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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Much of today's building is relatively "modern," about 600 years old, but its history began in 597 A.D. when St. Augustine at the behest of Pope Gregory the Great arrived with 40 monks, built a church and nurtured Christianity on the soil of Britain.
Canterbury became a significant stop on the pilgrim route to Rome, and in 1170 an event occurred that transformed it into a shrine. Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was murdered by four knights acting, they thought, on the desires of King Henry II. Four years later, Henry himself, wearing sackcloth, was at the altar being beaten by monks as penance for the deed.
When the current archbishop (the 104th) led retreat and worship, he wasn't far from the spot where one of his predecessors embodied a clash between spiritual and temporal power.
The conflicts roiling today's Anglican Communion were present at the conference, but the most valuable contribution Canterbury and the cathedral brought was a sense of perspective. The disagreements are just as real and just as serious as they were 500 or 1000 years ago, but the church as the body of Christ survives and the physical places of Canterbury transmit an awareness that we who are alive today continue to tell the great story of humanity's encounter with the divine. For Anglicans, for Episcopalians, it's not a bad heritage to share.
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