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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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The (London) Times has major space devoted today to the current Archbishop of Canterbury and an interview they got with him recently.
The main article, entitled "Meet the Archbishop of Canterbury" and based on an interview with Ginny Dougary, is here. The best thing to do by far is to read the whole article carefully, but there are two problems with that. First, it is [as are all Times stories now] behind a paywall, and, second, it is very long (12 pages in a Word document including the book excerpt at the end). An article about the interview may be found there. It carries the unfortunate and wildly misleading headline "Gay bishops are all right by me, says Archbishop." There is also an editorial on the Dr. Williams interview here which bears the title "Mission Statement."
As if all this isn't enough, there is also an analysis article by Ruth Gledhill there, bearing the title "The Archbishop of Canterbury is treading an impossible path," and an entry on Ruth Gledhill's ["Articles of Faith"] blog about it here with the title "Rowan Williams and the questions of unity and truth."
Now I do not have a copy of the physical paper but I would guess the story with the misleading headline is on the front page. In any event, given that there are already five parts of the paper giving their attention to this matter, it is clear that the Times wants a big result. Unsurprisingly, they are getting what they want, in that there are numerous articles from other media about the Times interview, and in addition parts of the blogosphere are all atwitter on the matter.
I would strongly urge people not to come to any firm conclusions about this interview based on one or two snippets of the interview or articles or a few blog comments about it. I would say this anyway, but especially insist on it in this instance for a number of reasons. First, to be charitable about it, Rowan Williams' language is not always "user friendly" (when I describe him to friends who ask in detail I sometimes call him "the gnome" and I have said elsewhere that "you will not understand him unless you understand that he is a scholar, a Trinitarian and catholic Christian, a mystic and an iconoclast."). Second, in the paper itself in which the interview appears, the aggressive hostility of the U.K. secular establishment to the church's traditional position on human sexuality continuously influences the articles, which makes them misleading or worse. The terrible headline has already been mentioned above. The editorial, to cite another example, mentions the action of the Anglican Church in Uganda in 2007 when John Guernsey (who is not mentioned) was consecrated an Anglican Bishop, but not the action of the Anglican Church in Nigeria when Martyn Minns was consecrated which occurred in 2006. It also describes the action in a way the Anglican Church in Uganda would not agree with, and couches the whole narrative in a typically Northern-hemisphere centered way, leaving out the actions of the Episcopal Church and our crucial role in the crisis. Third, we then have the articles about the interview which themselves are full of distortions and misleading elements. My wife called on the way to the airport to say that the NPR headlines about the interview were worded so as to give a misleading impression, and I see other headlines that give confusing impressions as well.
So be careful as to how you digest this--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * By Kendall * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ecclesiology
Previous entry (below): AP—Archbishop of Canterbury would support appointment of gay bishops, if they pledge celibacy
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