The media focus on controversies involving such tangential subjects as homosexuality, sharia law, and his beard. (Uh, those are three different controversies, by the way!) Basically His Grace is politically a leftist (written pro-gay articles, arrested once for an anti-war protest) but flirted with (very hidebound) Orthodox Christianity, whose spiritual traditions he seems to admire, and really does believe in some of the impossible stuff, like the resurrection. As archbishop he comes across as more centrist (affirming women priests, but not inviting Gene Robinson to Lambeth in hopes of placating anti-gay evangelicals) and trying to hold the Anglican Communion together when elements are threatening to split. (I personally think they should split.) Anyway, he seems like a likeable guy, and writes very intelligently and well.
I am also an admirer of his co-religionist John Shelby Spong, an American bishop whose books famously call into question such basic Christian beliefs as the resurrection, or the efficacy of prayer. The two have carried on an interesting discussion over the years. Williams apparently complained that Spong had trouble believing that Williams could actually believe in such things.
I do realize that this sort of controversy will strike a substantial segment of our reading audience as about as cogent as a corresponding debate among Scientologists.
Hmmm… he seems to have a difficult road ahead of him, and an unenviable job.
i don’t personally ‘LIKE’ him, as he’s not my type, but he is working hard to avoid the fairly inevitable split that the gay (and married) bishops thing has brought into the church of england. i prefer his ‘altar’ ego as Mr Bean.
perhaps the conservatives should join back up with the Roman Catholics, as there have been mutterings about for years, and the C of E … the modern Anglicans… can get on with living a religion in the real world. Mind you, there’s enough gay priests in the Catholic church, it’s just that they don’t admit it, even AFTER they’ve been outed as pederasts. that’s going to be a problem with any church that doesn’t recognise that homosexuality is a fairly inevitable part of humanity, especially in more crowded situations. (it is well known that the rate of homosexual behaviour in any species increases with population density.)
There are different kinds of “conservative” depending on what it is they hope to conserve. I doubt that many of the Anglican evangelicals would be happy as Catholics–if for no other reason than that any future pope could effectively change whatever he wants–women priests, for example–and then what are the ex-Anglicans going to do? Orthodoxy or non-conformist Protestantism would be happier destinations for them, I think. Or if they could work out the money / property aspect, they could just split and do what they liked.
The Anglicans are a broad church in the best and worst of meanings of the term.
Good, because a wide array of viewpoints is IMHO an enrickment of a congregation, bad because the Anglican communion is very different things in very different bits of the world.
In the UK it basically functions as a state church. This means that it has to be in sync with the evolving British society, IE women priests, pro gay bits, gay priests and so on.
In the thirld world and partly in the US it’s a fighting evanglizing church with no support, and that means that the message has to be a fair bit sharper.
The tensions resunting from this may be best served by a split, or by seeing Lambeth downgraded to an old friends meet, with only practical matters discussed - if the constituent congregations can live with that.
In the U.S., most Episcopal churches lean liberal–the conservative ones are fighting a rear-guard (heh heh!) battle. Oh yes, I read an estimate that said HALF of their priests were gay! (God knows why–maybe the dresses?) Anyway, the Episcopalians are dwarfed in numbers by the Baptists, who lean conservative (to say the least).
Well, I think Willliams is less stupid then the headlines make out, but he is still inappropiate to be Archbishop.
I think Nazir-Ali would be a better archbishop, as he is both more conservative, more dogmatic in the face of politcal trends but yet still is flexible in areas not restricted by the bible, ie. Women priests and bishops.
The thing is, there are different kinds of “conservative.” Evangelicals think they are trying to “conserve” the things that are important, but so do Anglo-Catholics (and crypto-Orthodox!). I wonder if the evangelicals perceive the Anglo-Catholics as secular / cultural Anglicans (like Spong), when these strike me as a separate group…?
I am stunned that anyone would think of Williams as stupid, in view of all those weighty books he’s written. I guess you must be thinking of political mis-steps, for example during the controversy over sharia law. It surprised me too that he would endorse it (not even Muslims talk this way, at least not in the British mainstream). My first reaction was not to think “Williams is an idiot,” rather to wonder if there was some nuance to it that the journalists hadn’t picked up on.
Apparently Nazir-Ali gave the impression of feeling himself entitled to the position. And then when he didn’t get it, complained of institutional racism.
I actually agree with you, he was writing about the interaction between cultural values, religion and the state, not something the ignorent would argue about. I think his arguements were well argued but in my view, not correct. My main complaint about the “Sharia” affair is he should have been more cautious about how what his words could be misinterupted as he is a public figure.
Still, I think he goes too far with the interfaith thing, you know the Daily Mail claims hes an ordained Druid priest, but I am not sure if it is true or not. His statements against sharing the good news with Muslims seemed pretty dumb, but I haven’t looked into it.
My defination of of a religious conservative is someone who keeps the integrety of the personal faith even against outside socio-political pressures.
In other words
A priest not wanting a gay marriage = conservative
Conservative =/= A priest wanting to ban gay marriage
Yes–he should have been politically savvy enough to realize how talk of sharia would come across.
The “Druid” thing is b.s… He was inducted into a Welsh fraternal / cultural society, not a neo-pagan religious group. In view of his theological writings, which (surprise) advocate a mainstream Christian theology, I can’t fathom how anyone could imagine him of being a crypto-Druid or whatnot. It’s like one of those devil movies, where the Catholic priest character is part of some secret human-sacrifice cult.
I agree that the issue of homosexuality (whether of priests, or of married couples, or whatever) has become a convenient flag for the various political camps to rally around. But isn’t it a bit strange to make something like this the center of one’s religious views? (If memory serves, one of the 39 Articles even states something to the effect that a priest’s unworthiness has no effect on the validity of the sacraments.)
In the context of Anglicanism, the desire to do whatever is necessary to hold the church together also strikes me as a form of conservatism, no? I guess it’s a matter of priorities. Which is more important to have–a bigger denomination, or a more “correct” (defined however) denomination?