Thinking Anglicans

NT Wright and American Exceptionalism

The former Bishop of Durham, NT Wright, has written about the death of Osama Bin Laden. Versions of his writings have appeared in at least three places so far.

This article is in the Church Times The US plays with myths of heroism.

Another version is on Ruth Gledhill’s blog (scroll down for it).

And at Cif belief there is America’s exceptionalist justice.

Americans appear to be fairly united in their disagreement with his views: see comments at The Lead and also at TitusOneNine.

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Father Ron Smith
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The ex-Bishop of Durham does little to clear the fog in the air about the propriety of the demise of terrorist Osama bin Laden. The fact that it has been an American team that has had the guts to perform the deed should not blind us to the fact that it needed to be done – if only to save the lives of people – both the misguided suicide bombers themselves and the victims they have been taught to hate. Most civilised countries have longed for the capture of this particular terrorist and, let’s face it – without hypocrisy –… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

Wright is right!

Nice to see the C of E adding to the reflective voices of Europe.

EmilyH
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EmilyH

+Cantuar’s comments were carefully nuanced, and, I share his view. I wished that a proper trial had taken place. I wish that the international community had tried him and determined his fate. We in the USA are not his only victims. But, I believe this surgical attempt to capture/kill him was the right effort to bring him to justice. No drones, absolute minimum risk of “collateral damage”, the dehumanized term we use for real human loss, and acceptance of risk to our own human loss. No, we don’t have all the facts and I wish that they had not dribbled… Read more »

JPM
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JPM

Does Wright honestly believe that the SAS never took out terrorist assets overseas?

Michael Russell
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Michael Russell

While I am happy to hear Bishop Wright’s theological and biblical musings on this event, it is laughable that a Citizen of a realm whose claim was that the sun never set upon it to chide us in any way for our attitude in this manner.

He needs to be careful that the world doesn’t look to closely at how his realm suppressed freedom in Ireland for centuries and used opium in China to undergird it’s empire of Tea.

Only those free of an exceptionalist past should feel free to cast aspersions.

rjb
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rjb

Fr Ron, I’m no Biblical scholar, but I’m not sure the Gospels lead us towards a morality of political utilitarianism. Even assuming that assassinating Usama bin Laden did save lives (a highly doubtful claim), I don’t really see how any Christian could condone it. That said, I don’t see how any political leader could possibly follow the Gospel, either. The Sermon on the Mount is clearly insanity. No rational person could be expected to take it seriously. Only Christians have to do that.

Charlotte
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Charlotte

Yes, Bishop Wright’s anti-Americanism is showing through, and yes, it did spoil what might have been an important reflection. But he’s been anti-American for a long time. It was the foundation of his drive and desire to have the American church “disciplined.” He was furious because the Americans refused to do what he told them to do: see his screed “The Americans Must Know This Will End in Schism.” Now that it hasn’t, quite, and he’s gone (thankfully) from Durham, I question what mattered most in all this to Bishop Wright: Was it his belief that men and women are… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

“But now imagine that the British government …sends an aircraft carrier …two helicopters fly in under the radar to the Boston suburb where…They carry out a daring raid, killing the (unarmed) leaders…’ Are we supposed to take this kind of simplistic and contrived analogy seriously? What was The Obama administration to do? Perhaps send a couple of marshals to Pakistan, kick down the door, and read OBL his rights and then handcuff him and fly him to D.C. on the next commercial flight? My God man! This is a combat mission. It is more like finding Hitler and “en circle”… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
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Well, however high feelings run outside Europe, I think that not only are the ABC and +Wright’s comments right, they reflect very fairly opinion in Europe. We understand this action, but that does not make it acceptable by Christian standards.

William R. Coats
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William R. Coats

Tom Wright’s naivete and rabid anti-Americanism is too obvious to take seriously. (international courts and justice! I mean let’s get real here.) Williams comments on the other hand deserve rebuttal. No one can be happy about the death of anyone, but that is not the issue. To argue there should have been an arrest and some trial is again ludicrous. Why? Because decisions here are being made in a political context, while the Archbishop is up to the old moralists game – lift the event out of its context and measure it against some abstract moral value. Voila! The Commandment… Read more »

Susan
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Susan

One American’s view. I do not cheer the death of Osama bin Laden, nor did most people I know in this small southern city with a large military base. On 9/11 when my sister-in-law survived the attack at the Pentagon, my college English class had 5 Pakistani Muslim students. As I witnessed my Muslim students’ grief and attempts to explain “This is not Islam,” one of my American students dropped out to go to NYC to search for her father and brother. As Christians, my partner and I wrote to the President and Congress opposing the invasion of Afghanistan. Then… Read more »

Tobias Haller
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My experience is that the English are still informed about America via Fanny Trollope. On my visits to the UK I find myself the object of the strangest projections and assumptions.

Fr Levi
Guest

Hmm … well, perhaps as someone who has served in the US armed forces I won’t be accused of being anti-American for saying, despite by abundant lack of fondness for OBL, my deep lack of sympathy for his demise, and my large sigh of relief that the world is rid of a dangerous individual, that I still, like Rowan Cantuar, find the manner of his going somewhat troubling? What’s even more troubling is that so many seem to think you have to like someone in order to think they deserve a fair trial before you take them out and hang… Read more »

MarkBrunson
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The issue is not what happened to bin Laden, but the ugly, bigoted and, frankly, hypocritical pure hatred being exposed for anyone who happens to be a citizen of the U. S. It’s the same mindless us/them as it ever was, to make Wright, and Williams and their hangers-on feeling morally superior. They are not. They are a part of the same world that made all this possible, just as I am, just as you are. That, however, is not terribly pleasant – to realize that we are all humans and equally culpable for the allegedly-human condition. Far nicer to… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest

I am astonished at some of the replies here. I am not in the least anti-American. It is possible to think friends have faults and have made mistakes and still to love them and to appreciate their good qualities. I do it all the time.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Rosemary, If that were what was being expressed by Wright, that would be fine. It’s not. It’s simply self-serving, self-righteous partisanship. It’s not about those like you. To find fault with a friend, you have to know them as a friend – to broad-brush an entire nation is hardly “knowing” them in any sense. Wright treats “Americans” like he does “liberals” or “gays” – they are simply a sinning Other which he and his groupies transcend. Using an action by an administration or the reaction of the mass herd of unthinking “public response” as a gauge for an entire nation… Read more »

John
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John

One good thing that might come of this is that conservative American Anglicans might now begin to realise how their liberal fellow-Anglicans feel about Wright. it’s not that he’s necessarily wrong: it’s the intemperance, the flatulent rhetoric, the general tone. Compare Rowan Williams’ public reaction: the difference in quality speaks volumes about the whole difference in quality between the two.

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

Yes, I think its a personality thing. Wright has to tell us his opinions. He expresses them in a forth right way….and he expects you to accept them. The wagging finger whilst preaching says it all. Not a man who expects critical questioning ..just agreement.