I now pronounce the Archbishop of Canterbury officially insane

The Archbishopric of Canterbury used to be a pretty important job.  The guy who held that position, going back to the earliest Middle Ages, was the premier leader of the English church, whether that church gave allegiance to Rome or the British Monarch.  The current Archbishop, Rowan Williams is, as best as I can tell, insane.

A few years ago, he made a place for himself on the radar by supporting sharia law which is (a) anti-Christian and (b) antithetical to Western notions of human rights.  I don’t need to tell any of you that, under sharia law, Christians and Jews, if they are allowed to live, are second class citizens; women are prisoners of men and can be beaten or murdered with impunity; homosexuals are routinely murdered by the State; and the whole theocratic tyrannical institution seeks world domination.

Williams’ apparent comfort with the idea of creating a vast prison for the entire world population may stem from the fact that his view of prisoners is, to say the least, unique.  He thinks that even the worst of them should be entitled to the full panoply of rights, including the right to vote.  Yes, this is true.  The Archbishop of Canterbury would be comfortable giving, say, Charles Manson or the Yorkshire Ripper a voice in electing government officials, determining government spending, creating laws controlling citizens, etc:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today said prisoners should get the vote, backing an axe killer whose campaign has been endorsed by European courts.

John Hirst, who hacked his landlady to death, yesterday boasted that he was on the verge of forcing the Government to ‘wave the white flag of surrender’, as MPs prepare to vote on the move tomorrow.

The leader of the Church of England Dr Rowan Williams today said that prisoners should keep their dignity – and that their rights should not be put in ‘cold storage’ while they are behind bars.

‘We’re in danger of perpetuating a penal philosophy and system which actually leaves everybody as victims,’ he said.

He told a Commons committee that the country should move beyond ‘a situation where the victimising of the prisoner by the denial of those basic civic issues is perpetuated.’

‘The prisoner as citizen is somebody who can on the one hand expect their dignities as a citizen to be factored into what happens to them.’

That the lunatics who have taken over the EU asylum would like to perpetuate their power by giving the vote to those who have, through their conduct, blatantly violated the social compact is, sadly, understandable. What’s so deeply disturbing here is that it is the Archbishop of Canterbury who has slipped his moorings and is advocating the same inversion of morality and decency.  This is the man, after all, who is supposed to stand for the highest Christian traditions — traditions that include respect for the sanctity of life and law.  For him to treat an axe murderer in  precisely the same way he treats the shopkeeper on the street corner is a travesty of the notions of grace, decency and ethics.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

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  • Charles Martel

    Rowan is a classic hand-wringer, the absent-minded academic who is most comfortable walking around in a cloud of abstractions, but when it comes to dealing with the real world—or orthodox Christianity, for that matter—continually makes a fool of himself.

    Right now his great project is holding off the dissolution of the worldwide Anglican communion until he is safely retired. Then he can shrug and say, as a character in “Beyond the Fringe” said in describing his reaction to the onset of World War II, “There was nothing I could do to avert the carnage of the next six years.”

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Must be the lead in the water. Or the Islam in the culture.

  • Tonestaple

    You have made a serious error here, Book.  You think this broccoli-shaped religious “leader” (TM – themcj.com) should take a stand.  The man never ever takes a stand on anything which is why the Episcopal church in the US is dying slowly and the Church of England isn’t much better off.  Probably the only reason the C of E is still in business is its being the established church and so it automatically gets funding.  Not too long ago, someone in the C of E was suggesting that they modify their christening rite so it’s not so religious.  This was supposed to attract to the church people who are not religiously inclined, or something.

    FYI, here’s MCJ’s write-up on the Sharia kerfuffle:  http://themcj.com/?p=2798

  • suek

    >>Not too long ago, someone in the C of E was suggesting that they modify their christening rite so it’s not so religious.>>
     
    That’s _funny_!  Sad, without a doubt, but funny because it’s so pointless.
     
    Rituals have a purpose.  It seems to me that when a society debases its rituals, you’re seeing an end to the underpinnings of that society.  I understand that ritual can be mind numbing and sometimes seem purposeless, but there’s something about making it deliberately a pointless performance that’s disturbing.  Like marriages performed while jumping out of airplanes…that sort of thing.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Rituals have no point if they don’t actually believe in what they preach.
     
    The reason why Christianity got adherents, even though it offered no wealth nor anything particularly advantageous materially, is that the saints actually believed what they were doing and saying.
     
    These new age freaks don’t believe and think they can cover up for that via “popular” methods.
     
    It’s basically clear. A person that will back down and compromise their own position, never believed it was true to begin with. They believed that it was only “partially true” or “open to interpretation”. This, in fact, is one of the greatest barriers to belief. People find it hard to dedicate themselves to wishy washy leaders or belief systems.
     
    They join because they want security or certainty. They don’t join because “maybe” it works or “part of it works” or “we have to moderate to make it salable to the masses”. If it was the masses they were concerned about, there would be no need for special status in believers.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Now for purely economic market plays like business, popularity is important and part of their fundamental reason for existence. But for a religion, it’s not so.

  • Danny Lemieux

    If Charles Windsor ever becomes King, he will need a court jester.
    It would have to be someone at, minimum, more inane than Charley, don’t you think?
    I suspect that Rowan Williams is just practicing for the role.

  • jj

    The sad thing is you end up thinking they’d be better off with Rowan Atkinson playing Arch-bish than the Rowan they got.
     
    On the other hand, the C of E was founded by a nut with no particular belief system beyond that he needed whatever he could steal from the religious communities, allied to the idea that he wanted to sign up a new piece of.. well, you know – so what’s the guiding ethos at the foundation?  Certainly none of your actual religion, thanks, and no actual religious strictures – but we’ll have cake and ice cream for everybody?  That’s about it, really – Henry didn’t like rules that inconvenienced him and he needed funds.  The fact that he was clinically insane with tertiary syphilis added a little fillip to it, I suppose.  Maybe what it did was make it okay – maybe even make it mandatory – that someone at the top should be nuts.  Elizabeth isn’t, so Williams has to be.  (The insane must be represented in the leadership!)
     
    But that’s been going on for a long time too, and Williams is hardly the first Arch-bishop to issue proclamations from Mars.  P.G. Wodehouse and E.F. (Fred) Benson were making fun of them in print more than a hundred years ago – and Benson’s father was in fact Dr. Edward White Benson, Victoria’s Archbishop of Canterbury from 1882 to 1896, so Fred Benson knew loony at close range.  The future Arch-bish, Fred’s father, plighted his troth to his cousin Mary Sidgwick, who was twelve years old at the time.  He was a few years older…  She didn’t love him, but they ultimately married.  She cranked out five kids and had a nervous breakdown in 1872.  She became somewhat happier later when she formed a real… something – ‘friendship’ maybe – with one Lucy Tait, who, as Fred recorded: “slept with my mother in the vast Victorian bed where her six children had been born.”  Let the record show that Lucy Tait was the daughter of the previous Arch-bishop of Canterbury, the one who conked in 1882 to let Fred’s father into the job.  Keeping it in the… family?  Profession?  So we got the wife of one Arch-bishop cavorting – or maybe not cavorting, exactly, who knows? – with the daughter of the previous Arch-bishop…  (The current A-B was, I guess, sleeping in a tree in the yard, given that the girls were occupying the sack.  I don’t know – and Fred never says – if Pop was ever invited to the bed or not.)  The whole thing was so interesting that Fred’s mother, wife of the Arch-bishop of Canterbury – and one his sons, Fred’s brother Hugh, converted to Catholicism – and Hugh went so far as to be ordained and become an RC priest.
     
    And if you think back to Rowan Williams’ immediate predecessors, about the best you can say about some of the stuff that came out of their mouths is: “wow….”  So I don’t think anything should surprise us at this point – there’s a long history of sustained loopiness emanating from the halls of Canterbury Cathedral, where these scions of the Church of Henry-Doing-It-His-Way keep tripping over the unappeased shade of a (Gack!) Catholic saint who won’t stop wandering the halls.  It’s a demanding job.
     
    But in all seriousness, these people have been doing a job that over the last few centuries has the world-wide Anglican community in a position that looks to be circling the drain.  I don’t think they’re long for this world, they’re down to something like 2% of the population of England ever going near a church, and something like 3% even referring to themselves as Anglican.  In this country I think they’re under 10 million adherents.  Churches are like anything else: they have to stand for something.  Uniquely, churches occasionally have to look back at the world and say: “no.  That does not fly, and we do not sanction it.”  The C of E has never done this – with the in-house insanity how could they? – and they are therefore seen to have no standards.  If you are a church, and you have no standards and nothing in which to believe or fight for, then you are without point.  Fold your tent, put it in the wagon, and leave: you are done here.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    One could say that the Church of England is an example of what happens when you combine the Crown and the Archbishop’s staff together. One or both suffer in the long term.

  • Charles Martel

    jj, I checked the Episcopalians’ latest figures, which say they had a shade over 2 million members in 2008—about one in every 150 Americans.

    According to Wiki, the denomination reached it peak membership of 3.4 million in the 1960s, when the U.S. population was approaching 200 million. That would have given the church roughly one out of every 60 Americans.

  • Danny Lemieux

    On the other hand, the C of E was founded by a nut with no particular belief system beyond that he needed whatever he could steal from the religious communities, allied to the idea that he wanted to sign up a new piece of.. well, you know – so what’s the guiding ethos at the foundation?


    As an Episcopalian myself, JJ, I don’t quite know what to make of your rant. However, some points you might want to consider:
    1) King Henry VIII wasn’t the founder of the Anglican Church, he only broke with the Roman Catholic Church on political (not religious) grounds. The honor belongs to his daughter Elizabeth I, who created it as a way of enforcing peace between Protestants and Roman Catholics when they were going at each other on the Continent.
    2) The Anglican Church is not a hierarchical church, like the Roman Catholic Church. Rowan Williams has very little actual power as Archbishop.
    3) The vaste majority of the Anglican Church is in Africa and Asia. It is they who are leading the way.
    In the U.K., the church is in serious trouble (as YM points out, that’s what happens when Church combines with State). But then, all Christian denominations are in serious trouble all over Europe (which explains a lot of what is wrong there).
    In the U.S., the Church sputters along but the ebb and flow goes both ways. As usual, it is on the verge of a schism between conservatives and Liberal/progressives. We’re a quarrelsome bunch. In Asia and Africa, however, the Church is thriving and a very powerful force for evangelization, even in Moslem strongholds such as Iran and Pakistan. Very often, it is these Anglicans that are in trenches along the red crescent when Muslim extremism erupts.

    As far as modern “saints” and thinkers are concerned, I’ve always been fond of Roman Catholicism’s G.K. Chesterton, but I don’t think any Christian can take anything away from C.S. Lewis, who is probably the greatest apologist for modern Anglicanism.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    We got to remember that JJ doesn’t like religion, perhaps in general.
     
    His views result from that framework, as all of our views result from our own framework. Even Zach’s, as amazing as that can be when you think about it. That he even has a framework.
     
    The vaste majority of the Anglican Church is in Africa and Asia. It is they who are leading the way.

    True believers are also inherently risk takers, on the part of their religion or doctrine. Doing missionary work, is the highest example, perhaps, of TRUE BELIEF. Do you really believe? Or are you just aping a spot as a bench warmer in an air conditioned church. There’s a significant difference between those two types.

    I’ve also heard good things about Chesterton and various quotations people pulled from him. He was an interesting or fascinating thinker and writer, Danny.
    A lot of the stuff he wrote on chivalry and medieval customs are particularly enlightening. And not in a Leftist Utopian sort of way either.

  • jj

    Well, let’s see… you could laugh.  Archbishops of Canterbury have been strange for a long time, and the story of the Bensons and Taits is quite true, so you could make of it a little entertaining history you hadn’t known.  You want to get into the precise dating of the 39 Articles – okay, but I think most of the world is still going to consider it to be Henry’s church.  And like it or not, there’s no question its major tenets were his concept.
     
    It’s a little difficult to see Elizabeth in the role of religious peace-maker in Europe, when in her own back yard she had turned the pursuivants loose.  (Although that led to a lot of interesting and highly ingenious architecture for us modern-day tourists to gawk at, in the form of hidden chapels and priest-holes.)  Religious “peace” may not have been the goal.  (Or if it was, it was the kind of peace that stems from: “we’ll have peace when you’re all dead.”)  I don’t think Europe cared much about the Anglican church either – Luther’s reformations had been rolling since 1517, Elizabeth didn’t get near the throne until 1558, and the famous 39 articles which completed the establishment of the Anglican Church date to 1563.  They were kind of a late-comer, and they made little impact on Europe.
     
    You are technically correct, the 39 articles did not appear until Elizabeth was regnant.  Though Henry may not have written the rule-book (neither did Elizabeth, come to that), he established the pattern – (though it didn’t occur to him to physically hunt Catholics down, that decision had to await Liz.)  And the rule-book, when written, did little more than confirm what he had done: placing himself and every monarch since at the head of the church, thereby making it the official state religion, (thereby leading to the first amendment), and replacing Catholicism.  All the major, life-changing stuff was pretty much in place with him, and I have to admit it’s difficult to see how his decision that he’d be the boss and square it all with God isn’t a religious decision.  Whether he did it for reasons that were good (or sane) is something you may decide for yourself.  I think the world recognizes it as Henry’s church.  (We don’t, of course, care what the world recognizes: we are rigorously confined to the facts!  Okay!)
     
    The vast majority of every church seems to be, these days, in Africa, less so in Asia – Asia has its own traditions and they don’t remember past missionary adventures any more fondly than Samoans or Hawaiians do.  Africa is a new world to conquer, and it will do as all new worlds do: the excitement will gradually wear off, congregations will dwindle.  South America was the coming thing not so very long ago.  It came.  And now it’s found its level.
     
    As the son of an Episcopalian mother, I note the ebb and flow may go both ways, but in the US and England it’s been doing a lot more “ebbing” than “flowing” – at least in my lifetime.  I didn’t realize things had gotten as dire here in the US as Charles says, but then it isn’t a number I look up every day.
     
    As for the Anglican church not being hierarchical, I’ll bet Tommy Cranmer thought it damned well was, and I’ll further bet he was pretty sure he was at the tip of the pyramid, and its pope-in-being, too!  (And he was, until Henry died and Mary had him melted down and recycled.)  ABs have been steadily losing that power ever since until they have become not so relevant – but they still seem to think they are, and cannot resist making pronouncements.  Though I suppose you’re right – these days they have about the same effect as someone speaking from inside a strait-jacket.
     
    Have always rather enjoyed a fair amount of CS Lewis, though you have to be sure you’re actually reading him and not him-fed-through-the-prism-of-or-maybe-even-written-by Walter Hooper.  Hard to do, since Hooper oiled his way into total control of the literary estate.  (As someone who exercises the writing muscle for a living I’ll just tell you flatly: Lewis did not write The Dark Tower. Don’t know if Hooper did, but Lewis did not.  It is stylistically different than anything else he ever wrote, the prose is turgid, it is crap and Lewis didn’t write it.)  As a critic he was a master with two splendid works to his credit – The Allegory of Love from 1936, in which he attempted to unite literary form and the development of passionate and romantic love is terrific stuff, though specialists in either study tend to find the union of the two a bit less than terrific.  Stuffy academic bastards.  Also A Preface to Paradise Lost from 1942, which is an attempt to defend Milton’s work as a Christian epic.  Strained a bit, but nice.  And English Literature in the 16th Century is a rarity: a splendid shot at literary history, a genre seldom practiced as well he did right in this book.  It’s damned well brilliant.  Studies in Words from 1960 and Experiment in Criticism from 1961 show him at his absolute best, and establish that he is wonderful at presenting wide swathes of information and argument in readable form.  These are heavy work, and Lewis makes them float.  That was him at his height, doing what he was paid to do.  (He was, leave us not forget, an academic, in the employ of both Oxford, and then Cambridge.  These are all books written in his specialty, at which he was very good.)    You are undoubtedly referring to his work as a religious apologist.  Less good.  His avocation, not his vocation.  I’ll buy Screwtape, though it is simple; and I’ll buy The Problem of Pain; Mere Christianity, and perhaps even The Abolition of Man.
     
    But that’s just me.  And how did CS Lewis get into this?

  • expat

    I have Episcopalian relatives, but they are of a more conservative bent who seem to ignore much of the current controversy.  Williams is nuts.  I think Iowahawk did him justice after his sharia comments. Here’s the link:
     
    http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2008/02/heere-bigynneth.html

  • Michael Adams

    OK  I was Episcopalian, but my church, now known as the parish of Late Lamented, walked out in August of 2008.  I actually tried to keep business going at the old stand, but our Bishop, a character straight from Chaucer, wanted to sell our property for the two million he thought it would bring, so he cut us off at the knees, and we had to close down, after all.
     
    I am, however, still Anglican, a member of a parish of one of the many rump-Anglican bodies in the US. BTW, Late Lamented was reincarnated as a parish of the Church of Rwanda.
     
    JJ’s history is a bit off.  Henry did write a tretise against Luther, which is how he got the title Fides defensor added to the other titles of British monarchs.  He wanted the Pope to grant him an annulment of his marriage to Queen Catherine, which would have been pretty routine, except that the Pope was a cousin of the HR Emperor, who did not want any favors done for the English.  There were many Protestants in England by that time, including, incidentally, Anne Boleyn, who brought Hans Holbein to the English court. They took advantage of the opportunity Henry’s defection presented. Henry still went to Mass, Latin Mass, for the rest of  his life. It was Elizabeth who decreed the services must be held in English. The Protestant Reformation can be seen as another part of the rise of the bourgeoisie, (Jane Jacobs’s ‘Commercial Syndrome.’) Most of the doctrinal disputes seem quite arcane to us today.  However, the politics, alliances, plots, counter plots, wars, treaties, are about issues still with us right this minute. Elizabeth I declared tolerance for Roman Catholics, and many Catholic families took advantage of that arrangement.  Still,  Catholic did not only mean a person who does not eat breakfast before Mass. It meant an adherent to political factions, allied with certain foreign powers, who tried to do in Queen Bess, and to conquer England for Spain.  The priests in those hidey holes were seen a agents of a foreign power.
     
    Thanks for the link to Midwest Conservative Journal.  I sometimes forget to check in there, and this is not a good thing. The laughter he inspires will add years to my life. I rather need that laughter, today, as I am packing to go see my father, eighty three years old, and delighted to be home from the hospital–on hospice.  His name is JD Adams, but his father called  him Mike, which is how I got my own name.  (Yeah, can’t help thinking of the Beatles, and Rocky Raccoon.) I’d be grateful for the prayers of any who are so inclined.

  • Charles Martel

    For orthodox Episcopalians, the site at Stand Firm http://www.standfirminfaith.com/ has some very sharp, but civil, commentary on what’s going on these days with TECUSA.

  • jj

    Sorry to hear it, Mike.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Just went through the same thing myself, Mike. It’s tough.
    My prayers for you dad and the rest of your family.
    If it helps, it’s not the end of a life but a transition in a life.
    I hope that your Dad’s life was well lived and well reflected in his children.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    You’ve got my prayers, Mike.  And Danny has said so gracefully everything I was thinking about your situation.