Friday, October 25, 2013

Welby walks into the C4 lions' den

The Archbishop of Canterbury was interviewed yesterday on Channel 4 News. Perhaps he was fatigued by the christening and his prior weighty lecture on business ethics, but there were some distinct 'rabbit in headlights' moments when it appeared that His Grace was trusting the Holy Spirit to give him the words, and inspiration came there none.

Jon Snow probed him on a number of socio-religio-political themes, from banking standards and wealth distribution to Ralph Miliband and the possible future religious beliefs of Prince George of Cambridge. He declined one question on economic policy, insisting it was "party political"; and demurred on the consequences of Prince George becoming a Buddhist with a "let's wait and see".  If you walk voluntarily into the lion's den, bringing a tin of cat food is not adequate preparation.  

Archbishop Justin says there is much work still to do to mitigate the potential social impact of any future financial crisis. "Even if the push-back does not win, we have not dealt with the 'too big to fail' or 'too big to manage', and there's a danger of not dealing with 'too big to rescue'." He did not appeal to 'Moral Hazard': he is a firm believer that corporate actions should have consequences.

UK economic growth is a good thing, and he is of the view that the benefits flowing from that growth should reach all corners of society: "Part of the problem we're facing is that where there are inequities, people don't really know how to deal with them. Politicians can't say that, but the reality is that a lot of people don't know the answer. I don't think we've found the answer, and you look across Europe or north America - Detroit would be a very good example - and it's clear it's not for lack of effort, it's perhaps for lack of understanding of how to change things."

He is right that politicians can't or won't admit to not having answers, but what, precisely, is the Church of England's solution? Inequity is endemic: the poor will always be with us. But punitive levels of taxation for wealth redistribution and expansion of the welfare state invariably deter enterprise and diminish philanthropy. You don't solve the struggle against generational deprivation by pledging to put Wonga out of business.

The Archbishop appears to have an aversion to Milton Friedman and an inclination toward collectivism, apparently oblivious to the fact that voluntary exchange yields benefits for both parties. Free-market economics has a place for non-market systems and values in order that it operate morally (and so effectively). Buyer and seller both derive gains from trade where competition prevails. We ameliorate the human condition and help to alleviate poverty by serving others in the supply of goods for which they choose to pay. The pursuit of self-interest is not antithetical to the common good of the wider community. Friedman's view was that you have to do good to do well: not that you must maximise profits at all costs. Entrepreneurs may seek riches, but it is the Church's task to change hearts in order that that wealth might enrich society far more.

And as for Prince George being a Buddhist king, well, the answer here was not: "He's perfectly entitled to be that and we'll cross that bridge if we ever get to it, who knows?" He is indeed perfectly free to be any faith he chooses: that is his human right. But should he decide to be Buddhist, Muslim or Roman Catholic, under our present Constitution he may not then be King. But to be King is not a human right: it is a role with responsibilities and constraints. As with Edward VIII, one either accepts the limitations of the office, or one defers to the next in line. It appears that Prince Charles may be preparing to do precisely that.

Archbishop Justin warned against what he termed a "bully pulpit". "A number of us... have the capacity to make comments, or structure interviews, or preach from a pulpit... We have to be very cautious about the use of that responsibility."

His (present) Grace is right to exercise caution; His (former) Grace paid a heavy price. Turbulent priests have a tendency to meet unseemly ends.


Blogger David B said...

The question of what might arise should Prince George become a Buddhist made me ponder other fairly unlikely but not impossible scenarios.

What would happen should the Prince - or his Dad for that matter - become an atheist of sufficient moral uprightness to refuse to lie about it?

Or if he were to take, at some point, the option of the knife in order to become Princess Georgina? Would the recent legislation on the succession make that last one OK?

Perhaps it would not be worth inquiring about the situation should he become a persistent and unrepentant adulterer.


25 October 2013 at 09:31  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

At the level at which I think you meant it, thanks very much for this morning's offering - all good stuff.

I know it's vital that the church is knitted together by the works of love that get called social action, I know actions secure a platform for words to be spoken and gain opening for them to be heard. That seems to be in full swing in the Anglican church, which just might be in time.

But what words will be spoken? How will hearts change - what from and to? Is a teaspoon of Milton Friedman as much of the ineffable riches of God as we can muster for those about to slip into a Christless eternity? Is 'that wealth might enrich society far more' our highest aim as the body of Christ? I know you don't think it is, Your Grace, which is why I get increasingly frustrated that the public face of this very public church rarely preaches the Gospel of repentance from sin, justification by faith in Christ's perfect sacrifice and the certain hope of Christ's return.

Is the spiritual & eternal in danger of being entirely obscured by the temporal?

So many able men and women, and such a deafening silence.

25 October 2013 at 10:10  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

A very interesting post and one sympathises with Archbishop Welby and indeed anyone else who endures being 'probed' by snaggletooth Snow on leftie flagship the Channel Four 'News'.

So, what exactly is young Prince George expected to do when he becomes King, theologically speaking?

The Preface to the 39 Articles of the Church of England describes the monarch as 'being by God's Ordinance, according to Our just Title, Defender of the Faith and ... Supreme Governor of the Church of England'.

This link between Church and State is also symbolised by the fact that the 'Lords Spiritual' (consisting of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and 24 diocesan bishops) sit in the House of Lords. All parish priests also take an oath of allegiance to the Monarch.

In the coronation oath, the Sovereign promises to maintain the Church and must be in communion with the Church of England, that is, a full, confirmed member.

Personally, I think this is a delightful state of affairs, conferring on the Church of England its rightful and spiritual link with the Monarch – it is one of the things that makes England uniquely England. I would not change it for the world.

Which no doubt means that, long before the boy gets the job, it will be permanently and irrevocably changed. Let's face it, we live in an age when the secular sausage society (another happy import from the USofA) is able to dictate boy scout oaths and whether or not god is mentionable in the military (no, apparently). So the chances of a 'modernised' royal family continuing to enshrine the primary position of the CofE will become increasingly unlikely.

Nothing will change until the present Queen dies, at which point it is likely that the whole thing will be 'revised', probably by a 'Commission' or something. The call for change will be that the present arrangement discriminates against non-Anglicans (no doubt the Catholics will be cited as an aggrieved minority – though of course we could lament for atheists, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists as well).

The role of the Monarch will be changed to a secular one (favouring no faith) and the secular sausage society will win again, as it always does, pursuing its relentless atheist (sorry, secularist) agenda to eradicate mattes religious from public life.

25 October 2013 at 10:35  
Blogger John Thomas said...

There is a good chance that by the time the new baby might become king, Brit ... there might just be an EU province formerly known as the sovereign nation Britain, in which there could not possibly be anything approximating to a constitutional monarchcy, or any remnant of monarchical rulership, or sovereignty of any sort, or ...

25 October 2013 at 10:50  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

And the solution to the 'bully pulpit?' Quickly print a PVC banner to hang at the back of every church so the vicar / bishop / archbishop / deacon / speaker can see the plain words of us Greeks from John 12, "Sir, we would see Jesus".

In comparison with that priority, don't care one jot ot tittle what banana-straightening edicts come out of Brussels. ABC Justin has told the Cambridges they have a simple task for George. Excellent - so does he, for England.

25 October 2013 at 11:02  
Blogger Nath said...

A simple task which the last generation of Christian parents singularly failed to perform.

Had these men and women of "faith" taught that faith with vibrancy and conviction to their little ones then perhaps our churches wouldn't be missing a generation.

I am of an increasing conviction that ordinands entering the church today are there to guide the faithful through turbulent times to come and begin rebuilding once the CoE is dis-established and fractures.

The status quo is not an option in an increasingly hostile world with a distinct "end times" feel about it.

Undoubtedly the liberal church with no members or the government will receive the lions share of the former CoE's assets. The faithful will simply have to rely on God's providence.

25 October 2013 at 11:22  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I quite like the idea of Charles stepping aside for William but I suppose he can hardly do that after accepting the privileges of being royalty for so long. The image William presents is of a normal, modern person doing a role as a matter of respect and obligation. The Queen has a free pass because of her age but I find royal protocol hard to take seriously and the sycophancy around the royals hard to stomach.

25 October 2013 at 11:22  
Blogger Corrigan said...

But punitive levels of taxation for wealth redistribution and expansion of the welfare state invariably deter enterprise and diminish philanthropy

Ha! Cranmer sucking up to the new AoC as if he were a Francis has lasted about as long as it took Welby to suggest that the rich actually make a contribution. If there was ever the slightest doubt about it, we can now rest easy that Cranmer is, indeed, a committed, radical and utter dedicated member of the Conservative and Unionist Party. Welby mumbles something about "inequity", the red button is pressed, and out come the platitudes about "punitive" tax and "deterring enterprise".

The Tories (and let's face it, Labour as well nowadays) no longer constitute a political party; they are essentially the CBI's list of non-executive directors-in-waiting. All taxes, no matter how moderate, are "punitive"; all employment protection laws, no matter how reasonable are "deterrents to employment" and all health and safety requirements, no matter how common-sensical, are "draconian".

You know the ironic thing? After sixty-odd years of staring down the Communist menace, it seems the west is now heading towards an actual revolution of its own because it thinks that winning the peace is the same as winning the war. So go on, Cranmer, continue loading taxes unto the back of the poor to pay for the needs of the rich and see how long the new paradise lasts.

25 October 2013 at 11:40  
Blogger IanCad said...

Thanks for the Daily Mail link YG.

That picture of HRH dancing the tango is just about the funniest thing I have seen for a while.

Straws in the wind indeed! It would save a lot of headaches if he turns the job over to William.

I do not think it wise for the A of C to get into economics or politics.
He should not go the way of pop stars. He has a flock to feed.

25 October 2013 at 13:04  
Blogger ardenjm said...

In his last, very long speech, Thomas Cranmer neither prays for Queen Mary - not for her conversion to his version of 'the truth' - although he does mention obedience to secular authorities.

Most strikingly of all he does not forgive those who execute him.

But to be fair to the old reprobate he does say this:

"I pray you learn and bear well away this one lesson, To do good to all men as much as in you lieth, and to hurt no man, no more than you would hurt your own natural and loving brother or sister. For this you may be sure of, that whosoever hateth any person, and goeth about maliciously to hinder or hurt him, surely, and without all doubt, God is not with that man, although he think himself never so much in God's favour."

Oddly enough - but then consistency was never his strong point - having then said that the very last words that come from his lips are a dismal:

"And as for the Pope, I refuse him, as Christ's enemy and antichrist, with all his false doctrine."

Compare this with another Bishop, St John Fisher:

By that time he was upon the scaffold it was about ten o'clock; where the executioner, being ready to do his office, kneeled down to him, as the fashion is, and asked him forgiveness. "I forgive thee," said he, "with all my heart, and I trust thou shall see me overcome this storm lustily."
"Christian people, I am come hither to die for the faith of Christ's holy catholic church; and, I thank God, hitherto my stomach hath served me very well thereunto, so that yet I have not feared death; wherefore I desire you all to help and assist with your prayers, that, at the very point and instant of death's stroke, I may in that very moment stand steadfast without fainting in any one point of the catholic faith, free from any fear. And I beseech Almighty God of his infinite goodness to save the king and this realm, and that it may please him to hold his holy hand over it, and send the king a good council."

Both died horrible deaths, for sure.
But if you compare the manner of their dying to the proto-martyr St Stephen - I know which of the two looks more like the holy deacon, and which one does not....

25 October 2013 at 13:52  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Very good points, Your Grace, and a big guffaw from me at your tin of cat food in the lions' den. I'll have to steal this one shamelessly.

How depressing it must seem to so many, to get an accomplished banker and a savvy economist with real-world experience for a change, a man who inspired hope in you and others, but one who upon achieving his clerical position seems to be turning into another hum-drum, shallow "social justice" follower. Corrigan, a useful barometer for such things, seems to disapprove of your critique, which means that you're dead-on the issues. Corrigan, a Roman Catholic traditionalist in the reactionary dinosaur way, seems to cheer for a swing to the left for Anglicans. How odd...or not.

I continue to be puzzled over this, Your Grace, but is it possible that the Anglican Church lacks a developed and independent, theologically-grounded system of business and social ethics spelled out in its Church Law? A well-defined, dominant, guiding philosophy transcending the temporary social, economic and political fads of Cool Britannia? Or, does the leadership think, like struggling urban churches and synagogues, that in mumbling leftist platitudes and muddled post-Neo-Marxist, street-level Occupy nitwittery will invigorate the Church? Over the decades I've watched how, here in Toronto, downtown houses of worship panicked and turned themselves into soup kitchens and drop-in centres for the messed-up, and chose jeans-clad, guitar-strumming, peacenik clergy with liberal arts PhD's, wrongly thinking it will prolong its life. It's the same old problem, Your Grace; if there is no course plot adjustment, Anglicanism is surely headed to the same dustbin of history (pardon the Marxian term) to which the American Episcopalian social club, the geriatric Canadian Anglicans, the left-swinging Quakers and United Church folk, the increasingly left-drifting Reform and Conservative Jewish congregations are all heading. Well, we Jews have an option, a fairly wide spectrum of traditionalist Orthodoxy, but what's your option? Joining the rapidly growing, but very different Evangelical movement?

25 October 2013 at 15:02  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Dear Corrigan / Ardenjm / Albert

My enjoyment of your Catholic commentary appears to be approaching its end, judging by this tweet from HG:

@GodandPolitics Work on it then. The time is near when His Grace's ashes must be scattered to the winds. The mantle of Joshua falls on you.

I've always wondered how far short we fall of the comments Cranmer would have like on his blog. It's a great run of incredible stamina to hit so many nails on the head on a daily basis (even if some went askew and assistance has been required).

HG - if there's a haunt in London where you want a martini posted for collection, I'm sure Corrigan can raid the coffers of St Peter's to make sure there's something there. We shall leave you in peace.

25 October 2013 at 15:04  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Your Grace Not yet - Obvs.

Avi has brought a good verse to mind, ironically in the Epistle to the Hebrews: therefore let us go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach: for we have not here an abiding city, but we seek the coming one..

I wonder how it felt for Paul, with millenia of heritage behind him, to metaphorically take a place outside that camp. As a gentile, I'm personally glad he did.

25 October 2013 at 15:25  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Avi, it's not that I'm a raving leftist, it's just that in England (note I did not say "Britain") a "swing to the left" is the equivalent of a man at the North Pole walking south; it would be physically impossible to go anywhere else.

25 October 2013 at 15:33  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

@Corrigan: LOL!

25 October 2013 at 16:01  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

No doubt you're glad, Rasher Bacon, or else you'd be unable to enjoy, bacon, or rashers.

25 October 2013 at 16:04  
Blogger Hannah said...


I think Corrigan confuses 'England' with London and the South East, which is indeed predominately conservative. The rest of the country,the Midlands and up north are slightly different, all have different foods, accents and mannerisms, but because Corrigan is a Scottish and Irish nationalist and basically has a blind hate - I don't think too strong a word- the English and by extension anything which seems English, so that's the Anglicans. Put that with the mythology that England is populated by millions of uncaring toffs who rule over daily mail reading middle class 'bigots' has to be part of the narrative. How else can he contrast this with the bravehearts of Scotland,who are chaffing under English domination of market capitalism, which isn't Scottish at all, except that Adam Smith was Scottish... and the biggest 'capitalist' business in the UK for many years, a bank no less, was proudly Scottish (until the English bailed it out).

Funny places that nationalism- as opposed to patriotism- leads one so far away from reality and facts isn't it?

25 October 2013 at 16:06  
Blogger Rasher Bacon said...

Avi Well, Bacon is a side effect, yes. Only a play on words, no offence intended.

25 October 2013 at 16:24  
Blogger hywel snook said...

Windfall tax on energy companies that is a joke. It would be good if they paid tax at the same rate as a small business. The question is why tax the poor? Because they don't have a expensive legal team to back them up. This isn't a debate about rich and poor but the powerful and powerless.

25 October 2013 at 16:51  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

He could probably get away with being both Anglican and Buddhist, after all I seem to remember a prominent Anglican who was also a Druid.

The four beliefs that make anyone a Buddhist are:

1 All functioning things are impermanent ('Change and decay in all around I see')
2 Material existence inevitably implies suffering ('Vale of tears')
3 All phenomena lack inherent existence (process theology?)
4 The true nature of the mind is peace ('which passeth all understanding')

If you accept these four axioms, then you can add any cultural decoration you like on top, so you can be philosophically Buddhist while being culturally Anglican - like Richard Dawkins claims to be philosophically atheist but culturally Anglican

25 October 2013 at 17:36  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

No offense taken, Rasher Bacon. It's tasty, so enjoy it; I used to as well, before becoming observant. A ba'al teshuvah, something like a Jewish version of "born again."

Never mind, Buddhist, seanrobsville, that's easy and hardly noticeable. Not much worse than becoming an eco-nutter or thinking he understands architecture. But I remember reading here something about a Jewish connection through the duchess. Picture a King George...or, Gershon Melekh... who gets it into his head to become ba'al teshuvah (cf. above). Picture a nice thick beard, side-locks, ritual fringes, a big black kippah on his head, swaying as he prays, chugging single malts and sucking back pickled herring with raw onion slices instead of nibbling at French canapés at the Buckingham to-dos. Now, that would be a riot.

25 October 2013 at 19:21  
Blogger Nick said...

I didn't see the programme as C4 'news' is off the menu for me. Not sure what he means by 'pulpit bullying'. Presumably he means challenging secularism with the Word of God. Talking of which, did he mention hiss boss at all?

25 October 2013 at 20:40  
Blogger bluedog said...

Good post, Hannah @ 16.06, right on the money.

Your Grace, let us pray that the burdens of you own office are not such that you feel compelled to self-immolate.

With regard to the post, there is a school of thought that holds it is the institution of the monarchy that matters and not the incumbent. And yet. Compare and contrast HM Queen with her Uncle David, Edward VIII. Elizabeth II was raised in the shadow of the abdication and its influence has coloured her reign. By nature, our Queen is a most dedicated and conscientious woman, qualities re-inforced by the lessons of recent history.

There is no doubt that Kingship is a heavy burden indeed, it reportedly hasten the early death of George VI, and if Charles feels he does not have the stomach for it, let him go. Nothing could be worse for the Monarchy in the current era than to endure a reluctant incumbent lacking the necessary commitment and sense of responsibility to discharge his duties in full. If Charles as Monarch will begrudge the time that he spends away from his own interests, better by far that he pre-emptively abdicates in favour of William.

William shows an enthusiasm for the job and a certain steadiness that promises well. There is no fascination with exotic distractions in William's mind, and blessed with a most intelligent wife, Catherine, one sees a couple of great promise and potential.

One can venture another character assessment. Of the Queen's four children, the natural monarch is Anne, so much her father's daughter. But it is not to be.

If Charles were to fade from view, it may be all for the best. In that event, we should thank Charles wholeheartedly for his love of country and for his own great service.

25 October 2013 at 21:54  
Blogger David Anderson said...

I didn't see it. Did he say anything along the lines of Christ being the Way, Truth and Life, such that no man can come to the Father except through him?

25 October 2013 at 21:54  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

In many of the places I go they offer Turkey Bacon. Don't like it myself but it's there.

25 October 2013 at 22:13  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

David Anderson,
I havent seen or heard all of the ABC words but I thought he was strong on telling those there that the prince should be made well aware of Jesus and who he was/is.

25 October 2013 at 22:15  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack says to David Anderson that Justin Welby is concerned about feeding the hungry; giving drink to the thirsty; welcoming strangers; clothing the naked; looking after the sick; and visiting prisoners. These human needs will be seen by those who claim to follow the teachings of this Christ you speak.

Happy Jack thinks the Archbishop is right to raise these issues about poverty and wealth, inequality, irresponsible banks and economics. Jack does not understand it at all but believes Justin wants people to think about how we organise our society and ask questions about what we really value.

25 October 2013 at 22:54  
Blogger Len said...

I think we need' a spokesman' for Christian principles and perhaps a reather unlikely choice might be Russel Brand?.

NEWSNIGHT: Paxman vs Brand - full interview

26 October 2013 at 14:36  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Hello Len. I remember you like the Who.

Happy Jack does not think Russell Brand is a christian. No. This Jesus of yours said his kingdom is not in this world but even so we can become a part of it now. Happy Jack watched the talk between these two and doesn't think this is what Russell Brand said to Jeremy Paxman.

26 October 2013 at 16:24  
Blogger Len said...

Hello Happy Jack,

What Christianity needs is someone who will tell things 'as they are' unhindered by' Political Correctness'.

This does not seem to be happening in the church today...Jesus and the disciples were probably considered 'revolutionary ' in their day and whenever the Apostle Paul spoke there were' disturbances' and sometimes riots.
Chhristianity is not part of' this present World System' and can never be.In fact Christianity (as practised by Jesus and His followers )is directly opposed to this 'World System'.
It is only those outside the system who can correctly observe the methodology of the' World system'. God will one day remove this corrupt' World system' and replace it with a righteous Government headed by Jesus Christ and quite frankly that cannot come soon enough.
No Russel Brand is not a Christian but his views are quite interesting?.
Jesus wants all to accept Him and to be a part of His Kingdom but that means leaving the old corrupt World system behind and accepting God`s Righteous Rule and Reign.

26 October 2013 at 17:21  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Hello again Len.

Many years ago Happy Jack was a
very unhappy Jack. He knew there were two other worlds as well as this one people call the "real world". On his travels Jack could see people in these worlds - some half-in and some half-out. He called them "sunshine people" and "shadow people" and "in between people".

One day Jack heard this song.
"Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name;
you are mine.
You are mine, O my child,
I am your Father,
and I love you with a perfect love."

Jack was cold and miserable listening to this and then Jack heard a little voice saying to him: "Be Happy Jack!". That's how Happy Jack got his name.

26 October 2013 at 18:17  

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