Comments: church press on the firestorm

That Church Times leader must be among the worst I have read.

No focus on the matter of RW's pronouncements, no mention of its implication for the direction in which RW is taking the Anglican Church (as ably highlighted by Simon Barrow), or how more wisely to intervene on matters relating to other faiths in the future; but instead a hyper-defensive blast against secular 'phobias', again ignoring the fact that a good many criticisms of RW's position came from progressive Muslims and Jews. By neglecting these issues and heaping all the blame on prejudice and ignorance and the media Anglicans are left looking like a band of pompous fools, as was embarrassingly obvious on Question Time this week.

There has been plenty of concern about civil aspects of sharia, from within as well as without the Muslim community, grounded on well-evidenced conflicts with human rights issues and the way it operates within a culture of patriarchal clerical bullying. There have been interesting debates about the wisdom of pursuing religious exemptions from the civil law. Moreover, there has been plenty of intelligent discussion arising from RW's speech about the role and constitutional future of the Anglican church. How disappointing that the ostrich mentality now blinds the CT to such questions.

Posted by John Omanii at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 9:56am GMT

Theo Hobson's piece is really excellent, especially the conclusion.

Posted by Andrew Brown at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 11:25am GMT

The dead tree edition of the Tablet also has good pieces by Clifford Longley, Chris Chivers, Mona Siddiqi and Christopher Howse. As ever, the Tablet treats the whole affair with intelligence and judgment.

Posted by cryptogram at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 11:59am GMT

And the paper edition of the Church Times also has pieces by Paul Vallely, Andrew Brown, Mona Siddiqui (again) and Grace Davie. All of which are well worth reading.

And the Tablet also has an article by Stephen Bates. Can't imagine why you didn't include that in your list...

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 12:19pm GMT

Pure oversight, Simon, literally, as I scanned the heads of the pages. But I did read Stephen's piece, honest.

Posted by cryptogram at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 1:27pm GMT

Sorry to bring this here, but my attempts to get some response from The Tablet have been fruitless for months.

I cannot get the "free" articles to open (except for the book review) -- I have emailed The Tablet many times about this problem, starting in late December & received no response.

I have made sure that my computer is accepting cookies & have tried three different browsers (Firefox, Safari & Explorer) with identical results -- I get in a loop telling me how to register (which I did years ago) which keeps returning me to the same page!

And I agree with John Omanii that the Church Times leader was surprisingly disappointing. The best explanation seems to be the "rally 'round the beleaguered leader" syndrome.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 2:57pm GMT

I think a good reason for *not* mentioning Stephen Bates's 'Tablet' article would be its bullying conclusion: we journalists had the power {not the expertise, but the power and influence) to 'get you' a long time ago, Archbishop - count yourself fortunate that we did not. Would it be rude to say: 'Yuk!'?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 6:20pm GMT

Prior Aelred: I'm glad to discover I'm not the only one who has been experiencing difficulty with the Tablet website. I did manage to get through to Theo Hobson's article eventually, after entering my email details as if I were a print subscriber, but this hasn't always worked in the past.

Hobson's analysis of RW's agenda is extremely perspicacious, especially on the variance between what RW thinks is his mission, and the role that many people in England envision for the Church. As Hobson argues: 'The anger that Williams has unleashed is not just down to Islamophobia. It is also a lament for the liberal Anglican culture that has been slowly collapsing for a decade or two, and has all but been lost.' For those who do not believe liberal secularity and Christianity are irreconcilable, and who think of liberal Protestantism as the chief characteristic of our established church, this has been a bracing week.

I have several agnostic friends who are openly supportive of our established church precisely because they believe it secures us against the extremes of religious enthusiasm and clerical egotism they see evident in a secular polity like the United States. In this respect, they fall in a long tradition of thinking about religion in Britain: Hume and Gibbon were both supportive of the Anglican establishment for the same reason. Unlike RW, they would argue that liberal Protestantism actually helps to resolve the tensions between militant atheism and religious enthusiasm (whether Christian or Muslim) that periodically emerge; they point out that figures like Hitchens and Dawkins have met with much greater acclaim in the United States than here in Britain.

Perhaps Hobson is right, and RW is aware of this, even if he disguises it by approaching the issue only indirectly. But it just may be that RW has done more to bring about the realisation of a secular state than he imagines.

Posted by John Omani at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 10:04pm GMT

John Omanii --

Thanks for the tip which got me to the Hobson piece! Thank you very much indeed!

And might I say that I have admired you posts here -- very clear & sound (IMHO).

Apologies to our host for the personal intrusion (but you may recall my earlier lauding of The Tablet & sympathize with my dismay when I found it inaccessible).

Posted by Prior Aelred at Sunday, 17 February 2008 at 2:47am GMT

I think it's probably fair to say that the Archbishop's comments were quoted out of context, or at least full and proper accoount of the context within which they were made was not taken. That said I cannot resist the Conclusion that Dr Williams was hopelessly naive in allowing himself to be put in a situation where he could so easily be compromised or misrepresented. A media which has no hesitation about misquoting or misinterpreting the comments of politicians and Royalty is hardly l;ikely to spare a senior churchman.

Posted by Adrian at Sunday, 17 February 2008 at 8:07pm GMT
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