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A World of communities: The value of church history in culturally pluralistic societies

Strong, R. (1997) A World of communities: The value of church history in culturally pluralistic societies. Colloquium, 29 (2). pp. 81-93.


This is an essay towards an apologia for the significance of church history in contemporary culture. It was initially caused by reading an interview with the Latin American novelist, Carlos Fuentes, who was asked about his latest novel in which he stresses the Spanish cultural inheritance of Latin America. Fuentes argued that, contrary to the culture of the United States, Latin Americans understand that the history of diverse communities is a force which impinges on and affects the present and therefore they acknowledge that assimilation to a single predominant culture is not viable. .Look at the United States,. he said, .which, though it has an assimilated melting-pot history defined in white Anglo-Saxon terms, is now a nation torn apart by a multiplicity of ethnic and plural tendencies. It has to come to terms with a new kind of diversity with which it did not cope in the past..1 Fuentes has stated the diverse cultural prospect which many people have become more acutely aware of since 1989. In that year and since, many will remember vivid television pictures of the end of the Soviet attempt to assimilate eastern Europe into a communist meltingpot. There were jubilant scenes from Berlin at the breaching of the Berlin Wall; defiant crowds in Romania, more peaceful ones in Czechoslovakia; and even the sight of the old Tsarist flag in Red Square. Both the Soviet example, and that of the United States which Fuentes mentioned, point to the end of assimilation as a late twentieth-century model of society and the revitalisation of ethnic and cultural pluralism. There is a new search for identity in the world of nations, one which stresses the distinctiveness of ethnicity and culture, in which diverse groups are actively claiming (or reclaiming) their own existence. This new search has overthrown the old model of assimilation in favour of social pluralism.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools Ltd
Copyright: © 1997 ANZATS
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