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?