Saturday, November 24, 2007

There he goes again ...

So the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling America names again. We'd like to say we're shocked, but we're not. It's been the epitome of cool for British intelligentsia to trash American foreign policy since George III made his little speech to the Houses of Parliament in 1775.

It's hardly news that the current Archbishop of Canterbury thinks America is imperialistic if what the London Times says today is true, saying in addition that Rowan Williams also poured scorn on the “chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity.” Right, and who
sings “And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England's mountains green?”

We wonder, however, if what is bursting through is not just his frustration at America's efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and the fields of Pennsylvania, but of another imperialistic crisis being thrust upon him from our fair shores.
Imagine if the article in the London Times had been written this way:

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that The Episcopal Church wields its power in a way that is worse than the Church of England during its imperial heyday.

Rowan Williams claimed that TEC’s attempt to intervene in dioceses and parishes by “clearing the decks” with a “quick burst of violent action” of litigation had led to “the worst of all worlds”.

In a wide-ranging interview with a British Anglican magazine, the Anglican leader linked criticism of The Episcopal Church to one of his most pessimistic declarations about the state of western civilisation.

He said the crisis was caused not just by TEC’s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen church myth of TEC, meaning that what happens in TEC is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity”.

Williams went beyond his previous critique of the conduct of the decisions of General Convention saying The Episcopal Church had lost the moral high ground since August 2003. He urged it to launch a “generous and intelligent programme of aid directed to the dioceses that have been ravaged; a check on the spiritual exploitation of defeated parishes; a de-litigation of their presence”.

He went on to suggest that the West was fundamentally adrift: “Our modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well. There is something about western modernity which really does eat away at the soul.”

Williams suggested TEC’s leadership had broken down: “We have only one global hegemonic power. It is not accumulating territory: it is trying to accumulate influence and control. That’s not working.”

He contrasted it unfavourably with how the Church of England related to Africa. “It is one thing to evangelize a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly, that’s what the Church of England did — in Africa, for example.

“It is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of litigation will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together — Virginia, for example.”

In the interview in Free to Be You & Me, an Anglican lifestyle magazine, Williams makes only mild criticisms of the Anglican Communion. He said the Anglican Communion must acknowledge that its “political solutions were not the most impressive”.

He commends the Anglican practice of praying the hours, which he says allows the remembrance of God to be “built in deeply in their daily rhythm”.

So he can cynically call America names when we do stuff abroad so there will be no more explosions on the Tube Stops at Shepherd's Bush and King's Cross, but he'll never be caught dead out on a battlefield, no sir. But let's see him take leadership on his own battlefield. Can he be so clear to all the American imperialists or just the ones who are willing to put their lives, the fortunes, and their sacred honor on the battlefield so he can continue to sit peacefully in his palace and grant interviews to the press? Let's see him get out of his Anglican foxhole and fix his own problems before he starts pointing the finger at everyone else.



And by the way, who knows where this is located?

SUNDAY UPDATE: Here is the link to the original interview. And there's more in it - especially having to do with Israel - that is very very troubling. More in the comments.

24 comments:

Br_er Rabbit said...

Well, BB, I read it all (I hate it when Kendall says that), and here's a few comments.

names: I find little to criticize in the article, other than the headline-writer's invention of the "imperialist" quip (entirely unsubstantiated by the article). It is also not surprising that he went soft on Muslims in an interview with a Muslim magazine. One does not win over a people by going in with guns blazing.

little speech: Do not, repeat do not show this to Katharine Jefferts Schori. Her Kingly[ette] act in directing Bishop Lee to reverse course already smacks far too much of being tutored at the feet of George III.

thinks America is imperialistic: Again, these are the words of the headline-writer. I do not think you will find them in the Rowanese dictionary. Nevertheless, this deserves a new entry into the Briar Patch Dictionary.

says: Like it or not, there is a "chosen nation" myth abroad here in the states, which we should be wary of lest we become like Israel, who confused the Kingdom of Israel with the Kingdom of God.

sings: England is, of course, no stranger to the "chosen nation" trap.

I love your alternative Rowan-letter. It shows most vividly that Rowan does have the capacity to write acerbic and to-the point comments and advice, which he freely applies to world politics (not his primary vocation) and denies to the aching Anglican Communion (his arch-pastorate).

Your Grace, where did you go? Come back, come back to the battlefield!

this: leaves me mystified. But then, it will not be the first time that the point you are trying to make goes straight over my head.

...getting ready to return to the Briar Patch,
Br_er Rabbit.

Anonymous said...

In the grand scheme of things, your stupid schism isn't on the map compared to the real problems of the world, including war and hunger. Denying your right-wing conservative culpability in current events is typical. Chosen people indeed.

BabyBlue said...

Good morning, British Anon. So we think our "stupid schism" has nothing to do with the poor and developing nations, with those who live with hunger and AIDS and malaria? Where do we think the war is? Knightsbridge?

"There is no left or right," Dylan said. "There's only up and down - and down is very close to the ground."

bb

Anonymous said...

The Statue is in front of
The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London,
But it rests on Virginia soil.

Marie at Rez

Alan said...

I was waiting for him to refer to "Cousin Jonathan." That was the usual term of mild condescension used by the Brits to refer to Americans after the Revolutionary War, well into the 19th century. I first heard it from my British-born mother, who reminded one of our British cousins that Cousin Jonathan did have his uses.

Anonymous said...

I used to think RW was a great man using patience, biding his time in order to exercise appropriate leadership. I now conclude that he is an over-educated, unwise small man of no consequence in the Anglican Communion.

Pageantmaster said...

"Not Helpful"

Languille Lady said...

The more I read about, and by, this man, the more I realize he is no leader, period. A sad, sad day when someone like this is supposed to lead. And even scarier is that, once he is gone, one who is even worse might be appointed if Charles is king! I haven't worn my Canterbury cross, bought there, in some time; I also have a sketch of Canterbury Cathedral.......it is so, so sad. We in the Anglican communion do need a real leader, which is why I believe we must move South.
And I do remember well the exchange between RW and Colin Powell during their talk about wars, etc., and I believe "US imperialism" was discussed by RW, and Powell said that "the only thing/territory we ever wanted was where our dead were buried".
I do believe the good comes out of bad, so maybe out of this latest idiocy out of his mouth, more and more will realize that he has no business being head of the Anglican Communion.
I do wonder if he would have joined Chamberlain in his adulation of Adolf Hitler had he been around then. His refusal to acknowledge Islamofascism suggests such.......

1662 BCP said...

Hopefully HRH Elizabeth II will call-in the ABC and advise him to return to Wles and take-up fly fishing.I don't know anyone who is delighted with the way the world is today, apart from terrorists and arms manufacturers. The ABC has virtually no credibility, the tragedy is that he has left the office in a terrible state for whoever may succeed him.

BabyBlue said...

I'm going to link to the original article in which the Sunday Times of London based their article on. But here is the context for the "scathing chosen nation" quote and it gets worse, if the magazine is quoting Rowan Williams correctly:

I ask the Archbishop about the relationship of modern Christians to the Holy Land and he paints a complex picture. “At one end of the spectrum you have Christian Zionism which is very interested in the Holy Land in ways which I find very strange, and not at all easy to accept. At the other end of the spectrum you have Christians for whom the Holy Land is some distant theme park.” He does however feel that a “growing number of Christians have become aware of the reality of the situation on the ground” and journeys there have helped “expose their minds and hearts to the realities.” He wants to see those numbers growing.
Christian Zionists support the return of Jews to Israel because they believe the second coming of Jesus will not occur until all Jews are in Israel. The Archbishop is scathing, accusing them of being connected to “the chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity.”


I will tell you friends - that is the same view as held by the leadership of TEC. In fact, this quote is possibly more personally abhorrent than anything having to with the current troubles. In fact, this just makes it even worse.

Does he even have a clue what this means? Is he so isolated that he doesn't know? I have to go to lunch now so can't comment yet - but this is just unbelievable.

By the way, there is one other quote that works well with the TEC satire:

Here's the original:

On the Iraq war he wants to “keep before government and others the great question of how you can actually contribute to a responsible civil society in a context where you’ve undermined most of the foundations on which that society can be built.” And he plainly feels responsibility for the “beleaguered Christian communities in Iraq, who are now suffering because their neighbours have turned against them, identifying them with the West.”

And here's the upgrade:


On the Anglican Communion crisis he wants to “keep before The Episcopal Church and others the great question of how you can actually contribute to a responsible church community in a context where you’ve undermined most of the foundations on which the Church can be built.” And he plainly feels responsibility for the “beleaguered Christian communities in Nigeria, who are now suffering because their neighbours have turned against them, identifying them with The Episcopal Church.”

bb

Lapinbizarre said...

"HM",1662 BCP. "HRH" is used by royal princes and princesses. Don't understand why so many North Americans still believe that the British monarch has effective executive powers. She/he doesn't. For all practical purposes the queen occupies a symbolic, figurehead position - a living, breathing UK equivalent of the Statue of Liberty, let's say - but one which speaks only in accord with the government of the day. Britain sensibly spent the two centuries after 1776 stripping its head of state of executive power, ensuring that those residual powers remaining with the monarch after the 1688 "Glorious Revolution" could never be used to initiate foreign or domestic rogue actions.

Lapinbizarre said...

The statue is in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, BB. Coincidentally, its fellow statue - there are just two of them fronting the Gallery - is of James II, the monarch who was thrown out in 1688 on account of his attempts to re-assert royal prerogative power. Many believe that the juxtaposition is no accident. The English are masters of the back-handed compliment, BB.

Anonymous said...

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfield never saw a day of combat either.

Anonymous said...

Bush got in the National Guard, Dick Cheney took five deferments and Rumsfield taught fight training, not one of those guys saw a day of combat... so what is your point?

Wow, for such a bright guy, with such impressive credentials and a nice vocabulary, you make a stunningly weak argument.

Anonymous said...

Btw, Iraq not a thing to do with 9/11 or Al Queda.

BabyBlue said...

Okay, anon, politics. The War on Terror involves several different nations as President Bush spelled out in speech to a Joint Session of Congress following 9-11. The countries included Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. As we began to fight in Afghanistan, the real terrorist state - Iran was mobilized. The war moved to Iraq and now the real war is going on, between Al Queda and Iran. Watch Iran very carefully. In fact, Iran wants to turn Nigeria into another Iran as well. Look global, not local. But Iran is the one to watch. They are the secular Islamic fascists vs the religious Islamic fascists of Al Queda. Both use the mythical "West" and America as it's point of reference to recruit. Israel is probably the target.

We do like to discuss politics here at the Cafe, but have tried hard not to. We do realize we are entering into a political season that only happens every eight years and this particular season is even rarer when neither the President or the Vice President is in the running. We aren't sure if we will endorse a candidate here at BabyBlue - we're more inclined to want all the candidates to find a place to get a chai or a butterbeer and carry on. But that's not to say we aren't thinking about it.

After all, there is a painting of Ronald Reagan over the bar. Didn't you notice?

bb

BabyBlue said...

I was going to do this as a separate post, but I think I'll post it here instead:

No, not him.

Follow up on the interview with Rowan Williams in the British magazine, "Emel" on the sections not covered in the London Sunday Times article. Here is the actual quote from the magazine article regarding the "chosen nation" quote:

I ask the Archbishop about the
relationship of modern Christians to the
Holy Land and he paints a complex picture.
“At one end of the spectrum you have
Christian Zionism which is very interested
in the Holy Land in ways which I find very
strange, and not at all easy to accept.

At the other end of the spectrum you have
Christians for whom the Holy Land is some
distant theme park.” He does however feel
that a “growing number of Christians have
become aware of the reality of the situation
on the ground” and journeys there have
helped “expose their minds and hearts
to the realities.” He wants to see those
numbers growing.

Christian Zionists support the return
of Jews to Israel because they believe the
second coming of Jesus will not occur until
all Jews are in Israel. The Archbishop is
scathing, accusing them of being connected
to “the chosen nation myth of America,
meaning that what happens in America is
very much at the heart of God’s purpose for
humanity.”


It turns out that the magazine's context is quite different from the assumed Sunday Times quote. The topic is the establishment of the nation of Israel, of Christians support of the Jewish people. Just what are Christian Zionists? Who uses that term? Is the word "them" the Jewish people who have been caught up in the biblical view of the establishment of Israel? Or the Christians who care about the Jewish people and support the establishment of the nation of Israel?

In the media that term "Christian Zionist" is only used in the most inflammatory ways by those who do not support Israel. It's a code word (like "neo-conservative" by the way) and it's done condemn Christians who do support Israel and the Jewish people, calling their motives into question. The term "Christian Zionist" is used to demean and to shame Christians who believe God still sees the Jewish People as chosen. The term has far more sublime connotations as well which can be quite, well, insidious and offensive - including winking that Christians who support Israel are double-minded. Wink, wink. At the heart of the matter is questioning whether God keeps His promises (the establishment of the Covenant) and whether Christians who want to share the love of Christ can really be trusted. Wink, wink.

The magazine uses the derogatory term "Christian Zionist" to categorize the type of American Christian Rowan Williams seems to be talking about - those Christians who support Israel, something that he finds "strange." If that's not enough, he then condemns those Christians who make spiritual journeys to the Holy Land, calling those pilgrimages a visit to a theme part (aka Disneyland). He calls into question their motives, assuming his are superior and enlightened and politically correct. Again, this is a view that is increasing in religious circles, not only in England but in the United States, especially in The Episcopal Church. It is a widely held view in academic and social intelligentsia. It's all over the British media.

Does Rowan Williams object to this term being used in connection to what he said in this interview? It does not sound like he does and so far we have not seen any retractions issued from Lambeth Palace regarding this interview. Will we? Will he clarify what he really meant or shall we assume this article is accurate and he stands by it all. We do wonder.

The only sort of visit he seems to endorse are the overtly "political" visits to Israel. That's what he is implying in his remarks when he says he supports the visits that expose the "reality of the situation on the ground" to "expose their minds and hearts to the realities." Those are political visits - even political acts, not religious or spiritual pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

The reporter describes Rowan Williams as "scathing" when talking about Christians who support the establishment of the nation of Israel. Indeed, there are many who do not believe the Jewish people are God's chosen people (apparently God does not keep His promises after all) and that the Church has replaced the Jews. Or that there is no chosen people. The Holy Land not a place, it's an idea. Or perhaps there is no Holy Land. Israel is nothing special - just a chunk of real estate. And God quickly becomes an "idea" as well. Or perhaps, there no God either or certainly not one who establishes covenants and makes promises.

There are vocal right-wingers who hold this view and vocal left-wingers who hold this view - but they all end up in the same place: God did not really mean it when he said the Jews are His chosen people. The "new" Israel is either "The Church" (on the right) or "The Idea" (on the left). And anyone who disagrees with them are called unenlightened idiots. Though coming from different points of view, both the "far right" and the "far left" end up at the same place, and it's not a happy place. And once again, scripture and revelation are dragged through the mud.

Is this what the Archbishop of Canterbury is saying? Is Israel just a symbol of an idea or perhaps a euphemism for the Church and are the Jewish people replaced by a political idea in the secular religion of politics? Is the only real reason to take a trip to Israel is for one's own political enlightenment? Is just a bunch of real estate inhabited by invaders, is that the enlightened view? Go and see, but leave your Bible at home.

If these are his views, truly, and he finds it all "strange" then he's appealing to ideas and a constituency that in some ways is far more alarming then even the present troubles.

It appears that things are getting even worse. Curious.

Very curious.

Isn't it true, doesn't history so often illustrate that whenever things get really bad - who always gets blamed?

Pageantmaster said...

Hi BabyBlue -

The ABC has put a lot of work into forming relationships between the Church of England and Communion with the Israeli Chief Rabbis and relationships have never been better - indeed until recently they were pretty suspicious of each other.

I think he is talking about dispensationalists - that is those who believe that we as Christians are of a secondary nature to and will go along with the 'chosen people' to salvation [on their coat tails as it were if we are lucky].

I believe this concept became established in the US in the 1920's or 30's. You see it in the 'end of days' stuff. In the last 15 years or so it has made its way across the pond and I have heard it in some Anglican churches.

I find it strange, in the same way that I found the idea that we come to Christ at Communion through our bishop at the altar rail which I heard from a priest rather further up the candle than I am; or what I have heard from some Roman Catholics, although not all, that we come to Christ through the Church.

I believe I come to Christ directly through acknowledging his sacrifice made for me once and for all for my sins upon the cross. Nothing to do with the 'chosen people', bishops or any institutional church. Just Him and me.

But then I'm a bit of an evangelical as you might have guessed.

Lapinbizarre said...

"....we come to Christ at Communion through our bishop at the altar rail". I've never heard that one, Pageantmaster, except insofar as it touches on the question of the extent to which the Apostolic Succession affects the validity of the sacraments. Might this be what the man was meaning to say?

Kevin said...

Wow ... so many words on so many blogs!

My only reply is "yawn, nice to know the ABC is British."

BabyBlue said...

Pageantmaster, do you know which Rabbi Chief? There are more than one in Israel. Some of the cities even have their own.

It isn't just "dispensationalists." This has to do with evangelicals who support Israel and the Jewish people because, as Chris Johnson has written over at his blog, because it is the right thing to do. I am very troubled by Rowan Williams use of the term "Christian Zionists" - it's liking calling Roman Catholics Papists. It burns the very bridges you are trying to build. In this case, it calls into doubt whether Rowan supports Israel or thinks - as he does about America - that they are invaders. If he's going to wade into politics then he has to be prepared. In fact, he seems as ill-prepared to deal with politics then he does with the Anglican Communion crisis. He can use all sorts of inflammatory language and think that's fine and then wax lyrical when others use inflammatory language and he pines why can't we all just get along?

He's opened up Pandora's Box on this one - and if we don't see an apology or clarification, he's finished. He should never be using terms as he did or talking to a magazine that would not seek his best interest, certainly not in these times.

I wonder who told him this would be a good idea???

bb

Kevin said...

Sadly BB, no he is not finished.

Politics of his context are remarkably different from US politics. In Europe this will certainly fly. Israel and the US are two Europeans seemed to be able to bash with no recourse.

(Praise God that the Jewish folk tend to capture the liberal vote for the Democratic support and Evangelicals tend to support the Scripture love of the land to capture the Republican vote of the most powerful nation, else I fear for the Promised Land for the rest of the world seems to hate them).

Br_er Rabbit said...

If you find that the Sunday Times version of what Rowan said seemed to differ from what he is said to have said in their source, you are not alone. Here's a chortle from Steven Bates of the Guardian:

"The archbishop's criticism of Christian Zionism - the fundamentalist movement, particularly in the US, which supports the Jewish homeland of Israel because it sees it as a fulfilment of biblical prophesy - was transcribed by the newspaper as a more general criticism."

And for those who remembered that Rowan's views are not news because they are not new, Mr. Bates remembers that also:

"Not for the first time, the archbishop found his words construed as a new critique of American policy, even though he has been a consistent and outspoken critic of the invasion of Iraq since his inception."

Let's see if the archbishop will be forthcoming with a disclaimer.

(Hattip: Pageantmaster)

Pageantmaster said...

Hi bb

I think I had this in mind

God bless

PM