Sunday, 26 December 2010

Why is the Archbishop of Canterbury so obsessed with money?

Just as the Archbishop of Canterbury traditionally delivers “messages” to coincide with major events in the Church calendar (more like the flatulent emissions that tend to result from overindulgence on Holy Days), so I, a humble member of this evidently decent man’s flock, feel compelled to respond in kind -  i.e. by blowing off copiously.

This year, Our Leader’s Christmas Message centred on two things: thumbs up to the royal wedding (good on you, Bish) and an absolutely standard left-wing attack on rich bastards. Apparently these loadsamoney scoundrels aren’t sharing the pain of the imaginary coalition “cuts”.

“We can and will as a society bear hardship if we are confident that it is being fairly shared; and we shall have that confidence only if there are signs that everyone is committed to their neighbour, that no-one is just forgotten, that no interest group or pressure group is able to opt out. That confidence isn’t in huge supply at the moment, given the massive crises of trust that have shaken us all in the last couple of years and the lasting sense that the most prosperous have yet to shoulder their load.”

Nonsense, balderdash, piffle and tosh.

I get as enraged as the next chap when it comes to the bonuses paid to bankers working for publicly-owned institutions (and private ones, to tell the truth). But, while it would be tempting to suggest that nobody at, for instance, RBS should be paid any form of bonus while we, the poor sods whose future their executives attempted to destroy so comprehensively because of their own disgusting greed and stupidity, I do see that removing standard industry incentives from people whose only motivation appears to be wealth (what sad little people they must be) before we’ve made our bail-out money back probably doesn’t make much sense. I, for one, would forego the pleasure of seeing them flogged in the streets (along with Treasury civil servants, the whole of the FSA and every member of the last Labour government) if I could see a return on my investment, and if the only thing that gives these people’s lives meaning is receiving a swag-bag stuffed with high-denomination bank notes at the end of the year, so be it.

Given the Archbishop’s apparent obsession with money, I’m surprised he doesn’t agree with me.

You might argue (and I would) that financial institutions treat little people such as myself like dirt by charging far too much for their services, gambling with our pittances on the off-chance it might net them a fortune,  and by producing rotten returns for us while producing superb returns for themselves, come what may.

What I am certain of is that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Anglican Church, whose only concern should be the moral poverty of this country.

And if he isn’t talking about bankers, just who does the Archbishop mean? Slimy, amoral tax-dodgers like Sir Phillip Green? BBC executives? Unfortunately, the rich are good at protecting themselves financially – I assume that’s why they’re rich! Or does he mean people earning over £100,000 a year? £150,000? Higher-rate taxpayers? Who are these guilty people able to insulate themselves from government cuts (which haven’t even begun to bite)?

Does he mean pensioners whose income has been destroyed by lousy interest rates (the second most popular method whereby governments steal money from people)? I hope not: without them, the Anglican church would instantly cease to exist.

We have just lived through three decades during which the vast majority of us have got immensely richer – including those on the bottom rungs of society.

Has that seen an improvement in our general spiritual health? Has the Anglican Church made great strides in spreading the Word thanks to our willingness to listen now that we’re living high on the hog?

Of course not! 

Licentiousness, drunkenness, violence, dishonesty, drug addiction, dreadful parenting and crime abound, while church attendance continues to plummet.

When it comes to morality, or religious faith, or the spreading of sweetness and light, how the nation’s wealth is distributed is almost entirely irrelevant. True, it must be hard to concentrate on one’s spiritual health whilst starving or freezing to death, but that rarely happens these days, thanks to the generosity of taxpayers – if it does happen, it’s because too much of our money goes to useless skivers rather than those who actually deserve and need it. 

Rowan Williams should, of course, be encouraging the traditional Northern Christian virtues of thrift, hard work, self-reliance, honesty, and private kindness and charity, and should be reinforcing the notion that we are all, rich and poor, intelligent and stupid, able-bodied and sick, cheerful and miserable – equal in the eyes of God: but only there.  

Instead, as a traditional leftie, he encourages the idle, the poor and the ill – in fact anyone earning less than the average national wage - to feel even sorrier for themselves than they already do, to expect someone else to come along and alter their physical condition, and to blame the rich, as if it were all somehow their fault that the Kingdom of God (which, for the Archbishop, as for most of the Left, means an absolute equality of outcome for all) has not yet arrived on earth.

It really is time the Church started concentrating on our spiritual well-being, and left economics to those most interested in increasing the economic health of this country rather than those who see wealth as a tool of social engineering.

For God’s sake, man! Start worrying about our souls rather than our wallets.


  1. WAYNE THE EVANGELIST19 October 2011 at 22:35

    I’ll grant you that he’s not an impressive leader. Why not accept the Pope’s offer and jump over the wall? Rowan Williams strikes one as an ineffectual old Professor whose lost his train of thought. Ratzi may sound like a Bond villain, but he obviously thinks deeply and reaches a conclusion before speaking out. Williams seems to start his sermons without having quite decided what he wants to say. The Catholic Church has all sorts of problems, and many of the priests are unimpressive, but you might be surprised how comfortable you’d feel in it.
    Monday, December 27, 2010 - 11:56 AM

  2. It's about rather more than who's the more charismatic leader, isn't it W the E, otherwise we would all have signed up to Billy Graham. I thought about making the great cross-over when I first married into a traditional Roman Catholic family. I think that it was the absolute certainty of the Priesthood about every aspect of the faith, including Transubstantiation, that made me doubt whether I could ever switch of my enquiring spirit to the extent required
    Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 11:26 AM

  3. Tempting, Wayne – but, like Ex-KCS, I know I couldn’t accept the 19th century notion of papal infallibility. Your church has been very lucky in its last two leaders – strong, wise, determined men – but I don’t believe they have a unique hot-line to the Almighty. I’m also not a big fan of Mariolatry – I even have my doubts about our local church’s fondness for it. It also sounds as if the modern Catholic Church in the UK can be as silly and trendy as ours. Thanks for the suggestion, but I’m happy enough where I am – it would just be nice, for a change, to have a leader able to reinforce all the excellent work done by our excellent local priest, rather than one who undermines the Anglican message through muddle and wetness.

    Mind you, bring back Latin, and I’d be anybody’s! Ex-KCS, two of my best friends when I was a teenager (they still are today) were Catholics (one at Wimbledon College and one at the Ursuline Convent) and I always hankered after the certainty of their religious upbringing – but, oddly, I attend church fairly regularly today, and neither of them does. So I guess that, like you, I’m not really that keen on spiritual certainty.
    Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 03:45 PM