Comments: synod reports for Monday

'He really does believe that he stands for all religious believers in resisting the march of a secularisation which would leave no room for the religious informed conscience.'

But this is the problem. Williams is not speaking here for all religious believers even in his own Church, let alone elsewhere. Many do not see the 'march' of secularisation as a threat in the least, but rather a guarantor against the worst and most bigoted aspects of religiously informed consciences. As I posted on the last thread, he should at least have recognised the way in which he let down progressive Muslims and Jews by creating misleading impressions which has made their work harder. And by defending the matter of his original argument it appears that he is still clueless about the problems behind his case.

The Barnabas Fund has an interesting analysis of some of these issues here:

I can see where Andrew Brown is coming from, in that he wants to send a riposte to the hysterical treatment of Williams in the Times and the Sun, but talk of rising in glory seems more than a little premature.

The political philosopher Martin O'Neill from the University of Manchester helpfully explains why dismissing Williams' critics as a band of right-wing ignoramuses simply will not wash:

Posted by John Omani at Tuesday, 12 February 2008 at 12:56am GMT

The inter-connection of different legal systems (parts of Islamic Law which is basically ancient Egyptian law, much modified, sometimes does get applied by Western courts ;=) is one of the most difficult areas in International Law.

The Germans rightly call it Professorenrecht, because it is so little approachable.

What induced poor Dr Rowan to think he had anything to contribute?

This seems an example (amongst many) of the limitedness (and un-awareness of the same) of modern theologians (hardly capable when it comes to the Bible).

The isolation of the Ebony Tower.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 12 February 2008 at 7:42am GMT

John Omani: I agree with what you say above. It is interesting that along with the predictable outraged nutters commenting on the Archbishop's views on the BBC news website debate, there is a significant number of liberal British Muslims who don't want to be expected to come under a separate legal framework just because of the religion of their parents.

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 12 February 2008 at 10:30am GMT

Martin O'Neill is right that RW is concerned to question secularism. It goes without saying that all monopolies should be questioned; but all the more so when there are fundamental questions about their philosophical viability (circularity? gratuitously limited horizons?).

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 12 February 2008 at 12:16pm GMT

Christopher: I don't think that Christians can afford to sneer at "secularists" as having "limited horizons". The C of E is very publicly displaying its own limited horizons to the wider world in its failure to deal with the gay issue. "Secularists," if there is such a category, may well include people who have much wider horizons than, for example, the Bishop of Winchester, who argued strongly for allowing divorcees to be remarried in church, and is now arguing vociferously that gay clergy should not be allowed to talk about their experience of being in stable loving relationships. His answer is to call for disciplinary measures to be taken against them. It is surely the illogical airing of mere prejudice by people like him that boosts the "secular" view more than anything else.

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 13 February 2008 at 9:55am GMT

having faith is not in itself a guarantor of an open questioning mind. You just need to look at the fundamentalists of all faiths.
Openness and true engagement with life cuts across all faiths and none, just as bigotry and closed minds can be found everywhere too.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 13 February 2008 at 11:37am GMT

"goes without saying that all monopolies should be questioned"

Unless of course it is the monopoly traditionally enjoyed by the Christian faith to set the moral and, often, legal agenda of Western society. You were one of the ones defending the Christian monopoly when it comes to descrimination of the provision of services, if I remember, Christopher: a hotel shouldn't have to rent to gays if the owner has what you would consider perfectly reasonable Christian objections for doing so. You seem to think Christian attitudes towards sex education, abortion, homosexuality, at least as far forth as your particular sect of Christianity defines these things, ought to be those of society, protected in, or at least exempt from, the laws of the land. Indeed, you have been pretty resistant to the "liberals" who have been questioning that monopoly.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 13 February 2008 at 12:51pm GMT
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