Anglican Samizdat

April 3, 2010

Just after Rowan Williams shows he has balls…

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 4:54 pm

He has to go and apologise:Add an Image

The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed his “deep sorrow” for any difficulties caused by his comments about the Catholic Church in Ireland.

His claim that the Church had lost all credibility because of its handling of child abuse by priests was criticised by both Catholic and Anglican clergy.

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said he was “stunned”.

Dr Rowan Williams later telephoned Archbishop Martin to insist he meant no offence to the Irish Catholic Church.

I had hoped that we were seeing the emerging of a new muscular, incisive, un-Hegelian Rowan, but no.

How disappointing.


April 2, 2010

Rowan Williams speaks plainly at last

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 8:22 pm
Tags: ,

Unfortunately, it’s about the Roman Catholic Church:

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has lost all credibility because of the child abuse scandal, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In a rare breach of ecumenical protocol, Dr Rowan Williams criticised the Catholic Church over its handling of the paedophile priests crisis and made plain his anger over the Pope’s plans for a new ordinariate to tempt dissatisfied Anglicans over to Rome.

Rowan may well be right. He should know; after all, he’s the head of the Anglican Church and it is awash with credibility.

March 11, 2010

Rowan Williams is baffled and angry at Israel

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 12:34 pm
Tags: ,

From here:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that despite believing Israel has a right to defend itself, he is “baffled and angry” at some of its methods.

Dr Rowan Williams spoke in conversation with Times editor James Harding in front of more than 200 people at a JC-sponsored event organised by the Board of Deputies on Wednesday.

Less than 15 minutes into the 90- minute discussion, Mr Harding asked Dr Williams to face the “elephant in the room” and reveal his views on Israel.

“The state of Israel is a legitimate state,” the archbishop said. “It has a right to exist and right to defend itself. The very fact that Israel makes so much of its status as a democratic state leaves me baffled and sometimes angry at what seems like collusion with unauthorised parties. I want to hear a legal defence of settlements and I am yet to hear it.

“Unless there is a way of representing the settlements as legitimate self-defence I remain very disturbed about that, along with many.”

Rowan would undoubtedly be much happier if Israel would engage Hamas – who don’t seem to make Rowan angry at all – in Indaba sessions, holy listening and telling stories; then, at least everyone would be baffled.

March 9, 2010

Rowan Williams turning evangelism into “destinies converging” and other twaddle

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 1:18 pm
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Rowan Williams continues to astound:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned evangelist “bullies” who attempt to convert people of other faiths to Christianity.

Dr Rowan Williams said it was right to be suspicious of proselytism that involves “bullying, insensitive approaches” to other faiths.

In a speech at Guildford cathedral, Dr Williams criticised those who believed they had all the answers and treated non-Christians as if their traditions of reflection and imagination were of no interest to anyone. “God save us form that kind of approach,” he said.

But he added: “God save us also from the nervousness about our own conviction that doesn’t allow us to say we speak about Jesus because we believe he matters, we believe he matters, because we believe that in him human beings find their peace, their destinies converge, and their dignities are fully honoured.”

In his address, titled “The Finality of Christ in a Pluralist World”, Dr Williams addressed difficulties modern Christians have with Biblical texts which suggest that Christianity is the only path to salvation.

Dr Williams admitted that in the past four decades, the problems around the classical interpretation of these texts had become more prominent.

He asked: “What about all those people who never had a chance of hearing about Jesus?”

He also asked about the generations before Jesus and the many cultures untouched by Christianity.

“Can we believe in a just God, who in effect punishes people, for not being in the right place at the right time?”

He raised a political objection to the claim that Christ is the final truth about God and the Universe, suggesting it had helped justify “wicked” things such as crusading and colonialism.

“What could we possibly mean by saying that a truth expressed in the Middle East 2,000 years ago was truth applicable to everybody, everywhere?” he asked.

Belief in the uniqueness or finality of Christ, in the way it has usually been understood, is something that “sits very badly indeed, not just with a plural society – whatever that means – but with a society that regards itself as liberal or democratic”.

In the Gospels, Jesus said: “No one comes to the father, except through me.”

Dr Williams said that in this context: “The father cannot be shown as an object in the sky, something abstract, something you can point to.” Instead, God should be understood in the first or second person, walking with Jesus towards the cross and resurrection.”

The Archbishop’s speech was an attempt to reconcile the claims of the Bible about Jesus and Christianity with the multi-faith societies in which Christians around the world must live.

The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament urge believers to spread the “good news” or evangelise, but the need for good relations with other faiths in the secular world militates against proselytism.

Dr Williams said: “When we sit along side the Jew, the Buddhist, the Muslim, Hindu, when we sit alongside them, we expect to see in their humanity something that challenges and enlarges us.”

The Archbishop quoted the Koran: “And God did not elect to make everybody the same. God has made us to learn in dialogue.”

On the question of whether Christians could legitimately believe that people of other faiths could be saved, Dr Williams said believers were too reluctant to leave this to God to sort out.

“We have often a vague feeling that God hasn’t read the proper books,” he said. “I’m very content to let God be the judge of how far anyone outside the visible family of faith is related to Jesus or has turned towards the father.”

According to Rowan:

  • Jesus is not the only way to the Father in the sense that Christians have understood him to be for the last couple of millennia.
  • The problem of what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel has suddenly become so prominent that all previous explanations are inadequate.
  • Christians should not evangelise aggressively for fear of hurting people’s feelings.
  • Getting on harmoniously with other faiths is more important than sharing the Good News (whatever that is).
  • The fact that evil has been done in Christ’s name means he can’t be the final revelation of God to mankind; and the meaning of the universe cannot be found in him.

To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, if Jesus is who he claims to be, he is of ultimate importance; if he isn’t, he is of no importance at all. The one thing he cannot be is what Rowan is determined to make him: moderately important.

Next month, Rowan will give a lecture on why the Western Anglican Church is disappearing.

March 4, 2010

Rowan Williams on the uniqueness of Christ

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 9:26 am

It begins with unexpected promise:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Christians to approach inter-faith dialogue with confidence in their own beliefs about the uniqueness of Christ whilst retaining a desire to learn from others.

In an address exploring the finality of Christ in a pluralist world on Tuesday, Dr Rowan Williams said people who believed in absolute truth were liable to be branded bigots or intolerant by those who felt that what was right for some was not necessarily right for others.

“Belief in the uniqueness or finality of Christ is something that sits very badly indeed, not just with a plural society but with a society that regards itself as liberal or democratic,” he said.

“This is a world where the ideal is simply to be presented with the choice that makes you comfortable and the question of truth or finality isn’t really allowed to arise.”

The Archbishop admitted that accepting the uniqueness of Christ was “problematic” for many people and that Christians faced the challenge of communicating what they believe.

He doesn’t go quite as far as saying that for a Christian to deny the uniqueness of Christ is illogical, but “not sensible” is better than nothing:

He added, however, that giving up on the uniqueness of Christ was not “sensible”.

To prevent anyone falling into the trap of thinking that Rowan is being uncharacteristically straightforward, he muddles things with:

“Christians have claimed and will still claim that when you realise God calls you simply as a human being into that relationship of intimacy with Jesus, then you understand something about God which cannot be replaced or supplemented,” he said.

“The finality lies in the recognition that now there is something you cannot forget about God and humanity and which you cannot correct as if it were simply an interesting theory about God and humanity.”

Rowan seems to think that Christ’s uniqueness lies in his unforgettability, rather than his unique offer of salvation through atonement – to admit the latter would have been too embarrassingly fundamentalist, perhaps.

The Archbishop said that affirming the uniqueness and finality of Christ, rather than being unfair to those who had not heard of Him, made possible the universal reconcilability and fellowship of human beings.

Is the “universal reconcilability and fellowship of human beings” the purpose of Christ’s atoning sacrifice? What about being reconciled to God (or is that what he is alluding to – who knows)? Either way, Rowan gives the impression that he is a Universalist.

He warned that there was a danger of “treating others as if they know nothing, and we have nothing to learn” if Christians simply believed there was no hope for people outside of the Christian faith.

A belief in the uniqueness and finality of Christ, he said, gave Christians a “generous desire to share” and a “humble desire to learn”.

But not, it would appear, a desire to evangelise by speaking of the salvation that only Jesus offers.

“In dialogue between people of different faith we expect to learn something, we expect to be different as a result of the encounter. We don’t as a rule expect to change our minds,” he said.

A Rowanite Christian is one who, when encountering other faiths is content to have held on to his own beliefs.

“We come with conviction, with gratitude and with confidence, but it is the confidence which I believe allows us to embark on these encounters, hoping that we may learn – not change our conviction – but learn.

“When we sit alongside the Jew, the Buddhist, the Muslim, the Hindu, we expect to see in their humanity something that challenges and enlarges ours. We expect to receive something in their humanity as a gift to ours.”

All this leaves me wondering whether Rowan is actually a Christian at all, in any coherent sense of the word.

February 9, 2010

Anglicanism. Now in 3D!

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 7:31 pm

Rowan Williams, in his Presidential Address, postulates that our Anglican troubles are caused by seeing in only two dimensions; so, put on those polarised lenses, stare at the screen, and prepare to be amazed:

Earlier I mentioned ‘three-dimensionality’.  Seeing something in three dimensions is seeing that I can’t see everything at once: what’s in front of me is not just the surface I see in this particular moment.  So seeing in three dimensions requires us to take time with what we see.

Until Rowan attempted to explain it, I thought I understood seeing in three dimensions; never mind, if Rowan is seeing that I can’t see everything at once it’s probably only because he forgot his 3D glasses. And, of course, seeing in three dimensions requires us to take time with what we see means we have to take time into consideration and see in four dimensions, which will require a tinfoil hat in addition to the 3D glasses  – see?

Rowan Williams and the middle ground

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 1:17 pm

In his Presidential Address, Rowan Williams has said something to upset just about everyone. I think he deserves credit since his seems to be such an effortless gift; others of us have to work at it.

Liberals are upset because Rowan is still not “fully including” homosexuals in the life of the Anglican church, even though he did issue a rather grovelling apology – perhaps what was missing was an obsequious Obama Bow™.

Conservatives will be upset because, among other things, he seems to think that TEC and the ACoC have exercised genuine restraint, because he jumbles together outside intervention and litigation as if they were equivalent wrongs and because he still doesn’t get it: the ACoC and TEC have become sub-Christian institutions.

Such is the problem of trying to find middle ground when there really isn’t any.  Rowan Williams might be able to thrive in the effete, refined halls of academia but he is quite incapable of leading the Anglican communion to anywhere but ruin.

January 29, 2010

Rowan Williams and the “R” word

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 10:46 am

From the Times:

The whole world, and not just Britain, is broken, with continents such as Africa feeling forgotten and uncared for, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in the heart of New York’s financial district yesterday.

Any money men who might have happened in to Trinity Wall Street to shelter from the snow would have found a different sort of chill as Dr Rowan Williams delivered his lesson.

Standing at the lectern of the famously wealthy US Episcopal church, which lies at the head of Wall Street, the leader of the Anglican Communion condemned the “straw man” of self-interest.

His theme was that financiers, wordsmiths — in fact anyone in the Western world connected in any way with economic reality — should look at themselves in the mirror and repent.

It is hard to argue with Rowan’s assessment of Western money moguls whose modus operandi is grounded in avarice, self-interest and utilitarianism. However, Rowan’s asking secular financiers to repent stands in stark contrast to his response to heresy in the Anglican church where, instead of repentance, he seeks “conversation”.

December 31, 2009

Rowan Williams on the last decade

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 8:28 pm

Rowan Williams, Utopia Chaser, bemoans the last ten years:

The last 10 years have been “gruelling and terrible” but they should not deter people from helping the poorer and needy living thousands of miles away, says the archbishop of Canterbury.

In his new year message, to be broadcast tomorrow, Dr Rowan Williams will say that people can still make a difference in spite of the “terrorism, war, natural disaster and financial collapse of the last 15 months”.

There was one bright spot, though:

the archbishop also expressed his disappointment at the lukewarm commitment to achieving the millennium development goals.

December 21, 2009

Rowan Williams: climate pantalone

Filed under: Global Warming,Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 8:12 pm
Tags: ,

Mark Tooley’s remarks on Rowan’s Copenhagen performance:

Church prelates at Copenhagen like Rowan Williams and Desmond Tutu spread climate fears, tiresomely echoing secular European conventional environmentalism.

Harsh prophecies of climate catastrophe need to be weighed against the impact on still-developing nations. Environmental fears should not excuse perpetuating poverty.

The primary religion on display at the Copenhagen summit often resembled Earth worship. Christians are called to guard God’s creation while not deifying the Earth or prioritizing nature over humanity.

Whether waving hammer-and-sickle flags or calling for a worldwide one-child policy of strict population control, many activists in Copenhagen seemed more self-absorbed than actually concerned about helping the poor.

Archbishop Williams professed to witness to God’s hope, but once there, he merely echoed secular rants about endless environmental degradation.

I put it down to the fact that Rowan comes from Swansea. I attended university in Swansea and the weather was consistently dreadful: I remember it snowed in June once – it really did. Rowan is trying to Swansify the rest of the world.

December 6, 2009

Rowan Williams: please don’t do it. Pretty please?

Filed under: homosexuality,Rowan Williams,TEC — David Jenkins @ 4:13 pm
Tags: ,

Rowan Williams obsequiously begging diocesan bishops not to allow another gay bishop to be consecrated:

The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.

The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.

The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.

Coincidentally, our readings this morning included Luke 3:1ff where John the Baptist, in a moment of seeker-sensitive tenderness, exhorted the crowds with “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Rather than be direct, Rowan implores the bishops for a period of gracious restraint. What a load of old bollocks. The TEC should get on with what everyone knows is eventually inevitable and Rowan should stop snivelling long enough to employ John the Baptist’s technique – tell the truth; he has nothing to lose at this point.

December 5, 2009

Rowan Williams and the carbon gospel

Filed under: environment,Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 2:55 pm
Tags: ,

Secular dictionary definition of “Gospel”: The proclamation of the redemption preached by Jesus and the Apostles, which is the central content of Christian revelation.

Rowan Williams’ definition of “Gospel”: Less carbon dioxide.

Some 3,000 Christians gathered in Westminster for an ecumenical service before joining tens of thousands of campaigners in a march through the capital today to call on the UK to take the lead at next week’s UN climate change summit in Copenhagen.

Dr Rowan Williams said the human race had until now not been very good news for creation, as he warned that the failure to tend to the health and wellbeing of creation was already having negative effects on the lives of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

He said: “We are to be bearers of good news for the world that God has made. Not for any one little bit of it, not any one community at the expense of others, not even for humanity at the expense of everything else in the universe. Good news for all of creation.

November 19, 2009

Rowan Williams pleads with the Vatican on women bishops

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 3:59 pm

Rowan Williams, ever in search of the impossible dream, is in Rome:

The archbishop of Canterbury today pleaded with Roman Catholics to set aside their differences with Anglicans over the issue of female bishops, insisting there was more uniting the denominations than dividing them.

Rowan Williams was giving a lecture in Rome before Sunday’s meeting with the pope, their first encounter since the Vatican’s surprise announcement of a special institution for traditionalist Anglicans wanting to convert to Catholicism.

In his address at the Gregorian University, Williams said the Anglican communion was proof that churches could stay together in spite of their differences.

Where has Rowan been for the last 3 years? The Anglican communion is proof that the church can’t stay together once internal differences become as stark as they are now.

I understand that once Rowan has convinced the Pope of the benefits of women bishops he will be travelling to Saudi Arabia to plead the case for women imams.

Philip Pullman re-writes the Crucifixion

Filed under: Atheism,Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 10:11 am
Tags: ,

From the Telegraph:

Philip Pullman, the author of His Dark Materials, has written his own version of the New Testament in which the story of Jesus is given a “different ending”.
The writer has penned an alternative Bible passage imagining a different fate for Christ, who was executed by the Romans.

“He has written what would have happened if Jesus had had a fair trial,” a friend told The Daily Telegraph’s Mandrake column.

“He knows it will be controversial, but he has some serious points to make.”

Pullman is due to read his “account” of Christ’s last days at the Globe theatre on Thursday as part of an event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Reprieve, an organisation which campaigns for the rights of prisoners.

Books by Pullman, who is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, have been criticised by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. His critics often cite an interview in which he reportedly said: “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”

The fantasy novels His Dark Materials, with their religious allegories, have been seen as a direct rebuttal of The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis, the late Christian author, which have been criticised by Pullman.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has, however, proposed that His Dark Materials should be taught as part of religious education in schools.

There is nothing surprising about this since Pullman is an atheist, supporter of the British Humanist Society and actively pursues an anti-Christian agenda, saying things like, “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”

One does wonder, therefore, why Rowan Williams thinks Dark Materials should be taught in schools as religious education; I can only surmise that Rowan, having not quite managed to single-handedly destroy the Anglican Church, is looking for some help.

To be serious – really – I should have thought that Graham Taylor’s Shadowmancer, which is explicitly Christian, would have been a better recommendation for Rowan to make. Perhaps it hits too close to home: the villain, Reverend Obadiah Demurral, is an Anglican vicar.

November 4, 2009

Rowan Williams’ Ginger Biscuits

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David Jenkins @ 9:02 am

Or as we used to call them, Ginger Nuts; a particularly appropriate epithet in this case.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed his recipe for ginger biscuits which forms part of a new cookbook bringing together dishes from a range of Christian groups.

Dr Rowan Williams’s tasty treats are the Church of England’s contribution to Loaves, Fishes and More – a 70-recipe collection which aims to raise funds for Christian Aid.

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