Thinking Anglicans

Good News in the CofE

Diarmaid MacCulloch writes in today’s Observer:

Why we should be thankful for Rowan Williams and his church of common sense

The Church of England has taken a pounding from critics, but Rowan Williams has reasons to be cheerful as Christmas approaches, says a leading Anglican historian and commentator.

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Spirit of Vatican II
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A pity the great historian writes from a post-Christian perspective. Waylaid by a village atheist last night, I had to prove that the existence of Dinosaurs did not controvert Christian belief. Amazing how people casually assume Xty has been refuted! We need a good apologetic along the lines of Newman’s Grammar of Assent — do any of you have the time to compose it? Skirmishing with Dawkins is too shallow an activity and has not produced anything really impressive as far as I know. Not of course that belief in God needs defending, but rather for the sake of those… Read more »

Canon Andrew Godsall
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Canon Andrew Godsall

This is a first class letter from a clear thinking and (in his own words) ‘candid friend’ of Christianity. Diarmaid’s analysis of the state of the Church in the west in the final part of his series ‘The History of Christianity’ was masterful and positive. Reading the letter in the Observer over breakfast and before our services at Exeter Cathedral this morning brought huge joy to me. I would be delighted to join any initiative in adding my own voice to the sentiments of this Christmas letter to Archbishop Rowan: he needs our support and prayers and this is a… Read more »

Robin
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Robin

> Meanwhile, I hope that you may rejoice at Christmas in this multiform church over which you so graciously and thoughtfully preside

Graciously and thoughtfully? St Rowan the Queerbasher, who wants to see Sharia law established in Britain and seems quite content with the death penalty for homosexuals in Uganda and Rwanda? I knew Diarmaid MacCulloch years ago and thought him a nice, sensible chap. But he must be talking about some Archbishop in a parallel universe.

Charlotte
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Charlotte

Yes, I’d add my voice too, to this wonderful and, yes, imaginative letter reminding ++Rowan of the riches of the Anglicanism he no doubt wishes in his heart of hearts to guard, treasure, strengthen, and pass on. Perhaps he has momentarily forgotten what Anglicanism is, and needs Professor MacCulloch’s accomplished example of Renaissance epideictic to remind him. Let’s hope it jogs his memory.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Echoing Robin re “the multiform church over which you so graciously and thoughtfully preside.”

Of the 3 reasons that MacCulloch advances “to be cheerful,” one (Los Angeles) has nothing whatsoever to do with the Church of England. Indeed, the Los Angeles election went forward in disregard of the Church of England’s wishes.

So thank goodness that Rowan Cantuar does _not_ “preside” over Los Angeles.

If he did, he and MacCulloch would have one less “reason to be cheerful.”

Pluralist
Guest

Oh dear. This Archbishop is definitely no Neil Kinnock in the face of Militant. Rowan Williams rolled over, even used them for his own Catholic centralisation project. Then he was churlish about women priests, that it was still something under experiment – and had to back pedal. And as for the election of a lesbian, he was soon into the media against that one while silent over Uganda. The charming C of E of Diarmaid MacCulloch seems to be far away. Fortunately I don’t even try to believe it or parallel it any more, rather like Diarmaid MacCulloch himself, but… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Dear Robin, although some may agree with your harsh judgement of Archbishop Rowan, I have to assent to Diarmaid’s thoughtful and charitable letter to the ABC – if only on the premise that he is in a very difficult situation as Primus-inter-pares of the whole Anglican Communion. I cannot credit Rowan with the ‘Queerbasher’ title – despite the fact that he seems to be bowing to the fundamentalist outlook of certain African and other Primates of the Communion, who seem hell-bent on the extinction of the LGBT people who are baptised into Christ and fellow bearers of trhe Divine Image… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Father Ron Smith says, “[H]e is in a very difficult situation as Primus-inter-pares of the whole Anglican Communion.” I must beg to differ here. The difficulties in the current situation are largely of Canterbury’s own making. Imagine if, back in 2003 and 2004, the Archbishop had told those who wish to enforce some worldwide uniformity in biblical interpretation: “Nice try, but we are not that kind of communion.” It was his failure then to show leadership, and to bear witness then to the historic diversity of Anglican thought, that has led the Anglican family to this pass. If the Archbishop… Read more »

Ren Aguila
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Ren Aguila

Those of us who cannot accept that bishops, especially those entrusted with the primacy of their national churches or provinces, should not be “activists” should reconsider whether they should belong to churches having the historic episcopate. Bishops are not ideologues, but rather are called to keep the Christian faith alive in spite of the opposition of the “world,” both left and right. They are isolating themselves from the millions who, while sometimes unhappy with their bishops, see in them something of the continuity of Christ’s message, which has withstood every attempt to dilute it, and Christ’s love, of which the… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

I must be the only one who read this letter as a spoof and reprimand to the Neville Chamberlain of the CofE – aka Rowan Williams.

Charlotte
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Charlotte

No, Neil, I read it that way, too, but as a serious spoof, meant to remind ++Rowan of his neglected duties. Very clever thing of MacCulloch to do.

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

I too want to pray and like my bishops, not to mention to stop hating during this Advent and upcoming Christmastide, but the hurt goes deep at the perceived betrayal and deliberate past actions directed against +Robinson. I am finding it hard to forgive, and ++Canterbury isn’t making it easy.

Bob McCloskey
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Bob McCloskey

No Neil, you are not the only one who interpreted MacCulloch’s treatise as a spoof and reprimand. This is what I wrote today to a friend and seminary classmate who was enamored by the article. “If the author of the article, whose books I have read with much interest, were truly sending it to Rowan Williams, then he would be rubbing salt in the wounds. Truth is that Rowan Williams is the one who has renigged on his earlier acceptance of ordained gays and lost no time in issuing a condemnation of LA’s election, while continuing to hold his silence… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Is it a spoof. If the letter is a spoof then it is on the same lines that some think Rowan Williams is playing others at their game as a sort of long game for them to end up in a mess of their own making. On this reading, as the Covenant breaks down and Anglicanism of old reasserts itself, he pauses and says, “Job done.” The problem with these sophisticated readings is that they are too sophisticated. I don’t doubt that Diarmaid MacCulloch is trying it on a bit, but he ends his letter as he ended his TV… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

I wouldn’t call it a spoof.

I would call it a reprimand hidden within some advice.

The advice is along the lines of, “If you’re being run out of town, get in front of the crowd and make it look like a parade.”

Whether Cantuar will take this advice is, of course, another question.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

Perhaps focusing exclusively on gay issues is not the way to do justice to Abp Rowan. Generally he does indeed represent the Anglican wisdom MacCulloch loves. Perhaps the biographer of Cranmer has a more comprehensive outlook on Abp Rowan’s career than most.

Tobias Haller
Guest

I have to agree with points raised by Jeremy and Pluralist. I will also say I read the letter as an exercise in pointed satire. Although I do wish Rowan were playing a long game (and if he is hoping for reunion with Rome at the end it is a very long game indeed!), he has been consistent in his message of not wanting a “mere federation” but something more centralized. This message has been repeated often enough that we all have got the words down now. That the AC to this point (and even more now) has been and… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

After a read and some pause for thought, my best reader guess is that MacCullough is giving Rowan Williams some very hard critical feedback in the most polished ironic terms possible. Each of the three Advent gifts for which MacCullough says RW should be deeply thankful and celebratory is, in fact, a current area of great hot button conservative Anglican contention and campaigning. Each one an area in which RW has not so far; and seemingly will not or cannot yet lead us in any consistent Anglican big tent fashion. Modern Big tent religion leader examples are not that hard… Read more »

Suem
Guest

I am not sure it is quite a spoof, but it does stick the knife in very cleverly. I agree, it is satire. It points out to Rowan Williams that all the things he and those in authority are agonising over and making “covenants” for are actually …the positive things about the Church! Or as he says of TEC’s decision, “There’s maturity for you” Of course, he is so simply RIGHT! Who are the grown ups – TEC who have acted with courage and honesty, or the C of E, who are as riddled with hypocrisy and deceit over gay… Read more »

john
Guest
john

I liked the letter very much. It is so good that a major British intellectual is prepared to write a stonking defence of the C of E in an important national newspaper. As for its being a satire/spoof or not, I read it as a mixture of description of the good that is and of exhortation to conform the rest to that good. The only think I disliked was the implication that non-English Brits and non-British Irish were outside the golden pale – whereas of course it is we Celts who uphold the best traditions of Anglicanism.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

I guess, with John on Monday, I am (or I want to be) a sort of New Zealand Celt – loving God, loving the Church, but sometimes tiring of it’s contuing procrastination on justice issues.

H. E. Baber
Guest
H. E. Baber

So, we shouldn’t worry “that religion is a problem, an eccentricity practised by oddities, foreigners and minorities”? Maybe Rowan shouldn’t worry that Christians have become a despised minority: he lives in a churchy world surrounded by his clerical retinue. In my profession only 14.6% of us are theists. If they find out you’re a theist or, God forbid, a Christian they look at you funny. I know one guy who says that he’s not going to “come out” on being a Christian until he gets tenure. This isn’t what I signed on for–to join a group in which membership was… Read more »