So the Archbishop of Canterbury is calling America names again. We’d like to say we’re shocked, but we’re not. It’s been the epitome of cool for British intelligentsia to trash American foreign policy since George III made his little speech to the Houses of Parliament in 1775.
It’s hardly news that the current Archbishop of Canterbury thinks America is imperialistic if what the London Times says today is true, saying in addition that Rowan Williams also poured scorn on the “chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity.” Right, and who sings “And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England’s mountains green?”
We wonder, however, if what is bursting through is not just his frustration at America’s efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and the fields of Pennsylvania, but of another imperialistic crisis being thrust upon him from our fair shores. Imagine if the article in the London Times had been written this way:
THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that The Episcopal Church wields its power in a way that is worse than the Church of England during its imperial heyday.
Rowan Williams claimed that TEC’s attempt to intervene in dioceses and parishes by “clearing the decks” with a “quick burst of violent action” of litigation had led to “the worst of all worlds”.
In a wide-ranging interview with a British Anglican magazine, the Anglican leader linked criticism of The Episcopal Church to one of his most pessimistic declarations about the state of western civilisation.
He said the crisis was caused not just by TEC’s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen church myth of TEC, meaning that what happens in TEC is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity”.
Williams went beyond his previous critique of the conduct of the decisions of General Convention saying The Episcopal Church had lost the moral high ground since August 2003. He urged it to launch a “generous and intelligent programme of aid directed to the dioceses that have been ravaged; a check on the spiritual exploitation of defeated parishes; a de-litigation of their presence”.
He went on to suggest that the West was fundamentally adrift: “Our modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well. There is something about western modernity which really does eat away at the soul.”
Williams suggested TEC’s leadership had broken down: “We have only one global hegemonic power. It is not accumulating territory: it is trying to accumulate influence and control. That’s not working.”
He contrasted it unfavourably with how the Church of England related to Africa. “It is one thing to evangelize a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly, that’s what the Church of England did — in Africa, for example.
“It is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of litigation will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together — Virginia, for example.”
In the interview in Free to Be You & Me, an Anglican lifestyle magazine, Williams makes only mild criticisms of the Anglican Communion. He said the Anglican Communion must acknowledge that its “political solutions were not the most impressive”.
He commends the Anglican practice of praying the hours, which he says allows the remembrance of God to be “built in deeply in their daily rhythm”.
So he can cynically call America names when we do stuff abroad so there will be no more explosions on the Tube Stops at Shepherd’s Bush and King’s Cross, but he’ll never be caught dead out on a battlefield, no sir. But let’s see him take leadership on his own battlefield. Can he be so clear to all the American imperialists or just the ones who are willing to put their lives, the fortunes, and their sacred honor on the battlefield so he can continue to sit peacefully in his palace and grant interviews to the press? Let’s see him get out of his Anglican foxhole and fix his own problems before he starts pointing the finger at everyone else.
And by the way, who knows where this is located?
SUNDAY UPDATE: Here is the link to the original interview. And there’s more in it – especially having to do with Israel – that is very very troubling. More in the comments.