Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The hijacking of Rowan Williams

Gene Robinson told us long ago that Rowan Williams has actually been abducted by aliens and replaced with a clone, but that is not what this blog title refers to! Rather it is about my weariness at hearing that he has yet again said something that he actually hasn't. I'll be driving along or browsing the internet and my attention will be caught by some outright condemnation - usually of gay rights, or women's ministry - and I think to myself, "That doesn't sound like the sort of thing Williams would say." Then, lo and behold, I read the full text of the speech  and discover he actually didn't. It's getting quite predictable and must be so annoying for him.

It happened again today. Apparently, Williams said that society is fragmenting because of an obsession with gay rights and women's rights. "No", I thought, "that's not a description of society, more the Church." Then I thought, "But he didn't say it anyhow!" Sure enough, although I can't find the full text of his address to teenagers at the Welsh Assembly today, Williams  never uses words like "fixation"or "obsession" in any quote I can find. As for the fragmenting society bit, he says,“Once we start saying this is my identity and that’s it then I think we are in danger of really fragmenting the society we belong to.”  It is true that once we allow an identity to prevent us, in William's words, "discovering what is good for all of us and sharing something of who we are with each other so as to discover more about who we are" that we do all lose out. I think that William's words apply as much (if not more) to Christians who define their Christian identity almost entirely in terms of feeling persecuted and at loggerheads with others as to any other group in society.
Thinking of the good of all of us, thinking in terms of all of us, rather than in terms of "them and us" is a foundation stone for equality and harmony. I really can't see what others do in Williams very measured words. It  is claimed he was denouncing gay rights and feminism, but despite the fact that he also refered to, "the politics of ethnic minorities " in the same breath, there has been no suggestion that he was attacking racial groups or Islam (after all he is still Mr-introduce-Sha'riah law, isn't he?)
It makes me wonder what else Williams will not say before he leaves office?

8 comments:

  1. Poor chap. I hope he's looking forward to spending time with the grown-ups again when he moves.

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  2. I hope so too. I also hope he keeps a low profile!

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  3. He will keep a low profile as he'll be blissfully tucked away in the tranquil world of academia.

    And if anyone deserves a peaceful life, he does.

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  4. If he wants to be understood he should speak plainly. There's a place for nuance and subtlety and it's not in front of a load of kids at an event attended by the world's media. And, as everyone keeps saying, the man is clever. Perhaps he is clever enough to say something without actually saying it. You know, like a preacher who wants to tell his congregation off without being able to be accused of telling his congregation off.

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  5. I have to say that I did imagine a bunch of less-than-rivetted teenagers...
    I would find it hard to describe this as a telling off. If it was, it was the sort of telling off I simply wouldn't notice anyway! Nothing worse than telling someone off and them going away thinking, "Oh, he was a sweet old beardy guy.":)

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  6. Lambeth Palace has now provided a transcript of the remarks that were being quoted, see this page (the school debate item)
    http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/2424/archbishop-speaks-at-welsh-assembly

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  7. Thanks Simon. Much as I'd thought.
    He certainly doesn't adapt his register to suit a different audience, does he? (Mind you, I'm cringing to imagine him getting down with the kids...)

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  8. Thanks for throwing some light onto the subject. Many a time the media twist the meaning of what someone has actually said or written.

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