In a recent interview published in the New Statesman, Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury:
“….talks about religious longing, how the Church of England enriches society and why we shouldn’t be expected to accept austerity to salvage the economy”
It is well worth a read. Archbishop Willams gives excellent answers to some sharp, poignant and deeply relevant questions – such as:
….despite the decline in church attendance, there remains in societies like ours a strong “religious longing”. Does this have anything to do with the growth of non-traditional, especially non-Christian, forms of “spirituality”?Religious “longing” is a really interesting issue. Outside the metropolitan village in which a lot of the media work, there remains a powerful residual investment in the local church – witness the role of the church and the vicar in communities in trauma, whether the Soham murders or recently in Cumbria. I could parallel this from experience in deprived communities in Wales, too.There are bits of human experience and suffering that have to go somewhere, and secular society simply doesn’t have the spaces, the words or the rituals. This does not translate into conventional church attendance and orthodox belief – and perhaps it seldom has in history, if the truth be told; but it still takes for granted a body/community/place where a person can feel related to something more than the sum of their own anxieties and their society’s normal patterns of talk and behaviour.It isn’t quite the same thing as the interest in “spirituality”, which is more to do with the individual’s discovery of new ways of feeling nourished or supported, that may or may not be anchored in any place or tradition. I’m personally wary of giving too much weight to this trend or cluster of trends; but Taylor is right in seeing it as an expression of discontent with an exclusively secular frame of reference. The ambiguity about it is that it can appear as just another way of making the consuming individual feel good, without much in the way of commitment or demand.
Read the full interview here.
Photo copied from the New Statesman article.