by MGR JOHN COONAN
African Traditional Religion by E. G. Parrindcr (Sheldon Press £1.50) One of the most important changes of emphasis brought about by the Vatican Council in the missionary sphere was that concerning the value of nonChristian religions.
In the past it was agreed, rather grudgingly, that they had some value, but in practice, and especially where the traditional African religions were concerned, they tended to be rejected entirely rather than in any sense baptised.
Today they are regarded as God's way of leading the people to the Gospel, and the truths they enshrine are accepted and built upon by Christian Catechesis.
I he issuing of this revised edition of Mr Parrinder's book, first written 20 years ago, therefore comes at the right moment. In a brief space and with an admirable clarity of expression and economy of words, the author gives a panoramic view of African religions while still including a considerable amount of necessary ,detail..
He shows clearly the homogeneity of much of African religion and displays the deeply spiritual roots of African culture. The book gives the ordinary non-specialist reader an authentic glimpse of African life — a life in which spiritual and material values are so entwined as to be almost indistinguishable.
If, us has been said, no atheist can understand the history of Europe, then certainly, without some knowledge of and sympathy for African traditional religion. no one can understand Africa today. Mistakes, religious, social and political, have been made and can still be made through lack of such understanding.
While warning of the dangers to the spiritual values of Africa of much modern development, this excellent little book, ends with a saying of Fr Placide Tempels, an authority on Bantu philosophy: "African paganism, the ancient African wisdom, aspires from the root of its soul towards the very soul of Christian spirituality."