Monday, 22 December 2008

ABC writes in the Telegraph

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written a comment article in today’s Daily Telegraph. The article is then the subject of the front-page lead story, which puts a rather different slant on it. Read the Archbishop’s article first. Here’s a taster:

Christmas is supremely the story of a God who is not interested in telling us about principles. First comes the action — God beginning to live a human life. Then comes the appeal: do you love and trust what you see in this human life, the life of Jesus? Then the implication: everyone is capable of saying yes to this appeal, so no one is dispensable. You don’t and can’t know where the boundary will lie between people who belong and people who don’t belong.

The front page lead, on the other hand, is headlined ‘Archbishop of Canterbury warns recession Britain must learn lessons from Nazi Germany’:

Dr Rowan Williams risks causing a new controversy by inviting a comparison between Gordon Brown’s response to the economic downturn and the Third Reich.

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, he claims Germany in the 1930s pursued a “principle” that worked consistently but only on the basis that “quite a lot of people that you might have thought mattered as human beings actually didn’t”.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Monday, 22 December 2008 at 10:44am GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

I have had direct experience of the way the "news" media operates. It is amazing their capacity to create "scandal" out of nothing, since it is scandal, not news, that sells papers and gets ratings. But the Telegraph appears more skilled than any others I have come across. They're even better at it than GAFCON is.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 22 December 2008 at 11:12am GMT

So much for intelligent journalism from the broadsheets. Pathetic.

It makes it very hard for Rowan Williams to know what to do: if he gets the chance to write for the press, does he take it in order to get his message across, or say 'no thanks' because he knows some pillock of an editor will use it to have a go at him?

Posted by: David Keen on Monday, 22 December 2008 at 12:36pm GMT

It strikes me that the papers are taking the Archbishop's utterances seriously and giving him massive coverage, and that he in turn is mostly speaking out where he needs to.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 22 December 2008 at 12:56pm GMT

I don't know. I come along to the computer with an idea for a blog entry and then I read this. My head is filling up with writable half-nonsense at the speed of light.

Why doesn't he just start his own blog, write something every so often (and edit it first), and then let us read it. Tell the newspapers to go and get stuffed. I have not bought a newspaper in years, and at least over a year since I bought any magazine.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 22 December 2008 at 4:10pm GMT

As I noted elsewhere, has it not been precisely principle upon which this Communion has behaved toward lgbt persons? And at this last Lambeth Conference? And by this archbishop?

Posted by: Christopher on Monday, 22 December 2008 at 5:24pm GMT

I know we're all supposed to hail RW's intellect, but this is the sort of vapid, a priori stuff which (I think) gives Christianity a bad name. How, from any sort of orthodox Christian viewpoint, can he talk of a 'God who is not interested in telling us about principles'? The ten commandments, the Beatitudes, go and sin no more, etc. etc. etc. would seem to enjoin 'principles'. He could have said: 'Christmas shows that God is prepared to go round the houses to show love to humans and doesn't in the first instance and automatically shout about principles'. He doesn't: and the result is slop. He then confuses what are presumably good principles with bad principles and infers that all principles are wrong. It's absolutely terrible.

Posted by: john on Monday, 22 December 2008 at 8:02pm GMT

I agree with John. The actual article itself is very weak, because it is so easily countered - by the principles in Christianity, and by its record of evil actions in history following some of its principles in competition with others.

I suspect that what he wants to write about is the economy, but he has little background in economics that he can tie to theology, and the result is a mess. In such circumstances it is better to write in the form of questions rather than in the form of sweeping statements.

However, even his sweeping statements and muddle get changed by the journalist with a different agenda. He'd do well to know when to keep silent. He does it in some Church affairs when he might say something, so why not in public affairs too?

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 3:05am GMT

One of the sacred mysteries is why Rowan falls for this every time. The Telegraph has form in this sort of thing: remember after the tsunami when he wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph saying that such cataclysmic events were bound to make people question the existence of God and then going on to explain why he was still a believer? The Telegraph presented the accompanying news story - again a front page lead like yesterday's - saying the archbishop of Canterbury didn't believe in God. It subsequently had to apologise, though it somehow never got round to doing this publicly.

There are desperate newspapers that play this sort of game and others - like the Guardian - that don't. Yet when we approach the archbishop's office we are generally turned down. I wonder why?

Posted by: stephen bates on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 11:23am GMT

sympathetic though I am to Stephen Bates' comment about access to Lambeth, when (as a fully paid up Guardian reader) I encounter the sort of third-rate codswallop served up by Polly Toynbee this morning, I incline to the view that the Guardian doesn't need Torygraph front page screamers in order to extract the urine.....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 4:28pm GMT

"he has little background in economics that he can tie to theology"

But his premise, as I read it, is that however much we think it is right or good to "live by principles" anyone can do that, and "principles" that don't take into account the human element are not good principles. So, one can be as principled as one pleases, but if that just adds to human suffering, then those principles must be jettisoned. Governments might apply "principles" to solving the economic crisis, but if that means increasing human suffering, and if it deprives people of their life savings, it surely does increase human suffering, then those principles don't mean much. I don't think you need a degree in economics to say that. We can apply this to the Church. Conservatives, or liberals, for that matter, can convince themselves they are living by "good Christian principles" but if that means ignoring or adding to human suffering, then we need to jettison those "principles". In that instance, such "principles" aren't all that Christian.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 11:01pm GMT

"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory - the glory as of the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth" - Deo gratias!

Happy Christ-mass from the South Pacific, Everyone!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 12:16am GMT

And Happy Christmas from the North Atlantic. I was going to say "the frozen north", but global warming has made that just a memory.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 1:26pm GMT

Must be balmy on the Rock, Ford. We could use a little global warming here on the Prairies.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 5:16pm GMT

Well, we barely have a white Christmas this year. Overall, storms are shorter and rarer than "when I were a lad", winter comes a lot later, we have summer type temperatures up into November, two Saturdays ago it was 15 degrees! In December! The ice comes later, or, since so much is breaking up in the Arctic, there is a lot more of it. Icebergs, the perennial plague of fishermen, are becoming a rarity, no big deal at all to have none in recent years, when they were constant companions up till mid July or later not so long ago. Overall, things ain't what they used to be, and that's not just me being one of the Four Yorkshiremen.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 8:40pm GMT
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