by email@example.com (Charlie)
What is it with Archbishop Rowan and cute ornaments? First there was the Rowan Bear, then the knitted Rowan. I hadn’t spotted this trend until I read Laura’s waspish comments at Lay Anglicana a few weeks ago. (follow the link to see the pictures, if you don’t believe me)
Now David Keen has spotted the Rowan Christmas tree decoration, much to his disgust. Fair play to him, although I remember linking to this last Christmas, and thinking it a bit of harmless fun in a difficult world. Here’s the picture which came via Changing Worship, (sometime in December 2010) and reveals not just Rowan on the tree, but also the Archbishop of York, uncharacteristically lurking in the background:
Surely quite tasteful, as tree decs go. But the image of Rowan out on a limb, twisting in the wind, dangling by a thread (insert metaphor here) is more than a little poignant this year. This Wednesday the ABC wrote to his fellow Primates [leaders of national Anglican Churches] a sort of pastoral letter for Advent. It makes uncomfortable reading as, in setting out a snapshot of important issues for worldwide Anglicanism, he touches on the difficult subject of the Anglican Covenant. As the Covenant faces an uncertain future, and may fail completely, he writes "I must continue to commend the Covenant as strongly as I can to all those who are considering its future". This thinly veiled plea to support the process reflects a sense of perplexity that invades the whole letter: "I continue to ask what alternatives there are", he writes as he contemplates the possibility that the Covenant, which he has spent so much time and effort on, may crumble into nothing.
It is painful reading. And it reflects one of the several paradoxes of Rowan’s ministry. One of the greatest living British theologians, a thinker capable of holding his own on the international stage, and a Christian leader of great pastoral depth and missionary vision, there were many different ways he could have shaped his Primacy. That he chose to invest so much of his authority in the establishment of an international church bureaucracy is a strange thing, and may yet leave us, and him, wondering whether it was really worth it.