Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Meddlesome priest

rids us of himself by himself.

Archbishop Rowan Williams, of Canterbury, will end his term on St Augustine's throne this year. It is easy to criticize him, and he deserves it, but the deeper problem is his Church. No one man can fix that.

Since its birth as the CofE in the Reformation, it has been a creature of the State and both propped up and hemmed in by that fact. It never really was a single Church, but rather a celebration of inclusion and diversity, that is, a muddle. Puritans, High Churchmen and Liberals all corralled...or sheepherded...together on one ecclesiastical island, a churchly version of the United Kingdom, with its ordained civil servants. But His Grace, I think, did little to help, even if he could. That nation and its church have been falling apart together for over a half century.

Like many contemporary clerics, he seemed to think that his theological status qualified him to pontificate (from the Latin, "to bloviate like a bishop") on political matters, in detail, in "bold statements that needed immediate corrections that themselves then needed further corrections." Where he was not predictable he was disastrous. In his mixed review, John O'Sullivan notes:
Following the 2008 financial crisis, he declared somewhat wildly: “Every transaction in the developed economies of the West can be interpreted as an act of aggression against the economic losers in the worldwide game.” As Wilmoore Kendall remarked of a similarly rash statement (from Senator Barry Goldwater, as it happens): “There’s nothing wrong with that remark that couldn’t be put right by 100,000 well-chosen words.”
But as the late T. E. Utley, a distinguished Anglican journalist of an earlier generation, pointed out: “Christianity does not tell us what answers to give in politics; it tells us what questions to ask.” With certain obvious exceptions, the faithful may give a range of political answers to them. Their answers should rightly combine the moral arguments implicit in the questions with practical considerations resting on non-religious authority. Thus the pope may ask how best to help the poor; but Milton Friedman is better equipped to prescribe the method.


Anonymous said...

I suppose that by mentioning the aiƓn of the C of E from the Reformation up to the end of WW2, or perhaps the Newfoundland conference of 1941, you indicate that an impure institution (a mixture of Calvinist Puritans, anti-Rome High Churchmen, and rationalist Liberals) can be very functional and even powerful. ... Wasn't the unity of the RCC during this time also achieved by artful weaving rather than by using only one pure essence to construct a Church from?

Calvinists left to themselves decay into "Reform'd epistemologists" and shallow shadow-free progressives indistinguishable from Liberals. Anglican Anglicans decay toward Bible-free formalists that would return to pre-Christian pagan rites (Robert Graves feels the corn doll rite of un-Merrie Olde Englande's countryside is preferable to Christian revelation.)

Once Pius V's response to her overtures had compel'd Elizabeth to depend religiously on Calvinism rather than on Catholic episcopacy, Anglican Christianity became an ongoing "slave revolt in morals" with Calvinists compel'd to be at least somewhat seriously biblical in order to withstand the biblicism-despising class contempt from the High Church. The Calvinistic Oliver Cromwell even brought Jews into the English foreground.

Jonathan Swift makes fun of the English kings' uneven walking upon one high heel and one low heel. But the comical waving motion of the royal progress kept valuation alive and kept England open to biblical revelation. That is, the English kings »clung to God and Christianity« (Nietzsche BGE ¶46) contain'd wasteland in this way.

Rather than sublating wasteland Nietzsche recommends Gelassenheit (BGE ¶284). Let Calvinism become epistemology and progressivism. Let Anglicanism become paganism for the higher classes. Let Recusants become poetry studiers. Let Liberals become policy screw-ups. Everyone may have as he wishes in total Bible-freeness. Rasoul Britannia!

Anonymous said...

Yet if there're no waves in Britannia, wherefore the emergency need to welcome "forced marriage" for women via ‘the expression of the universal principles of Islam [and] the framework and the thinking that makes for their actualization in human history’?

Eagerly »the law of the Church of England is the law of the land« so that, I guess, if shariah becomes the law of the land Anglicans will eagerly comply -- in a dramatic shift from the previous Christendom dispensation, when Anglican authorities are obligated by the New Law of Jesus Christ to condemn "economic aggression" and violation of human rights. When the institutions of the oikoumene are no longer label'd "Christian" Christians won't be obliged to do any critiqueing.

Which recalls the justification used by fellow-travelling liberal clerics during the Cold War for speaking out against Apartheid and yet giving a free pass (in the desublimation pass law system) to Communist oppression, including race prejudice among Communists: Apartheid was done to some extent with Calvinist legitimation, and thus must be condemn'd bravely by Christians, whereas Communism isn't done in the name of Christianity, and thus isn't an offense.

Even though liberation theologians and social-justice activists did elide socialism-communism with true Christianity, which means that Communism was in fact much more an offense to true Christianity than Apartheid was, whose connection to the Bible was taken seriously only by Hannah Arendt.

In any case, just as we see that "liberal" academics imply and even say that Western "human rights" ideologies apply hardly at all or not at all to NonWestern countries (that would be culturally imperialistic of us), when "human rights" and the rest of the Christianity aftermath are no longer relevant to civil law in the West, academics and churchmen will no longer be guilty of failing to speak out prophetically against oppression, exploitation, misogyny, contempt and hostility to blacks, etc. That would be like expecting the Copts to speak out against oppression and corruption by Mubarak or by the Muslim Brotherhood. No apparent complicity, no karmic penalty.

Muslim clerics will be reduced to whispering "The Iranian Revolution was betray'd!" "What the Caliph is doing isn't REAL shariah." etc.

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