Surely this is the final triumph of the postmodern erosion of Western thought. You can now join a group on 'Facebook' titled, 'The Archbishop of Canterbury is a good man'.
By joining this group, you apparently affirm (without a hint of irony) that you believe:
1) The media has misinterpreted the spirit of what Dr Williams was talking about in his lecture
2) As an intellectual, and a spiritual leader, Dr Williams should feel free to express a carefully considered opinion.
3) That Dr Williams is one of the most gifted minds in Britain, and his views should be given careful consideration.
Point (1) presumes you have read, and are in a position to judge, everything 'the media' has said in the last four days and that all of it is wrong, whereas your own understanding of what Dr Williams said is right.
Point (2) is a truism.
Point (3) is moot (boot-licking, but moot) and vacuous. Anything anyone says should be given careful consideration at times, but just because they have a gifted mind doesn't mean they are right.
My own response would be that by joining the group you show that, however well disposed you might be towards Rowan Williams, you need to sign up to a class on, say, elementary philosophy.
We have now moved from the ad hominem argument - the kind of thing that says, "Well, if so-and-so has said that, then they must be wrong," - to the ad hominem defence - "If so and so is attacked, I must agree with them."
One person I very much doubt would be impressed by this is Dr Rowan Williams! He has asked us to think about some very serious issues. And after the initial confusion, and resulting furore at the end of last week - much of which Dr Williams admits was down to the way he expressed himself - a serious debate has emerged, not least in our media, where the debate is vastly better than the side-taking and personality-hyping going on in the Church.
Dr Williams is a good person. Of course he is. In my view he came up with a bad idea, is all.
Repeat after me: "It's nothing personal."
Revd John P Richardson
12 February 2008
No comments will be posted without a full name and location, see the policy.