Remarks from Rowan Williams Upon Receiving the Campion Award

From America Magazine:

On January 25 Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, accepted the 2009 Campion Award from the editors of America.  In his remarks upon accepting award, he reflected on the idea of a “martyrial ecumenism,” mused on the surprising links between Shakespeare and St. Edmund Campion and emphasized the central place of forgiveness in all relationships.

Drew Christiansen, S.J, the editor in chief of America, introduced the archbishop, and literary editor Patricia A. Kossmann presented Williams with the award. The Campion award is given on a regular basis to a notable Christian person of letters. It is named after St. Edmund Campion, S.J., an English writer and martyr who is honored in both the Anglican and Catholic traditions.

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A tip of the Biretta to Eleanor Braun for pointing me to this.

And thanks to Burgess Laird for the link to this New York Times report on the Trinity Wall Street Conference where Rowan Williams spoke on the subject of theology and economics.

Credo: Better is a world built on love, not Darwinian struggle

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes in the Times Online about a central conviction of his faith:

If the Universe was brought into being by One beyond the Universe, then it was created by a being who desires to bring things into being. The simplest way of expressing this is: God created the Universe in love. For it is love that seeks to bring new life into being. It is love that makes space for the other. God’s love made space for the Universe and for that astonishing sequence of events that produced us.

If so, then each of us is here because of God’s love. That fact transforms the human condition, rescuing it from ultimate solitude. We are not alone. We exist because someone wanted us to be, someone who believes in us even when we lose belief in ourselves, who knows our fears and hears our prayers, giving us strength when we falter and lifting us when we fall.

And just as God creates in love so He asks us to create in love. The Abrahamic monotheisms are the only systems to place love at the heart of the moral life. There are other codes of ethics: every civilisation has them, secular or religious. All civilisations have something like the golden rule: treat others as you would wish to be treated. Many of them have forms of justice: treat equals equally. But only a vision that sees the world as God’s work of love makes love the highest value. Love God with all your heart, soul and might. Love your neighbour as yourself. Love the stranger for you know what it feels like to be a stranger.

And yes, there is another way of seeing the world and our place within it. The Universe came into being for no reason, and one day for no reason it will cease to be. There is nothing special about humanity: we are mere primates with a gift for language. There is nothing special about any of us. We are born, we live, we die, and it is as if we had never been. Our ideals are illusions; our hopes mere dreams. We have no souls, only brains; no freedom, only the hardwiring of our genes. And the biggest illusion of them all is love, the smokescreen created by humans to hide the fact that we are here to reproduce.

I know which I prefer. Better is a world built on love than on the Darwinian struggle to survive. Greater the mind that lifts its eyes beyond the visible horizon than one that refuses to believe anything that cannot be measured, mapped and scientifically explained.

Read the full article here.

Bishop Duracin – “What’s important is to keep the faith.”

The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Bishop Duracin in Port au Prince, as he cares for his people at a tent city he set up behind the ruins of College Ste. Pierre.  Pray that people everywhere will keep faith with the people of Haiti.

A Prayer for Haiti

Gracious God,
I lift my voice in prayer with all the people of the world.

Surround Haiti and her people
with your loving embrace
that they may be:

supported by the world in the work of rescue and recovery;
comforted as they grieve;
strengthened as they bury their dead;
healed as they tend their wounds;
restored in faith and the
hope of things unseen;
and transformed through newness of life in Christ.

Make me an instrument
of divine love, of mercy, of hope, and of new possibility.
Give me eyes to see,
ears to hear, the will to act, and a discerning and generous heart
that I may serve you and those who suffer in whatever way I am able.
In and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray.  Amen.

—  From the National Cathedral Website here.

Bring Hope Not Arrogance To Haiti

CNN — Pat Robertson, who once suggested God was punishing Americans with Hurricane Katrina, now says a “pact to the devil” brought on the devastating earthquake in Haiti. More than 100,000 people are feared dead in Haiti and Robertson continues to espouse an incomprehensible image of God sending natural disasters upon the innocent and suggesting that this might be a “blessing in disguise” for the Haitian people.  Disgraceful.

As the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, Haiti has the highest rates of mortality for mothers, infants, and children under five.  Sixty percent of the population lacks access to basic health-care services. Most Haitians survive on less than $2 a day and depend on remittances from relatives in other countries to meet their basic needs — remittances that have plummeted with the global recession. Even in the capital of Port-au-Prince, impoverished communities have few resources to cope with the acute impacts of this disaster. With an estimated 3 million people affected by the quake, Haiti is in urgent need of immediate and ongoing assistance.  Give your prayers flesh today and send a donation to one of these reputable agencies:

Episcopal Relief and Development
Yele Haiti
Oxfam America
Doctors Without Borders
World Vision
The American Red Cross (note, to designate for Haiti, send a check)
Partners in Health

God of all creation, as we weep with our family in Haiti, console us.
In this time of crisis, open our eyes to look beyond the disaster
to see Christ in our brothers and sisters in Haiti, as Christ sees us.
Be with us as we stand in solidarity with those living and working in Haiti.
Be with us in our mourning and guide our efforts to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the grieving and stand for justice.
With your mercy, sustain us at this time as we continue to work for peace and justice.  Amen.  (From Catholic Relief Services)

One Beggar Telling Another Where To Find Bread

I’ve been intrigued by the controversy over Brit Hume’s suggestion to Tiger Woods that he consider the person and teaching of Jesus as a way to experience forgiveness for his alleged infidelity.  Christianity Today’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey recently interviewed Hume to expand on what he meant.   A few choice quotes:

“Instead of urging that Tiger Woods turn to Christianity, if I had said what he needed to do was to strengthen his Buddhist commitment or turn to Hinduism, I don’t think anybody would have said a word. It’s Christ and Christianity that get people stirred up.”

“I don’t want to be a closet Christian. I’m not going to stand on the street with a megaphone. My principal responsibility at Fox News isn’t to proselytize. But occasionally a mention of faith seems to me to be appropriate. When those occasions come, I’ll do it.”

“Christianity is a way for people who are not perfect to be saved. What [South Carolina Gov.] Mark Sanford needs is not less Christianity. He needs more of it.”

Michael Gerson in an Op-Ed piece for the Washington Post today offers fresh perspective on the backlash of criticism Hume has received for his comments.  Gerson argues that the root of anger against Hume is over his alleged religious exclusivity:

Hume’s critics hold a strange view of pluralism. For religion to be tolerated, it must be privatized — not, apparently, just in governmental settings but also on television networks. We must have not only a secular state but also a secular public discourse. And so tolerance, conveniently, is defined as shutting up people with whom secularists disagree. Many commentators have been offering Woods advice in his travails. But religious advice, apparently and uniquely, should be forbidden. In a discussion of sex, morality and betrayed vows, wouldn’t religious issues naturally arise? How is our public discourse improved by narrowing it — removing references to the most essential element in countless lives?

I’ll be honest, I admire Brit Hume for offering Tiger the invitation to explore the possibility of forgiveness in Christ.  The great Sri Lankan evangelist, ecumenical leader and hymn writer, D.T. Niles is remembered for this great quote: “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”  The beggar is free to explore that direction or not.