God doesn't say 'you're fired!', says archbishop

God doesn't say 'you're fired!', says archbishop

By staff writers
12 Apr 2009

In an Easter newspaper article, Dr Rowan Williams,the Archbishop of Canterbury, cited one of Britain's most popular TV programmes to make the point that God regards no-one as 'disposable', even when humans do.

God doesn't say "You're fired!", he declared, referring to business tycoon Sir Alan Sugar's catchphrase on 'The Apprentice' - a show in which young business hopefuls compete against each other for the tycoon's approval, only for one of them to be sacked at the end of each episode.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Dr Williams declared: "Christianity takes it for granted that whether you succeed or fail, you’re valuable. God’s view of you doesn’t depend on how you do – it’s always the same love, always giving you a second chance. And you can face failure without fear and rage."

The archbishop defended under-fire hospital chaplains "who are there for everyone." He added: "Hospital chapels are spaces of quiet where people of all faiths and none can start to make sense of birth, death, loneliness and anxiety."

He also echoed previous comments about living in an increasingly "angry society", the need to find a different way and the possibility of a new way of living opened up by the Gospel and the creation of Christian community.

The rest of the archbishop's article was the more familiar litany expected from the head of an Established church, arguing for the importance of general "Christian values" and backing the influence of the institutional church in public governance - in spite of a dramatic falling-away of active Christian adherence in the past 50 years.

An excerpt from Dr Williams' article:

"[I]n a society where everyone seems to be insanely focused on getting and winning, there are times when we need to stand still and just face ourselves quietly.

"When everything around us seems to say that failure is unthinkable and we must never be seen to be at a loss or out of control of the situation, the Church says failure is normal and happens to everyone, and we don’t have to succeed to be loved.

"In this financial crisis, most of us would agree we should be looking at our priorities and our desires. We’ve had a few decades of being told we have a right to get whatever we want – cash, status, pleasure.

"Fair enough, if what’s been normal before is oppression and unfairness. Not so sensible if what it means is a system that sets everyone against everyone else and tells us we can be as angry as we like if we don’t get exactly what we think we want.

"Few people would deny that we’re much angrier than we used to be. At the extreme, this means road rage and knife crime and unmanageable levels of aggression in a lot of our public spaces.

"More generally, it means that we live all the time with dissatisfaction and resentment rumbling away in the background of our lives. And this is a recipe for consistent unhappiness.

"Not getting what we want is a sort of failure – and we know that failure is just not acceptable – ‘You’re fired!’.

"Christianity takes it for granted that whether you succeed or fail, you’re valuable. God’s view of you doesn’t depend on how you do – it’s always the same love, always giving you a second chance. And you can face failure without fear and rage.

"You’ll still try your best but you’re also free to see that if you can’t get what you wanted, you still have your dignity before God, so you still have a future.

"This is the sort of thing the Church gives space for – a realistic picture of who you are, based on a vision of who God is."

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