Thursday, October 04, 2012

'Keep alive a distaste for nonsense'

God and Politics has a good summary of a recent Rowan Williams lecture, with the brilliant title 'a wise man who makes my brain ache'. I was given another of his lectures to read recently, on a favourite Anglican term 'priesthood'. Don't be put off by the subject matter, and in the snippets below, for 'priest' read 'disciple':
The priest has to have the opportunity of not being so swamped with 'duties' that he or she can't maintain a sense of the whole landscape.

 Those who have preached most effectively in this and other eras are, it seems to me, those who have known how to read the surface and the depths, but have had no great interest in the shallows.

There has to be in every priest just a bit of the poet and artist – enough to keep alive a distaste for nonsense, cheapness of words and ideas, stale and predictable reactions.

Along with whatever training to lead and manage that may be given in preparation for priestly ministry, along with instruction in theology and ethics, there must be active encouragement to nourish this seeing and listening, the novel and the newspaper and the soap opera and the casual conversation– even (especially?) when it looks like wasting time from some points of view. Otherwise, what threatens is what Christianity's greatest critics (Nietzsche above all) have homed in upon – a Christian discourse that is essentially about unreal persons with unreal desires and fears

That last bit is very perceptive - within any subculture it's easy to fall into caricatures of who you are, and who other people are, rather than the messy and time-consuming business of dealing with reality. Maybe that's why so few people 'get' Rowan, his messy-looking and time consuming thought processes, and his famous nuances, are too difficult to engage with if you're used to thinking in stereotypes and categories. (e.g. see this piece by Mark Meynell on sexual stereotypes and labelling)

And if you see me wasting time, I'm just doing what my Archbishop encouraged me to do. Thanks Rowan!

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