Thursday, June 09, 2011

Three cheers for the Archbishop of Canterbury


We all have our limits, and evidently the Archbishop of Canterbury has reached his. Invited to guest-edit this week’s New Statesman, he must have meditated prayerfully and mused long and hard about how he might profess a commitment to left-wing values without being overtly partisan. After all, St Paul’s exhortation was for believers to become all things to all people, and Dr Williams wouldn’t want to blow the chance of ever being asked to guest-edit The Spectator at some point in the future. So, subtlety was the order of the day: wise as serpents and harmless as doves, and all that.

Alas, no. Today, Lambeth Palace will have battened down the hatches. The Archbishop dared to write an article entitled: ‘The Government needs to know how afraid people are.’ For doing so, he will be loved and loathed in equal measure: he will be lauded by lefties and fiercely rebuked by the right; the media will be a melange of virtue, vilification and vitriol as Dr Williams is misrepresented by opportunistic journalists and spun by scurvy politicians for their own ends. He said his purpose was to stimulate ‘a livelier debate’.

Well, he’ll certainly get that.

For reasons best known to him, instead of walking the traditional via media, Dr Williams decided to launch a broadside against the Government, essentially describing the coalition as ‘frightening’. He singled out the health, welfare and education reforms which he says constitute ‘radical, long-term policies for which no-one voted’.

As far as His Grace recalls, there was no option to vote ‘Coalition’ on the 2010 general election ballot paper, so, of course, no-one voted for it. But it is crass to assert that the agreed manifesto consists of policies ‘for which no-one voted’. This coalition represents a greater proportion of the electorate and is implementing a broader range of cross-party policies than New Labour ever did: the coalition mandate is broad.

But the Archbishop refers to a democratic deficit which has led to ‘anxiety and anger’ and ‘bafflement and indignation’ due to the ‘remarkable speed’ with which policies are being introduced, and the lack of ‘proper public argument’. On Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, he complains of a ‘quiet resurgence of the seductive language of "deserving" and "undeserving" poor"’ and criticises ‘the steady pressure’ to increase ‘punitive responses to alleged abuses of the system’.

Well, David Cameron learned from Tony Blair that you can waste years faffing around achieving precisely nothing whilst appearing to be very busy indeed.

As it is written, if a man will not work, he shall not eat. Ergo, if a man will not work, he ‘deserves’ to be poor. The alleviation of poverty was foundational to Jesus’ ministry: indeed, he preached more about money than he did about eternal salvation. When examining what he said about the poor, consideration has to be given to context and audience, and the nuances of Greek vocabulary also need examining.

What does Luke mean by ‘the poor’ (6:20)? The peasants who possessed little material wealth were not called ‘poor’ (‘ptochos’) if they possessed what was sufficient (ie subsistence) - they were termed ‘penes’. Jesus was (and is) concerned with the literal, physical needs of men (ie not just the spiritual [cf Acts 10:38]). When Luke was addressing the ‘poor’, he meant those who had no money - the oppressed, miserable, dependent, humiliated - and this is translated by ‘ptochos’, indicating ‘poverty-stricken…to cower down or hide oneself for fear’ - the need to beg. The ‘penes’ has to work, but the ‘ptochos’ has to beg. Those addressed by Jesus are the destitute beggars, not ‘penes’ or the general peasant audience of few possessions.

The Archbishop is also of the view that the Prime Minister’s flagship policy, the ‘Big Society’, is nothing but a ‘painfully stale’ slogan which is perceived to be an ‘opportunistic’ cover for spending cuts and is viewed with ‘widespread suspicion’. He accepts that it is not a ‘cynical walking-away from the problem’. But he warns there is confusion about how voluntary organisations will pick up the responsibilities shed by government, particularly those related to tackling child poverty, illiteracy, and increasing access to the best schools.

Yet only a few months ago, Dr Williams was delighted with the ‘Big Society’. He distinctly praised its conceptual foundations, in particular the far-reaching possibilities of the development of local co-operation and 'mutualism' throughout the entire spectrum of political action. And the Synod firmly embraced the policy when they debated it last year. It is difficult to fathom what has shifted so seismically in just three months (certainly no clarification of what is meant by ‘Big Society’).

But it is curious that Dr Williams never used the adjective ‘frightening’ of New Labour. For the Blairite agenda was far more ‘radical’ than those of the coalition, and the present education reforms have cross-party consensus: indeed, they are the brainchild of Lord Adonis and Tony Blair, who both laud the Gove plan to decentralise and devolve. And it is also strange that Dr Williams says that it is not credible for ministers to blame the last Labour government for Britain's problems, when he uttered not a word as Blair and Brown spent 13 years blaming Margaret Thatcher for the wrong type of snow. And yet Dr Williams himself refers to the weakening of community and mutualism as a result of ‘several decades of cultural fragmentation’. Perhaps he refers solely to the effects of Thatcherism.

There is not much at all in this New Statesman article with His Grace can agree. So why three cheers?

Because the Archbishop is simply doing his job: he is braving not just Conservative and LibDem politicians, but the National Secularists and the British Humanists and all who believe that religion should be eradicated from the public sphere. Perhaps buoyed by the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, or spurred on by some of his own bishops, there is no doubt at all that the Established Church has a duty to intervene when it perceives the need. After all, politicians have the constitutional right to interfere in the workings of the Church, and the very presence of the lords spiritual in Parliament presupposes a degree of reciprocity.

Those who refer to the fact that Dr Williams is himself unelected are spectacularly ignorant of our institutions of government. What he is doing is evident to all who have ears; to all who understand history, the religio-political function and purpose of the Monarchy, the development of our system of government and the checks and balances which have evolved over the centuries to limit the exercise of absolute and arbitrary power.

The Church of England was once referred to as being ‘crucified between two thieves’. While this reference was to the respective fanaticism and superstition of ‘the Puritans and the Papists’, there is a modern parallel with a church now suspended between the decline in institutional religion and the burgeoning of generalised ‘spirituality’; between the secularisation of society and the plurality of faith communities. The contemporary context is marked by diversity, fragmentation and all that is transitory; beliefs and practices are culturally relative, and Anglicanism has ceased to be supra-cultural or catholic.

Historically, some archbishops have viewed culture as antagonistic to the gospel, and adopted a confrontational approach. Others have seen culture as being essentially ‘on our side’, adopting the anthropological model of contextualisation, looking for ways in which God has revealed himself in culture and building on those.

Those who adopt the ‘Christ above culture’ model have a synthetic approach and adopt a mediating third way, keeping culture and faith in creative tension. And those who see Christ as the transformer of culture adopt a critical contextualisation which by no means rejects culture, but is prepared to be critical both of the context and of the way we ourselves perceive the gospel and its meaning. Thus culture itself needs to be addressed by the gospel, not simply the individuals within it, and truth is mediated through cultural spectacles, including those performed at great state events by the Church of England, which are inimitable.

This latter model mitigates cultural arrogance or easy identification of the gospel with English culture. It also permits one to see how mission relates to every aspect of a culture in its political, economic and social dimensions, which is what has brought the Archbishop of Canterbury into conflict with Iain Duncan Smith.

The task of the Church (and so the Archbishop of Canterbury) is to challenge the reigning plausibility structure by examining it in light of the revealed purposes of God contained in the biblical narrative. Archbishop Rowan essentially advocates a scepticism which enables one to take part in the political life of society without being deluded by its own beliefs about itself: Establishment commits the Church to full involvement in civil society and to making a contribution to the public discussion of issues that have moral or spiritual implications.

No-one can easily deny that the ministry of Iain Duncan Smith is not contiguous with the ministry of the Church of England: Jesus cared for the poor; IDS is driven with Christian missionary zeal to minister to the most vulnerable of society.

By talking of the states of ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘bafflement’ in which people find themselves, Dr Williams concerns himself with the pastoral dimensions of wholeness and healing. He is persuaded that the mission of the Church accords with people’s quest for meaning and an assurance of identity which cannot be found without community, without fellowship. It is this which the Archbishop was addressing: he was not directly attacking the Prime Minister or advocating unlimited benefits for the indolent and workshy.

Notwithstanding some of the excellent work going on in some of the most impoverished parishes in the country, the public perception of the Church of England remains one of middle-class privilege and an élitism which has little relevance to a modern, pluralist, multi-ethnic society. While this is an undoubted misconception, it is exacerbated by the nature of establishment and the fusion of the Church with an increasingly secular government.

And yet it is within this relationship that there remains one of the Church’s primary functions in holding government and political parties to account. The document ‘Moral but no Compass’, although unofficial, illustrates the powerful role the Church of England may still exercise in highlighting the inadequacies - spiritual and political - of the governmental system, in order that people’s welfare may be improved. Whatever the outcome of the Archbishop’s words, the intervention suggests that the public realm remains an arena in which the Church’s moral and ethical mission continues to be exercised. Perhaps it is only the Establishment Church that, in contemporary society, possesses the status to permit it to fight for representation of a slighted electorate in the face of an increasingly abstract political élite.

While the Archbishop’s observations may or may not be valid or politically astute, they add to the perception that the Church of England seeks to exclude or is out of sympathy with some distinct groups of people, in this case the Government or fans of IDS.

Hence the vitriol from the right-wing media and Conservative-supporting blogs.

But it must be remembered that the Church’s Supreme Governor is also the Head of State, and by virtue of being so she is obliged to exercise her public ‘outward government’ in a manner which accords with the private welfare of her subjects – of whatever social status, creed, ethnicity, sexuality or political philosophy. The Royal Supremacy in regard to the Church is in its essence the right of supervision over the administration of the Church, vested in the Crown as the champion of the Church, in order that the religious welfare of its subjects may be provided for.

While theologians and politicians may argue over the manner of this ‘religious welfare’, especially, it seems, in the provision of benefits, the Archbishop speaks because the Head of State cares and cannot speak. He warns publicly because she may only do so privately. He does not always speak as she would wish to, but by speaking at all he reminds us that there is something which transcends the politicians, who, as Shakespeare observed, have an annoying habit of seeming to see the things they do not.

We are no longer in an age, if ever we were, where the Archbishop of Canterbury can impose a morality or a doctrine of God, and Archbishop Rowan sees his primary function as being the acutely political one of calling the state to account by obstinately asking the state about its accountability and the justification of its priorities.

He may occasionally be a thorn in the side of government.

But it is better to have a benign and occasionally misguided Anglican one than a monolithic, absolute and malignant one.

66 Comments:

Blogger Gnostic said...

Forget the risible bearded one. He's a mere sideshow. What are we going to do about our monolithic, absolute and malignant politicians?

9 June 2011 at 10:33  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Mr AB Cranmer said ...

"But it is better to have a benign and occasionally misguided Anglican one than a monolithic, absolute and malignant one."

To whom or what are you referring?

9 June 2011 at 10:33  
Blogger Phil Taylor said...

I think the Mouse has a better critique of ++Rowan's article (and the Telegraph article about the NS article).

That said, despite your comments you appear in favour of what you think ++Rowan said. Does this mean you have issues with what the government are doing or simply that you think it's a good thing to have a ++ asking questions?

9 June 2011 at 10:38  
Anonymous De Civitas said...

An excellent article. The Archbishop is entirely correct to point out that never before has a government introduced policies across the board in such a rushed and haphazard manner.

It is a wonder the government has any clue what they are legislating as they push through primary legislation at such pace that consultation and well thought through secondary legislation appears to have gone out of the window. The public are frightened because this lack of internal cohesion spills out readily into the public sphere.

As the leader of the established church Rowan Williams should exercise his right to ask difficult questions of the government in the public sphere. A truly 'secular' society should not seek to exclude institutions that have a presence, in both institutional and legal terms, within it from engaging in public debate. Furthermore Rowan Williams has a privileged position within this society and should use the influence he has to engage the public from a perspective they do not usually encounter.

It is just a pity that the article is in a subscription only magazine and that so many who launch into this debate fists raised high won't have actually read it.

9 June 2011 at 10:43  
Anonymous IRJMilne said...

I wish I could endorse the three cheers, but the 'Faith in the City' stuff played a significant part in why I was unfortunately not brought up going to church, and I now find it increasingly difficult to persuade Tories of my own generation that the Church is anything other than malignant.

The Tory party has been the most electorally succesful party of the last hundred years. It really is damaging that the Church insists on constantly alienating such an enormous number of people in this country. Many will tend to judge the Church based on things they understand somewhat (political needs of society), and if they find it wanting there, will be unlikely to listen to the Church on things they don't understand so much (eg theology).

9 June 2011 at 10:43  
Blogger Willie said...

Your Grace.
Whilst you defend the right of the Archbishop to speak out, would you not agree that the world does not need yet another social science commentator?
The Anglican communion cries out for leadership, however. Fiddling whilst Rome burns, I think.

9 June 2011 at 10:54  
Blogger len said...

If Rowan sees his role as a social commentator then that is a total failure of what his role should be.

Jesus never tried to change the social order because he knew this was futile as the whole World lays under the sway of the evil one.
Christians should not be trying to change this World system but calling people out of it!.
'Rearranging the deckchairs' is a somewhat 'hackneyed' phrase but this is is what 'tinkering' with the social system amounts to.
To be benign and misguided is not what we want or need at the moment, what we need is radical Christians, fired up with the Holy Spirit, and laying the facts about the Gospel 'on the line 'for all to hear the Truth.
Without apology or reservation!.

9 June 2011 at 11:23  
Anonymous Dreadnaught said...

'No one voted for Coalition policies, says Archbishop'

Oh the irony of it all.

With his congregations dwindling, he spends time welcoming Islam to get its feet under the table while meddling in daily politics.

Smart move - not.

9 June 2011 at 11:51  
OpenID trevorsden said...

Cranmer - if you expect me to go back to church with this idiot in charge you have another think coming.

His comments are a complete hypocritical disgrace. And made on a totally partial and biased platform.

9 June 2011 at 11:53  
Blogger prziloczek said...

What would have surprised me a lot is:
1. If I had been able to understand what he meant.
2. If he had come out strongly in favour of Free Schools, NHS Reform and a curb on immigration.
Surely the BBC does all this quite regularly - we don't need an Archbishop to tell us what we hear every day.

9 June 2011 at 12:16  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

I don't understand. How is this 'malignant' but not to do so 'benign'? I think I should read it again.

9 June 2011 at 12:53  
Anonymous Tony B said...

IRJMilne said...

A very revealing post. You think that the country should be run solely in the interests of your group. You think the church should represent the interests only of your group (confirming the C of E as the Tory party at prayer, presumably) oh, and even though you were brought up "not going to church".

9 June 2011 at 13:13  
Anonymous Tony B said...

"To be benign and misguided is not what we want or need at the moment, what we need is radical Christians, fired up with the Holy Spirit, and laying the facts about the Gospel 'on the line 'for all to hear the Truth.
Without apology or reservation!"

as long as they don't mind as the rest of us yawn or snigger.

9 June 2011 at 13:15  
Anonymous Tony B said...

He's certainly right about one thing - the "Big Society" is a complete crock.

9 June 2011 at 13:16  
Blogger Tim said...

Dr Williams is right about welfare.

There are 2.5 million unemployed but only half a million jobs available,. So it's nothing to do with being "work-shy."

Re: Welfare and disabled people, most disabled people, where possible, want to work, but only 8% of employers are willing to give them a chance:

http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1018801/employers-ill-prepared-incapacity-benefit-review

9 June 2011 at 13:41  
Anonymous Kiwi said...

"No one voted for coalition policies, says Archbishop"
As far as I can tell, the general populace did not, and never have had the opportunity to vote for the position of AB of C, therefore the bearded one's opinion is no more relevant than that of Bono, Bob Geldoff, Stephen Fry, or Ronald McDonald, et al.

9 June 2011 at 13:55  
Anonymous Rustigjongens said...

Shocking that your grace defends the indefensible, the entire text reads like something a left-wing social worker would have written.

Least anyone forget the AB of C is supposed to be impartial in all matters political, for him to get involved now disgraces the church.

This is another in a log-line of idiotic comments to come from the current AB of C, but then as he is only a political appointee (by Mr Blair) who would never have got the job on merit, I expected nothing but left-wing drivel, and so far he has proved me correct, what an unelected hypocrite the man is.

9 June 2011 at 14:12  
Blogger AntiCitizenOne said...

I wonder where my opportunity to vote against Chief Druid Rowan went to?

9 June 2011 at 14:47  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Didn't Jesus say:

Give to every one that asks you: and of him that takes away your goods, ask them not again.
"And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner."

"If you will be perfect, go sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me."

Seems pretty radical to me and certainly not consistent with a capitalist world order run on profit, greed and creating false need.

9 June 2011 at 15:23  
Blogger AntiCitizenOne said...

> of him that takes away your goods, ask them not again.

That seems pretty against the greed that is marxism.

9 June 2011 at 15:32  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

I think it's apolitical actually and Christ was calling Christians to abandon the ways of the world - the 'nations' as He called them.

Tough for an Established Church. Also difficult to be part of the world and yet not part of it.

9 June 2011 at 15:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Archbishop has under him one of the few organisations which has representatives in every parish in England. His subordinates are in a position to keep him informed about the hopes and fears not only of churchgoers but also of all sorts of people for whom the Church cares - folk in hospital, in prisons, in schools. If he says people are afraid, he should be taken seriously - he is in a better position to know than any journalist or politician.

9 June 2011 at 15:38  
Blogger Tim said...

A favourite of mine is:

Luke 18:9-14

Publican, "undeserving poor," etc the list was not intended to be exhaustive.

9 June 2011 at 15:50  
Anonymous Tony B said...

anonymous - exactly.

9 June 2011 at 15:51  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

"As it is written, if a man will not work, he shall not eat. Ergo, if a man will not work, he ‘deserves’ to be poor."

And what if a man cannot work?

If, as you say, "The alleviation of poverty was foundational to Jesus’ ministry ..." then does a state claiming to be Christian have a duty to maintain full employment? When capitalism cannot to provide full employment should it leave this to the charitable and christian inclinations of its citizens?

Is the 'welfare state' a good or evil development?

9 June 2011 at 15:54  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Good questions Dodo.
If as Tim says above there are only 500,000 jobs for 2,500,000 unemployed, the system is failing.

9 June 2011 at 16:04  
Blogger AntiCitizenOne said...

If you are fined for employing people is it any surprise there's a shortage of jobs?

9 June 2011 at 16:14  
Anonymous Voyager said...

of "deserving" and "undeserving" poor"’

And the distinction is, according to Rowan Williams, not "Christian" ?

I tend to differ. There are those who make effort and those who wallow, and it is Effort that should be rewarded not Indolence.

The Archbishop is too much the Socialist and too little the Christian

9 June 2011 at 16:43  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Christ and Culture should go together, indeed.

The Archbishops confrontational approach to our culture makes them as much a part of the problem.

Britons reveared their Druids and the Queens Archdruid should be championing the British way of life.

Every word that trips off his tongue should be poetic and sacred.

He should be singing odes about our histories and exploits, whilst lamenting about our present state.

9 June 2011 at 16:47  
Anonymous Voyager said...

If as Tim says above there are only 500,000 jobs for 2,500,000 unemployed, the system is failing.

That is because only 65% businesses are family-owned in Britain employing 33% workers........in Germany it is 80% employing 45%....and in USA it is 80% employing 62% workforce.

Britain is simply short of businesses and very atypical in the number of family-owned companies - they create jobs. So the unemployed had better start building proper businesses - the biggest family company in Britain is JCB; in the USA it is Wal-Mart; in Germany BMW; Korea it is Samsung

9 June 2011 at 16:52  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Voyager said ...
"There are those who make effort and those who wallow, and it is Effort that should be rewarded not Indolence."

and later Voyger said ...
"So the unemployed had better start building proper businesses..."

Yeah, the demand is certainly there in the economy for small run family businesses to start up!

Maybe we could go back to the 'Poor Law' and just frighten people from claiming benefits?

9 June 2011 at 17:20  
Anonymous Oswin said...

One wonders if Dr.Williams will support Baroness Cox's Bill in the Lords?

9 June 2011 at 17:30  
Blogger David Lindsay said...

I hope that all the enthusiasts for the "free" schools policy, the Conservative Party's only one in 2010, are terribly pleased that it is endorsed by Tony Blair in today's Times. But then, like Andrew Lansley's abandoned health policy and like so many other things besides, it was in fact devised by Blair and by David Miliband. They just couldn't get these things past Gordon Brown, Ed Balls and Ed Miliband.

Blair won two General Elections that any Labour Leader would have won and a third at which any viable Opposition would have beaten him. In that last case, he lost Labour 100 seats that anyone else would have kept against the laughable rump of the Tories in 2005, his only ever contribution to the outcome of a General Election.

But no one is allowed to point this out. Hence the headless chicken reaction to the statements of the obvious by Rowan Williams. He has reminded the universally Blairite media that they did not get what they wanted and what they specifically instructed the mere voters to give them: a Cameron overall majority leading to a Cabinet with James Purnell restored to No Work and Hardly Any Pensions, with Andrew Adonis at Education, and with places for Peter Mandelson and Alan Milburn (and also for Stephen Byers, before his bit of trouble), all of which had been publicly announced months before the Election, and none of which would have resulted in any withdrawal of the Labour Whip in the Lords where they would all have sat, since the Leader of the "Opposition" would have been David Miliband, who would also have been an attendee at a Cameron Cabinet and bound by its collective responsibility, as would Tony Blair have been without his even having to have been a member of either House.

Ed Miliband should seize this opportunity and agree wholeheartedly with Dr Williams, thereby breaking once and for all with this wretched little junta as surely as with the closely connected one that we have instead, which, as he rightly points out, is not merely wrong but illegitimate, hence its enthusiastic endorsement by its real head, and now would-be directly "elected President of Europe", Tony Blair.

And I must question the suggestion being made in some places that Dr Williams is selling out Tories in his pews. Admittedly, I am a Catholic, and most of us are tribal Labour who are more likely to stop voting at all (as many did in the Blair years) than ever vote for anyone else this side of electoral reform.

But leaving aside how Tory the C of E's regular congregations have really been ever since the Thatcher era, Tories in the country at large are socially conservative, fiercely patriotic Keynes-Beveridge types, often municipal socialists in all but name, and very often beneficiaries of the entirely correct, immensely generous subsidies to agriculture because it serves greater social and cultural goods.

They are certainly not economically neoliberal, socially liberal believers in an Israel First, America Second foreign policy and therefore in what has always been the American-sponsored project of European federalism. In practical terms, they are no willing slashers of public libraries or of bus services.

9 June 2011 at 17:38  
Anonymous Oswin said...

David Lindsey: some interesting 'food for thought' there; thank you.

9 June 2011 at 18:04  
Anonymous not a machine said...

I am not too sure on this one your grace , it seems to be an attack without any ideas , he is entitled to his view , but he has made it difficult to see if hes not just adopted leftwing opposition , let alone having any pre discussions to rail against no10.
The biggest bust in nearly 100yrs I would have thought may have led to believe an ecnomic imbalance or perhaps mismangement , not necessarily a wrong gov in its 1st yr.

9 June 2011 at 18:05  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Bred in the bone

"..whilst lamenting about our present state"

Er, he was lamenting our present state.

my word verification here is nutdur - suit you , sir ;o)

9 June 2011 at 18:18  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

@Tim

"There are 2.5 million unemployed but only half a million jobs available,. So it's nothing to do with being "work-shy.""

No. That is not very solid logic. The fact is there were plenty of unemployed when there were jobs a plenty. Many are the same people. Also that does not take into account the very large numbers claiming to be unable to work.

Being work-shy and content to be benefits dependent is definitely a factor.

9 June 2011 at 19:32  
Blogger English Viking said...

The AB of C is a complete embarrassment to all good Christians.

For goodness sake, get a shave, a haircut and elocution lessons.

A basic grounding in Christianity would help, too.

PS Those eyebrows.

9 June 2011 at 20:26  
Blogger English Viking said...

Much as it grieves me to say so, Old Slaughter is most certainly correct on the matter of unemployment.

No worky, no money.

Dead simple.

9 June 2011 at 20:28  
Anonymous non mouse said...

An enlightened perspective on the problem, Your Grace! My overall response maintains, as ever, that the problem is a symptom of encroaching disestablishment, devolution, and eventual eradication of all remnants of both British statehood and Christianity.

As your article might suggest, Dr. Williams occupies a position that is less 'between the devil and the deep' than representative of the constitutional umbrella over both. Thus he has written for mediators who profess to be left or right - from the Grauniad to the Telegraph; and now, from the NStatesman to the DM and the Spectator*

Online comments reveal, however, that previous Spectator readers are disaffected by its marxist-leaning articles. In fact, it exemplifies media that - like their political masters - only pretend to represent 'right' and 'left.' The truth is that we are subject to ideological hemiplegics whose right sides are disempowered. Nevertheless, they insult both the disabled and the left-handed: they no more work for what they label as the 'lower socio-economic class' than they do for the halt and the lame.

The pretence that they do enables their project for increasing fragmentation and strife among us British plebs. Some measure of success in that deconstructive aim (and its dynamics) appears in the last couple of response-strands to Your Grace. A newcomer could be forgiven for imagining that the commentary originates in Northern Ireland. It's several hundred years since the RC/Protestant divide has been so virulent in England.

Beyond the diversion of such age-old debates, the first attempt to replace our constitutional umbrella with a neu political one - a 'leftie' coalition - is failing, and the ABC's attack can only facilitate its demise. If he is in fact a patriot and a Christian ... then perhaps he uses our communist media rather cleverly.

However, I am one who would welcome reassurance from Dr. Williams that he plans to redeem the CoE from sacrifice as the useful idiot of the useful idiots: as the scapegoat of our 'leftie, euro, rulers.'


The following appeared in the Spectator online, under the Archbishop's name. "Face it: Marx was partly right about capitalism." 24 September, 2008.

9 June 2011 at 20:54  
Blogger English Viking said...

non mouse,

I'll share a secret with you;

people who say 'socio-economic', as though they know what it means, should be punched, very firmly, in the face.

Never fails.

9 June 2011 at 21:10  
Anonymous Tony B said...

I favour a kick in the goolies.

9 June 2011 at 21:17  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

he is in a better position to know than any journalist or politician.

9 June 2011 15:38

That is as maybe, however when where The Flock not quite justifiably scared have to death with respect to one thing, or another?

How well does The ABofC promote these fears as a whole, or is maybe the ABofC being more then a little selective as to which issue he will gladly venture upon, and those he absolutely goes nowhere near, under any possible circumstances?

For Example, anything untoward to do with The Vatican, intellectual or scientific consensus, The UN, The EU, or The Monarchy, in short he will not make any kind of serious attack on anything close the interests of The Establishment the ABofC most humbly serves.

What he will do is most plausibly claim to represent the overwhelming concerns of his parishioners, while quite obviously completely ignoring them when they do not so snugly fit his own masters various agendas.

IMO, the office of ABofC is not a spiritual position but a wholly temporal one.

Is the ABofC a bible believing Christian, on even the most metaphorical of levels?

Should be the first question Christians should ask of The ABofC, and not stop doing so until they are perfectly satisfied with the answers they are given.

9 June 2011 at 21:24  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Maybe we could go back to the 'Poor Law' and just frighten people from claiming benefits?

It was abolished in 1937 but I am not clear whether you mean The nEw Poor Law 1834 or the Speenhamland System dating from Elizabethan times.

The Poor Law did provide our major hospitals such as St James in Leeds

Not clear how the Poor Law differs from modern-day Welfare, or would you care to elucidate ?

9 June 2011 at 21:31  
Anonymous Old Blue Eyes said...

Churchmen should keep out of politics. The antics of Dr Soper drove me away from the Methodist church I had attended from being a boy. Dr Williams should confine himself to teaching the gospel and maybe, just maybe, he will halt the decline of church attendance.

9 June 2011 at 21:31  
Anonymous Grandfather said...

Whenever I read or hear Dr Williams, I thank God for reminding me why I no longer attend church. Under Dr Williams the church has been reduced to a stranded jellyfish, wobbly in all directions and no backbone.

9 June 2011 at 21:55  
Anonymous Tony b said...

Blue eyes, no. preaching the gospel just makes people snigger, unless for other reasons they are ready to listen.

9 June 2011 at 21:58  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Poor Rowan. He did so well at the Wedding, speaking beautifully with just the right timbre and intonation for the occasion. Now he does this. Sadly Rowan's less than divine intervention makes him look like a very old man, no understanding of the problems, no realistic prescription for their solution. Just Butskellite drivel.

9 June 2011 at 22:01  
Anonymous not a machine said...

It is one thing to headline on "radical policies no one voted for" and another to suggest why they are wrong ,that is what seems so wrong with his article .I might have expected a nudge into what the church may able to do to help , perhaps some shot at the vanity that led to the debt.
we know him as a very thoughtful man , even resolute when it came to same sex partnerships being blessed in a church , but this just seems to lack economics ,the debt if not tackled will do further damage to those areas where the wealth is fragile due to the imbalances .

He as left me a problem in how to view his speaking , is he an intellectual leftest who sees being condemed to a life on benefits as some sort of social justice destination , or does he believe that conservative belief in the vitality of sound local ecnomics is what is best.
is it not the case that people who endure the hopelessness of never having a job that pays sufficent to own property or to travel or indeed to have some surplus to give to the poor , does not another sin occure of disenfranchisment or even at community level for them to ensure local communities thrive.
How much cheap drugs and alcohol is consumed by those with no future on benefits ! just to not face the realties of the ecnomic mismanagement or selfish socialism .
He could have choose other targets too , EU spending , HS2 , bounuses for failed bankers or he could have said he wished to court the goverment for some idealogical discussion , rather than this idealess blast.

9 June 2011 at 22:06  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Viki said ....
"people who say 'socio-economic', as though they know what it means, should be punched, very firmly, in the face."

Norseman I think you're a product of the present 'socio-economic' situation supported by the neo-capitalist 'politico-economic' establishment and reinforced by the 'religio-social' culture.

9 June 2011 at 22:31  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

I have a problem reconciling the Archbishop's implicit criticism of reform in the NHS/Education/Welfare Benefits with the CofE's own modernising agenda that includes :- changing staff pension entitlements to require longer working to secure a full pension
(impossible for most clergy now), the move from Freehold to Common Tenure; staff lay offs and budget cuts: the amalgamation of three Dioceses to stave off insolvency: leaving parishes in abeyance without a Priest for up to 3 years.

If such changes are simply necessary for the Cof E why should the STate sector be immune?

Few of the CofE changes were popular, or pain/anxiety free.

9 June 2011 at 22:32  
Blogger Tim said...

@OldSlaughter

http://tim-theregency.blogspot.com/2011/05/canute-against-disablism.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1267953/Job-seeker-Vicky-Harrison-commits-suicide-rejected-200-jobs.html

9 June 2011 at 22:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have more respect for the Archbishop of Caneterbury if he would say more on purely religious matters and less on contemporary political affairs.
Unfortunately, His Grace's introductory offering, "It’s interesting [...] that nowadays politicians want to talk about moral issues, and bishops want to talk politics" seems to apply very much to Dr Williams.
As a Catholic, I admit that I find myself tempted to say "Well, what else can one expect from what is essentially a self-appointed minister, raised to his position by order of the British government as part of its "established" church, for wholly political purposes, rather than by an independent body which appoints its priests with no regard to the say-so of any politician". Williams was appointed by Blair/Brown in order to speak for Blair/Brown, and so why should we be surprised when he speaks for Blair/Brown?
Perhaps Mr Cameron should dismiss Dr Williams and appoint an AofC whose role is to propagandise for Cameron/Clegg? And when/if Labour get voted in again, they can always appoint an AofC to propagandise for Ed Milliband?
After all, and I'm sorry to put it so bluntly to you, but it has to be said: Dr Williams has no more, or no less authority, when he opines, than that crackpot American self-appointed "pastor" who proclaimed that the world would end a few weeks ago. This is no more and no less the logical result of the Refortmists: Any old Tom Dick or Harry may proclaim themself to be a "pastor" or "minister" and may preach whatever their personal interpretation of scripture may be. It's cuckoo-crackpot.

9 June 2011 at 23:00  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Anonymous

Me thinks you are being deliberately provokative in order to stir up conflict between Catholics and the Church of England!

At least have the decency to identify yourself.

10 June 2011 at 00:01  
Blogger Mr Dodo said...

Anonymous

Me thinks you are being deliberately provokative in order to stir up conflict between Catholics and the Church of England!

At least have the decency to identify yourself.

10 June 2011 at 00:01  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Tony B the words you sliced from my comment are best understood along with the sentence which proceed it.

My comment does not deny his lamentation does it?

This word verification is not Gobshite, but what do I care :0)

10 June 2011 at 06:14  
Blogger len said...

Tony B,
A 'snigger' may be a nervous reaction to hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel is an offence to many people, within and without organised religion.
Truth,Biblical Truth has to pass through the 'filter'of peoples prejudices and pre conditions.Truth often gets turned away at this point.
When Pontius Pilate interrogated Jesus before his crucifixion, Jesus proclaimed that "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (John 18:37). To this, Pilate replied "What is truth?" and immediately left Jesus to address the Jews who wanted Christ crucified (v. 38). As Francis Bacon wrote in his essay "On Truth," "'What is truth?' said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer." Pilate was staring Truth in the face, for Jesus had earlier said to Thomas, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

10 June 2011 at 08:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Archdhimmi of Canterbury’s liberal left credentials make him just the right ‘man’ to lead the worldly, anything goes, Anglican Church of ‘England’.

Many of us are afraid alright, but not about side issues such as spending cuts – though there is no shortage of British tax payers’ cash for increased “foreign aid” (bribery and tribute fund) and “no fly zones” (illegal wars).

We’re afraid about continued mass immigration and the eradication of our way of life and existence through the “failed multicultural experiment” that our glorious Lib-Lab-Con rulers are continuing to deliberately impose upon us in their evil quest to become masters of a new world order. In particular we are afraid of the islamification of these islands and, indeed, all of Christian Europe.

10 June 2011 at 09:26  
Anonymous tony b said...

Len. you seem to agree with me then.

10 June 2011 at 09:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace, once again the ABC rveals himself to be an idiot savant. Since he never attacked Blair or Brown was there any other way that his words would be interpreted except as political bias?

10 June 2011 at 17:59  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

@Tim.

I questioned your logic and you answered by proving my point. You gave me two links, one showed a tragedy involving a girl failing to get a job and committing suicide.

Guess what, I never suggested jobs aren't hard to come by. You example proves nothing. That girl's plight is awful but it does not answer the fact that bundles of immigrants came here and found jobs during the boom years whilst many locals stayed on benefits.

More disturbing though is the thinking you display with the other link. An attack on the size of the disability register is not an attack on the disabled. I see you agree with the idiot comparing the complaints to the Nazis. That is not only disgusting but entirely retarded.

When Thatcher left office there were around 800,000 on disability benefit. When Brown left there were around 2,800,000. What does that say to you? How many accidents occurred during that time? Is this the greatest public health disaster ever or are some people just not being honest.

I wish to attack those people I think are dishonest, mainly because when the situation becomes as stupid as this the genuinely disadvantaged that you profess to care about are tarred with that brush. They get dragged into the lazy assumptions about 'work-shy' etc etc.

If you really cared about them,as I believe I do, you would ruthlessly attack the status-quo, so those that need the most help can receive it without stigma and without having to share the pie with the feckless and lazy.

In your mind it appears these people simply do not exist. I think it is a fundamental part of human nature. You make it easy for some not to work, some people won't. You and that awful blogger you posted on wish to do what the left always does with these debates. You call those earnestly arguing an opposing view as not caring. You restrict or stop the debate. The problem gets worse and only the idiots are left complaining.

For years we were told integration and immigration couldn't be discussed. That those that did were racist. Net result?? The extremists control the debate and the problems get worse and the prime losers are those honest and decent immigrants being stigmatised. Just like the disabled in this case.

Wise up mate. The 'feelings' you seem proud of and seem to believe others don't possess, are part of the problem. It damages those you profess to champion. It is vanity and conceit.

11 June 2011 at 19:38  
Blogger Tim said...

@OS

Using the worded ‘retarded’ in response to a disabled person is highly offensive.

The problem with your argument re: immigrants is that it does not change the maths. There is still a jobs shortfall of at least 2 million.

I am disappointed that you do not appear to be willing to learn from a disabled person about some of the realities of being disabled. You seem to have entirely missed the point that I was making in my blog, that just because somebody can do some (limited forms) of work does not mean that they are ‘faking it.’ The problem is, as I pointed out earlier, that employers do not want to employ disabled people. See the link with the 8% figure.

The reason I put up the other link about the young girl was to make the point that even fit, young, willing, clever people are finding it very difficult to find work. So how much more difficult do you suppose it would be for a disabled person who is automatically excluded by 92% of employers?

The “Nazi” comparison is restricted to the use of propaganda designed to stir up hatred against disabled people. The Nazis used to produce posters complaining about how much money disabled people cost.

If I thought for one moment that this crackdown was really about finding out dishonest people, then I would be the first to agree with you and endorse it. But unfortunately, it is instead about pretending that disabled people are not disabled in order to save money. You do realise that the Government are paying a private company to carry out these new tests? Well, 40-70% of appeals against their findings are being upheld – this is why:

http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/press_20100323

I also note that you go straight form Thatcher’s figures to Browns and it is not clear to me where they come from. The number of people on Incapacity Benefit when Brown left office was not much different to 1997. Considering all the different illness and disabilities there are out there, I would say that figure is low. According to the DWP’s own figures, both IB and DLA fraud is recorded at below 1%.

12 June 2011 at 10:10  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

13 June 2011 at 00:49  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

@Tim,

"Using the worded ‘retarded’ in response to a disabled person is highly offensive."

Why? If I think an opinion is retarded, what change should I make depending on the interlocutor? If somebody with a spinal injury for example said something very stupid I don't see why I should not use the term to describe their views. Happy to treat them like any other person. More to the point, I suggested the calls for tighter controls on the disability benefits being compared to the Nazi euthanasia program was retarded. It is. And disgusting. If you seriously could not see that then your I would suggest reading or your comprehension is lacking. If you can then you are disingenuous in the extreme. So wise up or enjoy the offence.

Where is this "use of propaganda designed to stir up hatred against disabled people." Please show me and your proof of its intention. Downgrading the crimes of the Nazis, and that is what you have done, is a worrying sign indeed.

Again, and please don't make me have to repeat this, it is tiresome, I have not said there is not a jobs shortfall. I am saying when there wasn't we had similar numbers of unemployed. What does that tell you?

As for the fraud figures, they don't take into account the number of folks claiming back injuries or depression or whatever other option that is very very hard to disprove. If you think the numbers a low then fine, I don't. I think there are many people out there that say they cannot work but actually could. I know a couple myself.

Those people taking benefits that they don't deserve do most damage to those that do. By both the taking of resources and the sullying of the reputation by association. I am happy to pay my taxes to help the most needy in our society. I wish we could do better for them. By you mischaracterising any attempt to crack down on those people as a general attack on the meek, you hurt the those we seek to protect and do not credit to your argument or your intellect.

Let's try another approach.

A: Do you think all those on job seekers have made a full effort to gain work?

B: If not what should we do about it?

C: Do you think all those claiming incapacity deserve it?

D: If so how do explain the massive increase in claimants?

E: If not to 'C', what should we do about it?

13 June 2011 at 00:54  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/1577312/1.9m-on-benefit-should-go-back-to-work.html

Some figures in that one. Dispute those if you like.

13 June 2011 at 01:01  
Blogger Tim said...

I do dispute those figures. I do not consider Freud to be any sort of expert on disability or welfare.

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

13 June 2011 at 09:58  

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