Sunday 12 June 2011

Archbishop Polonius

I begin by writing that I was reluctant to begin. Once again Rowan Williams, our benighted Archbishop of Canterbury, is in my sights, but as a target he is too easy, a slow, bovine and unimaginative beast. In hunting him there is no sport, no challenge at all; he is far too easy.

In the nineteenth century it was said that the Church of England was the Tory Party at prayer. I can make no general observation about the Church in the twenty-first century, other than to say that it is diminishing in painful stages, slowly poisoned by large draughts of liberal relativism, so much so that in another hundred years it is likely to be extinct. At the present it is being guided to that terminus by a prelate whose politics are more than obvious: he is the Labour Party at prayer, assuming he prays at all, other than to Tony Blair, who appointed him in the first place.

Comrade Williams at the moment is the guest editor of the New Statesman, a socialist weekly, which also happens to have Medhi Hassan as a political editor, a man who has likened non-Muslims to animals. He may have a point, because it’s clear that the red prelate is a bit of a donkey. He was braying loudly in the latest issue of this appalling journal, which itself is dying by degrees, braying against the government of David Cameron.

A climate of fear grips the nation, he wrote, anxiety about policies for which people didn’t vote, fear over changes in education and welfare policies. The free schools policy being advanced by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, is one of this “radical, long-term policies for which no one voted.”

Really; can he be sure of that? Perhaps he should pause for a moment and browse through previous editions of the New Statesman. I seem to remember a poll it published two weeks ago, in which it reported that 79% of respondents thought that free schools were a jolly good idea. The policy was actually included in the Tory manifesto, something else this muddle-brain clearly failed to check in questioning the democratic legitimacy of the government.

Welfare reform, that’s another thing that’s causing so much “plain fear”, this “quiet resurgence of the seductive language of the deserving and undeserving poor.” Why he should consider such language ‘seductive’, or just where it comes from, is a bit of a mystery. It has never been used by Iain Duncan Smith, the minister responsible for welfare reform, or anyone else in the government, either in plain or ‘seductive’ form.

The aim is simple enough: to break the dreadful cycle of welfare dependency which has condemned so many to a life on dire council estates, an endless round of fags, pot noodles and daytime TV, a more soulless life I find impossible to conceive. Once again, contrary to the red prelate’s musings, policies to lift people out of state sanctioned poverty were openly discussed prior to the general election. But he would rather see the continuation of welfare ghettos, as he sits in splendid isolation in Lambeth Palace, an unelected denizen of the Lords, with no legitimacy or mandate whatsoever, other than the Blessing of Blair.

It really is a waste of time writing about this pompous ass, this man whose intellect is clouded in a perpetual fog. We have seen him in every stage of his wretched metamorphoses. We have seen him as an advocate of Sharia Law, as a man who thinks that our ancient system of justice, of equality before the law, is a “bit of a problem.” This is a man who expressed his ‘discomfort’ over the death of one of the worst mass murders in history; a man whose grasp of history and theology is so weak that he thinks Shakespeare was probably a Catholic and that it is possible to pray for souls in hell.

I could go on but there is really not much point. He has simply added another link to his chain of absurdity, a process that I expect will continue long into the future, doing untold damage to the Anglican Church, as he embraces one fashionable left-wing or politically correct cause after another.

Since he saw fit in one of his previous outings to pass judgement on Shakespeare I think I shall conclude by allowing Shakespeare to pass judgement on him. One does not have to look too hard to find Williams in the plays. There he is, in Hamlet. Who is he? Why Polonius, of course, the royal counsellor whom the Prince taunts as a “tedious old fool.” I’m sure that Shakespeare would have been delighted by this wonderful example of life imitating art - Archbishop Polonius, pompous, garrulous, pettifogging and fatuous, a man who has no method in anything, not even his madness.


  1. The C of E is beset by several enemies: the communists who take the vow of poverty to extremes as long as it is other people's money, the modernists who want to make everything trendy, the ecumenicals who want to adopt everyone's beliefs but their own, and the smells & bells brigade who hope that by destroying Anglicanism the English will be forced back into the arms of Rome. The institution is a bloody mess of fashionistas with no scholars willing to fight for the unique and precious tradition. I suppose that pretty much sums up most of English life these days.

  2. Face the facts, only nationalism can turn the Red tide. I sent a YT message, I don't know if you have seen it but it is worth repeating. It has been disclosed that Facebook is using facial recognition computer software and has a massive data-bank on everyone who posts pictures there. This made mainstrean news in the US friday. Complaints of invasion of privacy are being filed.

  3. Calvin, sadly you are quite right. You understand this country so well. I intend to have a go at Tepid Cameron soon, that sheep in sheep's clothing.

  4. Anthony, thank you. I get heaps of emails, so I clearly had not worked down to your YT message yet. I'll reply there as well as here. Yes, I know about this and I've taken precautions.

  5. Calvin, are you an Anglican? You clearly have affection for its unique tradition.

  6. Die hard atheist . . . but I was a choirboy in my youth at a very old church school with a strong musical tradition, and had the good fortune to sing in several cathedrals with wonderful acoustics during my career. Retired before the louts abandoned the KJV and the Book of Common Prayer. Love the music, the architecture, and some of the tradition. One of my cousins is a Dean.

  7. Rowan Williams has a problem. He isn't a Christian. By the way, Lord Tebbit is on his case this morning.

  8. Inevitably, I agree Ana. As I do with the input of Calvin and Anthony. However, just one thing keeps me awake at night :-). I have read an acclaimed biography on Shakespeare and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Shakespeare was indeed a Catholic; albeit of the closet variety. As you know Ana Catholics were persecuted in the late 16th century so I would like to know why you're not sympathetic to the idea?

  9. Calvin, yes, there are some things one never forgets. So your cousin is a Dean? I expect you enjoy Trollope's Barsetshire novels. :-)

  10. Michael, where? In the Telegraph?

  11. Nobby, probably because it was embraced by Archbishop Donkey! What’s the name of the book? I would be interested to see the argument. We know so little about Shakespeare’s life that I’m assuming that some inference must have been made from his work, always a dangerous thing to do, something that I am guilty of myself, going so far as to argue that he might very well have been an atheist!

  12. Lord Tebbit is a Telegraph blogger. Has a very big following because he is sensible and reasonable. And, like you, answers his responders.

  13. Ana, sorry to butt in - but there are two books by Joseph Pearce that present a case for Shakespeare being a Catholic, one, "The Quest for Shakespeare" that attempts to do so with refernce to what is known (and what is imputed) of his biography, and the other (which I've not yet read), "Through Shakespeare's Eyes" which attempts to do with reference to his texts.

    I think at times Pearce tends to overegg the pudding somewhat (he's a rather interesting character himself - have we discussed him before? He was a National Front firebrand in the 1970s, and converted to Catholicism whilst in prison for inciting ethnic - and anti-Catholic/Irish - hatred in (London)derry in the late 1980s, and is now a professor of English lit somewhere in the States) - but still, I don't think some of the arguments he makes (and evidence he brings to light) can be entirely discounted or ruled out.

    Actually - I'd love to read your repsonse to these books, at some unspecified future point, should you be so interested...

    But, yes ,the current ABC is an ass.

  14. Now Hamlet may have despised Polonius but I think the old boy was most righteous. People keep quoting his advice to Laertes with respect! He was just doing his best and got knocked by the mad prince. Most unfair to use him as comparator for Williams. Join the Polonius Appreciation Movement! (We meet behind the arras.)

  15. Ana, My reference is the biography on Shakespeare written by Peter Ackroyd. Shakespeare's father was a Catholic. And, without a very good understanding of the Bible it is argued that what we know as Shakespeare would be very different indeed. I admit though that neither of these things are enough to say that Shakespeare actually was a Catholic. And, Ackroyd is careful not to claim this - just to make some pertinent observations in context. What can be said is that there are compelling arguments to suggest that Shakespeare knew much about Catholicism and that if he was a Catholic he would have every reason not to say so due to the circumstances of that time. Equally, however, Shakespeare may well have been an atheist; what is written in Macbeth suggests to me that this might also be the case:

    "She should have died hereafter;
    There would have been a time for such a word.
    To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, [emphasis added]
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
    Signifying nothing." — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

    And yet the depth perspective shared by Shakespeare in so much of his writing did not appear out of thin air. Yes, Puritanism and an Anglican Church had taken root during the Reformation to replace Catholicism in England but it was Catholicism that had already shaped the mind and land of Shakespeare.

  16. Dominic, never be sorry to butt in. It’s always a pleasure. :-)

    OK, I’ll go and place an order on Amazon a bit later. (I don’t believe we ever have discussed the author). I’ll add reviews here and on Goodreads in due course. Goodness knows when that will be, given the avalanche of books that continues to tumble down on me. I never thought I would say this but I have a certain sympathy for Karl Marx, who described himself as a machine for reading!

  17. Retarius, just make sure it does not move!

  18. Nobby, aargh - another book! :-) Thanks for that.

    I have in fact used the tomorrow and tomorrow speech to argue that he might have been an atheist. But as I said to you by email, it's always a bit problematic to read too much of the writer into the work.

  19. It can be problematic Ana and is a reason why, on balance, I am inclined to believe that Shakespeare was at the very least sympathetic to his cultural and religious heritage.

  20. It's certainly worthy of closer reflection.