Monday, August 10, 2009

Rowan's Rule: The Biography of the Archbishop of Canterbury

From the Christian Century- Book Review-

The wise Anglican priest who instructed me in how to go about hearing confessions closed his lesson with some memorable words: "I've never thought less of someone after hearing their confession."

If only it were generally the same for biographies. Some people's lives have a priestly dimension. That is to say, their struggles have an elevated quality—they are struggles on behalf of us all; their example inspires far beyond the circle of people who directly identify with their circumstances. In short, when the bell tolls for them it tolls for us too—somehow even more than when it tolls for us alone. Rowan Williams is such a person. And the astonishing thing about this biography—this confession, if you like—is that Williams emerges from it with a reputation that is, if anything, more positive than it already was.

It's a commonplace that Williams's job is one you wouldn't wish on your most antagonistic blogger. What is the archbishop of Canterbury for? He's there to represent the life of faith, more specifically the historic catholic and reformed Christian faith, at the heart of the English nation; to be a figurehead guiding the Church of England, its bishops, its institutions and its people; and to be a unifying influence on the worldwide Anglican Communion. When Williams was appointed, there was widespread joy that here was a man who could do these three things like no one else imaginable—a person who epitomized the grace, wisdom, faith and generosity to which Anglicanism aspires. And yet his first seven years in office have seen him beleaguered by controversial events, a constant demand for him to exercise executive power, and a standoff of mutual incomprehension between his office and the secular press.

The rest is here-

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