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There is ‘Daft’… and then there is ‘Anglican Bishops’

Yet another intellectual gem from a senior member of the Church of England:

The Rt Rev Stephen Venner called for a more sympathetic approach to the Islamic fundamentalists. The Church of England’s Bishop to the Forces said it would be harder to reach a peaceful solution to the war if the insurgents were portrayed too negatively. […] “We’ve been too simplistic in our attitude towards the Taliban,” said Bishop Venner, who was recently commissioned in his new role by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

“There’s a large number of things that the Taliban say and stand for which none of us in the West could approve, but simply to say therefore that everything they do is bad is not helping the situation. The Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other.”

Could not the same have been said about the formidable soldiers of the Waffen SS? But how is ‘conviction’ and ‘loyalty’ in the service of evil somehow admirable? And how is noting this quality in an enemy going to “help the situation”? And what if the nature of the enemy simply precludes any possibility of a “peaceful solution”? This is the Taliban we are talking about.

Well in a way he is right I suppose… we should note that they are loyal to their faith and to each other, and understanding this, it should be understood that no accommodation can possibly be reached with fundamentalists, be they Nazi ones or Islamofascist ones. They need to be confronted, culturally, politically and when needed, militarily when they wander “off the reservation”… precisely because of their “conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other”.

Getting that set in people’s minds would indeed “help the situation”.

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30 comments to There is ‘Daft’… and then there is ‘Anglican Bishops’

  • JerryM

    Isn’t there a former Nazi guard currently on trial for ‘following orders’?

  • James Waterton

    And it’s a strawman argument, to boot. Who is saying that everything they do is bad?

    Hell, Reverend, some Talibs likely even think that small furry creatures are adorable. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be presented with the stark choice of cease and desist, or be blown off the face of the earth.

  • Frank

    Until now I have always referred to myself as an Anglican atheist; I am reconsidering my position.

  • Pedant

    I recall when, as a child, I asked my mother why nuns and monks tended to monasticism – i.e., hole up in convents/monasteries. She said something like”

    “Well, they are different to most people and don’t find it easy to live amongst them, so they stick together with others who have similar tendencies and beliefs. It’s quite a good thing really, because they are safe, do no harm and probably actually do some good like that, and they are usually self-supporting. Otherwise nowadays they might be locked up as lunatics in an asylum where they would have no sort of life and be no good to anybody.”

    That would seem to explain it, then. The Rt Rev Stephen Venner should be in a monastery. We should direct him to one. There was a good Carmelite priory in Duke’s Lane, Kensington (London) that he could consider – if it is still there.

  • Alice

    The good bishop’s underlying worldview is that these Taliban really can’t hurt him and his friends — they’re just too legit to hit.

    Maybe that view of untouchability is right. Maybe it’s wrong. But if the bishops ever really start to get concerned that they could actually lose — and get hit in a way that would see their entire comfortable world disappear – those Anglicans might have a change of heart.

  • John B

    I suppose when one has undertaken a lifetime of claiming to believe something that your life is actually dedicated to obfuscating one tends to get a bit confused.

  • There is “Anglican Bishops”, and then there is “Treason”.

    Opposing forces have, throughout history, been dehumanised. If you’re in a position where you’re on the front line and have a member of the opposing force in your sights, you don’t want to be thinking of his wife and children, when you actually need to be pulling the trigger, before he gets you in *his* sights.

    While we all know what one outcome of this conflict should be (Tony, go to the Hague, do not pass “Go”, do not collect around 4 million pounds a year), planting seeds of doubt about the nature of their opponents in the minds of our armed forces, is only going to get more of our folk killed.

    Shame on Rev Venner, and off to the Tower with him.

  • Nuke Gray

    Wow, those tallies sure think long-term, don’t they? How long ago was he planted in the Anglicans? I wonder how many other muslims are working their way up other clerical hierarchies? You’ve got to admire their planning and dedication and…. oops, maybe I’m a plant!

  • “Church of England goes soft on pretty much everything!” Since when is this news?

    Maybe they’d be willing to stand in front of three witnesses and say “Allah is the one true god and Mohammed is his prophet” They probably wouldn’t even need a gun put to their head, unlike those of us with spines.

  • The good Reverend is probably another turncoat mole within the Church, dedicated to bringing it down. He’s not of course alone, The Venerable Asse Hatte is helping him every step of the way…

  • Is there a compelling reason why he can’t shut the **** up other than the whole “relevance” issue cited in an earlier post?
    Does this man EVER listen to himself when he talks????
    WHY do clerics talk about politics publicly? They give a bad name to christianity…..but I guess that is nothing new.
    Godhavemercy……..

  • I should think the good bishop should open his Bible and refresh his memory of what Jesus said Mathew 25:40 :

    “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.”

    It begs to be asked how does he reconcile his admiration for the men doing the beating in this video with this scripture he is pledged to profess and preach.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I would not be surprised if some of the thicker members of the Anglican church, back in the 1930s and even 40s, took the view that we should try to “understand” the Nazis, by the way.

    Listening to the recent pronouncements of CoE prelates is a bit like listening to the last, gasping breaths of a dying relative of whom I was once fond.

  • Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Jim,

    It says in the Guardian (Gospel of St. Polly, chapter any verse all) that we must love our neighbours provided they are of suitable ethnicity. The Bish is just preaching what it says there.

  • J

    But how is ‘conviction’ and ‘loyalty’ in the service of evil somehow admirable?

    Well, I would argue that it is, because I support ‘virtue ethics’, which is to say I consider virtues to be a priori ethically good, regardless of the effects. In other words, I believe in honour among thieves. It does not follow that a brave taliban is a good person, merely a better one than a cowardly taliban.

    I’d be the first to admit that virtue-based systems of ethics are wildly unpopular these days, and we are all into utilitarianism.

    There is no great difficulty in simultaneously recognising that your enemy is brave and honourable, that they are are a force for evil in the world, and that they should be killed systematically until hostilities cease.

    The idea that our troops must learn to think of the enemy as sub-human in order to fight them effectively is a very new development. It may have been necessary in the days of large conscripted armies when the common soldier had little natural reason to fight.

    But professional armies in the past have never struggled to treat the enemy as targets until one side or other surrenders, and to then treat them as human. Read about the Battle of Trafalgar some time…

  • MattP

    At what point did we in the west get infected with the suicidally stupid virus?

    Where does it come from? And shouldn’t we be more worried about it than the swine flu?

    And why is the reverend considered an authortity on what is and what isn’t helping the situation?

    I am SOOO glad I’m Catholic. Any one of the Catholic chaplains I served with would happily pistol whip this guy until he got his mind right.

    And that knowledge warms my heart.

  • Well, I would argue that it is, because I support ‘virtue ethics’, which is to say I consider virtues to be a priori ethically good, regardless of the effects. In other words, I believe in honour among thieves. It does not follow that a brave taliban is a good person, merely a better one than a cowardly taliban.

    And I would argue you are quite wrong. A ‘cowardly’ Taliban is one who does not place his cause above all other considerations, and therefore this ‘cowardly’ person might at least entertain the possibility that the cause is wrong. The brave and the loyal taliban however are unshakable and thus immune to moral arguments contrary to their overarching cause. This is not a virtue. We ‘admire’ resolution and determination, but when such things are deployed in the service of falsified theories, they are just another name for irrational dogmatism (‘conviction’) and moral cowardice (‘loyalty’ to a group whose values should be opposed).

    Dogmatism is a intellectual, psychological and logical failing and if ‘cowardice’ (i.e. self preservation) causes someone to act contrary to an evil overarching ideology, then that is a good thing because it is indicative that there may be less than absolute certainty (i.e. less than total fanaticism). Loyalty and conviction are not a priori good (or bad), because they are variables and not moral theories themselves.

  • A ‘cowardly’ Taliban is one who does not place his cause above all other considerations, and therefore this ‘cowardly’ person might at least entertain the possibility that the cause is wrong. The brave and the loyal taliban however are unshakable and thus immune to moral arguments contrary to their overarching cause. This is not a virtue.

    That is how a Taliban leader would see it, but I don’t see how we’re obliged to. A coward will do any vile thing their cause commands whilst it threatens them, then rat on any good principles it holds when it’s safer. A brave person may swallow growing doubts until their cause commands one vileness too far – and then reject it with sudden violence, perhaps even to their own destruction.

    This is not like fanaticism, which is basically a hack for persons of dubious moral strength to emulate courage and loyalty other virtues by the power of ‘LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!’

    Not all the people presently giving us hell are mere fanatics. Some of them are the real deal.

    Which may be worth knowing, when you want to strike at your enemy’s fracture-points.

  • Paul Marks

    Would a “liberal” Anglican Bishop have a change of heart if he and his family were being tortured and killed by the Taliban (or other Islamists)?

    Sadly no.

    They would just die thinking “the West must have done terrible things to these poor people” and/or “if only we had tried to understand them more – to reach out to them in love”.

    However, it is not just the English Anglican establisment.

    The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminister also painted his hands blue a week or so ago – he and Rowen Williams thought they were doing something in relation to climate change, but they looked like they were bad guys from one of the last episodes of “Firefly”.

    And the bells in English Roman Catholic churches were ringing X hundred times on Sunday in anther climate change stunt.

    Even people who believe in man made globel warming understand that such stunts are pathetic.

    The whole thing is based on the “liberal” lack of faith in the existance of a being called “God”.

    How can one be a professional churchman (Anglican or Catholic) if one does not really believe in God?

    Easy, one simply “reinterprets” religion to be about “society” and other such.

  • RAB

    Let’s not fart about here…

    The only good Taliban, is a dead Taliban.

    My father in law was in 2 para during WW2.
    He had huge respect for the Waffen SS and others that he fought against, as they were as good at the art of soldiering as he was, but that didn’t stop him blowing their heads off whenever he got a clear shot.

  • Aha, now this opens a very big door, to get playful :-).

    eg, “Call your deity omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent? It can’t even make an ecosystem incapable of being screwed up by *just one species*! What was it thinking?”

    Of course, getting a little more serious, I’m astounded that (AFAIK, and I’d be very happy to be corrected, here) *nobody* has asked, on record, what influence orbital mechanics might be playing, when it comes to climate change…

  • If you live near a university, go leaf through a few copies of the British Quarterly Review from the first quarter of the 19th century, and you’ll find that the COE was not altogether different from the Taliban in those days. I prefer them the way they are today; brain dead and irrelevant.

  • Comment of the day, RAB.

  • Douglas2

    With no disrespect to the informed commentary above, the Bishop’s remarks
    reminded me of a comment on the xrlq blog (of which he must have thought twice, as it has disappeared on the blog but lives on in google cache):

    “Does “she has a very nice sweater” mean:
    1. She has a very nice sweater.
    2. She is a miserable excuse for a human being, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and the only remotely nice thing I can say about her is that she has a nice sweater.”

  • Nuke Gray

    MatteP, please stop repressing your memories of the Catholic priests molesting you. With a Nazi Pope and rampant paedophilia, there’s not much hope from those quarters, either!

  • Paul Marks

    Actually the “scientific parson” was a well know figure of the 18th and early 19th centures – a lot of the “religion hates science” stuff is a myth put about by the rising Victorian class of professional scientists.

    Although it was not just them – for example Washington Irving has Roman Catholic churchmen in the 16th century believing that the world was flat. His claims were totally untrue.

    On the other hand there were some weird opinions about.

    For example, Archbishop Whately was a first rate economist and logician – but he also believed that God taught people how to make the wheel and fire (and virutally every other basic thing).

    A Schoolman from the Middle Ages would have blushed at such absurdities. But then Whately (like some other Anglicans) had cut himself off from centuries of thought and debate by dismissing it as “Papist”.

  • watcher in the dark

    Maybe he thinks a belief in God (even by another name) is excuse enough for anything.

    Indiscriminate evil after praying may well be acceptable in some quarters.

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    “Does “she has a very nice sweater” mean:
    1. She has a very nice sweater.
    2. She is a miserable excuse for a human being, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and the only remotely nice thing I can say about her is that she has a nice sweater.”

    You missed:
    3. She is a miserable excuse for a human being, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever except that amazing pair of tits.

  • MattP

    “MatteP, please stop repressing your memories of the Catholic priests molesting you. With a Nazi Pope and rampant paedophilia, there’s not much hope from those quarters, either!”

    OK, nuke, I’ll be sure to do that.

    I have a bad habit of repressing memories that lead to large cash settlements. Thanks for calling me on it.

  • Paul Marks

    Well Bendict the XVI is an Augustine fan – and I am not.

    But calling him a Nazi is B.S. – his family were anti Nazi (at a time when that meant taking a risk).

    As for his military service – I could just say he was conscripted (which he was) but that would be ducking the issue so I will go on.

    If your city was being bombed – the bombs threatening to burn every man, women and child alive. Would you man a antiaircraft gun or would you say “for the greater good my city and all the women and children in it must be burned to ashes”?

    I know what I would have done.

    I do not know whether the present Pope served in the defence of Regansburg or some other city – but because of the defence of Regansburg the city, and the people in it, did not burn. This was not a “Nazi” act. Turning Regansburg into another Dresden or another Hamburg or another …… would not have been good.

    “But what would Rowen Williams have done?”

    Who cares?