Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Grand Inquisitor's Offer

Oxford professor of church history Diarmaid MacCulloch takes a very jaundiced view of the recent Anglican excitement from Rome in a full page article in the Observer. Here is a sample from the essay:

This much broader struggle within Christianity at first sight appears to be about sex. Throughout the world, the most easily heard tone in religion(not just Christianity) is of a generally angry conservatism. Why? I hazard that the anger centres on a profound shift in gender roles traditionally given a religious significance and validated by religious traditions.The conservative backlash embodies the hurt of heterosexual men (or those who would like to pass for being heterosexual men) at cultural shifts which have generally threatened to marginalise them and deprive them of dignity, hegemony or even much usefulness. What they notice amid their hurt is that the sacred texts generally back them in their assumptions, and they therefore assert the authority of sacred scripture.They fail to hear other voices in scripture, just as two centuries ago those who perfectly rightly believed the Bible legitimised slavery failed to hear the Bible's other message – that freedom is a universal Christian value. Self-styled "traditionalist" Anglicans and the Curia both emphasise ancient authority in their efforts to outface the inexorable realities of modern life, which some others might style new workings of the Holy Spirit. King Canute's courtiers would have signed up to Pope Benedict's proposed new jurisdictions.

Hat tip to Simon over on Thinking Anglicans.


June Butler said...

Thanks for this link, Counterlight. I read Diarmaid MacCulloch's masterful The Reformation. He has a new book coming out in March titled A History of Christianity. Both are tomes - the first coming in at over 600 pages and the next at over 1000 pages.

MacCulloch sticks it to the sometimes fragile egos of manly and not so manly hetero men, doesn't he?

I think I'll write about this article, too, Counterlight. It's just too good not to take on. I'll tip my hat to you for stealing it.

Wilfried said...

This reminds me, I gotta read The Reformation. It's been on my shelf for about three years now. I knew there was a reason I like the guy. Of course it helps that he agrees with me pretty much point for point.

Re my comment at lunch yesterday re queer transgressiveness (or lack thereof). They think we're transgressive, so we might as well live the role, no?

Counterlight said...


I agree. We are transgressive, and we should embrace that role. See David Wojnarowicz in the post above this one. He was all about transformative transgression.