Someone ought to break it to Melanie Phillips, but the elephant she is missing in her hyperbolic traduction of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Christmas Day sermon and Boxing Day newspaper article, a large pachyderm which you might have thought all too predictably present, is that Rowan Williams is not like Melanie or her socially conservative bedfellows in the US, who are clearly more interested in the jealous G-d of the Pentateuch and Old Testament.
Unlike them, the Archbishop is a Christian!
The Victorian upper classes, under contention by Archbishop Rowan and Ms Phillips were also, like herself and US fundamentalists and self-styled ‘freedom lovers’, not Christian. The nineteenth century British ruling classes doubtless spent far more time studying ancient Roman and Greek literature and thought in the public schools than they spent contemplating the words of the Prince of Peace, for obvious reasons - they too had an Empire to rule and peasants to oppress.
I found this paragraph particularly hilarious:
“Indeed, by demonising the better-off while investing the poor with a halo, he came close to suggesting that wealth — however honestly or arduously earned — is intrinsically evil, while poverty is a holy state.”
Er … Melanie, that might be because it does actually say in the New Testament, Matthew Ch.19 v.24:
"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Or how about 1 Timothy Ch.6 v.10?
“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”
In fact, looking through what Rowan Williams has said in the sermon, and in his piece in the Daily Mail I cannot find any demonising, so presumably the demons are more to be found in Ms Phillips mind than in the Archbishop’s.
Melanie should try to realise also that underlying Christian thinking on comportment is the key concept of Forgiveness, a notion which is absent from the Old Testament mentality of punishment and vengefulness, which, especially when turned against the poor, is so painfully apparent in the words and deeds of social conservatives in the USA as well as their sad Transatlanticist hangers on and imitators in this country. Compare, for example, Matthew (NT) with Genesis (OT).
Matthew Ch.18 vv.21-22:
"Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven ..."
In sharp contrast to this, Clarke's Commentary apparently points out that: "Seventy times seven - There is something very remarkable in these words, especially if collated with Genesis 4-24, where the very same words are used - "If any man kill Lamech, he shall be avenged seventy times seven."
There is also the crucial Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus is not big on people judging one another, saying things like:
"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, "You good-for-nothing," shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, "You fool," shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
Who'd have thought it, eh? The Archbishop is a Christian, and Melanie Phillips and her allies are not!