>What is “holiness”?
Is it the ability to “grasp the intense suffering of the human condition without fear or flinching, and to be able to live with that knowledge and find within it hope and a great compassion”? Madeleine Bunting describes holiness in this way as she recalls the recent meeting between, what she describes (and I agree) two of the world’s holiest men.
Madeleine Bunting’s article in today’s Guardian is very much on the ball about Anglicanism, Lambeth and the Archbishop.
This is what the men share, and strikingly it is not in what they say that one senses it, but in their presence and how they relate to people: the warmth and humour, the lack of egotism to neither perform for listeners nor manipulate them, the humility and the capacity to pay attention. The holiness is not to be found in slick communication skills – both men are complex thinkers whose ideas are very hard to compress into soundbites – but you sense the holiness in the face-to-face encounter. A world that increasingly speaks to itself through media of mass communications increasingly cannot recognise this, the most inspiring of human experiences.
Williams may be one of the most holy men to lead the Church of England, but shame on us and our age for proving the old adage true: a prophet is never recognised in his own land.
Madeleine Bunting recognises that global communications are disrupting all religious traditions, traumatising identity and fuelling a literalist fundamentalism; the result is a gross simplifying of the complexity and paradox that is part of human experience.
The presenting issue is “gay clergy” and ++Rowan is told to get a grip. What is the point of that when people have adopte such extreme positions? He would only have to “get a grip” on the next issue and the next. The presenting issue is “gay clergy” (or to others “women bishops”) The real issue is how we deal with difference. That is the issue of our post-modern world. In Archbishop Rowan we perhaps have someone who is wise enough, holy enough and strong enough to lead us on that.