Saturday, 6 December 2008

opinions this weekend

Comment is free Belief has a weekly question. This week it is Can religion help us through the slump?

There are five responses from Julia Neuberger, Francis Davis, Ishtiaq Hussain, Graham Kings, and Nick Spencer.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about the Enigmatic life of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Michael Wright argues in the Guardian that Now is a good time for Quakers to reassess their priorities and find their tongues.

Catherine Pepinster writes in The Times The beauty of our creations is also part of our faith.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Borrowing is no way out of the credit crisis.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 6 December 2008 at 9:32am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

That's a mixed bunch.

The Quakers, in the end, can't do much if they don't put bums on seats, and they are facing the same decline as their belief cousins the Unitarians, if from a higher number.

As for Rowan Williams, the point has been made before just how sympathetic he is to Roman and other forms of Catholicism. It is this that has shaped his view regarding the Covenant. However, as I've just put on my blog, you make a system more chaotic by integrating it more and running it ever faster, whereas Anglicanism ought to be looser.

It's not the borrowing, as such, but what you do with it. The State will have to institute projects that produce 'demand' in the economy now. The monetary side is flattened out: that side of borrowing needs flushing out.

In the end, religions provide forms of fellowship and human contact, and pastorally focused they can be very useful: you shape yourself in the company of others. There might be physical provisions, too, but the sympathetic ear is a sense of care. Such takes away none of the problems which need political and economic solutions: some might be local, but not the big issues.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 6 December 2008 at 12:06pm GMT

It must be the season of goodwill, I find myself agreeing completely with Giles Fraser.

Posted by: David Keen on Saturday, 6 December 2008 at 3:59pm GMT

I did not know before reading Christopher Howse's column that Rowan Williams was not a cradle Anglican. Howse says that Williams's parents were Welsh Non-conformists, but doesn't say what sort. The Wikipedia entry for him says nothing about his early years. It appears then, that he was born into a Welsh Non-Conformist sect - Presbyterian or Baptist, presumably. He later became a visitor to the Benedictine Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight and considered becoming a Roman Catholic. He then chose to become an Anglican. Next he becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. Amazing. Howse describes him as enigmatic and a man of 'careful obscurity'.

Posted by: Paul R on Saturday, 6 December 2008 at 9:03pm GMT

"And what IS normally meant by the word "sex", Christopher? And why the obsession with anal sex?"

Ford, Christopher almost seems to be saying what a great number of young people and even President Clinton have said about any sexual expression that does not involve putting a penis into a vagina - it doesn't count!

The obsession with anal sex isn't new, of course. Straight men have thought that anal sex is the end-all and be-all of gay sex for ages. Literally. Even the Talmud equates Leviticus' "mishkevei isha" specifically with anal sex.

Posted by: BillyD on Sunday, 7 December 2008 at 12:03am GMT

BillyD, I appreciate the comment, but wrong thread!:-)

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 8 December 2008 at 1:25pm GMT

The passing quote about Rowan W from an alleged former academic mentor - letting reverie do where hard analysis might do better - is one of the best clues to the man's thinking that I have seen published. Thanks lots for that one.

It still remains to be seen if/where RW will be deluded and swamped by the right, just at the time when its witness most seeks to have more and more small Anglican tents planted with believers worshipping very small Anglican gods.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 8 December 2008 at 6:42pm GMT

"Rowan Williams took his own interest in prayer practically, getting up at 5am. Later he was to write a book on St Teresa of Avila, the 16th-century Spanish mystic. He realised that God's nature is unknowable, but God's self-revelation came principally through his Son, Jesus Christ."
- Christopher Howse, article in 'The Telegraph' -

I should think that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, would be flattered to be called a man of prayer. After all, is that not what we would hope all our clergy to be - men and women of prayer? Too many of our clerics seem to be overly concerned with administration, and at this particlar time in the Church, the ABC could well be consumed with Church Affairs, rather than with the Affair of the Church - which, principally, ought to be all about prayer and seeking the mind of Christ for both Church and World.

Like Desmond Tutu, Rowan Williams is a person of deep prayer and spirituality. Both are Eucharistic in their devotion to Christ, and both are keen to draw our attention, and the attention of the world, to the Person of Christ as found in the Scriptures and the Breaking of the Bread. Rowan is not an obvious political leader, not, in his particular calling should be be expected to court popular acclaim. Hence his sometimes seeming reluctance to adjudicate on matters of party political divisions.

Were he to publicly pronounce on matters of a divisive nature, that he might privately consider to have a preferred solution to, he would undoubtedly be pilloried by one side of the argument or the other. Unlike Archbishops Akinola or Jensen, the Archbishop of Canterbury has an eirenic role within our Communion, and as 'Primus inter pares' he has a responsibility for all. It must be one of the most frustrating tasks within the Church - especially in this time of trial - something that other, more activist prelates may not be called upon to experience.

The ABC needs our prayers more than ever. Let us not expect too many fireworks - perhaps his holy patience will pay off in the long run. Meanwhile we who are impatient need to thank God for his gift of Rowan Williams to the Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 at 9:01am GMT
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