Rowan Williams resigns as Archbishop of Canterbury

March 16, 2012 • 6:55 am

In a report written by Andrew Brown at the Guardian, Rowan Williams has just resigned as the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is going to academia:

The archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to resign and return to academia as master of Magdalene college, Cambridge.

Williams, 61, will leave at the end of December in time to start his new role next January.

I’ll miss those amazing eyebrows—which reminded me of two huge, hairy caterpillars on his forehead—but not much else.  He was one of those annoyingly obfuscatory liberal theologians. And I was surprised to see that he’s six months younger than I: the dude looks ancient!

60 thoughts on “Rowan Williams resigns as Archbishop of Canterbury

    1. That’s might be true, how come you debate Richard Dawkins for so many times and not affected (or infected?) by his enthusiasm, candor, and eloquence on science and atheism?

      Academia might be the gentle slope ..

  1. The bookies are going for John Sentamu, current Archbishop of York and Primate of England (for reasons that are far far to convoluted to explain York is Primate of England and Canterbury the Primate of ALL England – don’t ask). As a man I like Sentanu who isn’t afraid to say what he thinks and seems to take life less seriously than Williams. Downside is he against gay marriage and is probably more traditionalist.

    As an humanist outsider it is all rather fun…. (yes Williams would have made a great Dumbledore if he could remember not to speak in Welsh )

    1. “Downside is he against gay marriage and is probably more traditionalist.” — Maybe that’s an upside, if it encourages people to leave the church! 😉


      1. That’s ‘The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu’ to you – how many honorifics does Christ’s humble servant need before we finally get round to his name?

        JS said, of Prince William and Kate Middleton co-habiting before marrying, that many modern couples want to “test whether the milk is good before they buy the cow.”

        What a delightful man. I wonder what the Queen thinks of that; he’ll have some serious lickspittling to do before La Saxe-Coburg-Gotha condescends to tip the imperial nod.

    2. The explanation is:

      ‘The metropolitan of the second province has since medieval times also been accorded the title of Primate. In England, the Archbishop of Canterbury is known as the “Primate of All England” while the Archbishop of York is “Primate of England” ‘. The party of the second part shall be known in this contract as…the Primate of England.

  2. This was left on the BBC comments board for the article –

    The Archbishop of Canterbury
    Has decided that heaven
    Is up the M11

      1. Good job he didn’t go to the “other” Magdalene (spelled Magdalen) in Oxford. Then you’d have to have something to rhyme with M40, like “naughty” or “haughty”.

          1. I see that the good fellow has flip-flopped between Oxford and Cambridge, starting at Christ’s Cambridge then Wadham and now back to Cambridge. I wonder for whom he cheers during the boat race.

  3. It might be interesting to see what he does now. As I’ve said before, I’m fairly sure that he’s very much a “belief in belief” kinda guy.

    I am far too polite to comment on the apparent ages of RW and JAC. Personally I think grey hair looks rather distinguished…..

  4. Perhaps he just learned that his great great great great grandfather owned slaves. That should be enough for an article in the Guardian

  5. Seems odd that one can resign from such a calling.

    God: You’re the new pope.

    You: Well, ok. For a bit. But there are some other, more interesting things I’d like to do.

  6. Unfortunately, these things matter, because the Church of England controls large numbers of state-funded schools, and under the present government’s policies is going to end up with even more (explanation: it’s a device for backdoor selection by social class).

    Williams was clear – sort of – that creationism had no place in schools, but CofE has been pusillanimous about resisting biblical literalist entryism. Too busy worrying about bishops’ genitalia, and similar important topics.

  7. >> And I was surprised to see that he’s six months younger than I: the dude looks ancient!

    It’s his lack of “getting laid” hormones. Sex keeps ya lookin’ younger 😉

    1. The Archbish has been married for over thirty years and has two children. His aged look comes from the strain of believing six impossible things before breakfast every day of his life, and trying to reconcile it all with reality. No wonder he wants to retire.

    1. Yes, if you like English writing of a certain style (think AA Gill’s restaurant reviews in The Times, now sadly behind a paywall), Rod Liddle’s piece is great fun.

  8. Williams is a dreadful, muddle-headed, hateful bigot but Sentamu is even worse.

    They are both more concerned about protecting the church than they are about protecting people. For instance, Williams has advocated Sharia Law in Britain, throwing women under the bus on the grounds that faith-heads of different persuasions might be better able to cosy up together.

    Sentamu is the master of futile gestures that serve no purpose other than to draw attention to himself. He is also a master of hypocrisy. He thinks secular laws shouldn’t touch marriage because the Bible sets out how marriage should work, but he has campaigned in favour of laws that undermine other biblical prescriptions such as slavery.

    They are both horrific. Whoever gets the gig when Williams leaves, we’re unlikely to gain much as a country.

    1. said so well. I think he should suggest letting the homeless in London live in his ‘Palace’
      Surely all the UK should know his nasty ideas tobring this country to its knees. But no only good things will be reported in the media.

  9. “… he has been respected on all sides for his gifts as a preacher of great eloquence and flashes of clarity.”

    “Flashes” of clarity? Is that all? Damning with faint praise methinks.

    1. There’s one minor problem with the article which is otherwise excellent. I believe that the “head of the Church of England” is the reigning monarch.

      1. Richard Dawkins for King! Yay! I’d vote for him if he were silly enough to want the job.

        OTOH surely it’s about time that the great RD got a knighthood. Charles Darwin, Britain’s most esteemed scientist after Newton, never got one because the establishment didn’t like atheists. It’s disgraceful that Darwin went unknighted but it’s too late to fix now, however we can do something about Dawkins who must surely be on the short list of Britain’s most illustrious and eminent living scientists. I hope the people who organise these things have the preparations under way.

        1. Richard won’t be knighted, I think, and for the reason suggested: he’s seen as an atheist more than anything else. His contributions to science and to the public understanding of science are therefore irrelevant. The unelected senior civil servants who decide who should be knighted probably won’t consider Richard at all. A good contrast is Robert Winston: a cultural Jew who is plainly not a believer but is generally sympathetic toward belief and who is knighted up the wazoo.

          Personally, I can’t understand why anyone would accept a knighthood. Richard has said he would if he were offered one. I can’t imagine why.

        2. Yes, but Darwin, looking disturbingly like Rowan Williams’ more clever elder brother, is on the back of the £10 note, worth twice as much as Elizabeth Fry and half of Adam Smith.

    2. Reminds me of an episode of Yes Minister (can’t find a transcript so this is inaccurate, from vague memory) where the Minister has to nominate a new Archbish of Canterbury:
      Bernard: How about the Dean of St Paul’s?
      Minister: But the man’s a notorious atheist!
      Sir Humphrey: That never worried them before.

  10. “And I was surprised to see that he’s six months younger than I…”

    Wow, you’re in your 60s? I’d never have guessed! Must be all that great food you’ve been eating. 😉

  11. With a face like that, he could be a character actor. In something by Tolkien, most likely.

      1. OK, a Harry Potter character (I had to google it). Yes, any senior-wizardly type would do (I was thinking Gandalf).

  12. And I was surprised to see that he’s six months younger than I: the dude looks ancient!

    That happens to me all the time…

  13. I say at long last Rowan Williams has seen the light and now believes in evolution and cannot carry on in his position any longer.

    1. Why would he see the need to resign over that? The Pope has accepted evolution, surely so could the Archbish of Canterbury. I’m sure a very large percentage of Anglican clergy accept evolution, whether they choose to publicise that or not.

      1. How can you say you believe in evolution when you say there is a god. So then god must have evolved from Apes as have we all.

        1. This is an old argument.

          The fact of evolution doesn’t forbid the existence of some sort of God. Maybe even one who ‘guided’ evolution.

          Evolution does contradict the ‘literal truth’ of the Bible, but the the C of E has never been particularly fundamentalist, so far as I know. It’s as much a social organisation as a church.

          1. If the bible is so true then why should women be stoned, children be killed, god wants to send you to hell, anyway thats where I think he is anyway.
            There are four versions of the bible
            “and he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of theLord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men; and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter. 1 Sam 6:19-” God therefore murders 50,070 men for looking insite a box…

            1. What’s that got to do with it? The Bible is crap. It’s crap now, it was exactly the same crap when the Archbish started in his job. Disagreeing with evolution is the least of its problems.

              So I still totally fail to see why, *if* the Archbish had come to accept evolution, he should automatically feel compelled to resign over that point.

              P.S. I never said there was a god. I’m an atheist. Just so you know.

  14. I can’t find the reference at the moment, but Sentamu is on record claiming that by his mere holy presence he is able to exorcise demons. I don’t know much about him, but I suspect his elevation is largely due to the dwindling pool of talent that the church has to draw on. All the signs are that his promotion to Super-Primate will be a disaster for the Anglican Church — and possibly the UK as well.

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