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Tony Grist

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The Archbishop And Islam [Feb. 12th, 2008|08:30 am]
Tony Grist

The Archbishop of Canterbury is a beardy, religious guy. When he speaks about sharia law becoming "unavoidable" in Britain and "clarifies" this remark by looking forward to "a helpful interaction between the courts and the practice of Muslim legal scholars in this country"  he's standing up for beardy religious guys everywhere.

His defenders go on about him being a deep thinker (he's certainly not a clear one) but his instinct that beardy religious guys should stick together (or to use his own language, that "it is not inappropriate for a pastor of the Church of England to address issues around the perceived concerns of other religious communities") is shallow.

Anglicanism and Islam belong to different worlds.   An Anglican theologian- like the Archbishop himself- is a product of the Reformation and the Enlightenment and  has been required by his training to question and test his faith;  the Muslim theologian isn't and hasn't.   The similarities- beards, robes, bookisness- are all on the surface; the differences- core beliefs and intellectual methods- are- or should be-  fundamental. 

But the archbishop makes a habit of siding with closed minds against open minds.  He's also done it in the argument in his own communion over gay priests. His speech to synod- which I've quoted above- goes on to criticise the Episcopal Church of America as "patronising... manipulative (and) insensitive" for appointing a gay bishop but has nothing to say against the gay-bashing clergy of West Africa. 

There's a name for this atavism- when an intellectual chooses to side with the enemies of his own high culture.  It's this- trahison des clercs.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-02-12 11:23 pm (UTC)
I'm disappointed in Williams. I realize he believes he has a mission to speak out, but he needs to pay more attention to the impact his words have on the world around him and on his church.

I suppose it sounds jingoistic of me, but I don't believe any country ought to abandon its own laws and cultures at the instigation of an emigrant group or a cultural minority --- nor do I believe people, any people, should be able to have special courts and laws based on their religions, or should have the capacity to turn their religious beliefs into law. History has shown repeatedly that we've got to keep the two separate.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-02-13 09:56 am (UTC)
Williams is- in his gentlemanly, ever-so-fuzzy way- a theocrat. I suppose it would be odd if he wasn't. He wants religious leaders like himself to have more power and influence than they currently do.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-02-13 06:36 pm (UTC)
I agree, and that's precisely why I'm disappointed in him.

Of course I know I'm being unrealistic to think that a major religious leader could have the capacity to rise above the whole "God must be at the helm of the ship of state" schtick, but in this day and age you would think that ought to be possible.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-02-14 10:25 am (UTC)
Williams was sold to us as a subtle, modern intellectual but the way he's handled the issues that have come up on his watch suggest he's nothing of the sort. He's a theocrat. And is it possible for a subtle, modern intellectual to be a theocrat? Probably not.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-02-14 06:45 pm (UTC)
I would hope not!
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