Friday, May 22, 2009

Rowan Williams speaks on the Gospel of John at St. Paul's Theological Center in London

St. Paul's Theological Center is affiliated with Holy Trinity Brompton, London:


Anonymous said...

How thoughtful of you to provide this talk by Abp. Williams. I just had to record it for myself. Hope the Abp. does not mind.

James said...

You mentioned that this Theological Center is at Holy Trinity Brompton in your facebook update - this adds extra significance to this article.

Unknown said...

Yes, I do agree.


Don said...

This is a long lecture--I ended up downloading it and listening to it in my vehicle. I'm sure Beltway crawlers can digest many of these kinds of lectures in this way, which may explain why Anglicans in the DC area are so erudite!

I've spent a lot of time on Rowan Williams on my own blog, but listening to to this finally drove home why orthodox Anglicans find him so totally exasperating.

On the one hand, there's a lot of great stuff in the lecture. One almost hears an N.T. Wright in many places. He's certainly no Jack Spong or James Pike. Things get mushier in the Q&A, however; for example, one would like to see his horror at "unbiblical" "Christian Zionism" directed at TEC's litigiousness.

But that--along with many other things--hasn't happened. Instead we've been regaled with the fumbling over the Covenant, the inaction over the litigation, and many other things that haven't happened. We also have to consider his train of thought regarding sexuality, both in his public utterances and in private correspondence (Deborah Pitt has stopped by my blog a couple of times.)

Under the circumstances, it's hard to really figure out what's going on. Rowan Williams is an enormously complex person, and I think that this complexity--which made him such a renown academic--has made him a less than satisfactory ABC.

Academics, especially those in fields such as his, can get away with multiple, nuanced positions as they explore complex problems. But that doesn't wash in a situation where transparency and definite action is called for, and the crisis of the AC certainly calls for both.

Unfortunately we live in a world where our elites, frightened at the prospect of the "unwashed" taking their place, have enthralled us with academics taking positions of leadership. But describing the world and leading it are two entirely different things.

Towards the end of his life, Karl Marx told the story of a philospher who hired a boatman to take him across the river. He first asked the boatman whether he had studied history; the boatman said no. The philosopher noted that the boatman had wasted half of his life. The philosopher again asked whether the boatman had studied mathematics, which the boatman had not. The philosopher said that the boatman had wasted more than half of his life.

At this point the boat capsises, and the boatman asks the philosopher whether he knows how to swim. The philosopher said he didn't, at which point the boatman observed that the philosopher had wasted all of his life.

Rowan Williams needs to learn how to swim. Otherwise, others in the AC will.