The Archbishop Reflects on recent events. (updated)

The Archbishop wrote something on the "unrest" today. Here it is, from the Archbishop of Canterbury's web page.

Archbishop's reflection on unrest

Thursday 11th August 2011
Reflecting on recent events before attending the recalled sitting of the House of Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said:
The tragedy of the events of recent days is that those who will pay the heaviest price are those who most need stability and encouragement in local communities – people who run small local businesses, people who need efficient emergency services, people, old or young, with limited mobility. In no imaginable sense does the violence we have seen help anyone; those who have been involved have achieved nothing except to intensify the cycle of deprivation and vulnerability.

That being said, we now have a major question to address, which is how to combat the deep alienation we have seen, the alienation and cynicism that leads to reckless destruction. The Government has insisted on the priority of creating stronger, better‑resourced local communities. This priority is now a matter of extreme urgency. We need to see initiatives that will address anxieties and provide some hope of long‑term stability in community services, especially for the young. Meanwhile the Church will maintain its commitment to all communities at risk, and is ready to offer its help and solidarity in every possible way. 

And later today, the ABC spoke before the House of Lords. The transcript is HERE. It is worth the read, although I don't know what to make of his short term assessment, 

"In the events we have seen in recent days, there is nothing to romanticise and there is nothing to condone in the behaviour that has spread across our streets. This is indeed criminality – criminality pure and simple, perhaps, but as the Prime Minister reminded us, criminality always has a context, and we have before us the task of understanding that context more fully," over against his more long range concerns,

"I would hope that in our response to these events we shall hold in mind what we owe to the next generation of our citizens - and I underline that phrase "the next generation of our citizens". What we have seen is a breakdown, not of society as such, but a breakdown of the sense of civic identity, shared identity, shared responsibility. The Government has very rightly made a priority of building community cohesion in what it has spoken of in recent months. Talk of the "Big Society", of which we have heard a great deal, has focused precisely on the rebirth, the renaissance, of that civic identity. Now we need to see what that is going to look like. Now we need - all of us, without any point-scoring from a partisan approach - we need all of us to reflect on what that building will require in terms of investment in the next generation – in formal education, but also in the provision of youth services, imaginatively and consistently, across the country."

What seems lacking here is any suggestion that there be an effort to listen to the perpetrators of criminality, not for their excuses or their lack of them, but for other markers of a sadder desperation and angers covered over. Suppose, just suppose, that it is more complex than that, that there is a context in which these actions took place that has a certain visceral logic, a biological logic, for which civility is a very thin overlay.  Of course we ought to train our children for civility and for the virtues of civil life. But we need too to remember that deep inside we are strange beasts whose logic is more difficult to comprehend.

As a avid listener to Pink Floyd's the Wall, I am a bit disturbed by the trumpeting of order and civil virtue as one. Careful goes the ship of state, else it becomes ironclad and incapable of quick movement and swift recovery.

Then again, I have no right to say much. The USofA is a mess these days and the swing to imposed order is just around the corner. And we have a remarkable and long history of bashing heads and cutting people out of the herd on this or that deeply held prejudice. Between the people who are out to make this a Christian nation and those who just want to smash heads, particularly heads in which thinking takes place, we are on our own ride into the sunset.



  1. ¨...That being said, we now have a major question to address, which is how to combat the deep alienation we have seen, the alienation and cynicism that leads to reckless destruction.¨ Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

    Could it be true, does this man not have a clue as to the frustration, the marginalization the discrimination/oppression, sex slavery, child sacrifices that he avoids ¨addressing¨ (far too difficult for him to think much about) throughout the Anglican Communion? Meanwhile, heterosexual women are abused/ignored raped and scorned as well as LGBT Anglicans in Uganda, in Nigeria, in Jamaica (and England) and many suffer grisly crimes of hate...yup no sense really doing something other than to pontificate about ¨wrongs¨ with his well educated/vacuum sealed brain! Brillaint yet clueless/feckless to the max.

  2. "As a avid listener to Pink Floyd's the Wall" --ahhhhh, me too... if one can call music prophetic....

    And, yes... me things the ABC is all about order and hierarchy and civility and all that kinda stuff.... no crossing the lines for the sake of humanity... which will always lead to a dead-end for any society.

    Thanks for the post, Mark.

  3. Look, I’m not excusing violent riots, but good grief, 30 years after the beginnings of the destruction of the middle and working classes in England, the USA and elsewhere, what the hell do they (the ruling classes) expect? Kids throwing flowers at cops? Jeech! Get real! This is just the beginning.

    Kurt Hill

  4. Without eternal life there is no reason for anything. The looters were acting in a very logical manner which was totally consistent with the godless world they have been sold. I don't blame their parents. I blame Stephen Fry and all the other smug gits of intellectual nihilism.

  5. I don't know who to blame, and to be honest, most of the answers people pop up with seem to be cherished opinions waiting for a cause to be aired rather than a genuine analysis of the situation.

    What shocked me most, and what I find most inexplicable, is that the majority of underage rioters tried in magistrates courts seem to have been unaccompanied by their parents. One magistrate said that of all the ones she dealt with, only 1 came with his father. The parents of a 14 year old girls were "too busy" to be with her.

    What causes this and what can be done about it are, for me, the most important questions in all of this.

  6. the deep alienation we have seen, the alienation and cynicism that leads to reckless destruction.¨ Dr. Rowan Williams

    Dr. Williams is a ¨champion¨ of alienation...the kind that leads to cynicism, that leads to the oppressive leadership he demonstrates (both at home and abroad and the rioters are rioting at Church and beyond). The ¨reckless destruction¨ at The Anglican Communion is of the ABC´s premeditated ¨Covenant¨ making.

  7. Hello, I am here on the recommendation of Mad Priest. By coincidence, I have blogged on similar. There is much alienation between the three classes; the propaganda for social mobility does not take into account the huge chasm between one class to the other. Bridging this will go some way towards reducing the alienation deficit.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.