Saturday, December 20, 2008

Williams' Wisdom

The story of ++Rowan being interviewed by the New Statesman is doing the rounds. Intriguing what kind of news mountain can be made out of a molehill of a comment. Always best to read the whole interview - a taste of which is here, reminding us that, above all else ++Rowan is a wise man:

"If the Archbishop is exercised about social and political issues, he is relaxed about the wave of fashionably atheistic books from writers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens that have become bestsellers. The Archbishop, who was in New York on 11 September 2001, and got caught up in its horrors (at one point, in an incident he did not publicise, becoming trapped in the stairwell of a building he was meant to be speaking in), partly attributes this latest trend to the events of that day.

'Dawkins certainly wrote a very sharply worded piece immediately after 9/11, and I think he's still in some way trading on that capital. People say that the public needs mythical figures in every generation - the famous atheist, the loony bishop, the womanising politician. Well, Richard Dawkins has gleefully stepped into the role of famous atheist, and does it with tremendous panache.'

However, he is inclined to agree with those Christians concerned about a wave of 'secular fundamentalism' spreading across western Europe. 'There's a very wide assumption among commentators that the secular position is obvious, the default setting of the human mind. I'm very wary of any philosophy that says, 'The default setting is clear, and if you don't find it you're slightly odd', like in the Soviet Union, where if you disagreed with the system, then you were off to a psychiatric hospital.

'We're not there, but there is this little edge sometimes that says, 'This is the natural human position and if you don't hold this position then we've got a problem with you.' It systematically ignores the constructive role of religion in art, politics, imagination. I would say to myself and other believers, don't panic about the rise of these things. Engage, as sensibly and carefully as you can, until the argument is made.' "

This keeps the ABC in the running for Anglican of the Year (as judged by this blog). But I thank a commenter recently who presented the name of a good keen man in the States; and I think the woman writing to the Bishop of Tennessee (see post below) are worthy names on the shortlist ... which can be added to by you!

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