Comments: Rowan Williams interview

I was confused by Rowan's comment of not wanting to discuss the divinity of Christ. I don't know what that comment meant?

At one level, I would have thought that the divinity of Christ was at the core of what it was to be a Christian. To accept that God poured part of His conciousness into a human vessel as part of God's grand reconciliation plan to aid humanity to come back into a proper relationship with God. A unilateral intervention on God's behalf, with no requirement or obligation from humanity, and simply sweeter fruits for those who believe and act on that grace with humility and reverence.

If that is not up for discussion, then how do Christians explain their faith to their children or "the other"?

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 5:09pm BST

I'm not sure how well translated the piece is, but Williams doesn't appear to have understood that unity and integrity are two entirely different things, You cannot have both because there IS no unity, and to enforce it would mean compromising people's integrity.

His real agenda is saving his face, he doesn't want to go down in history as the AofC under who the Anglican Communion split.

I just wish people were less naive and could see through this essentially incompetent, vascillating, spineless, weak and indecisive man.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 5:31pm BST

I am both perplexed and disturbed by +Rowan's apparent view that ECUSA and others are "rushing". It was over 30 years ago that promises were made to enter into the discussion on issues of sexuality. Ten years ago promises were made to listen and study at Lambeth. Nothing happened. The issue never came to the table.
Now ECUSA and the ACC (Canada) have placed the issues on the table (yes in a very dramatic way). The discussion should take place at Lambeth 2008. It was only a couple of years to wait for that discussion, but waiting has not been what people are doing, nor are they abiding by the recommendations of Windsor.
Why does the ABC cast blame in only one direction? Is this good leadership?

Posted by Rae Fletcher at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 6:10pm BST

There was a (repeat of a) good interview last night, with Melvyn Bragg. I only saw ~3 mins of it, but enough to catch Rowan Williams explaining his role in leading the church, trying to hold things together, trying to hold things together, and *maybe* some folks decide they can't stick together, but until then, trying to hold things together. Exactly what I hoped he'd say.

It's therefore unsurprising that I don't entirely approve of this Dutch paper's phrase "He is unlikely to have expected to preside over a split in the Church". It's not that he's presiding over a split, it's that he's trying to hold things together, as best someone whose role carries authority but not (much) power (thank heavens) can do!

Posted by Tim at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 6:17pm BST

"Why does the ABC cast blame in only one direction? Is this good leadership?"

I see heaps and heaps of blame being put on TEC and Canada and damn few mentions of border-jumping bishops, consecrations of missionary bishops, etc. I see all of the divisivness blamed on TEC and Canada, and none being blamed on the AAC, the Network, AMiA, IRD et alia, whose plans and machinations have been well known for several years via the famous strategy memo.

Now the ABC is calling for a meeting of a few bishops only to discuss matters - with a very unrepresentative bunch of bishops invited and bringing pals. Where are bishops like Chane, Bruno ... dare I say Robinson? The ministers of the church, according to the BCP 1979 are laity, deacons, priests and bishops.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 6:43pm BST

++Rowan Cantuar is reported to have said during the interview: "Their ideal is the inclusive church. ,,I don't believe inclusion is a value in itself'', says the Archbishop. ,,Welcome is. We welcome people into the Church, we say: 'You can come in, and that decision will change you.' We don't say: 'Come in and we ask no questions.' I do believe conversion means conversion of habits, behaviours, ideas, emotions. The boundaries are determined by what it means to be loyal to Jesus Christ."

Is he saying that gays/lesbians are to be converted to the heterosexual lifestyle?

Definitely, he distances himself from what he said and wrote, as a scholar, twenty years ago, when he was fully inclusive of gays/lesbians.

Posted by John Henry at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 7:18pm BST

One remembers John 18:14: "Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people." Better to have the gays and lesbians suffer than for the Anglican Communion to come apart. Better to hurt the individual than to threaten the institution.

And I am reminded again that even the Archbishop of Canterbury simply does not comprehend the polity of the Episcopal Church.

Who made the decision to consecrate Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire?
(1) All the Episcopalians in New Hampshire whose elected representatives in Convention named a committee to nominate candidates for election as bishop.
(2) All the Episcopalians in New Hampshire who in Convention selected Gene Robinson from among the other nominees.
(3) A majority of the House of Deputies at the Episcopal General Convention, representing all the laity and clergy in the Episcopal Church confirmed the election.
(4) A majority of the House of Bishops (with jurisdiction) at the same Convention confirmed the election.

How could ANYONE have "stopped" that proper, canonical, and entirely legal election?

No person or persons can be held "responsible" for this decision. It was as close as legally possible a decision of "the entire Episcopal Church" in the only way that Church has to express itself

And what could be done about a validly, legally, canonically ordained bishop like Gene Robinson? He has already declared (thank God) that he will not voluntarily resign. The only possible action would be formally to charge Bishop Robinson with "behavior unbecoming…" and bring a presentment against him personally - a case which no ecclesiastical court or authority in this Church would ever even allow to come to trial.

So, there is nothing anyone can do to change that situation. The issue is, how do OTHERS react in the face of it? If disunity is to be the result, it will be brought about by others, and the Episcopal Church holds no responsibility for what those others do - except to try to dissuade them from initiating schism.

This leaves the Archbishop with only one just and ecclesiastically proper option: simply to invite all properly and canonically ordained Anglican bishops to Lambeth and let the chips fall where they may. That will make clear just who it is who chooses schism and who doesn't.

Posted by John-Julian, OJN at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 7:23pm BST

“I just wish people were less naive and could see through this essentially incompetent, vascillating, spineless, weak and indecisive man.”— Merseymike


Posted by Kurt at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 7:38pm BST

Has anyone noticed the headline under the "Telegraph" article, that says something like "Gay Cleric Secretly Marries Partner"? Dean Jeffrey John and his life partner have registered their partnership in a registry office. So I person I have so admired, Rowan Williams, is willing to throw my oldest brother under the bus, in the name of unity, because my brother is neither called to be affectioned to women, nor is he called to celibacy, and by a stroke of cosmic irony and humor, on the same day Dean John and his partner have "regularized" their long term relationship. Ya gotta love God for this timing.

For the record, Rowan, the people of New Hampshire did not wake up one day and say, "Let's force the Anglican Communion to accept LGBT persons by electing Gene Robinson." And the deputies at GenCon2003 didn't vote to affirm solely in order to stick it to the rest of the communion, or to the opposition within their own numbers. We did not take this stand willfully, although in his interview Rowan makes it seem as though we did. Whether anyone wants to believe it or not, including Rowan Williams, New Hampshire and TEC made these decisions prayerfully.

I'm angry. I'm sick and tired of it all. I have to ask myself why I want so much not to be cast out of the Anglican Communion. In seminary, a list circulated, from the wife of a retired bishop, of about 25 things a priest needs. The list included: a piece of grass to lie on, a tree that knows your name, a box of crayons, a box of tissues ( ! ), and a Jewish friend to talk scripture with, and, at the end of the list, a broken heart.

My heart is broken.

(The Rev'd)Lois Keen
Priest, Diocese of Connecticut

Posted by Lois Keen at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 7:52pm BST

As Jonathan Petre pointed out in his Telegraph article, the Nederlands Dagblad is an *evangelical* Dutch newspaper. Why are they posting their articles in English on their website - and how does their evangelical bias affect what they are reporting?

David Bewley

Posted by David Bewley at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 10:09pm BST

These latest reactionary comments from ++Rowan should be the last straw for any Episcopalian fool enough to think the man really gives a damn about our church. He's listened to that notable sycophant +Wimberly and notorious schismatic +Duncan long enough that he, apparently, believes the big lie that the Network(or whatever else they are calling themselves this week) is
"a rather larger group than some have presented." Since the puerile archbisop only communicates directly with others in purple, I'd love for ++Griswold to send a clear message: integrity trumps unity, and, if necessary, TEC will provide "clarity". We won't just "walk apart". We'll run.

This whole situation is beneath contempt and has further served to destroy ++Rowan's remaining reputation as a prophetic theologan. I hope he lives to enjoy the bedfellows he's made.

Posted by John D at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 10:15pm BST

Merseymike, I'm not sure I agree with you on this. You seem to seek to see ++Williams as an "enforcer" which certainly would have its problems: so-called "unity"-by-imposition would indeed be intolerable. But I think this is *WHY* he's not done so, but is rather hoping for some means either to let people sort it out themselves (fat chance!), or to persuade people, or even to suggest a possible course of action ("two-tier" covenant thing which also has a mixed reception) and hope to draw (not drag) folks into it.

It's a shame that this is seen as vacillating, etc, because actually I don't think there's much he *can* do, and what he does, he does reasonably well.

Not that I think he's infallible either, of course...

Posted by Tim at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 10:25pm BST


Thank you about raising the concerns of "for the sake of the family". Having been raised in an abusive house, where one literally had to tolerate being violated so that one's mother and/or sister were not murdered (a threat often used); I simply have no tolerance that being part of a family means surrendering your rights to decent treatment. The only people who use such tactics are either stupid, ignorant and blind (forgive them Lord, they know not what they do), or machevellian sociopaths.

Further, the issue is about defining what God would consider to be suitable treatment for His children. We are not talking about turning people into divinity, we are talking about treating people with the minimum amount of respect, and breaking down the walls of slavery or caste systems which say that one soul is more worthy than another. If the priests have an issue with this, then probably at the core of their paradigms is that they have taken on a belief in their own divinity and the need to preserve their sancrosanct selves. In which case they are guilty of idolatry - of themselves and their old boys networks.

Maybe this is why Rowan is too scared to talk about Christ's divinity - it opens up the can of worms on whether they have tried to elevate themselves to being gods...

They might also want to go and read the book of Jeremiah as this is the book that foreshadowed the Jews being sent back into captivity and exile by God Himself. One of the things that pissed God off? Read 34:9-11
"Everyone was to free his Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Jew in bondage. So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free. But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again."

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 10:38pm BST


I loved your posting (snuck up on me I'm afraid). I found myself contemplating the idea of having a Jewish friend to talk scripture with. That led me to contemplating how in recent times, certain subjects have become indefinable or not up for discussion.

Rowan in this interview is saying that the divinity of Christ is not up for discussion. A few weeks ago we watched in this forum that the liberals presuppositions about God were up for discussion (which I gave four of my own), but then the other side's God was beyond knowing.

In change/psychology circles this would be seen as people not wanting to open the box at the core of their identities lest they have to redefine their paradigms (and possibly have to apologise and make restitution). In legalistic terms, it could be seen as defense lawyers trying to shore up their legal case by trying to make certain evidence inadmissable in court. (Which lawyers do when they know the evidence would damage their case).

Either way, the fact that they are running scared on open and frank discussion on core elements of their theology tells me that there solo scriptural authority is not as robust as their bravodo would make out.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 10:56pm BST

I was bemused and saddened to read this interview, from a Dutch journal, as it finally tells me what Rowan preached about on his Sunday morning visit to a chapel in Central Cardiff 200 yards around the block from St Teilo's Parish Church where I was at worship. We learned of his neighbourly visit only a day before from a thumbnail paragraph in the local paper.
Neither the Church in Wales nor Rowan's PR team had sufficient interest to let Anglican locals know of this visit, so we couldn't even attempt to wave a flag on the street, let alone attend and hear his sermon. No information nor invitation was received by the Parish he came to.
Local ecumenism, and the bi-lingual cause in Wales' capital city didn't seem to figure on this agenda.
I don't reproach the man himself, simply ask what sort of organisation is working for him? Do they whoever they are, know it's important to keep all your supporters on-side, or risk losing them?
Instead of fussing over the theological rhetoric, why not look more carefully at what the machinery of episcopal organisations are actually doing to real people in the real world. Then we might understand how so many have deserted and care so little for the outcome of current debates.

Posted by Keith Kimber at Monday, 21 August 2006 at 11:21pm BST

Did anyone ever see the film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

Somewhere, probably in Bob Duncan's barn, there is a pod that looks just like Rowan Williams.

Posted by New Here at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 1:10am BST

I am afraid these comments make it quite clear the ABC is far more clueless than maybe some of us had hoped. That still doesn't mean God can't do miracles with him, it just means what it means.

The idea the the queer or liberal bum's rush is on, conforming to some sort of nefarious gay/liberal/secularist agenda is tabloid headline theology at best. Everybody already knows that something else must be going on for a keen mind such as Rowan's to be repeating this sensationalized headline pablum.

I am beginning to think that Rowan suffers from what a lot of us were appalled to discover sleepily prowling around inside ourselves as LGBTQ Folks rather too quickly stopped being mentally ill, criminals, and filthy perverts who were only interested in nothing but sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. That is, his mind quickly grasped that alternative ideas led forwards, but he has almost singularly failed to grasp the emotional/inner homework that goes along with this innate call to pilgrimage. One wonders what he think LGBTQ folks will have left to say to him, once he finally decides he is still safe and privileged enough as a religious straight male to listen to them?

(Or to put it differently, the folks in New Hampshire long ago began to listen differently, from a less privileged and superior place. It changed them, pretty much, for the better.)

It seems strikingly odd to me that we can preach about Yahweh, an ancient near eastern deity known for his singularly uncompromising approach to justice for pagan strangers and orphans and widows in the midst, as well as being known for his mighty acts - then go even further to claim in faith that this same Yahweh is the father of Jesus of Nazareth - and then say that our worldwide Anglican communion problem is just that too many non-straight and/or liberal believers want too much, too fast. Yeah, Rowan, buddy, let pharaoh tell it to Moses, one more time.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 2:24am BST

It seems ++ABC has been drinking the right wing Kool-Aid. (Remember Jonestown??)

For years I kept waiting for the denouement of the drama, in which he would finally reveal the evil that lurked in the hearts of hate-filled schismatics and love them back into decency and communion.

Guess I was wrong.

Posted by Alison at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 3:09am BST

Cheryl. My understanding of this comment isn't that RW was saying he'll never discuss the divinity of Christ with anyone. Rather he was saying that he would have difficulty regarding it as a topic for negotiation between Christians.

Example. Imagine someone at a local Democratic party meeting saying "I think we should be supporting the Republicans - the're the party with the right policies." I think it would be reasonable to say: "There's a place for arguing about that. But this isn't that place".

Keith. Perhaps he wanted to preach to a small congregation, and get away on this occasion from the business of being ABC?

Posted by Martin at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 5:06am BST

Rowan Williams certainly has made a journey since moving to Canterbury.
But it is not quite the journey some might imagine.
True, he arrived as a bishop in Monmouth with a manifesto that included the acceptance of lesbian and gay people. True, he was happy to ordain gay clerics while a bishop and then Primate of Wales. True, he believed the Church of England had adopted a policy with scant regard for its lesbian and gay members and little real theological debate.
But key to his thinking was always this:
“But as the New Testament makes plain, to go at the pace of the slowest, to respect the human needs of those whose vision is less clear, is not to compromise on the substantive point of what liberty in Christ means.”
It is true that the article for the Jubilee Group in 1988 within which this statement is found has much that can be hurled against him now, and I might enjoy doing that elsewhere, but in this (at least) major principle he has remained relatively consistent.
He repeats this principle in other places too, believing I think that with this approach he would create an atmosphere within which the matter of human sexuality could be openly discussed and honestly debated.
So, I am not quite so clear about Rowan Williams as a replicant nor as a dastardly coward. I was sure when he moved to Canterbury that there would be few who would be happy with his very individual style of thinking, his values and his understanding of God and the Church, and in this I have not been disappointed.
Some might like to read all of what he wrote so long ago at:

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 9:38am BST


Thank you for your comment, I think your posting is one possible tangent.

But there is another tangent which concerns me. Namely that some Anglicans (e.g. Sydney leadership) believe that Jesus is God in God's entirety. Full stop. It seems a trivial point, except that for some misogynistic elements as Jesus is male, so therefore God is male (sorry about the "typos" in the Old Testament). Therefore anything that implies God might have feminine traits (or that the Holy Spirit could go either way) is an anathema.

From personal experience, I have observed that the minute an area becomes undiscussable, it is highly likely that it is precisely that area that needs to be discussed. I think that is the case in the argument vis a vis women. Further, if the Holy Spirit can swing either way, then there are implications about diversity and variations...

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 12:09pm BST

One thing seems to be more and more clear for a "new" Anglicanism, and that is that liberal, revisionist inventors (like the main body of TEC etc) will not be in communion with Canterbury.

Posted by ordinand at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 12:51pm BST

Theologically, +RW's welcome/included divide is very concerning. The centrality of the eucharist in the life of a Christian and the Church goes beyond mere 'welcome'. At its heart is inclusion - inclusion in Christ, and the knitting together of the church as the body of Christ. We are included in Christ not from our merits (how 'good' we are) but by his grace alone. The implication of +RW's words seem to be, 'Yes you are welcome to be in our midst if you are gay or lesbian, but no you are not included, you cannot be in Christ. The Church cannot include you as you are.' How else can this be interpreted? +RW is an astute theologian. He needs to explain what he means by this - and pretty fast please.

Posted by AlaninLondon at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 1:09pm BST

" go at the pace of the slowest..."

Spare me. Did you know that New Zealand gave women the right to vote 27 years before the U.S.A.? Australia 18 years before? The Russian Federation 2 years before?

If we were to go at the pace of the slowest, women in the U.S.A. would still not have the vote, much less be presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church. Women in the Episcopal Church didn't have the vote on the national church level, as deputies to General Convention, until 1970. Can you believe it? I can hardly believe it myself. Women's ordination was approved a few years later, but the presiding bishop at the time was not pleased.

If we in this country were to go at the pace of the slowest, we would still have slavery, or at the very least there would still be defacto lack of civil rights for people of color here. And I doubt women would have the vote here yet - this the most "liberal" country in the world.

Go at the pace of the slowest? Would 1,000 years from now be too soon for the rest of the church to decide to listen to the faith stories of LGBT persons as The Episcopal Church has been doing for decades? Too soon for the rest of the communion to say, if that is where The Episcopal Church wants to go, we don't want to go there but they are still our brothers and sisters in Christ and we welcome - note the word "welcome"! - them at our table and will sit in the same room with them? Just how long is "long enough" to judge the pace of the slowest? (And isn't it just a bit condescending to call anyone, especially a brother or sister in Christ, "the slowest" no matter how biblical it is?)

On another thread, a respondent says that he has been told that most of the faxes Rowan is getting these days are from nutters. I'm not a nutter, but honestly, right now I'm feeling like one. I want to know just how long one is to endure oppression, for the sake of the cross, for I assure you, my brothers and sisters, that it is not for the sake of "equal rights" but for the sake of the cross that women in The Episcopal Church besieged General Convention for decades for seat, voice and vote in the councils of the church, and women besieged the church for permission to serve at the altar of Jesus as priests and bishops, and for the sake of the cross that New Hampshire elected V.Gene Robinson bishop and for the sake of the cross that the Diocese of Delaware in the Episcopal Church gave permission, several years ago, for those parishes who felt called to such a ministry to support and bless the committed monogamous unions of gay and lesbian couples, making Bp. Wright of Delaware a pariah and a target of hate mail. Not because we wanted to bless sin. But because we want to bless God's grace exhibited in lives that reflect the love of God to the best of our ability to discern it. Delaware, by the way, has not lost one parish, not one, because of that decision.

And having failed to "go at the pace of the slowest" in these matters, I imagine we must be ready, as our Lord was, to go to the cross for it. And I guess that makes me a nutter, 'cause God knows, I don't want to die on the cross. Any cross.

In the name of Jesus Christ, I am, to the best of my ability in nuttily following God, faithfully yours,
Lois Keen, Priest

Posted by Lois Keen at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 2:20pm BST

I'm saddened by this interview. That said, I'm not convinced that this is about reconsideration of his earlier views about sexuality, as much as it is brinksmanship. He does not want to be the person who is held responsible for the fracturing of the Communion. As long as he continues to call for folks to keep talking, he is, first, consistent with the actual Windsor process as laid out in the Report (and this process seeking "the highest level of communion possible," rather than some limitation that the Episcopal Church might or might not live up to, was the focus and the purpose of the Windsor Report); and second, he makes responsible for the division the first party to stop talking and walk away. Has he despaired of maintaining the Anglican Communion, centered in recognition by Canterbury? Well, "the highest level of communion possible" is actually a pretty vague standard. How could one despair of that?

I was struck in the interview by this: "As Archbishop I have a different task. I would feel very uncomfortable if my Church would say: this is beyond discussion, for ever. Equally I have to guard the faith and teaching of the Church. My personal ideas and questions have to take second place." For once, I have to say that this is poor incarnational and spiritual theology. If God had wanted someone else, someone with views that were a generation ago more centrist, God would have called someone else. It's not true (and has been alleged) that I believe in the divine right of kings. However, I do believe that God continues to act in history. He is in his position with, and not independent of, his understanding of the faith as it has been received. His personal ideas and questions may not be mandatory; but surely he was not elevated to this position for them to be in second place, much less taken off the table.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 2:55pm BST

Absolutely, Lois. The fact is that there can be no universally agreed position on this matter because there is no universal agreement. And I would suggest that there may never be.

Williams' vision of the Church may have made sense in a largely homogenous world but in today's climate, it is simply not practical or sensible.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 3:01pm BST

Thanks LK for your witness. There is nothing to do in hard times but keep on keeping on.

I think Rowan's point about slowing down for the slowest has simply been trumped by religious right campaign strategy; and the curious thing is, Rowan will not let himself see so far that he has been trumped.

Slowing down would indeed have made great sense IF - if a worldwide serious listening process had been going on since first it was mentioned and recommended by Lambeth. If listening was effectively happening across the hot button divides - catholic, evangelical, liberal (or pick other divides that have heated up as you like). If you slow down a listening process to the snail's pace of those who have already determined they should never really have to listen, then you have not really slowed down, you have stopped. Is anybody really listening when agreeing to disagree has been defined away by conservative conformity frames?

Inside TEC, something similar happened. The conservative camps that simply could not be bothered to review the scholarly literatures, nor to investigate any of the alternative frames or ideas, nor to actually befriend the good queer folks who were raising children in their local parishes - now are suddenly crying foul ball. They feel wounded by their alleged exclusion, when in truth the reality is they declined to participate. Some declined, saying they were too busy with conservative evangelical kingdom business. Some declined, saying they needed a sabbatical year at least to be able to grapple with the many details raised in this or that piece of scholarly work. Some declined, saying that dirt was dirt and queer folks were dirt and God would not let them call clean what God had called dirty. There was simply no lack of plausible reasons why this or that particular conservative believer happened not to get around to participating in the changes going on. If you pressed such a person, they bristled as if to say, Can't I have my own thoughts in peace?

Truth is, TEC has gone out of its way in particular ways to try to leave some wiggle room for conservative believers who disagree - i.e., consider that three diocese still officially and proudly refuse to ordain women who are called. Why? Because they know women simply cannot be called, period.

Everybody officially not invited to the next Lambeth should make plans now to show up anyay. They are welcome even if not included, just to the lively extent that Jesus is Risen Lord. If the conservatives are going to use the next Lambeth to try to complete their take-over of the worldwide communion, then all the Uncola believers will have to find ways to worship anyway without shutting the doors on the Cola believers.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 3:37pm BST

John D - I wonder 'whose' church it is that you believe Rowan Willians does not give a damn about? This interview has certainly drawn a lot of ire, but as ABC I hope that he is always doing the best he can for 'our' church, which, on my understanding, includes both me, an Irish Anglican and you (a US Episcopalian?) who (probably) don't see eye to eye on this particular 'issue'. I hope that your eagerness to see TEC walk apart does not mean that you don't give a damn about our church.

Another thing which bothers me is how Bob Duncan, for example, can be branded a schismatic, when, from where he stands, it is the leadership of TEC who are initiating schism? Remember, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Can't we recognise that no one has a monopoly on integrity?

I dont know how this will all end, but I do feel that the language of 'walking apart' masks the real pain of loss that it will bring.

Given that it might be easier for me than it is for you to stomach Rowan Williams' words, but I believe he really is trying to hold it all together, and I wouldn't expect any less of him.

Posted by ChrisM at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 3:38pm BST

The most striking thing about the discussion so far on this piece seems to me its intemperate tone. You might not like what Rowan is saying - but how on earth are comments like 'remember Jonestown' going to help, how are they even a reasonable reaction?

The fact that comments like these go largely - not entirely - unchallenged suggests the risk that TA might become the home of a mindset not entirely unlike of the people most contributors disagree with most. That is to say, that we know the truth, and those who disagree with us are cowardly at best and hate-filled schismatics at best. If we groan when Nigerian communiques caricature the 'liberal' position, why do we caricature the 'conservative' one? It seems to me we desperately need to heed one of Rowan's consistent refrains: lets not demonise each other - even when we're the victims of demonisation.


Posted by peter w at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 4:42pm BST

I agree with Peter's comments. Such demonization of opponents is dangerous and counterproductive. I would like to ask, though, do those who have been posting here have the willingness to listen to a message calling for repentance from the other side? Inclusiveness is not unbridled, you know. Jesus said to the adulteress, "Go and sin no more."

Posted by Ren Aguila at Tuesday, 22 August 2006 at 11:55pm BST

the problem dear Ren though is that homosexuality is in no way comparable to adultery! Our staright/gay human nature is clearly a wonderful gift from God to be hallowed and directed aright, and the 'sin' is in refusing to have the humility to receive and celebrate that gift. Of course, we ALL know countless hetero and homo sexual situations where the Christian virtues are forgotten in the pursuit of sinful lusts etc. but that is not under debate (I think and hope?). Rowan needs bravery to see that the locus of the true sin is in in perpetuating an anti-gay culture from which suicide, shame, patronising attitudes etc. issue, and where the true Christian witness should be a glorious 'thank you' for the beautiful creatures we are all, in our rich variety made to be.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 1:05am BST

I find myself agreeing here with both ++RW’s critics and sympathizers. In this interview, as in many post-Windsor comments, ++RW talks about the nature of the Church. I think that he hopes that in reflecting on the character of our life together in the Body of Christ there will emerge common ground for people opposed on presenting issues, common ground that will help us to discern how we can live together with these disagreements. For even if we walk apart, a shared history and shared separation still bind us together. The question facing us is how we will live together. In saying “Inclusiveness is not a value in itself,” ++RW may want to preclude a view of the Church that on its own settles the issue of the capacity of committed, intimate same-sex relationships for holiness. If so, I think he’s right. I think that the ‘justice’-based and baptism-based arguments on this point are theologically weak. If ++RW is hard on the liberals, perhaps it’s because we need to give up these arguments in the conversations that lie ahead.

Posted by Tom R at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 3:08am BST

If accurately translated, this seems to be yet more blather that deliberately twists the meaning of "inclusive."

NO ONE argues that "inclusivity" means "including, uncritically, sin".

But it is just PLAIN DISHONEST, to *refuse to acknowledge the lack of agreement* as to what constitutes "sin."

Take soldiers.
Take bankers.

Would I like to see these categories of persons told "We welcome you . . . but we refuse to include your sins of (respectively) bearing arms, or loaning money at interest"? Yes---ideally (i.e., in accord w/ the Gospel), I would.

...but I also acknowledge, that just because it's clear to ME that the above categories are sinful, doesn't mean that there's a Christian consensus on this. Ergo, I do NOT have any such expectations.

Yet, LGBTs (in partnered relationships) are not to be included, while "actively practicing" soldiers and bankers ARE???

What kind of Bizarro-World version of The Gospel is this, in Rowan Cantuar's imagination? >:-(

[Please, let this be a bad translation---please!]

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 5:34am BST

Peter W's comment about intemperate tone is fairly noted. I do agree with drdanfee's comment that the listening process was never engaged by certain parties, who had no intention of ever listening lest they be corrupted into tolerance of gays. As Lois pointed out, this has been developing for over 30 years. This altercation would have happened if the ordinations had happened ten years ago or were to happen ten years in the future. The issue is not to do with the duration of the listening process. This is a qualitative issue, not a quantitative issue.

As to the comments about the Lambeth conference, I think that is also pertinent.

I was thinking about this problem in terms of holding a wedding reception the other day. My solution would be to invite everyone to the reception. There would be the normal difficult souls who would refuse to attend if "..." is attending. I would then accept their declining RSVP and breathe a sigh of relief that one person who would make the reception uncomfortable for others was no longer going to be there to cause tension and tears. Which means the people who did show up could enjoy themselves more as the people who would normally taunt them would not be there.

I think there is a bible story about the groom who chose to invite all the poor people in the town as the rich people initially thought they were too important to attend?

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 8:45am BST

"Yet, LGBTs (in partnered relationships) are not to be included, while "actively practicing" soldiers and bankers ARE???" wrote JC Fisher.

Sadly, the Christian right call that the 'shellfish argument'. They won't even engage in any debate about charging interest (having bought into Jean Calvin's distinction between usury and a reasonably low interest rate) and about Christians serving in the military, especially in the U.S. military under a 'happy warrior president' who appeals to his evangelical base, while engaging in a global pre-emptive war against 'Islamic fascists'. After all, GWB wants the entire Middle East to enjoy the blessings of Western democracy. Many of the reasserters rejoiced when the Israelis overreacted and bombed Lebanon cities, killing hundreds of innocent people, including children.

Sadly, we are so fixated on sexual issues, refusing to read biblical texts, say, from a feminist and/or gay perspective.

Posted by John Henry at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 9:16am BST

Like Alan and others I am very uncomfortable with the welcome-v-inclusive argument Rowan makes.
In my family we welcome lots of guests, but like fish they seem to go off a little after three days.
However we are planning to grow our family next year with another two children, like our present brood they will have moderate to severe learning difficulties and some degree of physical challenge. We will find their full inclusion into our family a struggle, we will all have to change to accommodate them, and there will not be a time when we will say they have worn out their welcome. They are family.
I thought the Church was something like this …….

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 10:29am BST

Yet, LGBTs (in partnered relationships) are not to be included, while "actively practicing" soldiers and bankers ARE???

The reasserters have decided that usury, war,grinding the poor into the dust, divorce, abortion,prayerbook revision, women's ordination etc (at least for now) are all adiaphora and we can go on together while disagreeing about them but they have elevated the condemnation of gay sex to a first principle so that even though we say the same creeds, pray the same prayers, read the same Gospel and try our best to live by it, our acceptance of gay people makes us heretics in their eyes and we are neither welcome nor included at their eucharistic table. If Rowan keeps on making concessions to the schismatics he will soon find himself unwelcome at their gatherings because his rejection of gays will never be complete enough to satisfy them.

Posted by dmitri at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 1:06pm BST

I like what Marshall Scott has to say, particularly his view on this being brinkmanship. If the denouement is as close as we are being led to believe, now would be perfect timing for this interview.
We shall see.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 2:15pm BST

Here and elsewhere I have seen Archbishop Williams' answers referred to as an "English translation." Does he speak Dutch? I had assumed that the answers in English were his and that they were translated into Dutch for the Dutch version of the newspaper. Perhaps those of you are English (or Welsh!) and know the Archbishop's style better than I do can tell at a glance whether this is a translation.

I would be delighted if Martin Reynolds would elaborate a bit on his most recent comment. It sounds very interesting, but I don't grasp its full import.

Posted by Mark McCall at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 6:13pm BST

Mark, I elaborated a little too much and fell foul of the 400 word rule!
But just to answer your first question, Mae’r Parchedicaf Ddr Rowan Williams, Archesgob Caergaint was speaking the language of our nations oppressors.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 10:24pm BST


Your parable about bringing new children into a family, and how the family is changed as a result of accommodating their needs is excellent. Many a broken marriage exists nowadays as the men have abdicated their husbandly responsibilities and then rejected their overwhelmed wives for not being perfect and suffering postnatal depression. Like gays, women are being called to be perfect, and if we do not repent (one of their sexuality and the other of their exhaustion) then we deserve to be kicked out of the house. Like the church, there is many a marriage that is kept in form (the men like the housework being done, playing with the kids as and when convenient, the laundry being done, the meals prepared). But in both churches and homes, souls are waking up to realise that their spouse keeps them there not because they love them, but because it is more comfortable. For some there is the horrible realization that they have been hated for years, but that their spouse kept it hidden and the reason all their strategies failed was that it gave the "power" spouse joy to watch them struggle and contribute. I believe one term for this is inverted narcissm. It applies to cruel priesthoods as much as it does to cruel spouses (male or female).

I was rethinking about Peter W's caution about intemperant tone, which is valid. But there is also the question of power and misuse of power. One group (GLBTs and those who would care for them) are being told to be silent or leave. That's fine. But what is really pissing me off, is that they then won't let us set up our alternatives and they actively interfere with people who would do so. And as we are seeing in the Australian Uniting Church, are going back in to reclaim territory they felt they shouldn't have lost. So if we set up new churches, they'll probably invade and harass those, as they do internet forums (not TA, praise be to God, and I love that we can't edit our words - even when I am the one who should be blushing e.g. because my dyslexia trips me up).

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 10:34pm BST

To be honest, whether we accept gays and lesbians for who they are is different from what they do in bed.
I honestly don't know if anyone here is aware of the distinction.
The fact is, however, a growing number of people are starting to think that the sexual revolution has caused problems only a swing back to the tradititonal conception of sex and marriage can resolve. And one must accept that this has been the way people have been faithfully living the Gospel for centuries.
It is only us moderns who are interpreting that situation differently--oppression, exclusion, etc.

Posted by Ren Aguila at Wednesday, 23 August 2006 at 11:39pm BST

I suspect Ren, that those who were burnt on the bonfires set by those who "have been faithfully living the Gospel for centuries" might have interpreted the situation differently.
Their voices may have been silenced but you may still get a speck of their ash in your eye.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 9:59am BST

If you are correct Ren, then surely the first targets for conversion ought really to be those in the majority who are generally not victims of fear bigotry/hate crimes? Reverse the sexual revolution by starting with single parents, most of the western world under 30 who are not married yet still sexually active, then maybe focus on divorced people...and then perhaps turn conversion efforts on LGBTQ folk? Of course holy marriage is the ideal for those called to it.

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 10:53am BST

"The fact is, however, a growing number of people are starting to think that the sexual revolution has caused problems only a swing back to the tradititonal conception of sex and marriage can resolve."

Well, the sexual revolution has made people more open about what turns their cranks, but if you think there was some chaste time when the only sexual activity was by married people, and it was all monogamous, you are mistaken. Chaucer's depictions of medieval life certainly suggest that chastity and marital fidelity were, shall we say, loosely respected. The Victorians didn't talk about it, but they weren't exactly chaste either, they even had pornographic photographs! The only difference now is that we acknowledge it. We've taken sex from the back room to the public square. We can debate whether or not there is too much openness, and the effect of it, but it is not true that there used to be some monogamous, chaste Ozzie and Harriet time, even during the time of Ozzie and Harriet.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 12:38pm BST

The AIDS pandemic has also opened the Pandora's box on human sexuality. It leaves a loud and clear audit trail of sexual activity and its consequences. It is no surprise that AIDS outbreaks tend to follow dislocated males seeking sexual release (males in cities whilst wives keep the farms going, international troops calling into sea ports for rest and RECREATION). Then we see AIDS get into the sexual workers, then we see AIDS get into the men in the cities, then we see AIDS return to the farms and their families. Of course, those with money are likely to have a higher class interaction and are therefore more likely to be having protected sex or sex with someone who is less likely to have been infected. And if they are infected, are managing it so they catch a lower dose to start with anyway... Which is why we are seeing more problems with the poor and dislocated and disenfranchised. AIDS has put a mirror up to human sexuality with proof that can not disappear under male theological propoganda. Human sexual drives hasn't changed, just the honesty about what is happening (there are a lot of down-low men who are being busted because their wives have caught AIDS within their "faithful" marriage).

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 10:18pm BST

Ford: Yes, there has been a greater deal of openness about sex and sexuality, and yes, I agree that we cannot go back to some mythical monogamy, but nevertheless, the ideal of faithful, committed relationships is there, and people are increasingly drawn to living that ideal and making it the norm. The fact is, it may be easier these days to do that--considering that it is being purified of its hypocrisies.
Martin: You are right on that point. Recently, a writer in a leading newspaper here in the Philippines wrote a homophobic diatribe. Before, he would have been let off. Now... well, those who burned on the bonfire fought back. I have to be a little more careful dealing with liberals. :)
Neil: Conversion and repentance is for everyone. No one goes first or last. Perhaps we must first be converted from our periodical flights of polemic.

Please take note: I cannot call myself a conservative, but I am trying to understand how both factions are perceiving this conflict. I am persuaded by both, and I am trying to find common ground. This is not vacillating, wishy-washy, and spineless. This is Catholic.

Posted by Ren Aguila at Friday, 25 August 2006 at 6:13am BST

I have waited quietly in the wings whilst this discussion has gone on. It is now days since there has been a posting. So perhaps people have moved on and I'm wasting my time. - But still I want to express my sorrow at Dr Williams' inability to see that he does have a role to play in this matter, which isn't curtailed by his Office. He is called of God to his Office precisely because of his personal opinions. Did his predecessor, George Carey, think that his evangelical agenda had to be put on hold? No. Did he think that it was his duty to bring a balance to those who were raised to the episcopate in the Church of England during his time at Canterbury? No. Does he, even now, think that he should be restrained in the use to which he puts his authority as a former Archbishop of Canterbury? No.

So I would plead with Dr Williams to take an active role in teaching, proclaiming, and voicing the truth as he has received it in his own personal study, prayer, and reflection. If he were to be facing the forces of racism in the world-wide Anglican Communion his voice would be heard loud and clear in its condemnation. Even though there are those who in all sincerity, and with the benefit of Scripture, hold what would now be deemed racist views. Would Dr Williams allow them their 'integrity'? I hope not.

Sadly, the more I read and hear about this situation, the more I see Dr Williams as the Neville Chamberlain of his day. He waves a copy of Windsor Report and mutters 'Peace in our time'. Neville Chamberlain was a good and honourable man who simply could not recognise malice and evil when it was staring him in the face. I fear that Dr Williams is such a man and equally blind.

Posted by Anglicanus at Monday, 28 August 2006 at 4:36pm BST

What are the chances of Dr. Williams ever reading Anglicanus' post of today, 28 August, and responding to it? Anglicanus' statement is much more reasonable and useful, as is Marshall Scott's post of 22 August above on the same subject, than my anxiety-ridden first of two postings on 22 August. I'd really like to hear what Dr. Williams has to say about all his gifts having been part of his calling to the position of ABC, including his pre-ABC points of view and the learning and study and struggle with scripture that went into them. In fact, I find I long for a thoughtful response to these statements. I'd like to know if he could have a conversion and see the wisdom of Anglicanus and Marshall Scott and unite Rowan Williams the man, our fellow Christian, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, into a whole person.

Lois Keen, Priest

Posted by Lois Keen at Monday, 28 August 2006 at 7:05pm BST

Marc (at last!) I believe that September will see developments that will formalise the fracture in the Anglican Communion.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was taking advice from four Primates appointed by the Primates Group on how to respond to decisions of GC2006, he would then report to the next Primates meeting.
1. However Akinola unilaterally decided the actions of General Convention were not adequate and ordained Minns as a bishop to serve his mission in America, contravening the Windsor Report. This provocative action bypasses the agreed will of the Primates; it is direct attack on the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Bishops of the Network Diocese have made an appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight.
2. Bob Duncan called on Rowan Williams to act without hesitation in this “kairos moment” meaning if Rowan did not act soon then others would. Rowan’s response was he couldn’t make up Church law on the back of an envelope and hence the hastily arranged meetings within TEC.
Paragraph 146 (WR) leaves the debate on sexuality open, this remains a serious problem to those who wish to see Lambeth 1.10 as definitive and have gay relations declared “by divine law” forever a breach of God’s will.
Their calculated failure to engage in any listening process (instead increase oppression) shows determination to see this matter closed.
The Texas “Windsor Compliant” bishops – are in fact not compliant to the Report, nor are any others.The Puritan agenda is now unstoppable. A substantial number of Anglican Provinces that do not support “inclusion” but are against “exclusion” and have no taste for the Puritan way, they have said privately “enough already!”.
It is believed that Rowan is willing to bend as far as possible to keep the ship afloat but WILL balk at exclusion - Puritan strategists try to push to that point having already discounted him as a “false teacher”.
The Global South Primates are meeting in September, it is thought they will formally declare TEC apostate and recognise Duncan and their illicit legations as the valid expression of Anglicanism in America.
Also they will break communion with anyone in communion with TEC. If Rowan's attempt to wrest the agenda from their hands with the meetings in America fail then ….
It is widely leaked that invitations are being sent to ALL Anglican bishops with jurisdiction, the Global South doubtless view this as highly provocative.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 28 August 2006 at 7:39pm BST

This interview has caused considerable distress to a number of my friends (I'm rather past that -- it's in God's hands), but I must say that I find the comments of Martin Reynolds quite plausible & rather encouraging.

FWIW, a friend of mine was invited to the Texas meeting & declined since he perceives it to be a backdoor endorsement of the Network (in spite of the specific renunciation of schism).

In spite of the saddness of the failure of the WWAC, I believe many will heave a sigh of relief that some resolution has been achieved.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Monday, 28 August 2006 at 11:59pm BST

"It seems ++ABC has been drinking the right wing Kool-Aid. (Remember Jonestown??)"

That's a funny joke, except the *punch line* is too long.....sorry...I couldn't resist.

Yes, the ABC seems to have fallen off the wagon of theological sobriety. And yes, he has fallen in with bad company. And yes, the whole thing is Jonestown-like in that we are being asked to swallow a poison that is being hyped as a sacrament.

My continued frustration is that the only really energized members of the American church (to which I belong) are the right-wingers. They run the blogs, they reprint all the news and information...the national church and Integrity (the LGBT ministry) tell us nothing. And the liberals are too angry or too apathetic to fight back the way that's needed.

It almost seems like the right wing hopes to make the rest of us simply walk away in utter disgust.

Posted by Via Tedia at Tuesday, 29 August 2006 at 7:40pm BST

I just wonder when belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, stopped being the central unifying belief of Christianity and it became " only heterosexual relationships within the bonds of holy matrimony" took its place?

When did our consecrating +Robinson make similar actions mandatory on other provincial churches while the ordination of women, acceptance of divorced/remarried males, etc., did not become binding or even highly suggested or demanded of all other provincial churches?

We haven't made any secret of the talking going on among parishioners, parishes and dioceses over the past 50+ years about the role of women, minorities and GLBT folk. We haven't done this behind closed doors and not let anyone anywhere else know we were talking. So why now all of a sudden does ++Williams intimate that we need to talk more, talk longer but with the result of having him chastise us for our talking while not remonstrating with those who have no intention of ever listening and who have proven it through their behavior at places like Dromantine?

I don't think we need another Revolutionary War (or War of American Independence), but if ++Williams is going to show himself as a true leader and not just another Neville Chamberlain (thanks to whoever voiced that comparison!), he has to get in and get his hands dirty on BOTH sides equally, not just sit on his porcelain throne in Canterbury and issue mild rebukes and esoteric statements that can be said to mean whatever someone wants them to mean (in short, "He agrees with us, so you better listen!").

I'd feel better about ++Williams if I had the feeling HE was listening to ALL the voices of the WWAC, not just those of the GS or American dissenters. As it is, I see him as just another George III, wanting to maintain his kingdom intact at all costs, right or wrong.

Posted by mumcat at Wednesday, 30 August 2006 at 4:53pm BST
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