Friday, December 01, 2006


You can't win, really. So it's best not to try. Winning is for losers. And here's why: Christians and other "religious people" are routinely accused of being intolerant, impatient, ignorant and unpleasant - not without reason sometimes, sadly. But according to a piece in the latest Sunday Times (a profile of John Sentamu, though it wanders a bit) the problem with Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, is that he is none of these things. Instead he's pleasant, thoughtful and commends careful listening ahead of hasty action. This, apparently, is even worse. How dare he refuse to adopt the commandeering manner we expect of our "real leaders". String him up! Oh, hang on, they did that to someone else, didn't they? Maybe this Christian lark isn't supposed to be brutal and simple after all....

[Dr] Williams, hailed as a new broom on his appointment in 2002, is now perceived as an unworldly academic who ties himself in rhetorical knots while his church tears itself apart over the ordination of women and gay priests. He sounded too clever by half in John Humphryss recent radio series, Humphrys in Search of God, when he spoke mystically of “silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark”.

“For God’s sake, man . . . why are you so nice?” one newspaper demanded recently. Last week the tone became harsher, when a Daily Telegraph comment piece announced, “The archbishop’s days are numbered.” It suggested that Williams, undermined by a feud with Lord Carey, his predecessor, will step down early to make way for Sentamu.

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