Implicated

There is no escaping our implicatedness in the events of our time, the history of the communities in which we belong, the formation and sustenance of the institutions that make possible the lives we lead - for good and for ill. Becoming an Anglican is an acknowledgment of such implicatedness on my part.  

 

Retired regimental colours, Christ Church, Montreal  

Retired regimental colours, Christ Church, Montreal  

In addition to the steadying rhythms of Anglican liturgy and the sacramental welcome of Anglican worship to people in their genderedness, the third of my three primary reasons for becoming an Anglican has to do with the flawed character of this Christian tradition. Few Christian faith communities are quite as implicated in the politics of their contexts as the Anglican communion. The very emergence of the Anglican communion from Roman Catholicism is in part the result of the dynastic politics of England's then monarch, Henry VIII. The presence of Anglicanism around the globe today is thoroughly interwoven with the history of English imperialism. I wager that there is not a single aspect of Anglicanism that is not, in a thorough-going manner, the result of the historical politicization of ecclesiastical life and theological conflict.

By becoming Anglican I am setting myself up to be reminded, time and again, that no faith community, no religious tradition, can exist without being and becoming implicated in political history. The primitivist fantasy of a pre-Constantinian Christian church free of any political entanglements is not true to how we humans are, always, in the world. As someone who has lived the entirety of my life at the intersection of religion and politics, becoming Anglican is a way of keeping myself intentionally alert to the ever-fraught character of that intersection. And as a Christian who is persuaded that just war teachings offer the most accurate available understanding of the relationships among church, state, war, and peace, participating in Remembrance Sunday choral eucharists at Christ Church, Montreal, in 2015 and 2016 provided an annual opportunity to consider these relationships in the context of this world of sorrow and suffering.

My great-grandfather, Johannes Mattheus Strauss, circa 1900.  

My great-grandfather, Johannes Mattheus Strauss, circa 1900.  

The political implicatedness of Anglicanism is not merely of intellectual interest to me. The very first Sunday I worshiped at Christ Church cathedral in Montreal, while drinking coffee in the baptistry after the service, I looked up and noticed the retired regimental colours of the Canadian Grenadier Guards, for whom the cathedral is their regimental church. Embroidered onto these colours are the battle honours of the Guards, and these include "South Africa, 1899-1900," commemorating what I, as an Afrikaner, grew up to know as the Boer War or Second War of Liberation. My great-grandfather, Johannes Mattheus Strauss, fought in that war (digital copies of his diary and war letters are among my more treasured possessions) on the side of the two Boer republics, against the aggression of the British Empire, and as such also against the Canadian Grenadier Guards. Worshiping alongside the Canadian Grenadier Guards is, in a way, loving my enemies.