Following the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent tidings of woe about western modernity, vicar and regular Guardian commentator Giles Fraser endorses his boss's cultural pessimism, reducing modernity to consumerist materialism in the process and making the sweeping suggestion that religion offers the only alternative to market forces. Fraser argues that following the collapse of Marxism 'the only people offering a genuinely countercultural critique of western modernity are to be found in churches, mosques and synagogues'. Norm disposes of this fallacious argument here. Fraser's article is further evidence of its author's trajectory from thoughtful liberal Christian to tub-thumping anti-secularist.
Meanwhile Fraser's fellow theological pugilist Theo Hobson leaps to Rowan Williams' defence in the row over the Church's attitude to homosexuality. Hobson is responding to the accusation of another archbishop - Desmond Tutu - that Anglicans are 'obsessed' with the issue of gay priests and that Williams has failed to demonstrate that God is 'welcoming'. According to Hobson:
when a liberal cleric attacks Rowan Williams, it is really the worst sort of hypocrisy. When Tutu became a priest, he pledged to uphold the church's teaching, and to respect the authority of the hierarchy. When it became apparent to him that official Anglican teaching was homophobic, he was free to resign. By remaining a priest, he actually became complicit in the homophobia. Instead of honestly confronting his guilt, Tutu wants a scapegoat.
This is strong stuff, especially given the status of semi-sainthood generally ascribed to Tutu. The BBC's trailers for the Radio 4 interview (broadcast last night) in which the South African churchman makes these criticisms have been reverential in the extreme - 'when he speaks, the world listens' kind of thing. No mention of Tutu's hamfisted condemnation of Israeli 'apartheid' or his participation in dubious international conferences. Tutu is right, of course, about the Church and homosexuality, just as he was right about South Africa. But that doesn't mean he's infallible. In fact, he shares with Rowan Williams a naivety about global politics, and particularly about events in the Middle East, that seems endemic among Anglican prelates.