Thinking Anglicans

another batch of reactions to Rowan

Updated Thursday

Andrew Brown writes at Cif belief Rowan’s road to schism

Has Rowan Williams just set the Church of England on the road to disestablishment? Or does he envision it as standing outside the central body of Anglicanism that he is trying now to erect? I have just read carefully through his response to the American Church’s recognition of equal gay rights, and there are two things that are really striking about it…

From IT writing at Friends of Jake Rowan Williams then and now

…He argued that scriptural prohibitions were addressed to heterosexuals looking for sexual variety. He wrote: “I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.” Dr Williams described his view as his “definitive conclusion” reached after 20 years of study and prayer…..by the end of the 1980s he had “definitely come to the conclusion” that the Bible did not denounce faithful relationships between people who happened to be gay…

From Thanksgiving in all Things Christopher writes of Analyzing Rowan Williams’ Rhetoric About LGBT Persons

In his body of theological work, Mark D. Jordan reminds us repeatedly to pay attention to rhetoric, especially the rhetoric of Christian leaders about lgbt persons.

In his most recent letter, Williams weaves a story of willful choice on the part of lgbt Christians. And we are to get what we deserve in consequence…

Update And the previous day, had also written The Fundamental Problems with Archbishop Williams’ Ecclesiology and Many Who Wring Their Hands About Catholicity

The fundamental problem with the working ecclesiology of the Covenant, of Archbishop Williams, and of the anxieties that somehow we hold together Christ’s Body is that it is a “pipeline theory of grace” rather than an eschatology of Christ’s Presence present to us in every age, and time, and place, wherever we call upon the Name of Jesus, proclaim His Person and work, celebrate the Dominical Sacraments, and go forth to serve the world’s needs. Ironically, such a supposed “catholic” approach to Christ or the apostles’ ministry is memorialist of sorts, always harkening to the past rather than to His Presence, or becomes Pelagian as we try to do it ourselves, rather than rely on Christ…

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Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

One must indeed ask oneself if Dr Rowan is fomenting schism deliberately, or if he’s merely being illusional 🙁

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Well at minimum we are getting the good outlines of a domain of positive replies-criticisms, answering RW. I’d combine, for starters: ABrown, Jake’s Friends, Tgiving, Chicago Consult, and Anglican Scotist. If RW isn’t reading this blog package, he’s not interested in knowing how he really reads and sounds to many Anglicans. RW’s whole turnabout reeks, aromatically. Is this a heavier-smellier cloud of the smoke given off by the infamous Jeffrey John affair? Or just self-regarding heterosexuals only please business as usual, per VGR’s exclusion from Lambeth? Either way, it reveals pretty much exactly where RW says he stands, and how… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Andrew Brown makes a good point. Just change a few words and the logic from the ABC might read as follows:

So long as the church catholic, or even the communion as a whole does not ordain women a person cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a church whose public teaching is at odds with their gender.

David G
Guest

Can RW’s retirement be hastened?

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Andrew Brown perfectly describes the voices that provoked Lambeth 1.10.

IT perectly recalls the alternative voice of Rowan Williams that won him the appointment to Canterbury.

Yes Neil, but remember that only recently Rowan Williams has said he regrets that the Church ordained women before there was a consensus – his present policy is not encouraging.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“If RW isn’t reading this blog package, he’s not interested in knowing how he really reads and sounds to many Anglicans.”

My bet is that what he reads is given to him each morning by his handlers – much like Shrub, who, reports say, never opened a newspaper or watched TV news for 8 years, but read ‘news digests’ prepared by his staff.

I would further bet that Rowan, who doesn’t know how to drive a car, doesn’t actually know how to ‘run’ a computer on his own.

Isn’t that a little scary?

C

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“So long as the Church Catholic, or even the Communion as a whole does not bless same-sex unions, a person living in such a union cannot without serious incongruity have a representative function in a Church whose public teaching is at odds with their lifestyle.” – Rowan Williams – In other word, the ABC is here at odds with what has already happened in the American Episcopal (Anglican) Church with the ordination of Bishop Gene. If this were merely the Head of the Church of England speaking in a private capacity, this might be considered to be one of several… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

One can respect the sincerity and integrity of some liberals, but Rowan Williams’ attempts to be conservative and orthodox seem about as convincing and hollow as the leader of the British National Party trying to convince us he is not racist.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

I agree that it is inaccurate always to portray homosexual behaviour as a matter of choice. What are the factors? (1) There must always be at least *some* element of choice unless we are to assent that human beings are nothing more than animals and/or robots. (2) The element of choice is minimised, for example, in the case of addictions. (3) It is also minimised in the case of peer-approved or culture-approved activities, whether or not thos activities are actually beneficial. RW certainly knows that there is rarely such a thing as a definitive conclusion in scholarship, and he would… Read more »

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Ah, “agreement by the Church Catholic.”

Married clergy? Transubstantiation? Predestination? Purgatory?

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Christopher Shell: I am getting the teensiest bit fed up with you discussing long-term committed loving partnerships between people who happen to be of the same-sex in the same breath as “addictions.” Wanting to love and be loved is no more of an addiction for gay people than it is for straight ones, and your use of term reminds me of what a different wavelength you appear to be on when discussing the issue.

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

“Choice”, C Shell? One of the most deliberately insulting, ignorant posts I’ve seen here in my years of visiting TA. Congratulations.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“it is inaccurate always to portray homosexual behaviour as a matter of choice. What are the factors? (1) There must always be at least *some* element of choice unless we are to assent that human beings are nothing more than animals and/or robots.” The problem here, Christopher, is that you are not differentiating state from behaviour. If I were celebate, I would still be gay. I know you don’t believe that, but I still need to make the point, in the hopes that you will one day hear. So we get down to the choice to be sexually active or… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Re: Andrew Brown — I am torn — yes, the C of E is governed by the Commons, but does the Reformed Parliament (which was the spark that began the Oxford Movement) really care in the least what the C of E does? I would think not, but MPs like the atheist Glenda Jackson voted down reform of the 1662 BCP — so who can say … (not I, at any rate).

And Andrew Brown is certainly perceptive about the way the ABC’s attempt to avoid a split ignores the GAFCON boycott of Lambeth, etc., etc.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“There must always be at least *some* element of choice unless we are to assent that human beings are nothing more than animals and/or robots” I am right-handed. I always have been. I did not ‘choose’ to be right=handed. Does this make me “nothing more than animals and/or robots?” I am gay. I always have been, even when trying to deny it to myself and others. I did not “choose” to be gay. Does this make me “nothng more than animals and/or robots?” Of course, in the past, left-handed children were forced to learn to write, eat, throw, etc. with… Read more »

MH
Guest
MH

Interesting argument, Ford Elms. But if I have understood you correctly it seems to imply that, for example, a man whose wife becomes sexually incapacitated can claim not to have the charism which enables abstention from sexual relations, and therefore feel free to be adulterous.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I am one of those left handed children not “allowed” to be left handed… I side with Cynthia.

MH
Guest
MH

The collected thoughts of Cynthia Gilliatt on Rowan Williams, from earlier threads: “…he repeats lies…”, “…his treachery…”, “…his hypocrisy…”, “…a bully…”, “…he has no moral standing…” But now we have: “I would further bet that Rowan, who doesn’t know how to drive a car, doesn’t actually know how to ‘run’ a computer on his own. Isn’t that a little scary?” If I reacted to every ad hominem, personal or unkind remark on this site I would do little else, but I must point out in response to this latest that Rupert Shortt (Rowan Williams: An Introduction, DLT, 2003, p.11) states… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

An Imaginary Talk: With Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Professor Rowan Williams Interviewer: Welcome, glad you could be here. RW: I’m pleased to speak with you today. I preach, you know, my calling? INT: So, what’s up with Anglicans? RW: Well, people say they are changing their minds about queer stuff, and frankly, we just can’t have it that way. INT: What seems to be the problem? RW: Well, we have never, ever believed anything positive about those queer folks. Ever. If we did change our minds, it wouldn’t be one by one by one, but all at once, all together.… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Imaginary Interview 2: … RW: I can see, this is puzzling … Let’s ask Tom Wright, the renowned Bible scholar to join us? I think he can clear things up a bit. INT: Okay, I … RW: Now, Tom. Can you help me explain this unpleasantly awful but true stuff – about queer folks? TW: Oh yes. Yes of course. You see, God through scriptures clearly tells us – queer folks are a bad business. Like any other bad business, really. Nothing good to say, unfortunately. Let’s be honest scholars, believers. We’ve changed our minds about just exactly what sort… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

If I cared what the Vatican thought, I would join the RC Church, like Rowan Williams should do.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“I am one of those left handed children not “allowed” to be left handed… I side with Cynthia.” – Goran Koch-Swahne – I, too am left-handed but, growing up in England, my teachers were clued-up enough not to force me to right-handedness. I bowl with my left hand but bat with my right – I guess that makes me a bit different in yet another way – still not self-chosen but definitely natural to me. Perhaps the anti-gay crowd will one day begin to understand the infinite and wonderful variety of ‘natural instincts’ encountered in the psychological, biological make-up of… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
Guest
Gerry Lynch

This choice debate is a total red herring. The pertinent question is: “Are loving, committed, same sex relationships good and godly things which further the Kingdom of Christ?” I believe they are; most people on this site believe they are; once upon a time, Rowan Williams believed they were, before he was kidnapped by George Carey’s staff and replaced by a stunt double. If they are, then the whole question of choice or nature is completely irrelevant. I know we’re all on the same side, but this whole “I was born this way, I can’t help it” line is soooo… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

I’m puzzled too by the freewill vs robots comments. Mr. Shell says he occupies a nature x nurture frame, or prefers to do so – yet he proffers up legacy frameworks for what is or is not free will or choice – and in many domains (people have posted about some of the examples in question), the legacy frame simply gets repositioned frankly by modern knowledge. I’d add language acquisition into the samples. Clearly biology makes a very strong contribution to language acquisition, including setting some critical time clock periods. Just as clearly, social environments have another set of huge… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

“Interesting argument, Ford Elms. But if I have understood you correctly it seems to imply that, for example, a man whose wife becomes sexually incapacitated can claim not to have the charism which enables abstention from sexual relations, and therefore feel free to be adulterous.”

In no way, shape, or form was that implication made. It might be *inferred* by one of the many sexually-incontinent married heterosexuals looking for an excuse to cheat on their spouse, but the implication was not there.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“a man whose wife becomes sexually incapacitated” Sexually incapacitated? What’s sexually *capacitated*? For that matter, what’s Christopher Shell’s “homosexual behavior”? I don’t know which is more disturbing: the poverty of imagination which TOO MANY have towards spousal intimacy—or the OBSESSION, oft implied (if not outright expressed) with one drop-in-a-one-ocean aspect of it [Male Tab A in Male Slot B: the horror, the horror!] What did Auntie Mame say? “Life is a banquet, and most people are starving to death” [NB: 1. she wasn’t speaking per se of food, and 2. our obsession w/ S-E-X of course takes our gaze away… Read more »

Chirstopher Shell
Guest
Chirstopher Shell

Hi Lapinbizarre- The first line of my comment says the direct opposite to what you think it says. Also: I said that choice must play *some* part unless we are no more than animals/robots – what alternative is there? Hi Fr Mark- Yes, I think it is always going to happen that when people proceed from different presuppositions those presuppositions are a bit like different wavelengths. To be different is not the same as being wrong, nor is it the same as being right. So the thing to do is examine whether the presuppositions are valid and coherent. Hi JCF-… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Cynthia- Exactly: because right-handedness, unlike homosexuality, is very much a genetic matter. I could understand your answer if you produced a gay gene or interacted with (e.g.) Bailey et al. 2000 on identical twins (little significant genetic factor, even given the most generous definition of homosexuality: anything from mainly-but-not-totally heterosexual upwards); Laumann et al. (also Chicago UP, 1994): massive variation in ‘male gay’ rates from rural to urban (600%) or female from college to non-college (800%). How is one to believe that the oft-touted comparison with red hair or lefthandedness is more than propaganda (supposing that it is)? If… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

MH, “a man whose wife becomes sexually incapacitated can claim not to have the charism which enables abstention from sexual relations, and therefore feel free to be adulterous.” By sexually incapacitated, I assume you mean unable to have sex. Is sex so important that all the other things that make up a marriage would be of no consequence? Are all those other things disposable if she can’t “fulfill her wifely duty”(or he can’t fulfill his ‘husbandly duty’)? Legally, there IS precedent for that in the granting of divorces. But we are called to far better than mere legalism, to far… Read more »

Chris T.
Guest
Chris T.

I want to second Gerry Lynch’s remarks. Let’s take a deep breath for a moment. In 2009, every reasonable person knows that sexuality is not chosen; everyone knows that humans are entitled to discover and own their sexuality, and should not be denied loving relationships. Reasonable people feel these things in their hearts and claim them for themselves. Only fanatics and neurotics deny them. For most people in the west, especially young people, the mood is not one of visceral digust at LGBT people, but “provided you respect me, my life, my solemn decisions, I shall respect you.” Has God… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

The collected thoughts of Cynthia Gilliatt on Rowan Williams, from earlier threads: “…he repeats lies…”, “…his treachery…”, “…his hypocrisy…”, “…a bully…”, “…he has no moral standing…” Well, I said more than that, and I’ll stand by my words, because that is what his actions look like. “.Rupert Shortt (Rowan Williams: An Introduction, DLT, 2003, p.11) states that the meningitis which RW caught aged 20 months stopped him from ever cycling or driving.” I didn’t know that; all I knew was that he didn’t drive. I apologize. I do wonder how isolated from the outside world he is. I don’t mean… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

Christopher, when and how exactly did you choose to be heterosexual? Most of us are unaware of any such watershed – what did we miss?

WilliamK
Guest
WilliamK

I’m not JFC, to whome Christopher Shell addressed the following… but I just can’t resist…. “How can a homosexual couple take ‘the kids’ to soccer practice?” Um, in the car? “Since they did not produce the kids…” Things may be different in the U.K., but in the United States and Canada, many lesbians conceive children through artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization. So, in many lesbian couples, one of them DID “produce the kids.” Close friends of mine are one such couple, who have a lovely little girl. “…you are assenting (in a fair proportion of cases) to someone’s abandonment of… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“How is one to believe that the oft-touted comparison with red hair or lefthandedness is more than propaganda (supposing that it is)? If statistics back it up to any extent, then to that extent it is valid, and something better than propaganda. I suspect there is probably a small extent (clearly less than the environmental factor), so the task is to estimate that extent accurately percentage-wise. Having established the percentage-significance of any genetic factor, it would still be a separate task to determine whether this factor was beneficial or otherwise.” I don’t think any of us are denying an environmental… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“How is one to believe that the oft-touted comparison with red hair or lefthandedness is more than propaganda (supposing that it is)? If statistics back it up to any extent, then to that extent it is valid, and something better than propaganda. I suspect there is probably a small extent (clearly less than the environmental factor), so the task is to estimate that extent accurately percentage-wise. Having established the percentage-significance of any genetic factor, it would still be a separate task to determine whether this factor was beneficial or otherwise.” I don’t think any of us are denying an environmental… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
Guest
Gerry Lynch

Chris T., thank you for the kind words. There is much that is wise in what you say but I am not sure that I can agree with it entirely. It would be nice to think that the sweep of history will simply carry the Anglican Communion along into a future where homophobia is past. I used to think that too and when I meet many young Evangelicals in particular, both inside and outside the Church of Ireland, I think the whole gay debate is very much one of the current time. I have work colleagues and friends who are… Read more »

Caelius Spinator
Guest
Caelius Spinator

Even in a relatively “fixed” world, Christopher Shell, people still die or become critically sick. People still may be incurably mentally ill. The assumption you make in the studies you quote above is that homosexuality is genotypical. There’s a hypothetical “gay gene” and that’s it. That’s not the way human reproduction works. Our genes are teeming with blueprints, but environmental factors (especially in utero) affect which blueprints are expressed. Have you read about the link between male homosexuality and having older sisters (and the fertility of those older sisters)? Might this suggest that male homosexuality at least arises as a… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Well, the Vatican “approval” of RW’s statement seems to be about church unity and does not pontificate about gays. The Vatican seems to leave that to Anglicans now. Christopher Shell insults thousands of gays who have courageously “come out” and of course insults as well thousands of children who have been pushed to suicide by being bullied over their sexuality. For Christopher Shell, gays who say they are gay are indulging in propaganda. I found the following paragraph particularly chilling: “How is one to believe that the oft-touted comparison with red hair or lefthandedness is more than propaganda (supposing that… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“you are assenting (in a fair proportion of cases) to someone’s abandonment of their own children and/or to those children being placed with parents that do not correspond with their actual family”

Adoption is *so basic* to the Christian faith, Christopher S, that our very soteriology is predicated that we are “God’s children by adoption.”

…and yet you dismiss the concept without a second thought. Strange. (And, pity!)

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Gerry Lynch, go for it!

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Christopher “”Since they did not produce the kids…” Is this another piece of your scientific evidence that flies in the face of actual empirical truth? Quite a few of us here have told you that we’re raising children. Some of us raise children that were born out of our own bodies, others raise adopted children. You may not like the fact that we can adopt children or that our perverted bodies can give life to them, and you may wish to change that. But there are literally millions of kids being raised in same sex families. That’s just a verifiable… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Erika- It is clear that whether such family patterns exist depends to a large extent on what culture and historical period one inhabits, and on how far this is presented as an option in the first place. You are speaking as though these things are true for all people everywhere. That could not be less true. They are true for the small minority of people that inhabit cultures of that very particular sort and/or haver never considered the alternatives which are played out daily before their eyes in so many other cultures. Pat- Yes, I have always agreed with… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi William K- I’ve never heard anyone say adoption is the best option or even necessarily a good one. Equally, no-one can deny it will 100% of the time be better for the child than abortion. Better than death doesn’t equal intrinsically good! -You and Erika say that your hypothetical couple produced the ‘kids’: no. One of them will, only sometimes, have played a 50% role; t’other must certainly have played a 0% role. And it’s 100% true that this couple’s coupling didn’t produce the children. Hi Caelius- 1-You speak for ‘God’ in asserting that XYZ is ‘what God intended’,… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“I’ve never heard anyone say adoption is the best option or even necessarily a good one.” It was certainly the best option – and very good – for my parents and myself. But putting aside your bizarre prejudice against adoption, Christopher, I ask you again – exactly how and when did you choose to become heterosexual? This isn’t a rhetorical question. You allege that homosexuality is a choice, so it logically follows that heterosexuality is as well. What were the circumstances of that choice for you? By the way, I believe that the research on older brothers and homosexuality specifically… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

“And this isn’t just about gays. Us queens are only a public pretext – the real battle is about your right and mine to belong to church were thinking is allowed and you don’t need to agree with your neighbour to recognise them as a good Christian.”-Gerry Lynch Yup. That’s what it’s all about, and like it or not, Christianity is subject to the same extremism that has battered Islam. The ability to think for oneself is a time honored principal in the AC of the past, and we must fight to keep it that way and remind ourselves that… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“You and Erika say that your hypothetical couple produced the ‘kids’: no. One of them will, only sometimes, have played a 50% role; t’other must certainly have played a 0% role.” FALSE. A lesbian couple (who are friends of mine) had a child several years ago, where one carried the egg of the other (because medically it worked out best that way). That’s hardly 50 and 0%! [Tell the one pregnant for 9 months, plus labor&delivery (plus breastfeeding), that she played “0% role” in producing their son. Go on, ChristopherS, tell her: I double-dog DARE you! >;-/] “And it’s 100%… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“To carry around your monomanical obsession MUST be exhausting” Not only that, it also doesn’t answer anything at all. OK, so 2 people cannot bring a chid into the world that is genetically 50% of each. That happens to infertile heterosexuals too. The question is why anyone would see that as sinful in a meaningful way. What is it about producing children that is so intrinsically moral that a failure to do so is seen as sinful. The way some people speak you would think the only value in their marriages is sex and babies. It’s a truly shocking picture… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Oh, dear. Are we back to the bizarre orthodite idea that humanity is God’s breeding stock – that sex is no more than rutting to make more little cattle?

I’ve always considered that a sad, lazy, unfaithful and entirely childish view of sexuality and humanity. If that’s what the right-wing argument is, we can safely dismiss it.