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HUMANITIES 363 ernism might be. Many, from both the philosophical and theological realms of discourse, will disagree whether it makes a sufficient case for a 'spirituality ' accessible to either. (GEORGE SCHNER) Terrence Murphy and Roberto Perin, editors. A Concise History of Christianity in Canada Oxford University Press 1996. xii, 456. $25.95 The study of the history of Christianity in Canada has been a booming enterprise for the last generation, and this book is a marvellously effective one-volume synthesis of a large portion of what we have learned. The 1000 footnotes, with an average of 220 for every chapter but the first, present a virtual record of this productivity, with the text fusing the analysis into very readable history. Five historians each wrote a long chapter and all five -including Terry Crowley, Gilles Chausse, and Brian Clarke- deserve to be acknowledged on the title page alongside the two names we see. The book most certainly replaces the last one-volume work on the subject, H.H. Walsh's The Christian Church in Canada (1956), and it mounts a friendly challenge to the standard three-volume series, HistonJ of the Christian Church in Canada (1966-72), which offers a volume each by Walsh, John Moir, and John Webster Grant. In many ways it surpasses this work too, most obviously by reflecting some of the new approaches and the abundance of studies since the 196os. In the final analysis, however, I see the new work more as a supplement or complement, to the previous series than a replacement. We need to read both and provide our own integrative analysis of the whole. The reasons for this are several. First, the works differ remarkably in what they use to construct their presentation, but without the new replacing the old. The new book divides the subject according to language use, featuring French-speaking and English-speaking religious expressions. By contrast, the earlier series gave priority to political and imperial periodization, and, accordingly, devoted successive volumes to the French, the British, and the Canadian regimes, with the last two volumes weighted towards English Canada. The result in the new book is relatively more coverage of French-speaking Christians: about 6o per cent of the analysis overall, and fully half of the text after the British defeated New France in 1759-60. Yet, ironically, the earlier project assigned a whole volume, or one-third of the project, to New France, compared with only fifty-five pages, or one-sixth, of the new project for the same subject and period. If we read them together we get both more English and more French Christianity. Both treatments share the same weakness, however, in privileging bipolar language use, and slighting the churches that are neither French nor English. These are many- Huron, 364 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Cree, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Greek, Chinese, and so on. Recasting the analysis in a culturally more pluralistic fashion would give them their due, and perhaps better reflect the long-standing diversity of Canadian Christian traditions. Second, the coverage of the earlier series is greater for Protestanthistory, while the new volume is better for Roman Catholic history, and reading both fills out the picture. The authors of both works, of course, aimed to be inclusive, and sought not to reflect their own ecclesialheritages or academic interests. Nonetheless, the difference in emphasis matches the historians' own experiences and scholarship: the new authors chiefly come out of, or work on, Roman Catholic traditions, whereas the earlier authors were Anglican, Presbyterian, and United Church, respectively. As it turned out, neither project gives adequate place to the Eastern Orthodox, Uniate Catholic, and Oriental Orthodox churches, or to genuinely indigenous versions of Christianity. Third, the two projects stress different aspectsof the Christian presence in Canada, and we need both emphases for a fuller analysis. The new book, for instance, gives more attention to women, lay piety, popular religion, religious culture, and Protestant Evangelicals and Catholic Ultramontanes, while the older series is better for institutionalhistories, ecumenical themes, overseas missions, indigenous adaptations, and the great diversity of religious /parties' beyond the two overstressed by the new volume. Both projects are alike in underplaying, or handling unevenly, vital aspects...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 363-364
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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