Monday, December 22, 2008

The Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams Needs a Good Ghost

Writer, that is. Because columns like this don’t make any sense. I’ve read though this a couple of times, and I’m still not sure what he’s talking about, other than “Nazis are Bad”.

This, of course, renders point by point commentary difficult, since there isn’t really an argument, but a group of random assertions. I was going to say ‘series of assertions’, but the term ‘series’ implies order.

Something sadly missing from His Grace’s musings.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Williams: Nazis are Bad.

Even in these sad times amidst the rising tide of anti-Semitism, this doesn’t seem that controversial. They’re socialists, after all. Wherever socialism – either of the national or international varieties – has been tried, ruin, misery, death, and re-education camps are sure to follow.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Williams: "to be able to live with principles, but we must also be able to live without them" (quoting Barth, in a vain effort to give this piece a patina of intellectualism)

The sophomoric response is to note that this is in effect, a principle. More than enough to derail the A-Bish of Cant.

Rt. Rev. Dr. Williams: “The unprincipled question won't be silenced: what about the particular human costs? What about the unique concerns and crises of the pensioner whose savings have disappeared, the Woolworths employee, the hopeful young executive, let alone the helpless producer of goods in some Third-World environment where prices are determined thousands of miles away?”

Tough to make out where he’s going with this – either it’s a) a Bushism (“when people are hurting, the government’s gotta move”), or b) he’s about to endorse actual analysis of the likely costs and benefits on both a long and short term basis of various social policies. Since analysis of this type is likely to place him in the conservative / libertarian economic camp, a) is the more plausible response. I just don’t think that His Grace has the intellectual machinery to employ any sort of sophisticated analysis – esp. since the point of the piece is the apparent benefits of random activity.

Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams: “And Christmas is supremely the story of a God who is not interested in telling us about principles. First comes the action – God beginning to live a human life.”

In the borderline heresy that appears to be a requirement for career advancement in the ol’ CoE, His Grace ignores the fact that the Lord spent 5,000 or so years laying rather principled groundwork in the Old Testament. This is a God who is extremely interested in principles, has principles that cannot be compromised, and has patiently explicated those principles over and over again.

Indeed, without the principles of Justice, Holiness, and Mercy, the Incarnation makes absolutely zero – zip – zilch – nada – no sense whatsoever. God doesn’t just act – he acts with a plan, a principle, as it were.

And that principle is not ‘trendiness at all costs’, which seems to be the only thing motivating the CoE these days.