30 July 2008

Rowan: the very model of a British Academic

I have never withheld my opinion of the Most Rev’d. and Rt. Honourable the Lord Archbishop of Canterbery, Primate of All England as the man who presided over and assisted the end of the Anglican Communion, as we have known it. However, there is an aspect of +++Williams that I’ve recently realized that we need to consider.

As I have reflected this week about his actions over the past few years, I can see the British academic world in action through Rowan. It is there even in this Anglican Inquisition committee he favours. From the time he entered the public school system (what Americans call ‘private school’), until now, Rowan has never been outside of the academic world.

In the British academic setting, when there is a dispute all sides come together. They talk, they have tea, they go away and have supper, then they talk some more and come to a “civilized” compromise or solution. The conclusion is binding and the academic senate is there to see that all parties live up to it, and are, above all, British gentlemen.

The problem is that this process rarely works in the real word for many reasons. Foremost is that we are not dealing with British gentlemen inculcated in the public school sense of propriety. True, many of the Gafconite bishops were educated in the UK, but they were not products of the public school and "uni" system.

It’s akin to the first British encountering the American Indians – a culture clash – in this case not of sexual ethics, but of the rules of the game.

One hundred yeas ago, fifty years ago, even thirty years ago, the clash was not so pronounced. During the past 30 years or so, the world has become dramatically different and the cultures, despite what we are being told, have not come closer, but have become even more diverse.

When I was growing up our priest was an English gentleman who had become an American citizen. He was the product of the English educational system prior to the Second World War. He may have held American citizenship but he was a British as afternoon tea. He would frequently say, “Yes, but that’s not British” or “That is one possible solution, but, is it British.” Once he said, and this is my favourite one, “Why can’t the whole world just act British?”

That is what Rowan is expecting, that everyone involved will act like proper British gentlemen. What he wants to know is why can’t the whole Communion act like proper British gentlemen?

I do feel sorry for the archbishop; he is the product of a world that no longer exists, even in the Mother Country.