And it has taken our living, loving,
religious poet of the present, the Archbishop of Canterbury, himself
intellectually resplendent in the ancient ascetics of the Fathers, to point us to the paradox of a Western society driving itself towards mindless secularism while China herself turns back and contemplates capitalising on the social benefits of religion.

There are almost too many ironies in all this even to know where to begin. But I do feel that those who criticised Dr Williams for
failing to intervene on behalf of the unregistered, underground church
were missing the point just a little.  Archbishops of Canterbury tend
to visit China every decade or so and, as I recall, George Carey
suffered similar criticism last time round. No way was this Archbishop ignorant or unfeeling
of the plight of the unregistered Christians in China, but it is
difficult to see what he could have achieved by launching an open
strike on their behalf. I accept though that people who know China
better than I do might see things differently.

It is more helpful to look at what Dr Williams could and did
achieve, and what unique gifts he took with him on his visit. Surely
one of the most fascinating aspects is that he is himself described by
some who know him well as an “unreconstructed Marxist” in many of his
political ideals and personal philosophies. So here we have this
formidably intelligent, left-leaning academic
driven thrust slightly unwillingly to the top of a recalcitrant Church
that is the product of the ultimate in monarchical, capitalist systems,
in a country without a constitution that has never suffered or enjoyed
a revolution. On the social scale, he sits immediately below the Queen
in the hierarchy. On the socialist scale, they couldn’t be further
apart.

{read it all}

Technorati Tags: , , ,