Rowan Williams on the bombing

Now, maybe this is the wrong time to post this but I think the seriousness of the London bombings demands that we continue our analysis of Rowan Williams’ simple inability to remember that he is the leader of the Anglican Christian church.

Giving the BBC’s “Thought for the Day” on the 8th of July, Williams (yet again) didn’t mention that horrible word that he seems so averse to.

What is the word that a Christian minister simply won’t say?

Jesus

read the transcript and see if you spot it. Once again, the only source of any true confidence in the face of this terror goes unmentioned by the leader of the Church of England as he addresses the nation.

But, it’s actually worse this time.
Williams quotes Isaiah 27:10

Isaiah 27:10 The fortified city stands desolate, an abandoned settlement, forsaken like the desert; there the calves graze, there they lie down; they strip its branches bare.

The problem, here, is that Isaiah is not speaking of an arbitrary act of violence, some meangingless and fruitless barbarism. Isaiah’s lament is for a city destroyed by God. Jerusalem is desolate in Isaiah 27 because God has emptied her.

Having misquoted scripture, Williams then closes:

 There’s another kind of silence, where we breathe deeply and ‘gather’ ourselves, anchor ourselves in what matters and what lasts. The only finally adequate response to terror and evil is to gather ourselves like this – to reach down into what feeds the roots of our spirit, trusting that justice, mercy and joy are never going to be silenced or paralysed. And when we know that, we’re ready to begin again on the long road, the long task, of making humanity really human.

No, Rowan, the only adequate response to this is to point people to the cross, where the Lord Jesus Christ (remember Him?) entered into our suffering and prayed for forgiveness for those that perpetrated the most barbaric crime in all history.

But, sadly, no mention of Jesus from the Archbishop.

crux sola est nostra theologia – Luther got it, Williams doesn’t.

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5 comments on “Rowan Williams on the bombing

  1. I think your criticism of Rowan Williams is a bit harsh. For many people observing the acts of terror being committed in the world today, there is the idea that it is inescapably linked to religious belief driving the decisions of the actors. Therefore this is a time for care in the use of language, not just for repeating something over and over which is already being said.

    The role of an archbishop must be an impossible one to fulfill fully. He must be a leader for the church, and all the different strands of belief that it is. He has to attempt to be a strong voice in the world, whilst also having dialogue with it. One of the parts of his address is as follows-

    “We must take courage. We may not feel we have much strength, we may still feel partly paralysed. There’s a passage in the New Testament where Paul says something like this: ‘we don’t know how to pray or what to hope for sometimes. But the spirit of God is working with us, and even our wordless cries and groans become part of the Spirit’s action’.

    There’s another kind of silence, where we breathe deeply and ‘gather’ ourselves, anchor ourselves in what matters and what lasts. The only finally adequate response to terror and evil is to gather ourselves like this – to reach down into what feeds the roots of our spirit, trusting that justice, mercy and joy are never going to be silenced or paralysed. And when we know that, we’re ready to begin again on the long road, the long task, of making humanity really human. “

    Might he be saying here that for those people who feel their deepest feelings that represent them in the fullest sense are feelings of anger or bitterness or sadness or pain can share this with the spirit of God. That reaching down into our depths can be part of our active response not our just our reactive one, because as he goes onto say if we reach down to what feeds us, we see the spark of justice, mercy and joy which can’t be put out and are the fundamentals of building afresh. And there’s also an appeal earlier on to focus on what we said we wanted before the attacks, and to hold firmly to the things that resonate most deeply within us.

    There are many who will agree with this, I hope so anyway. There are also many who will hear the word Jesus and switch off. We don’t need to be apologetic about mentioning Jesus, but perhaps this is a time for not pushing an agenda, but trying to reconcile, and be a part of a healing process. If we are, our actions and our ability to put our own agendas second may well prove to be a pointer far more than if we simply just talk about Jesus. You commented that the ” only one adequate response to this is to point people to the cross…(where Jesus) prayed for forgiveness for those that perpertrated the most barbaric crime in history”. Well, in the light of tens of people whose lives were ended in London last week and the millions worldwide who have died unjustly, I think calling Christ’s death the most barbaric crime in history is not going to be heard in the way perhaps you want it to be heard. It does point to how important Jesus is to you, but doesn’t open dialogue with others who will feel differently and a lack of dialogue with those using religious language is what many feel is a root cause of the terror attacks. Therefore, care needs to be taken right now, not because one is looking to cause offense but because people in their rawest states might take it anyway.

    Rowan Williams’ position as a symbol and a leader makes communication of ideas that people will listen to objectively dificult. Mentioning Jesus more often as a solution has the atmosphere of box ticking about it to me-I think the world is more complicated than that approach, and that in order to peel away the layers we need dialogue that meets people where they are.

    I’d welcome any and all comments, God bless,

    Jez

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