Thursday, January 01, 2009
The productions values on Rowan Williams' videos (as well as their being so readily available on YouTube) are going up, way up, from where he started. Who is his audience? He seems to be speaking to all, not just to the little group that show up on Sundays in the Church of England. He comes across far more as a moral voice spiritually guiding a country through what looks to be some very dark times. It would not be a good idea to be mean to this man in public - let's make that perfectly clear. And the message is on target too - steering away from a deeply theological reflection (it is after all, a secular holiday) he makes it clear that children are a far greater treasure than wealth. So who is the audience?
Prime Minister, call your office.
LATER: Note the icons on the fireplace mantle and the chest of drawers behind the Archbishop in the opening shot. I love the lack of formality in the shot - we've popped into his sitting room where he really lives. But the focus of the orthodox icons behind him as well as the collection of crosiers and stoles draped over the chest, as though he just toss them there before he sits down in his yellow comfy chair by the fire and downs a gin & tonic that might occasionally sit on that little empty table by the chair (helpfully removed for the video). One can truly imagine him sitting in that yellow chair, reading and thinking and living in that unedited room, his children and staff popping in and out as the world outside stomps about.
And it is that outer world that he brings to this message, a wise decision from an archbishop who is highly contemplative. I have been troubled in the past by the advisors around him but it's clear that something has changed. In this video, Rowan Williams has received stellar media advice. A Church that values its people - it's children - is a bold contrast from what we hear on this side of The Pond these days, where we're calously reminded over and over again that "people can leave" for the treasure, the legacy, is in the stuff.
I'm sorry, but I like this man very much. His silence on matters can be as golden as his voice. God bless him. Yes, he can be infuriating at times, as one would be infuriated with a beloved but stubborn member of the family (and aren't we all?). He must most certainly feel the same way about us. But he is family, we are family, and God willing, we'll stay that way.