Dr Williams’ blessing

Watching the collapse of the Anglican Communion, and, with it, of liberal, civilised Christianity, has been dispiriting for the last twenty years. This is partly because _both_ sides are animated by a fierce destructive zeal. But an added twist is the destruction of Rowan Williams. I have to say that I blame him almost entirely for the Jeffrey John fiasco. It was Lambeth Palace who put JJ’s name forward; Williams personally who twice assured Rishard Harries that he was right behind him, and Williams personally who dropped Harries in the shit when times got hard — only later noticing that his own authority is now coated with the same substance.

There really is no excuse for this. He was at the Lambeth Conference in 1988. He knows what the Africans and the southern Americans are like, and he said so, plainly, afterwards. Since then, however, he has surrendered to them all along the line. You can’t say “sold out”, since he has had nothing in return.

However, there may be a partial explanation in the arrogance of the Northern, liberal faction in the American church, which regards the Anglican Communion with proprietorial contempt. This really, really, upsets people at Lambeth Palace, and, until recently, they could do nothing about it. Now, of course, they can destroy the liberals by giving their enemies an opening to sue them for everything they own on the grounds that the liberals will be no longer official Anglicans, recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. And it looks as if this is what will happen. What makes me so sure? A “tiny story”:http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/dojustice/j190.html#corrected found through Simon Sarmiento: that it was Rowan Williams himself who suggested to the American -bigots- conservatives that they call themselves “The Confessing Anglican Network”, because this name echoed the “confessing” churches which kept the true faith in Nazi Germany.

And so the subtlest theological mind in Britain has reached the point where clergymen who denounce the ordination of practising homosexuals are morally comparable to the Christians who faced jail and execution for resisting the extermination of the Jews. The implied comparison of their opponents actually does bear some thought, which, once, Dr Williams might have given it.

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8 Responses to Dr Williams’ blessing

  1. H. E. Baber says:

    You’re right about the arrogance of Liberals who dominate the Episcopal Church–and it gets up the noses of us locals too. Here is my $.02.

  2. acb says:

    Doctor Baber! how nice to see you here. I liked your “rant,”:http://theenlightenmentproject.blogspot.com/2004/09/anglicans-ready-to-ostracise-us-church.html from which I quote

    bq.. The arrogant fools who stripped the altars, scrapped the liturgy and destroyed my religious life, are now pulling down the church. In the end it will scarcely matter to the Culture Warriors on either side. The conservatives will have their evangelical tabernacles, affiliated with dioceses in Botswana and Timbuktu, with Bible studies, Promise Keepers and the Alpha course, where family values and male headship are preached. Liberals will maintain their community centers for elderly ladies financed by schools catering for families that want class-segregated education at an affordable price. But anyone who imagined that the Episcopal church was the venue for unrepentant liberals who were, in the ordinary sense of the word, religious will seriously disappointed.

    Maybe it was inevitable–an epiphenomenon of the larger culture war in which religion is understood primarily as a tool for the promotion of a socially conservative agenda and Liberals are, by the very nature of the religious landscape, virtually defined into being secular.

    p. And I like your utilitarian argument about not making a public issue of gay ordination / blessing. My own instinct is that lots of things should go on in any healthy organisation that the people in charge don’t need to know about in redundant detail. The policy of not doing anything in the streets, and not frightening the horses, had a lot to be said for it. But I fear that the terrified horses have all bolted now.

  3. Chris McMullen says:

    Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury, though a liberal on matters of varieties of erotic attraction, honestly prays that there are sound scientific, scriptural and theological arguments out there for homoerotic activity. Perhaps he is praying that the tired out ad-hominums like calling people “bigots” will not exhaust the all-too-shallow resource-book of homoerotic revisionism. I, too, would like to see some real arguments and evidence advanced, apart from indicating that many gays are nice people, and conservatives by definition are not. If it is God’s will that the Anglican Communion pioneer this innovation on Christian sexual discipline, (and I know I am jumping the gun on many of the supporters of homoeroticism by saying there is a God, and God has a will, and God reveals that will) then surely we are to do so with good arguments from scripture, tradition and reason, as was done with the ordination of women. So far, though, I see no case being made. Just politics and name-calling. This is not so unlike the antics of the pro-Nazi outfits that took over the Church structures in Germany.

  4. Can you imagine being in your second year as Archbishop of Canterbury

  5. acb says:

    Dr Harmon, of course I can imagine it. It goes with the territory. Any kind of public figure,any kind of boss, gets far worse things said about him. It’s probably not obvious from an American perspective, but the Jeffrey John affair and the Gene Robinson business seem entirely separate to me, involving different principles, and different roles for an Archbishop.

    As for whether he intended the comparison — well hemust have intended it in some ways to bevalid. There are all sorts of analogies he might have made — with the non-jurors for example — but he chose instead to make this one. I can’t imagine any archbishop of Canterbury saying of the opponents of women priests that they resembled the confessing church.

  6. acb says:

    Yes, some homosexuals are nice people. In an important way, that’s what the argument comes down to. How should the church help them to be “nicer”? The traditional answer — “tie a knot in it” — is no longer applied to heterosexuals. So why should it be applied only and savagely to homosexuals? They are not perverts, inverts, abonimations, nor unnatural. They are — some of them — decent people, struggling with the same difficulties about love as the rest of us.

  7. arnold says:

    My immediate reaction on first reading this story, over on Simon Sarmiento’s blog, was to give Rowan Williams the benefit of the doubt. Now I’m not so sure. You are right: this is a significant story, and I hope you will draw attention to it in your Church Times column this week. Perhaps those of us who admire Rowan Williams are a little too ready to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Even so, I’d like to know more about what actually went on at that meeting at Lambeth Palace. I am willing to believe that RW suggested the “Confessing Anglican” appellation, but I find it very difficult to believe that he can have intended the “Liberal = Nazi” (or, “opponents of liberalism = opponents of Nazism”) analogy that is now being drawn from it. Somehow that seems too crude for the subtlest theological mind in Britain.

    Anyway, who are these “people at Lambeth Palace” who are so determined to destroy the American liberals? Come on, you’re not a lobby correspondent. Who are they? What are they hoping to get out of it? And how have they persuaded the subtlest theological mind in Britain to do their bidding? (This isn’t meant to sound sarcastic; I really would like to know.)

  8. acb says:

    I’m not a lobby correspondent, but I do have lunches with people on lobby-ish terms. So I’m not going to tell you who they are, apart from the fact that they work there.

    I don’t believe for a moment, though, that there are wicked servants leading the good Archbishop astray. I know this is a popular theory about Jeremy Harris, an unpopular man in the press; but there’s no evidence except wishful thinking. I think that anyone who works for him, and anyone trying to preserve the illusion of authority integral to his office in the Anglican Communion, including +RW himself — is going to feel surges of blind frustration at the behaviour of the Americans, as much as at the behaviour of the Evangelicals.

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