In Conversation with Rowan Williams

 

The 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Douglas Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth PC FBA FRSL FLSW is a Welsh Anglican bishop, theologian and poet.

Having spent much of his earlier career as an academic at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, he stood down as Archbishop of Canterbury to take up the position of Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University in January 2013 and later that year was appointed Chancellor of the University of South Wales. He joined us in conversation in May 2016.

Mishcon Academy: In Conversation with Rowan Williams

Let me just start by asking this question.  It seemed to me that it could be said that you were experiencing a condition of what might be called double alienation, you were a witness for Christianity in a secular society and you were also a witness for the vocation of an intellectual in a confessional community and both of those forms of witness have their challenges don’t they?

Rowan Williams
104th Archbishop of Canterbury

They do.  One of the things that I was always very grateful for when I was growing up was being formed in a church community which didn’t feel in the least bit hostile to the world of the intellect or the imagination, and I suppose one of the things that I wanted to witness to was you don’t have to hang your intellect at the door of a community of faith.

If you have any sense of where the direction from faith to no faith, or no faith to faith is the more trodden path.

Rowan Williams
104th Archbishop of Canterbury

Well, the statistics suggest that the exit door is slightly more frequented, more congested, yes.  But I also wonder what people think they are walking away from because people don’t get much sense of inheriting or inhabiting a large imaginative world, very often religiousness these days is seen as the slightly tight nervous precise position and it’s got occasionally to go back to earlier ages which for all their dogmatism at one level also seem to allow very large characters to flourish.  I don’t think John Dunn would have found life particularly easy in the average modern Anglican congregation.