Thinking Anglicans

from the newspaper columns

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that We need faith, and reality points us to a belief in God.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about The burial of the heart.

Sunny Hundal writes about meaningless rituals in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Why faith always asks questions.

The TLS carried this review of Rowan Williams’s Wrestling with Angels recently: Inside the mind of the Archbishop of Canterbury by David Bentley Hart. (h/t KH)


  • Pluralist says:

    The Sikh article is illuminating, on the progress of ritual, and the comment further down on how individuals becoming raised up – even Dawkins appearing on Doctor Who – shows how religion develops.

    The review of Rowan Williams has this:

    _ Not all of the essays in Wrestling with Angels command comparable attention, however. For example, there is a piece from 1984 on Don Cupitt, a thinker little known outside the UK, whose attempt to construct a kind of post-theistic theology is simply too slight and slapdash to bear the weight of much serious scrutiny. Read now, when the discussions that prompted them have long faded from memory, many of Williams’s objections to Cupitt’s project look more or less obvious, and the essay in which they appear seems of little more than archival interest. _

    Cupitt is rather well known outside the UK, and whilst I would criticise him for repetition, and for some outrageous statements, his work engages with philosophical postmodernity and is readable. More than this, he grabs hold of “tom-fool” questions so simple and critical about Christianity that intellectual minds can forget them. We shouldn’t confuse solidity of prose and indigestability with always intellectual high level ability: some of the recent offerings from Rowan Williams in his Lent lectures showed some confusion about history and narrative, and he was simply being wrong about Islam, and he presented an approach to faith and history which seemed internally inconsistent.

  • Erika Baker says:

    Giles Fraser is wonderful, as always.
    It strikes me that there are two groups of people attracted to faith, those who ask “why” and are happy to live with increasing uncertainty, and those who ask “keep me safe” and need the certainty religion also attempts to provide.

    All religions attract both kinds of believers, and we don’t usually recognise that those two kinds of believers are truly different from each other.

    Christians are not differentiated by their different beliefs as much as by their different reason for seeking faith in the first place.

    I suspect that never the twain shall meet.

  • Cheryl Va. says:

    What a good collection of articles. Giles’ article nicely puts into context Hundal’s article which in turn proves the meaningless of Howse’s article. (The latter has interest as a historical curiosity but no furtherit gives us no guidance on faith or how to apply it nor where).

    I liked Rowell’s article.

    The piece about Rowan was priceless. The comments about his virtuosity agreed. Rowan would do well to go talk to some Hindus. You see, Rowan has mastered the path of intellectualism. However, that has not given him mastery over wisdom or power. If he spoke to some Hindus, Rowan would understand that there are several paths to “ascendancy” and that he has nearly mastered the path of intellect. However, to fully “ascend”, Rowan needs to be able to comprehend the basics of the other paths.

    Once Rowan comprehends what he has failed to comprehend in power and wisdom, Rowan will comprehend why it is not acceptable to leave behind eunuchs (aka GLBTs) nor peace nor souls of other faiths or levels.

    Rowan can fight this battle as other humans who seek to prove how much authority and influence they have, or Rowan can fight as one who transcends all these battles: where all have something to gain and none are left behind as the portals to sabotage and violence.

  • choirboyfromhell says:

    Erika, it isn’t so much two types of Christians, as it is extremists (of any ilk) that have perverted religion. When you have people who obsess over what is between the legs of a new bishop in Australia, or on an opposite note, about the difference in pronouns of either Coverdale or Massey-Shepherd translations of the psalms, it sets a tone that the average worshiper just sighs and turns away. Who tends to stay around are the nut cases, and the detriment of Christianity is very evident.

    My goodness, have you seen the horrors unfolding in west Texas (El Dorado) this week? That’s the result of nut cases going truly awry in a religion.

  • Erika Baker says:

    I agree, those who perverted Christianity are extremists, but they all tend to be the kind who need certainty to the point that they have to foist their certainties onto anyone else. Letting others believe differently just isn’t acceptable to them.

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