Ancestral Feeling

Ancestral Feeling

Postcolonial Thoughts on Western Christian Heritage

Renie Chow Choy


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The language of heritage permeates Scripture, encouraging Christians to approach church history like a family history. But the notion of ancestry also constrains the world’s Catholics and Protestants to trace their confessional descent from Europe, rendering them perpetual latecomers in the historical chain. "Ancestral Feeling" systematically diagnoses the postcolonial problems generated by an ancestral outlook. But, applying critical theories in cultural studies to the study of church history, the book experiments with ways that the Western Christian inheritance can awaken the memory of one’s own ancestors. Writing a personal reflection on her family’s history in British-ruled Hong Kong, Renie Chow Choy engages autobiographically with England’s ecclesiastical art, architecture, music, and literature, in order to affirm her attachment to a heritage normally associated with English national identity. For global and immigrant Christians brought into a relationship with English Christianity by colonialism but are bypassed by its history, this book makes a bold declaration: England’s Christian heritage is also our story.


Renie Chow Choy:
Renie Chow Choy is Lecturer in Church History at St Mellitus College. She has published on various aspects of early medieval Christianity, and is the author of Intercessory Prayer and the Monastic Ideal in the Time of the Carolingian Reforms (Oxford University Press). She is currently working on inclusive memory in the interpretation of England’s historic churches.