Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Living with History

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Living with History

Article excerpt

FREDRICA HARRIS THOMPSETT. Living with History. The New Church's Teaching Series, volume 5. Boston, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 1999. Pp. xii + 200. $11.95 (paper).

The editor of The New Church's Teaching series makes clear in his preface the bases of these publications. The series has no official standing or imprimatur from a church organization. The authors take a personal approach to their subjects, and probably most importantly, they are writing for non-Episcopalians, hoping to introduce them to the variety and riches of the Anglican tradition.

Living with History by Fredrica Harris Thompsett certainly fulfills these guidelines. Not only does she assume the reader has little or no knowledge of church history, she also, probably rightly, assumes that the later twentieth-century reader has to be sold on the value of the study of history. Her first chapter, like the book titled "Living with History," would make an excellent first assignment for an undergraduate history class with only a little editing. Thompsett reminds us, student and professional historian alike, that we are all a part of history in what we do when asking questions, telling stories, treasuring traditions. Moving from the general to specific illustrations of why history is important for Anglicans, she offers ten ideas or events which have formed the character of Christianity in general and the Episcopal Church in particular. These touchstones, as Thompsett calls them, are her personal choices for what has formed her faith; they range from the Incarnation and baptism to common prayer and the full inclusion of women in the church. She invites readers to make their own lists and explore how their choices have developed historically.

Thompsett then turns to several topics in the history of the church. They include the expansion of ministry to lay men and all women and how the church has dealt with controversy and with new ideas such as Darwinism and concerns such as environmentalism. …

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