Thursday, 21 February 2008

after the firestorm

Mark Rice-Oxley of the Christian Science Monitor wrote Anglican Archbishop: too intellectual to lead?

When it comes to leadership in the Church of England, the former Bishop of Norwich once reportedly said: “If you want to lead someone in this part of the world, find out where they’re going. And walk in front of them.”

Rowan Williams, who celebrates five years as Archbishop of Canterbury next week, could never be accused of doing that…

Andrew Brown wrote at Comment is free that We need the Church of England:

There’s no point now in kicking the corpse of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s career as a public intellectual. After the debacle of Rowan Williams’ speech on sharia, no one who has to make decisions will ever take seriously anything he says again. Nor will they take seriously the church he is supposed to lead. If you want to know what he is good at, there is a rather fine funeral oration online that he gave at the funeral of a Cambridge don in the middle of all the outrage. But nothing he says now matters to anyone who isn’t mourning.

It is time to look at the damage he has done to others, and not just himself; one of the things that his flameout has illuminated is just how dangerous disestablishment might prove. The last thought-provoking thing that I heard him say was at a radio award ceremony where he had to present himself, or at least his producer, with a third place prize for religious radio. He said that it was not true that religion must always lead to conflict, but almost always true that in any sufficiently serious conflict you would find religion.

I wish he had developed and made more explicit that line of thought, because it provides the beginning of a justification for the existence of the Church of England. The defenders of a place for religion in public life do not have to suppose that religious belief is true, and many of them don’t - in fact all of them suppose that most religious dogma must be false. The question is not whether irrationality is irrational; it is how it can best be managed…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 9:31am GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Surely religion is true in the way that Peggotty is true and Barkis, and Aunt Trotwood and Mr Dick and the donkies ? .....

And 'a snake came to my water-trough on a hot hot day / and I in pyjamas for the heat / to drink there.'

And the Greek myths and the Mabinogion ....

And the worlds and works of Blake, Purcell and Byrd, Matisse and van Gogh, Wagner and R. Strauss; and Plath, Sexton and Mrs Gaskell ......

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 12:43pm GMT

I understand that it is the liberals in the Church of Norway who are fighting to retain establishment to prevent the fundamentalists from taking over, so there's that. Sadly, it seems to me that it is far too late for the C of E to "establish" any sort of credibility with the vast majority of the British, generally a fairly open-minded and tolerant people who have been increasingly alienated from the the "Church of England" as it has become more and more an Evangelical sect that says that they are not good enough to be members of the Church (IMHO).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 3:05pm GMT

L. Roberts:

Hmmm. Perhaps I am poetically impaired, but I find it difficult to fathom what you are trying to say here. About the best I can do is: Religion is true the way fictional characters, myths and works of art are true. If so, I would say that true religion is not less, but it is certainly much more. However, it may be that I have missed your point entirely.


Posted by: Steven on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 3:24pm GMT

"If, say, the Economist got its way and the Church of England were disestablished, and replaced by the American model of a confusion of sects all competing for votes, what could stop them responding to the popular demand for a condemnation of Islam?"

As I write from the land of "confusion of sects all competing for votes", I still disagree w/ Brown.

In a democratic society (See, NOT like Iraq!), the "sects" learn to take a certain minimal responsibility for keeping the peace, and those who forthrightly go about "demanding... a condemnation of Islam" are likely to be censured by their co-religionists.

Beyond that, as an American Anglican (i.e., TEC) to me it seems as if the established CofE meets the *very definition* of that type of church which the author of Revelation condemned at Laodicea: to be spit out, as "neither cold nor hot."

Yes, the CofE *COULD* turn into just another foaming-at-the-mouth sect: icy cold at heart towards just the sort of people that their (nominal) Lord embraced...

...but isn't it just as likely, in a *changed world* of disestablishment---where the nutter sects are no less "official" than the (former!) national church, and thereby become nutter-magnets---that the disestablished CofE could (pardon me, John Wesley!) experience a WARMING of its collective heart? Reflect the loving kindness of the Nazarean Carpenter---HOTLY passionate for justice? (i.e., become TEC w/ draftier naves? ;-p)

Come, Lord Christ!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 7:13pm GMT

People make a living writing stuff like this ......

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 10:28pm GMT

Steven I am in no positon to assess your degree of 'poetic impairment'-if any.

However, you seem to have got my drift !

You may want to read the DH Lawrence poem 'Snake' in its entirety, perhaps.I probably should have given it in full. A great challenge.

For myself, I can't see how religion could be 'truer' than a work of art (verbal, visual etc). But would this mean the doctrines of religion, the rites, the Scriptures, other writings , OR the rites when enacted and 'performed' in a living act of worship / theatre ?

I am very fond of Peggotty and find it hard to beleive that there was a time before she enctered our lives. Jesus too resonates for me through stories, hymns, choruses, and pictures. He may have been a historical figure, like Dr Johnson. However, for me Dr Johnson has taken on the quality of one reached through reading--though Ilove visitin his house, of course. I ahve visited Jesus' house in Walsingham too, and Mary too has felt and does feel very real at times. I particlarly like N. Slee's poems called Mary.

For me, and many truth is this subjective, varied, plural, inter-subjective, whimsical and likely to be contested within, as well as without.

Larence and Slee say it better.

UA Fanthorpe is wonderful on the relationship between history and subjectivity.

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 10:46pm GMT

Hi L Roberts & Steven-

What you say about 'religion' may or may not be true, but how is 'religion' (whatever 'religion ' is) directly relevant to being a believer in Christ? The earliest believers had no sacred buildings, no formal 'liturgy', no sacrifice, no priesthood. They were 'real-life' people, not religion people.

In schools today we learn about religion in a rather fundamentalist 'one-size-fits-all' contortion of the facts. It is so obviously more scholarly not to presuppose that any given raw data will conform to one's preconceived idea of 'religion'. Maybe it will; maybe it won't.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 1 March 2008 at 2:11pm GMT
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.