A couple of days ago, I sat in a packed church in a Cambridgeshire village to hear Rowan Williams speak about food banks. The former Archbishop of Canterbury was measured and carefully non-party political in his observations. His address was a model of the power which is exercised when discernment is coupled with commitment to truth and justice.
What seems to have crystallised as the key to Archbishop Rowan Williams’ recent (somewhat early) resignation from his job, and as head of the global Anglican Communion, is the issue of sexuality. But, Alison Jasper suggests, this is part of a wider matrix of power and position connected to the deployment of the discursive category ‘religion’ and to the secular state acquiring a normative status.
Rowan Williams' archbishopric was and is far from perfect, says Simon Barrow. Of course. But if we too readily dismiss the attempts of humane, spiritual and thoughtful people like Dr Williams to point out that our difficulties are not just about someone else’s blockheadedness, we may be nearer the idiocratic realm and further from the hoped-for realm of God and of reason than we think.
Time and again in the midst of "events, dear boy, events" (Harold Macmillan's famous response to an interrogation about what is the biggest difficulty in being Prime Minister), I keep coming back to Dutch theologian Harry Kuitert's observation that while "everything is politics, politics is not everything".