Friday, May 13, 2011


Why has the event described in the last post hit me so hard? I am still struggling with outrage. On reflection, what happened seems to have been a microcosm of what is going on in institutional religion in general, but in the C of E and Anglican Communion in particular.

Here was a rare opportunity to listen to the sort of person who comes along only about once in a century. Did the context in which he was to speak encourage reflective listening? It did not. Rather, it made one wish one were deaf; it was a physical relief when the atrocious, aggressive, self-centred and ego-generated 'music' finally shut up. Even then, the shattered atmosphere made it hard for people to settle.

If that weren't enough there were further distractions before we got to the main event and even then, the creative possibilities were choked off by the canned questions. Why didn't they have the sense to just let him talk? Give three short addresses on this darkest and deepest of psalms, interspersed with silence? Set them in the context of a reflective Compline? Ego again, and the need to control, control, control—and show off.

In short, the evening wasn't about gaining new and deeper insights from Rowan or an exposition of Psalm 88; it wasn't about exposure to humility and peace. Rowan's presence was an excuse for the perpetrators to parade what they stand for, which, sadly, is exactly opposite to everything Rowan stands for.

It has frequently been said that Rowan's gifts are wasted on the C of E and the Anglican Communion. I haven't wanted finally to believe this—I still had a modicum of hope—but after what I saw on Sunday evening, I have to agree. There was plenty of sycophancy, but there was little respect. Rowan was treated as a cipher, not a human being, much less the extraordinary teacher and person he is. The event only confirmed my sense that the Anglican situation has gone far beyond the point of no return.

It is not difficult to imagine an 'at large' role for Rowan, such as Tutu and the Dalai Lama used to have before they retired. In the event, the people who most want to hear what Rowan has to say, and are in sympathy with what he stands for, have, for the most part, already departed the institution.

Maybe he should stop wasting his time.


Anonymous Bhagavannath said...

Very much understood what you point to - trouble is - perhaps? - that Rowan doesn't have the publicity that the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu have, so we - in the wider world - do not hear what he tells us. Is he perhaps too much surrounded by the paraphernalia of his office?

7:36 pm, May 14, 2011  

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