Comments: some recent Telegraph articles

Williams has only himself to blame. He abandoned those who supported him and has shown all the backbone of a jellyfish - all in the name of a unity based on prejudice. he should have been proud to be the archbishop who told the fundamentalists where to get off and to go and set up their own church.Instead, he is their puppet, despised and ridiculed by those who have always despised him, and no longer trusted by those who used to do so.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 12:14am GMT

Not that Lord Carey's statements and activities could not be misunderstood, but it seem to me that reporting is more and more being supplanted by politisizing.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 7:07am GMT

I don't approve of this conjecture. "Humpty was pushed".

ABC has a hard enough road of it, there are a layer of leaders who say "we want peace", and if you don't give it to us we are going to (re)commit violence e.g. break up a communion, resume suicide bombings.

They remind me of Esau, unwilling and unable to wait for God to give them their fair proportion and, like Cain, prepared to kill (literally or spiritually) those that deprive them of what they see are their fair rewards.

Their maturity is not better than Haggar, who thought that because she had conceived a child she was no longer the hand maiden and had become more worthy than Haggar.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 10:00am GMT

Thompson's piece is patently absurd whether you're a fan of Carey, Williams or both or neither.

Ironically I agree to a large extent with you Merseymike in that Rowan Williams has hugely disappointed the 'left' in the C of E in not actively pushing forward their agendas. At the same time, he has not swung 'right' enough to satisfy conservatives, who are desperate to see stronger leadership on his part. Yet unlike Mike I have a great deal of sympathy for RW, who is in an impossible position. It is difficult to see how he could have acted differently without alienating an enormous swathe of his church. I know Mike you think that alienation is inevitable and right but it's harder if you believe in Christian unity, as Williams obviously must do and does.

Posted by Sean Doherty at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 10:40am GMT

Besides, it'a not the AbofC's job to push the agenda of one particular faction in the Church. I have no more patience with left wing totalitarianism than I do with that of the right wing. If the Church is to be a broad tent, then the AbofC has the near impossible task of walking the line between the various factions.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 12:12pm GMT

I actually agree with most of that, Sean, but I would ask what 'unity' really means? There clearly isn't and won't be genuine unity in terms of opinion, and it appears unlikely that organisational unity alone will satisfy.

I think alienation was inevitable and would ultimately be fruitful - I think RW should be looking towards how to do the only logical thing - commit the Anglican Communion to history, which is where it belongs, and look towards a much looser federation of independent churches, crossing boundaries of geography, with some historical lineage but no genuine relationship today.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 12:28pm GMT

Carey makes the important point that when Williams retires he will be probably still actively involved intellectually -indeed the freedom may facilitate his best work yet. That might be considered "unhelpful" by a more conservative ABC if that is what follows. It's important then that those of us from a conservative point of view respect that and don't whinge about him undermining the next ABC.

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 2:00pm GMT

"That might be considered "unhelpful" by a more conservative ABC if that is what follows." Dave

Projecting future problems is "unhelpful" when rationalizing Lord Carey's behavior.

Lord Carey of Clifton ought raise/keep "bees" instead of instigating "stings" at The Episcopal Church.

Sturring up hornets nests is "unhelpful" anywhere/anytime.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 2:46pm GMT

The Carey piece is one of those that invents another enemy - zealous rampant secularism - in order to have something to unite around. How useful to generate an external enemy when the insides of an institution cannot stick together on its own terms. There has always been a secular intellectual position, whether it is Richard Dawkins, or Ludovic Kennedy or A. C. Grayling, and there has always been a public space, somewhat confused, between the religions and incorporating appearances (or not) - the idea that there is some successful, planning, co-ordinated enemy is just a fiction for internal consumption.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 3:00pm GMT

Yes, the Thompson piece is balls.

And if I may mix the metaphore it is clear which axe he is grinding ! Ouch!

I suppose it beats working for a living.

Posted by laurence at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 4:42pm GMT

'What I can warn authorities is that this will not weaken Christian Unions, or Christian leadership in this land, but will make us more determined to stand out – in complete unity.'
George Carey. Huffing & puffing.... Will he blow the house down ?

What is he on about ? What is he on ? Must the movers & shakers of 'the christian world' -self appointed or otherwisw--show the fervour and sincerity of their faith, by setting up an imaginery enemy to attack ? I'd be much more encourged to see the real issues tackled, human and animal suffering, marginalisation of powerless minorites. I think the minority who sit in the House of Lords are harly powerless.

Yhere's no need to start issuing vacuous warnings to universities, 'secularists', gay priests or any one else for that matter. It is just posturing.

Why does he apparently ' (we) expect liberality and generosity' from universities so that homophobes may continue to make the lives of gay students hell ?

Posted by laurence at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 5:07pm GMT

All this talk of 'secularism' with terms undefined. I shan't either.

But I have a sense it is partly about freedom from sectarianism(s) & authoritarianism(s) in an organic process of cultural growth. That is culture in a liberal democracy seems to develop freely from many sources, uncoerced by authoritarianism, & free of the limited paradigms of any one political or religious 'sect'. The Churches are as much a part of this as any other voluntary bodies or movements, in a to & fro, give & take way. Most Churches (and shuls, mosques, temples, gudwaras), and individual congregansts have embraced the new thinking, paradigms and practices of this culture,-- from supermarkets, to the Net, to contraception. From individualism to relativism, from mythological to scientific, understandings of life and of 'doing' life.

Christian Scientists refuse medical treatment as far / long as possible; and Jehovah's Witnesses decline blood transfusions. These two stand out as exxceptions, in resisting secular cultural practices. (If that is how to understand their stand-- I'm not sure.). And yet neither of these is accepted as mainstream Christian by most Church bodies.

For the most part Churches and their constituencies have embraced with open arms, the technological and lifestyle benefits of modern technology and western affluence. And for the most part embrace their Government from say Hitler or Franco, to Thatcher, to Bush.

Industrialisation transformed all before it.
Wars are waged. Animals eaten. And so on........

Those in Christianity as elsewhere who are truly counter-cultural are few -- e.g Bonhoeffer and the small Confessing Church. e.g. how many western christians would be prepared to their standard of living ' say, halved for the benefit of the developing world ? Or reduced by much less to reduce child and elder poverty in the UK?

It's all "unrealistic" and "unworakable" innit?

I f George Carey really wanted to fight the imagined figments of 'secularism' he might well give up his priveleges, including his title of 'Lord'. For the one who said not a word on gayness, DID say, "Call no man father." "Call no one teacher..."

Posted by laurence at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 5:41pm GMT

Perhaps it is not altogether untoward for an ex- Anglican to state that although an archbishop has to face the current internal crises of his particular denomination and will be judged on his handling of these,many people also see in Williams a theologian who is in the process of coming to grips with the basic problems of religious belief in our time (problems which are not always to be expressed via homosexual and feminist issues even if these have their place-doubtless from the outset) and a first citizen of GB who has stood up to office-holders when he has judged this to be required. Is it too much to let a priority be given to basic questions of belief and the more dire issues of social justice? Could it be that some might wish to occlude such priorities?

Posted by Clive Sweeting at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 6:01pm GMT

Please remember that Carey's homophobic right-wing-ism began many years ago - for instance, when he personally overrode the scheduled defense opportunity for gays on the agenda at Lambeth 1998 (I have friends who had attended in order testify and were simply shown the door), and then Carey personally and politically railroaded through that indefensible anti-gay resolution (101 or whatever).

The man ought to have the common sense to realize that as Lord Carey, he is no longer merely a parish priest, and should keep his wretched mouth shut accordingly.

Posted by John-Julian, OJN at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 7:13pm GMT

Williams is a disgrace. He should resign NOW!

Posted by Kurt at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 7:42pm GMT


"I think RW should be looking towards how to do the only logical thing - commit the Anglican Communion to history, which is where it belongs, and look towards a much looser federation of independent churches, crossing boundaries of geography, with some historical lineage but no genuine relationship today."

It would save on a lot of unpleasantries. It might even be the case that the different elements are able to talk to each other easier once the power struggle is out of the way

Posted by dave williams at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 9:07pm GMT

I am sure you are right. After all, ecumenical work goes on despite many differences. Largely because people with utterly incompatible views aren't sharing the same denomination.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 10:59pm GMT

Doesn't the ABC rotate between liberal, conservative and anglo catholic factions?
I have to agree with the last two statements.
I certainly don't care if other denominations think I'm going to hell.

Example. There are people in my old parish who think I'm going to hell for being supportive of people who have same sex attraction. It doesn't matter that I believe in the incarnation, the Trinity etc... or that I am the only one who says the rosary. I don't believe as they do. Some are old family friends.
When they're no longer in my church telling me "I know where I'm going," I'll feel much better.
Maybe I won't be reminded of my future :).

I understand the Evangelicals outnumber the liberals in Cof E? and the Anglo Catholics are declining in numbers?


Posted by bobinwashpa at Tuesday, 28 November 2006 at 3:09am GMT

Lord Carey writes "The problem of what to do with retired archbishops has never been resolved."

If it is a problem, it seems to be of his own making. Lord Carey is the first Archbishop of Canterbury to have retired before the age of 70.

Carey - b 1935, retired 2002 (age 67)
Runcie - b 1921, retired 1991 (age 70), died 2000
Coggan - b 1909, retired 1980 (age 71), died 2000
Ramsey - b 1904, retired 1974 (age 70), died 1988
Fisher - b 1887, retired 1961 (age 74), died 1972
Temple - b 1881, died in office 1944
Cosmo Lang - b 1864, retired 1942 (age 78), died 1945

If he did not want to retire, he should have stayed in the job. Having retired, launching a website, courting controversy and then expressing surprise that he is regarded in some quarters as a nuisance, suggests a lack of judgement on his part.

A different course was adopted by the admirable David Hope, Archbishop of York 1995-2005, who took up the position of a humble vicar after his retirement. He served quietly in that position until forced to scale down his work by ill-health; he also took a seat in the House of Lords but did nothing to embarrass anyone or to draw anything but praise for himself.

It seems to me that, if there is a problem, Lord Hope has demonstrated that it is not difficult for a man of God to solve it.

Posted by badman at Tuesday, 28 November 2006 at 11:23am GMT

Badman I like that list and the helpful thoughts arising from your pondering it. Very telling.

bobinwashpa on Tuesday, 28

I don't know where the figures come from (Evangelical protagonists perhaps ?) but I do not think they are accurate. In any average 'Rural' Deanery of say 10 to 17 parishes, or so, about 1 or maybe 2 Evangelical parishes would be found. Perhaps one 'extreme' anglo-catholic church (Roman rite, Benediction, etc). Then various tractarian, modern, and liberal catholic set ups. Then some broadchurch all likely to be sacramental/ eucharistic in approach. Then one or two low church (but not evo).But then any of the above could have liberal or radical clergy and members. And these terms are imprecise. However, you can see from this that Evangelicals are a small minority in any deanery, and it follows throughout the land.

One could easily select a deanery at random and research it by visiting, or else via Diocesan Lists or the Net. It is not difficult to work out their 'churchmanship'.

On the other hand humanity and anglicanism give many surprises, and there is a contribution on Fulcrum at the moment from a pro-gay Evangelical, whose parish, has close Reform and Evangelical Alliance links ! I love the wonderful mixes and human richnesses !

Anglo-Catholic parishes that haven't moved with the times, may well be in decline (especially if anti-women, & / anti-gay), but they have bequeathed the sacramental life and devotion, to the wider anglican church -- and beyond.

I have been in deaneries where the various parishes and traditions got on quite (or very)well, trying to co-operate and meet each others' needs.

Best wishes and keep at it ! ::-)

Posted by laurence at Tuesday, 28 November 2006 at 12:33pm GMT

Looked at previous posting and realised typed Haggar twice (sigh) second time should have been Sarah. Not that anyone cares, but at least I've admitted my mistake...

Clive, I agree with you that poor ABC has been head at a very awkward time. Many of the debates might have hinged initially around GLBTs or respect for women, but many souls are now seeing how the dynamics apply beyond this limited repertoire.

For example, I have loved watching the United Nations and religious groups swing in behind the 16 day campaign against violence towards women (calling on various religious leaders to get their own house in order for justifying disrespect and abuse of women).

Similarly, I loved that other religions swung in behind the British Airlines case to support the right to wear reasonable religious symbols.

While the conservatives bunker down and proceed to throw from their pebbles, the rest of us get on with healing. We will look back on this time as a watershed and turning point, and all but the most puritanical will be glad for the changes.

It will be a more reverential world, as we realise that God transcends any singular human paradigm, imbued with confidence that God can help us make a difference, and manifest in removing entrenched demarcations and poverty. The alternative is simply chaos.

A friend of mine sent a photo from a Texas billboard the other day. Black background, with only white writing. The words?

"Don't make me come down there

- God"

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 29 November 2006 at 9:27am GMT
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