William Wallace (1863–1922) came to India as an Evangelical Anglican missionary, worked in the Calcutta region from 1889 to 1896, and quickly became disillusioned about the missionary approach and the fruits of missionary activity. After his initial stay of seven years in India, he returned to England, then moved back to Ireland where he had been born, and, after much discernment, converted to Roman Catholicism and became a Jesuit. He returned to India as a Jesuit missionary in 1901. In his remarkable though neglected autobiography, From Evangelical to Catholic by Way of the East (1923), he recounts his journey to Catholicism, showing how it was driven by an ever-deepening appreciation for Hinduism, which, by his teaching and his largely unpublished writings, shaped the history of Western Jesuits in India in the twentieth century. We see a complicated xenophilia at work in this man who loves the religion of the other (Hinduism) in proportion to his disillusionment with his own religion (Anglicanism), leading not to a (for him impossible) conversion to Hinduism, but rather to a different form of Christianity (Roman Catholicism).
Research Article| April 01 2018
Francis X. Clooney; Alienation, Xenophilia, and Coming Home: William Wallace, SJ’s From Evangelical to Catholic by Way of the East. Common Knowledge 1 April 2018; 24 (2): 280–290. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-4362469
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