Friday, 9 January 2009

Review: Rowan's Rule, by Rupert Shortt

On the cover of this biography of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury's hand frames a face with a slight smile, the eyes looking with candour straight at the reader. What should we deduce from such an image? That it signals a book where the man behind the mitre might be exposed to our gaze?

Rupert Shortt's account is certainly revealing, a comprehensive study that attempts to get to grips with both the character and theology of the man who has been the Church of England's leading cleric for the past six years. Shortt, a former pupil of Williams, has had considerable access and, while this is not an authorised biography, there was a certain co-operation between subject and writer. That has enabled Williams's people to distance him from some of the more tawdry revelations about past girlfriends. Although somewhat embarrassing, they hardly merited the Daily Mail's moniker "babe magnet" to describe the Archbishop.

Rowan's Rule, to a Catholic like me, suggests something monastic. Indeed, there are several instances where Williams, despite being married and the leading Anglican primate, does seem monk-like, with his devotion to a structured prayer life, a love of study and simplicity. But both the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion have been extremely unruly during his time at the top. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Having no faith is no excuse for rewriting history, says Theodore Dalrymple

[...] When I once published a small article in which I stated that by far the best and nicest people I had ever known were religious, I received a torrent of unpleasant letters that equalled in nastiness of tone the theocratic Islamic websites (that are easily found) that assert, without qualification or awareness that some might find the point of view morally repugnant, that the penalty for apostasy in Islam is death. I was not in any way endorsing the religious beliefs themselves, merely saying that, in these cases, they seem to have had beneficial consequences.

It goes without saying that I do not want to live in a theocracy, but I don’t want to live in a militantly atheist state either: and to call religious education child abuse seems to me virtually to be a demand for a militantly atheist state. Indeed, most militantly atheists states (with the exception of Albania) did not forbid people to be religious, only to teach religion – precisely the policy that those who call religious education a form of child abuse might be expected to endorse. Not coincidentally, these militantly atheist states were among the nastiest in human history.

The role of rationality in human life is a lot more complex and less unequivocal than we sometimes like to think; this applies as much to disbelievers as to believers. Militancy is usually a sign of impatience, as well as of a lack of prudence, justice and temperance: and, as I am sure that I do not need to tell you, prudence, justice and temperance are three of the four cardinal virtues. Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the

SPREAD: If we didn’t leave, what did we accomplish at GAFCON?


It is important, when considering what was accomplished at GAFCON, to keep in mind its singular focus. That focus was to identify the Anglican grasp of the apostolic faith, to claim that identity for the whole Anglican Communion and to provide a firm oversight and standing from which to confess the apostolic faith as we Anglicans have received it. This singular focus meant that many very important matters were not directly addressed at GAFCON, in the Statement or in the Jerusalem Declaration. This by no means relegates matters such as the status of 5th, 6th and 7th Councils, the ordination of women, the form of the Anglican Communion, abortion, the nature of and conflict with militant Islam, our relation to the persecuted Church etc. to secondary issues. There are serious issues and differences among the fellowship of confessing Anglicans that must and will be faced. It will not be easy, nor will solutions be sudden, nor can we be absolutely certain that some will not, in the end, decide they must walk apart. The difference is that they will be faced in the context of the authority of Holy Scriptures and the apostolic faith as Anglicans have historically received it. The Conference said, echoing Canon A5 of the Church of England: “The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teaching of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it.”

With that in mind, let me state I believe to be the most important things that we did accomplish Read more
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the