Comments: The Guardian interview

There is much interesting, but also much troubling, about this interview. The key exchange, IMO, comes here---

"[Interviewer Alan Rusbridger, "AR"]: at what point do you eventually stub against your irreducible, small "l" liberal principles and say actually "well there is an irreducible bit I can't negotiate over"?

AC: Yes, I haven't got there yet, and if I could speculate about where those were, then it would be rather simpler now. It's - it's a dangerous comparison, because it sort of ups the stakes a bit, but I'm very struck by what Bonhoeffer writes in the middle-30s about the division of the church over the Aryan laws in Nazi Germany, where he says both that it's extremely important not to try and work out in advance every circumstance in which it would be necessary for the church to break. Equally, it's important to have the freedom and the clarity to know when the moment comes, and there just isn't a formula for that, I think he's saying. He felt in 1935 the moment had come, that he was faced with a context in which he just couldn't see a common Christianity between himself and the German Christians who accepted the racial laws, he just couldn't see what it meant for them to think they were a church at all. And that's, you know, that's pretty drastic, but he says you've got to have the ability to say that at some point. But once you start saying in advance - well, I think it will be this that will be the moment where it would all crack... That, he says, is trying to - trying to find large-scale reinforcements for your present positions before you're actually entering into the moment of crisis. I - I wrestle with that text constantly, I must say...

AR: And this would be a personal dilemma for you?

AC: Of course. And for lots of other people.

AR: So there might come a moment at which you thought -

AC: There might come a moment where you say we can't continue, we can't continue with this. I - I don't know when or if."


The comparison to Bonhoeffer, and the German Church situation (under the Nazis) is very revealing, by way of comparison.

While Bonhoeffer may have written to "not to try and work out in advance every circumstance in which it would be necessary for the church to break", at the same time, there wasn't any doubt as to *which way* Bonhoeffer would break, when and if that day came (as it did). There was a German Church *practicing hatred*, and a German Church *resisting hatred*, and Bonhoeffer's choice was CLEAR.

In 2006, we have a segment of the AC *practicing hatred* (for "racial laws", substitute "homosexual laws") and a segment *resisting hatred*, and for those of us in the latter, we're left wondering: just *how hateful* does the hating side have to get, before the ABC makes his choice about whom he's to going to *stand with*, and whom he's going to *witness to* (a witness to those who hate, by standing with those resisting hate).

Bonhoeffer's prophetic witness was transparent and obvious to all (even *before* his actions, leading to his martyrdom)---why isn't Rowan Cantuar's? :-/

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Tuesday, 21 March 2006 at 11:58pm GMT

I agree. Just what would be the tipping point for the Archbishop? What is his acceptable level of exclusion?

I once overheard an academic colleague, a member of the English department at my university, tell a friend and colleague, a Jew, that, after all, Ezra Pound was "only a literary anti-Semite."

My friend and colleague said, "Oh. I suppose a literary anti-Semite doesn't actually beat up a rabbi, but writes a nice poem about someone who does."

What is the tipping point?

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Wednesday, 22 March 2006 at 4:29am GMT

As the grandchild of people who took great professional and economic risks in rowing and sailing refugees from Nazism to freedom in the 30ies and 40ies, I very much object to these not unusual attempts, from bullies and collaborators who would have been the first to deride Dietrich Bonhöffer and others, to adorn themselves with a moral rectitude and a civil courage they do not possess.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 22 March 2006 at 7:01am GMT

I had a brief conversation with the rector last night. I wondered who would be the first to stick the knife into +Rowan. He suggested Reform. I demurred, and suggested it might be the other side. As far as Thinking Anglicans are concerned, it looks as if I'm leading three-nil at this stage.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Wednesday, 22 March 2006 at 9:16am GMT

Amen, Göran! Seeing the most radical extremists of the "conservative" sort attempt to drape themselves with Bonhöffer's mantle has made me quite sick to my stomach for a long while... Well said!

Posted by David Huff at Wednesday, 22 March 2006 at 2:36pm GMT

I am not quite sure how wondering at what point the Archbishop would break with those who support homophobic laws constitutes being a bully or a collaborator, if that is the drift of that comment. Nor do I desire to stick a knife into the Archbishop. I simply wonder just how punitive antigay laws have to become before he will distance himself from those members of the Communion who support such laws.

I quite understand that the antigay laws under strict sharia law [and I hope I spelled that correctly]are even worse than the ones proposed in Nigeria. But that does not make the laws under discussion less bad.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 22 March 2006 at 3:11pm GMT

Quite right too. The man is a spineless coward - in my opinion. Not up to the job.

And well, I can't really have any respect for someone who puts his job and a quiet life before his friends and what he supposedly believes.

Thats one of the many reasons why I no longer attend an Anglican church and will not do so again until there is a split.

Posted by Merseymike at Wednesday, 22 March 2006 at 5:30pm GMT

"stick the knife"???

[Tell that to the Nigerians machete'd by the "restive youth" +Akinola couldn't (wouldn't) "restrain"!]

That kind of *hyperbole* helps NO ONE, Alan. >:-(

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Wednesday, 22 March 2006 at 6:52pm GMT

Gosh - everytime I think that the nastiness of some of the "conservative" brigade makes it even harder to see their views as Christian, up pops someone like Meseymike to show that "liberals" can be just as nasty.
I think the archbishop may believe something like "that they may be one, that the world might believe" not agree, not get it all right, but put God's gift of baptism ahead of human propensity to sin, and work out how to be not only a church for sinners, but a church of sinners too -- all on their way to a barely glimpsed transformation.

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Thursday, 23 March 2006 at 10:26pm GMT

Speaking for the "conservative" side I don't hate anyone. I simply accept what Scripture and Tradition have always and clearly taught on the issue of human sexuality. That all sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a women is a sin. I have read a large number of books, including Boswell's, in favour of accpeting homosexual sex. I have cearfully listened to the arguments in its favour, and I have carefully and over time compared those to the arguments against, and I have simply and honestly concluded, without any "hate" or "phobia", that the traditionalist teaching is right and true.

"Hating" has nothing to do with it.

I have had "homosexual" friends for most of my life, a couple have been and are very close and dear friends, and I take extreme exception to the claim that my stand on Sripture and Tradition has anything to do with "hating". For goodness sakes grow up.

To put it bluntly, this is a lie and a pretty brainless and childish one at that.

The irony is that many of the statements above are themselves bigoted statements of hate against conservatives and traditionalists.

And puhleeease. Comparing yoursevles to those German Lutherans and Christians who resisted Nazism with regards to this issue says a great deal about the size of your egos.

Posted by Shawn at Wednesday, 29 March 2006 at 4:50pm BST

Well said Shawn, I get very hurt by constant labelling as a "-hater", or "anti-" because I don't approve...

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 1 April 2006 at 6:07pm BST
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