Saturday, March 17, 2012

The fate of a holy man in the Church of England

This is by way of some brief thoughts about Rowan's resignation:

- I think I'm as delighted by his resignation as I was by his original appointment; principally because I believe he has earned the right to some happiness (language that I'm sure he'd repudiate, but I think it's true nonetheless);
- for me, the high point of his ministry was the visit to Zimbabwe - some clear and courageous leadership, with an unambiguous meaning;
- whereas the low point, and the tragedy of his time, was his treatment of Jeffrey John. I think that the worst general consequence to this was that it obscured the truth about the power struggles going on, and enabled a continuing aversion to honesty by the house of bishops. We are way past the time when an honest and adult conversation should be had, and the continuing deceit on this issue repeatedly damages the church. Rowan, on principle, placed unity ahead of truth, and we are still dealing with the consequences of that decision (I think it is also the principal ground for why the Covenant will likely be rejected in England - Rowan's natural constituency doesn't trust him, and therefore it);
- Rowan has many immense gifts, gifts which are much more apparent on a personal level than when mediated by distance or writing. What he has not had is 'serpent wisdom', and I would associate this with his lack of parish experience. By his own life and witness he has called the church to be more faithful; by his unworldliness he has allowed the bullies to dominate. Pious language has its place but we also need to recognise our fallen context;
- in sum, what I see in Rowan's ministry is the fate of a holy man in the Church of England. Misused and abused - and bullied into collusion with the misuse and abuse - we didn't get the best of him, for the simple reason that as a whole church we have lost sight of the one thing needful. So alongside the delight for him personally is an immense sadness for what might have been.

1 comment:

  1. What do you think might have been?

    Holding irreconcilable squabbling factions together is a thankless task.

    It seems to me that the only "might have beens" would have been to reconcile them (not at all likely) or to let them go their separate ways.

    What was the "truth" that he preferred unity to?


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