Monday, February 11, 2008
Sharia law and the Archbishop of Canterbury
I don't know how far the news has spread, but the Archibishop of Canterbury (Rowan Williams) is currently in a bit of hot water around a lecture he gave about "Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective" and a subsequent interview on BBC Radio 4.
I'm currently on page 7 out of 10 on my print out of the lecture. I'll need to read it again before I would feel entitled to an opinion on the lecture itself... but there's more to the issue than what was actually said. There's the matter of the reaction.
I strongly urge anyone reading this blog to read the Archbishop's lecture instead. Whether you agree or disagree, or feel somewhere in between, this is clearly a crucial debate... and one which Rowan Williams has done a very good job of encouraging.
He's been criticised for being badly advised, introducing the topic at a sensitive time and all kinds of other things. Personally, I think he's a smart guy who knew exactly what would happen. Most people will form an opinion based on what they've previously heard of Sharia law, or whatever they read in the paper or hear on the radio about the lecture. However, there will be plenty of people giving the topic significant thought, who might otherwise not have done. I intend to be one of those people.
It's quite possible that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be forced to resign over this - and some people will cite a "lack of leadership" as the cause. Again, I believe he probably understood that this would be a risky play, career wise. The fact that he was willing to do it anyway is evidence to me that he's a true leader - one willing to sacrifice himself for a greater good. Likewise, he is leading us (and I use the term as a Christian and a citizen of the UK rather than as an Anglican) in terms of a debate which must be tackled head-on, and in a far broader context than just Islam and Sharia law.
But hey, we all know Jesus never had controversial viewpoints, don't we? :)
Is "In Christ Alone" the new "Shine Jesus Shine"?
For several years, if a preacher in the Methodist church who really didn't know much about modern hymns wanted to look contemporary, they'd pick "Shine Jesus Shine" as one of their hymns. These days, "In Christ Alone" is the traditionalist's favourite modern hymn.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying everyone who picks it is ignorant of other modern hymns (and I know plenty of people who pick it despite having a much wider repertoire of modern hymns than mine). I'm also not picking on the hymn - it's my favourite modern hymn too, and pretty high up my "all time" list too. It expounds so much theology in such a small space, and does so in such a fine way - it would be hard to object, really. (I like Shine Jesus Shine too, by the way.)
I just get worried about familiarity breeding contempt. It would be a shame if anyone was turned off such a fine hymn because preachers choose it too often.