While the anti-clerical and anti-religious make hay about large chunks of the Catholic Church in Ireland’s complicity with child abusing priests by hiding or excusing them, I’d prefer to take a quick look today about how our very own Supreme Primate has recently been inadvertently encouraging some of God’s children to despise other of God’s children here in the balmy North West of England by hiding or excusing their crimes and misdemeanours.
By Tom Moseley »
THE ARCHBISHOP of
Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams said he had been “inspired” by his trip to Lancashire, where he met civic and religious leaders in Burnley, Blackburn and
Speaking to the
Yes. All those honour killings and separatism and, of course, the bankrupting of the State’s finances and indebting our children to the taxman and the inflationeer’s greed unto the umpteenth generation, that’s all the “far right’s” fault.
Dr Williams said
You’d have to be crazy or truly evil not to see the good in all of this.
I say ‘divided’. You say ‘diverse’. Potato. Aloo.
Say, there can’t be any connection between this and all the violence, can there?
"But if it’s just about putting up the shutters it’s not going to work.”
But…Fisk. Fisk. Fisk. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Indeed, the standard web author rarely sees the need to spell out what his or her side believes in and argue for it in the marketplace of ideas….
Okay, so assuming that we all agree, or are prepared to stipulate for the moment, that the present A-B of C is a cultural Marxist, for whom all the complex problems and feelings involved are because “Divisions come about because of economics or a perceived sense of injustice” and who wishes to lead a hollowed-out dhimmmi church of moral relativists and the willfully blind… what then can we say that’s positive, that argues for something that conservatives can get alongside?
What would I (who am not a Christian) want to hear a confident and faithful Archbishop of Canterbury say about immigration, culture, and the Queen’s Peace?
What might a humble but determined heir of
I think he’d start with something about his faith.
I believe in the words of Jesus Christ, as preached by my church down the generations:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
And from ancient Leviticus we have; “Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD,” and later we have The Great Commandment throughout the New Testament: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
The Church has preached and taught these ideas for two thousand years as the core of what we believe. Whenever the Church ands the faithful have not acted according to these holy words, then we were in the wrong. When we have followed them as we were commanded, then we were at least seeking to be right.
For most every Sunday and Christmas, Lent and Easter for two thousand years the Church had based its teaching and has intended to act according to Christ’s commandment in the belief that people matter irrespective of: their usefulness to others; or their social rank; or their sex; or their relationship to those in power; or their nationality or; eventually, of their faith. Much of the morality by which British people live today is derived directly from Christian teachings.
I think that such a man might go on to say something about the history of Christianity and Christendom.
Christianity has waxed and waned in these islands of ours for 1,500 years and more, but as it survived and changed, it has grown to great power and influence over the minds of our people. The faith has had to face many grave problems and, on some occasions has been, or been present, at some of the gravest problems.
And yet, Christianity has proved to be a solution for many of life’s hardships and injustices.
The pagan religious cults that predated Christianity were in large measure a curse to their practitioners and their neighbours alike. Human and animal sacrifice; slave-raiding one’s neighbours; frequent rape and murderous oath-breaking; the belief in gods and local spirits who terrified those who dwelt amongst them; infanticide; widow-burning – all were held to be vile by the Church Fathers in these four countries of ours, and all were later suppressed by Christian princes and their servants so that some, at least, of those horrors were banished forever. Those Christian princes and their servants were not always gentle and often acted cruelly in their work, it is true. I do not excuse that, but I ask you also to think that when the
And every Sunday, Christ’s message of universal love and peace was preached to the people throughout the Dark Ages.
It is also true that the Church made war on Islam during the Crusades, and though its atrocities against Muslims, Jews, and other Christians alike were inexcusable and remain so to this day, the Crusades themselves were wars against the descendants of the conquerors of formerly Christian lands. But we can choose to do things better today, as we now take Christ’s Great Commandment seriously.
Whilst the mediaeval Church and its agents often persecuted Jews as the result of parts of the gospel stories and also out of local hatreds and personal greed and the foul legend of the Blood Libel, and even as massacre and exile from England were crimes against the Jews, the Church still held that child sacrifice was wrong for Christians and some priests and bishops struggled against local recidivism. There was the notion, ever-present if often ignored by venial priests and corrupt magistrates that the lives of all the people were worth something - at least to God.
Then Christians warred on other Christians during the Reformation and the Counter Reformation, and long and terrible were the century and a half of Western Christendom’s civil wars. Brutality in larger-scale warfare than had been fought since the fall of Rome left Europe blood-soaked and exhausted, and yet the Europeans (Oh solemn pride in this European inheritance!) learned to partly separate the affairs of State from those of the Church, and in so doing took the sword from the hands of the men who should be working for peace, and left it in the hands of the nation-states, commonwealths and empires that made our modern world. These Wars of Religion also saw Jews settled quite deliberately in
But the Reformed Church and the Catholics alike warred on pagans once more as clerical orders and secular authorities and free enterprise alike exported African animists into the
Love thy neighbour has been extended; ever more refined and ever more detailed and demanding in its application, to apply to former enemies of official Christendom in these islands such as the Catholics; to factory workers and children and the uneducated and for a Middle Eastern homeland for the Jews; to supporting the equality of women eventually and after much clerical opposition and very much after the fact that others had largely achieved it (or having talked about achieving it).
And these holy words have long since been incumbent of the Christian faithful to apply to the faithful of other religions.
Leviticus 19:34 teaches us further "But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God"). …Leviticus 19:34 universalizes the edict of Leviticus 19:18 from "one of your people" to all of humankind.
This is the faith and the world it has made that I stand for.
He might say something about the world that his faith has built.
So our nation, for all its faults, and the faults of the people living in it, is a place aflame with the idea that people matter; that they count for something here and now because God has taught us that we all matter to Him.
Our morality politics and are awash with the idea that law and power should serve an essentially Christian mission; to protect the meek, to search for justice, to aim for peace. And this is how the British describe themselves when they are feeling good about themselves; the height of approval is to say of a man ‘He’s a good chap,’ or of a woman ‘She’s very kind.’ Note that this riverbed Christianity does not praise worldly success such as fame and fortune, or the cleverness of mind, or beauty, or being at the height intellectual fashion, but rather the ability to fit in, to get along, to be a neighbour.
In these lands and amongst this country’s neighbours and its former colonies we extend the courtesy that is the everyday form and manifestation of Christian neighbourliness to our visitors and those who have settled amongst us…Or at least most of us try to though we often fail too; being fallible and weak.
Love thy neighbour is what happens when our diplomats agree that prisoners of war should be treated decently, and when soldiers are trained to do so, and when they do so under great stress and after cruel provocation. It’s also what happens when our soldiers fail to do so, and when other seek to redress that failure. Love thy neighbour is real when we give to charity, or are kind to strangers we meet, and when we choose to be polite to fools and unruly children who are not related to us. Love thy neighbour underlies the deepest motives of socialism and liberalism and much of conservatism – and even libertarianism in its respect for the individual (inherited and distant as that lineage is to the rationalist mind.) Love thy neighbour underpins much of patriotism and nationalism, too, by definition, and it need not imply and hate strangers, too.
Love thy neighbour is the foundation of the peaceful way we live because it has been put into a myriad of our laws to constrain the deeds and to control wherever possible the intentions of the sociable but often selfish or parochial species that we human beings are. Freedom itself can not be tolerated by those who fail to embrace the outer lesson of love thy neighbour which is that we are all here to lead our own lives and that this matters very much to God.
It’s not that Love thy neighbour or something very much like it is unique to Christianity: modern and mediaeval Judaism, some forms of Buddhism and Hinduism, and the very earliest teachings of Islam contain similar notions. But Christianity has it at its core, and the history of this country for a millennium and a half has been coloured by that religion.
I wish that such a Primate might conclude.
The laws and customs that have grown up under centuries of imperfect striving to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ are part of an ecology that contains rightful thinking; teaching the Gospels; respecting when their message has been fulfilled; and regretting and hoping to improve when it has not.
All we ask of each other and of our neighbours old and new, no matter what they believe and Whom they worship, is to live according to those customs and laws so that they too will share in a national community that sees strangers and colleagues; children and women and foreigners; the rich and the poor alike as worthy of respect and continued life. That’s all that we should ask - though the Church offers more to those who will take it.
Christian society does not ask much of its inhabitants, and it cannot compel us to truly love our neighbours in our hearts because only God can demand that, but it is mightily entitled to insist that all people should act as if they did not hate one another.
So we demand that everyone here must live by those laws and customs and not put personal or sectarian aims above public morality.