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Archbishop - or Arch-heretic?

Stone of Triumph - or Stone of Shame?

Despite the continuing liberalism and 'anything goes' attitude of the Church of England the installation of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was greeted with a fanfare of publicity worldwide and a mixture of enthusiasm, trepidation and humour.  The Daily Mail's writer, Simon Heffer, expressed this view under the headline: A BISHOP, OR A PAWN? :

'As an atheist, it ill becomes me to criticise the appointment of the new Archbishop of Canterbury. But as an Englishman who still concedes that the established Church has an important moral and cultural role in my country, it seems that if Archbishop Rowan Williams gets the post, then he is perfectly in tune with the prevailing mood of the Government which appointed him. Never mind his bizarre views on homosexuals, or his apparent ease about people being married in church as many times as they like. What really concerns me is that the Government appears yet again to be about to put a non-Englishman at the head of an English institution. I presume this was because no Scot was available.'

Williams was variously described as a pro-homosexual, yet supporters described him as
'intellectual, radical and holy.'  Williams' was said to be content with the 1998 Lambeth Conference declaration against homosexual unions and the ordination of practicing homosexuals, stating that it:

'declares clearly what is the mind of the overwhelming majority in the Communion' - even though he voted against the motion at the time, while serving as Bishop of Monmouth.  Regarding the Archbishopric, Williams wrote that the leader of the church is 'not someone elected to fulfil a programme or manifesto of his own devising, but to serve the whole Communion . . . I have to distinguish plainly between personal theories and interpretations and the majority conviction of my Church, and have always tried to make such a distinction when I have been questioned on this subject . . . My ideas have no authority beyond that of an individual theologian.'

If his supporters, or any Anglican, believes they are going to see strong Biblical leadership from a man who can make such statements then they are in for an unsettling time.  It is no surprise to learn that, as a fan of
'The Simpsons', Williams considers 'Reverend Lovejoy is one of my favourite characters and I think Ned Flanders must have done more for atheism than any fictional character in the contemporary world.'  I would suggest that the recent Archbishops, and bishops such as Richard Holloway, of the Anglican denomination were the inspiration for the creation of Lovejoy and confused 'son-of-a-diddly' Flanders!  Williams expresses that 'he loves Father Ted' because it 'makes you think about the real zaniness of the Church*.  He is admired in some quarters for his cosmopolitan nature which was demonstrated in the following manner:  'when he attempted to quell the passions of angry African bishops at a Lambeth conference, he ended with a quotation from the philosopher Wittgenstein.'  What could Wittgenstein contribute that the Holy spirit hasn't already far exceeded in books such as Proverbs?  Would quoting a secular philosopher convince a spirit-filled Christian?  Is it any wonder that Williams claims that 'In practice . . . the Jesus Christ we may be trying to share with someone of another faith or of no faith is inevitably the Jesus Christ of our own imagination and understanding'.  Personally, I'll stick to presenting the Biblical Jesus Christ as accurately as I can from the Word  - and let the Holy Spirit do the rest (John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:19).

World-wide concern, from those Christians who still see any relevance to the appointment of an Anglican Archbishop, grew stronger with the news that Williams had been inducted into
'the Gorsedd of Bards', reported to be an historic order of Druids with pagan roots.  Williams apparently went through an hour-long ceremony at sunrise within a circle of standing stones like those at Stonehenge and the significance was variously reported, e.g.: 'The Gorsedd of Bards takes its name from the high seat, which was the mount on which the sacred kings were wedded to the female spirit of the land in ancient times.' 

Rowan Williams in (self-proclaimed) 'hairy lefty' mode

Rowan Williams in 'Unitarian-Druid' mode

'Reverend Lovejoy is one of my favourite characters and I think Ned Flanders must have done more for atheism than any fictional character in the contemporary world.' 

Gorsedd of Bards ceremony (Ffairfach near Llandeilo, Eisteddfod, 1996)

Williams' ceremony was also described  as 'a passage between two portal stones set in alignment with the passage of the sun on the summer and winter solstices'.  His fellow participants were described as bards and Druids and, during the ceremony, he laid his hands on a giant sword before being escorted by Druid Handel Morgan to the heart of the circle, where he was awaited by the spiral-mouthed Corn Hirlas or cornucopia, the 'Horn of Plenty'.  As an admitted fan of 'The Simpsons' he was probably unaware that he was also nakedly dragging the 'Stone of Shame' (q.v. 'The Stonecutters' episode) as befits a man leading a denomination which so often betrays the foundations of Christianity. Worst of all, the even more massive 'Stone of (False) Triumph' will soon be permanently around his neck. Can he be a bigger embarrassment than Carey or Runcie, the arch-heretic predecessors?  Williams* support for women bishops and gay priests, his opposition to the West*s attacks on Afghanistan, and his belief that the rules on remarrying divorcees in church should be relaxed, mean he is already well set to sail in the same waters as the Anglicans' answer to Hophni and Phineas.  The fact that a blind eye will be turned to all these betrayals because of his 'intelligence, charm and integrity' will not excuse him and his church from suffering a judgement from God for their betrayal of the Jews by withholding evangelism to them, or the continuing ecumenical journey to Rome and every form of paganism.

The ceremony continued with a fanfare of trumpets which blew - first to the east, then to the south, west and north - and preceded Llio Penri, a Welsh harpist, playing the
Gweddi'r orsedd, a prayer and Cerdd dant, and 'traditional' Welsh music.  Who were these prayers directed to by this multi-faith group, and who else made up this gathering - Quakers, Shakers and Fakers?

Dr Williams took as his Bardic name
Ap Neurin, which means 'Son of Aneurin', a name alluding to his father and to a 6th-century Welshman and poet of the same name. They don't tell you that the new Archbishop now shares druidic honours with the recently publicly humiliated Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies, who was also newly appointed in a special ceremony at the Welsh National Eisteddfod.  Davies is now 'Ron of Machen' - named after the village in which he was born, rather than a name he uses to cruise for partners of similar inclination?  I suppose Scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 6:14'Do not be bound together with unbelievers' - mean nothing to Rowan?

The Arch-Druid, Dr Robyn Lewis, a retired lawyer and circuit judge, opened the ceremony with the question:
'Is there peace?' Apparently everybody responded: 'Peace'.  But what 'peace' was Rowan sharing in with these pagans of varying beliefs?  Afterwards, Dr Lewis defended the Gorsedd against charges of paganism, claiming that: 'Three Archbishops of Wales have been members. This was not a pagan ceremony this morning.'  How does Lewis define 'a pagan ceremony'?  Ray Gravell, a former Welsh rugby international , wielded the  6ft 6in ceremonial sword which was sheathed and unsheathed three times by Dr Lewis.  What is the significance of this sword and the sheathing and un-sheathing?  Are they described in Scripture?  It is a fact that participants in druidism see clear symbolism here, and Isaac Bonewits (North American expert on ancient and modern Druidism, Witchcraft and Earth Religions -  http://www.neopagan.net/IB_Intro.html) describes the original ceremony in this way: 'There was a naked sword on this altar and a part of the ritual involved the sheathing of this sword. At the time, no one paid very much attention to the ceremony or its obvious sexual symbolism (which, if noticed, might legitimately have been called "Pagan"), at least not outside of the London "Bardic" community.'  No doubt Lewis might strain - with some fanciful symbolism - to try and dress this up as a 'Christian' ceremony.  Would that Rowan Williams had as much faith in the 'sword of the Spirit' (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 2:16 & 19:15).  Dr Lewis read a citation: 'You have got the award for what you have done, not what you might do in future,' including reference to Dr Williams' two books of poetry, numerous theological works and to his becoming Archbishop of Wales, Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop-designate of Canterbury (the position he takes up next spring).

No doubt Lewis also bases his definitions of a non-pagan ceremony on the fact that two Welsh Christian hymns were sung, including
We praise You, Oh God of our Fathers, as well as the Welsh national anthem, Land of my Fathers.  Unfortunately, Christian hymns are sung at countless meetings attended by pagans [particularly in our churches at weddings and funerals], but this doesn't necessarily make a ceremony Christian - anymore than going into a garage makes you a car or a mechanic.  The only 'firm' membership rule to this order is that Druids and bards must be Welsh-speaking in order to be considered for nomination - but the Queen is the only member of the Gorsedd who does not speak Welsh - so absolutely any heathen can be present (whether or not they speak Welsh!). 

It is noteworthy that other druids agree with Lewis' claim that the
Welsh Gorsedd of Bards 'is not now, and never has been, a pagan institution'.  Yet examination of its origins shows that it has a false history - which gives some credence to the claim that the ceremony is 'firmly rooted in new millennium values'!  Druids claim that it was founded in 1792 by Iolo Morganwg, 'a stonemason, failed farmer and shipping magnate, revolutionary, sometime jailbird, laudanum addict, collector of medieval manuscripts, forger of same, poet and antiquarian.'  Iolo, apparently, claimed that the ceremony was based on an ancient manuscript, but he actually made it up.  Interestingly, and devastatingly for those who try and claim some merit to the participation of Rowan Williams, Iolo was also a minister of the Christian Unitarian church.  Since Unitarians believe almost anything and everything with a slight mystical 'Christian' background, we can fully see why Rowan would feel at home in this spiritual atmosphere.  As J.  Oswald Sanders clearly elucidates:

'A Unitarian, as defined by Webster, is "one who denies the doctrine of the Trinity, and regards the Father as the only God." Such a view necessarily involves its sponsors in a denial of the deity of our Lord. Although given the highest place as man, He is still less than God . . . a Unitarian is one who believes in the simple unity of God, rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity, and believing in the divine nature of man. In course of time other heterodox features were added, which afforded the movement less and less claim to be regarded as within the pale of Christianity.' (Cults and Isms, J. Oswald Sanders, Lakeland, 1980)

Does Williams really believe he can participate in a ceremony founded by a man who doubtlessly denied the Deity of Christ and was a Unitarian faker?

Iolo was sufficiently deceived in his time to believe that
'Druids, with their sub-groups, ovates and bards, were the centre of all cultural and artistic life in early Britain', and that 'it made perfect sense  . . . to place them at the heart of his attempts to revive what he saw as the failing traditional culture of Wales'.  Supporters of Iolo's motives claim that 'Druids were akin to Old Testament patriarchs who worshipped the sun as emblem of a single, male god'. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the Old Testament will know that the patriarchs never 'worshipped the sun as emblem of a single, male god' and would have known the Scriptural warnings against such tendencies (Deuteronomy 4:19 & 17:3)!  It is pointless to try and claim that Iolo and his friends 'spoke prayers and sang hymns that were Christian in nature', especially when they are as vague and tenuous in their connection with Christianity as Iolo's Gorsedd Prayer, an English translation of which runs thus:

'Grant O God, thy protection, and in protection, strength, and in strength, understanding, and in understanding, knowledge, and in knowledge, the knowledge of justice, and in the knowledge of justice, the love of it, and in that love, the love of all existences, and in the love of all existences, the love of God, God and all goodness.'

Apparently, this prayer was one of those spoken (in Welsh) during the ceremony in which Dr Williams was made a Druid.  Druid defenders of Williams state naively:
'As you see, it refers to one God, and does so in a manner entirely in keeping with Christian belief and practice. The other prayers and hymns used during the ceremony all have a similarly Christian, monotheistic nature. So the future Archbishop of Canterbury did not take part in a pagan ceremony, but a Christian one'.  The hymn is subtly, but deceptively, written so that whoever sings it can be singing to their God, or god, however they perceive him/her to be!  This does not mean for a second that the ceremony was acceptable to the Christian God and that is the only important matter to be considered, for He declares (Isaiah 42:8): 'I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.'  What Druids do not consider important is the fact that other Gorsedd would pray the same prayer in this fashion:

'Grant, O God & Goddess, Thy protection, And in protection, strength, And in strength, understanding, And in understanding, knowledge, And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice, And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it, And in that love, the love of all existences, And in the love of all existences, the love of God & Goddess, God & Goddess and all goodness.'

As an admitted fan of 'The Simpsons' he was probably unaware that he was also nakedly dragging the 'Stone of Shame' (q.v. 'The Stonecutters' episode) as befits a man leading a denomination which so often betrays the foundations of Christianity.  Worst of all, the even more massive 'Stone of (False) Triumph' will soon be permanently around his neck. Can he be a bigger embarrassment than Carey or Runcie, the arch-heretic predecessors? 

Iolo Morganwg - Unitarian founder of Welsh Gorsedd

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