Mark Tooley, of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and author of “Taking Back the United Methodist Church,” writes about Rowan Williams in The Weekly Standard, that magazine that bears the unmistakable inclinations of its editors (and Fox News darlings) William Kristol and Fred Barnes .
The lede: “Rowan Williams, the bumbling archbishop beloved by the press.” The title: “The Jerry Garcia of Canterbury.”
At least, he shovels out a snarky measure of dignity to the archbishop:
. . . Williams has retained more dignity than the U.S. Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, who employed last year’s Easter message to warn against the sinister contributions of cow gas to global warming.
What has Tooley so riled up? He doesn’t like Paul Elie’s article in the Atlantic:
Elie fawns over Williams but laments the tragedy that the archbishop has supposedly suppressed his liberal conscience in return for maintaining the global Anglican communion. After all, the archbishop has treated New Hampshire gay bishop Gene Robinson as an "unwanted provocation," excluding him for the global Lambeth gathering of Anglican bishops last year in England. But Elie still enthuses that Williams’s approach to homosexuality, though "quixotic," still reveals a clear long-term goal enabling the church to "become fully open to gays and lesbians without breaking apart."
More on Dr. Rowan Williams according to Tooley:
Actually, Williams has proven rather feckless as the Anglican world’s senior prelate. Undoubtedly brilliant, Williams revealingly transited straight from academia into the episcopacy, never pastoring a local church. His brilliance has at times been his undoing, as he routinely arouses unnecessary controversy by publicly speaking with oblique nuance. A 2007 Christmas time radio interview challenged "myths" about Christmas, implying that he disbelieved the Nativity, when he actually was only challenging modern imagery of a snowy Bethlehem and talking donkeys in the manger. Last year, a dense speech about "Islam and British law" seemed to endorse some legal recognition for sharia, which he incongruently likened to Orthodox Jewish courts.
In 2006, Williams countenanced the Church of England’s decision to divest pension funds from Caterpillar, Inc. for selling bulldozers to Israel. After loud condemnation from British Jews and a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Williams and the church backtracked.
Consider: “Undoubtedly brilliant . . . His brilliance has at times been his undoing, as he routinely arouses unnecessary controversy by publicly speaking with oblique nuance.”
This reminded me of a recent British television program, “The Genius of Charles Darwin,”with Richard Dawkins asking Dr. Williams some direct questions about evolution, including so-called intelligent design answers. Nothing nuanced here. It is easy to see how conservative Christianists, like Tooley, whose Institute on Religion and Democracy is a big proponent of ID, might be upset. (I know I’m drifting from the main subject but this example is illustrative):
Richard Dawkins: Do you see God as having any role in the evolutionary process?
Rowan Williams: For me God is the power or the intelligence that shapes the whole of that process, as creator. Gods act is the beginning of all creation.
Richard Dawkins: By setting up the laws of physics in the first place in which context evolution takes place?
Rowan Williams: Unfolds within that.
Richard Dawkins: What about intervening during the course of evolution?
Rowan Williams: I find that that rather suggests that God couldn’t have made a very good job of making the laws of physics in the first place if he constantly needs to be adjusting the system, adjusting the works.
Rowan Williams is in a difficult position of trying to hold a communion of liberals and conservatives together. Whatever he says or does will be criticized by each side in the cultural wars.
cp from One Episcopalian on Faith