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Document Details :

Title: Religion of a Family God?
Author(s): EGGEN, Wiel
Journal: Studies in Interreligious Dialogue
Volume: 10    Issue: 2   Date: 2000   
Pages: 175-196
DOI: 10.2143/SID.10.2.519050

Abstract :
When the 1994 Synod of African Catholic Bishops in Rome chose to define the Church as 'Family of God', it flew in the face of Western sensitivity, reluctant to link religion to kin, blood and family ties. Despite a growing interest in traditions like the Chinese that centre around family rites, misgivings about the dangers of religious and ethnic fanaticism are still deepening. With recent horrors like the Balkans in mind, religion and blood ties are dubbed a poisonous mix. Terms like 'familiy' or 'kinship' call for caution, whenever 'religion at the limits of reason alone' is the goal. Yet the African innovation urges the student of religion to revisit this curious mire. In a rather summary way, I wish to ponder this challenge to the Western drive to abate, if not to erase, kinship's role from the social fabric. Given both the ongoing Western grip on Africa and, inversely, the increasing impact of African values on the West, the theme is far from merely academic. How can these two traditions meet, despite valuing the religious dimension of kin ties so differently? To answer this, we must first examine the West's hesitancy in the matter, and then see how the Synod's proposal present a viable alternative.

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