virtually ignored.

In short, limitations aside, Hassett's book is the best one currently available. However, the definitive account of the forces for realignment within the Anglican Communion has yet to be written. Indeed, the story itself has yet to be played out in history. Once she completes her divinity degree at the Episcopal Divinity School, perhaps Hassett herself can write such a history, as long as she remembers that less is more and tighter is more powerful.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
How Globalization Twists Cultural Concepts and Understandings 25 July 2007
By David R. Smedley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating book. It goes beyond the superficial newsreporting to deal substantively with the undercurrent of issues impacting the Anglican Communion.

Hassett provides a detailed anthropological analysis of the issues undergirding the Anglican Communion, from extensive interviews and field work in a church within the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA), which has been aligned with the "conservative" minority against the "Church", and from visits and interviews within the Anglican Church in Uganda.

As a non-Anglican that, nonetheless communes within the Episcopal Church due to my denomination's agreement with ECUSA, I read this book from my academic background in public administration and political science, and with background in teaching and research interests in international relations and comparative politics, and the impact of globalization. I read it from a certain built-in mindset that the situation of the Anglican Communion is a test case for how "states" would act in an environment not constrained by a convention such as the Peace of Westphalia. While the book basically confirmed that mindset, the palpable reaction I came away from the reading of this book is how pejorative terms, concepts, and ideas have become in a global political climate of polarized extremes. Just what exactly do "liberal" and "conservative" and "orthodox" mean? Do they mean the same thing in different cultures and within differing cultural contexts? It is true that we are living in a global age of exacerbated political speech, and, as a result, there has been a certain "assault on reason" (to quote the name of the book by the former US VP, Al Gore - The Assault on Reason). The heightened tenor of global political speech is certainly one of the by-products of the dynamics of globalization.

Hassett's thesis is that the context of the issues affecting the Anglican Communion are not just the result of the split between the church universal in the global north and south. This thesis, widely attributed to Philip Jenkins from his well-regarded work, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, and his follow-up book, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South, seeks to generalize all issues affecting Christianity as simply the result of the ascendance of the global south while Christianity in the global North continues to gradually decline. Hassett seeks to argue that there is a deep cultural context to the issues within the Anglican Communion, within specific African churches as well as within the ECUSA, while certainly not discounting the overarching impacts of the dynamics of globalization. She incorrectly infers that Jenkins' work discounts the role of culture, however. She does bring a deeper understanding, though, of some of the underlying precepts of cultural influences in the development of some African leaders' thought on the issues ongoing within the Anglican Communion.

This is a surprisingly balanced and very disciplined anthropological study that asks a series of very fundamental questions that could be the basis for future research. First, how do cultures define themselves within political discourse? Second, how can differing political discourse be ameliorated to allow for deeper cultural understanding, and, in the specific case of the Anglican Communion, spiritual and theological understanding? Third, specific to the context of the study, how can the tools of statecraft be used to bridge the differences within the Anglican Communion so as to avoid schism? Fourth, to return to a basic question of both theology and philosophy, what is "reason" and how can it be attained and maintained in a global climate that seeks to pull to the extremes as a result of the dynamics of globalization?

I think the greatest contribution of this study is the inference that deeper understanding of the cultural context of terms, concepts and processes (i.e., parliamentary procedure, which Hassett incisively notes as an issue because of the supposition that those in from "western" churches within the Communion are more skilled at these procedures than those in the churches in the Communion within the global south). It begs for further research by employing an oral history approach -- by listening to those actors in the dispute talk about what they do and what they believe and why, so as to infer ways to create bridges to understanding.

This is not a political tome. It is a serious work of anthropology that deserves wide readership for its discussion of cultural and political dynamics as much as the continuing "reasoning" within the Anglican Communion.The book's subtitle suggests that it leans towards the "Episcopal dissidents and their African allies". However, I do think that's a little misleading, particularly in the reading of Chapter 7, which details the "assymetry of money and transnational alliances". I think it would be a more accurate description to say that the actions within the Anglican Communion have led to a certain awareness of differences of opinion that could actually be the basis of a renewed and invigorated Anglican Communion. Calling the issues in the Anglican Communion a "crisis" I think is a bit disingenuous. The Anglican Communion, like many other denominations, is simply in search of greater reason that seeks to draw closer to God through Christ Jesus.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Fine Work on Conservative Anglicans Worldwide, But Marred By a Lack of Theological Insight 23 Dec. 2010
By Fr. Charles Erlandson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Anglican Communion in Crisis" by Miranda Hassett is a revision of her Ph.D. dissertation from the University of North Carolina but is substantially the same as that dissertation. I'm very familiar with this work, having made heavy use of it in my own Ph.D. dissertation on the identity of orthodox Anglicanism. In some ways, her book is the closest work out there to my own.

In "Anglican Communion in Crisis," Hassett attempts to establish the connection between conservative Episcopalians in the U.S. and the conservative Global South Anglicans throughout the world. Her terminology is important, because what many would call "conservative" or "orthodox" Anglicans she terms "Episcopal dissidents." Hassett is clearly on the side of the "revisionists" or "liberals" within The Episcopal Church, and this shows in certain aspects of her work. Thankfully, for the most part Hassett doesn't interject her own personal viewpoint into her work.

As far as a work of scholarship, Hassett has done the Anglican world a service by writing deeply and intelligently on a subject of contemporary relevance. Her main task is to describe and evaluate the "cooperative globalizing endeavors" undertaken by conservative or "orthodox" Anglicans in the U.S. and their allies in the Global South. Describing in particular her research into the Church of Uganda, Hassett makes an important contribution to the understanding of the global nature of Anglicanism, especially orthodox Anglicanism.

Hassett is right in asserting that the relationship between conservative Episcopalians and the conservative Global South Anglicans is reshaping Anglicanism. However, her explanation of the connections between these two groups suggests some kind of coordinated political strategy based primarily on having a common enemy of liberal Episcopalians (a political alliance which she describes as one aspect of the larger phenomenon of globalism).

I know many of the leaders of both the conservative Anglicans in the U.S., as well as some of the leaders of the Global South, and the truth is that the affinity between the two groups is different than that which Hassett suggests. The relationship between the two conservative groups is not primarily political but is almost entirely theological. Both groups perceive that a liberal Anglicanism that rejects the Bible as the authoritative Word of God is destroying Anglicanism, and both groups are working closely together on the basis of a deeply shared theology. This is something Hassett only dimly understands, and this lack of understanding unfortunately mars this otherwise fine work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An anthropological approach to the Anglican Communion 21 Sept. 2008
By Quentin D. Stewart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author goes out of her way to debunk Jenkins's now famous "The Next Christendom," but even if you are a fan of Jenkins you will find this book extremely interesting as she hashes out some of the nitty gritty as the would-be Episcopal priest/anthropologist goes between a conservative Anglican church in the southern USA and Uganda. Her field work consisted of many interviews with conservative Anglicans in the USA and their complex relationships with African Anglicans of the emerging global South. The writer herself is a bit mystified by all the fuss over human sexuality, but she does a good job of portraying conservative views as fairly as possible, given her own sympathies.

Although the book's title claims to depict the entire Anglican communion its focus is primarily on the relationship between conservative Episcopal churches in the USA such as the Anglican Mission to the Americas and their African allies. Though limited in scope I found the book fascinating.
Scholarly and In-Depth 5 Mar. 2012
By Sherman T. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ms. Hassett has written about the current distress occurring within the Episcopal Church, USA and the wider Anglican Communion. I don't care for labels, but I would definitely consider myself to be a moderate-to-liberal Episcopalian. The author has fairly treated all the stakeholders she writes about. In other words, there is no "liberal' or "conservative" bias, as Ms. Hassett writes from a professional, scholarly perspective. Sometimes the reading can become a bit dense, but the author is to be commended for her tremendous attention to detail.
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