Mark Rice-Oxley of the Christian Science Monitor wrote Anglican Archbishop: too intellectual to lead?
When it comes to leadership in the Church of England, the former Bishop of Norwich once reportedly said: “If you want to lead someone in this part of the world, find out where they’re going. And walk in front of them.”
Rowan Williams, who celebrates five years as Archbishop of Canterbury next week, could never be accused of doing that…
Andrew Brown wrote at Comment is free that We need the Church of England:
There’s no point now in kicking the corpse of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s career as a public intellectual. After the debacle of Rowan Williams’ speech on sharia, no one who has to make decisions will ever take seriously anything he says again. Nor will they take seriously the church he is supposed to lead. If you want to know what he is good at, there is a rather fine funeral oration online that he gave at the funeral of a Cambridge don in the middle of all the outrage. But nothing he says now matters to anyone who isn’t mourning.
It is time to look at the damage he has done to others, and not just himself; one of the things that his flameout has illuminated is just how dangerous disestablishment might prove. The last thought-provoking thing that I heard him say was at a radio award ceremony where he had to present himself, or at least his producer, with a third place prize for religious radio. He said that it was not true that religion must always lead to conflict, but almost always true that in any sufficiently serious conflict you would find religion.
I wish he had developed and made more explicit that line of thought, because it provides the beginning of a justification for the existence of the Church of England. The defenders of a place for religion in public life do not have to suppose that religious belief is true, and many of them don’t – in fact all of them suppose that most religious dogma must be false. The question is not whether irrationality is irrational; it is how it can best be managed…