Mike Higton on Rowan Williams’ Strategy

In addition to his most helpful recent post Rowan Williams and Sharia: A Guide for the Perplexed, Mike Higton has now posted on Williams and strategy. He contends that Britain has ‘a problem’ in that its ‘dealings with religion in general, and Islam in particular, are befuddled by dangerous myths and clumsy confusions’. ‘We could, if we wanted’, Higton writes, ‘try to fight fire with fire: replace one set of lazy misapprehensions with another – trade slogan for slogan until we’re all bloodied from being beaten with placards. Heaven knows we’ve done this often enough, and will do it again soon enough’.

Rowan Williams’ lecture was a risky attempt at a different kind of strategy, an attempt to raise the bar of public discourse: ‘He tried to speak carefully and precisely about an electrically controversial issue, in the hope of getting some real conversation about it going. We all know what happened next. It worked.

As well as offering comment on Islamophobia and the effects of Williams’ lecture on the Anglican communion, Higton also included some witty advice for ‘tired’ journalists. Having authored the best treatment of Williams’ theology of which I am aware – Difficult Gospel: The Theology of Rowan Williams – Higton is certainly well-placed to offer this commentary, and we are again in his debt.

Be sure to read the full post here.

Two afterwords:

1. How different do you think the reaction would have been (in Britain and elsewhere) if the recent lecture on Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective had been delivered not by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but by the ‘Moderator of Assembly’ or ‘General-Secretary’ of a Nonconformist denomination?

2. ‘Within social contexts, truth and justice are unavailable outside of the will to embrace the other’ (Volf). Is this not part of the good news?

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