(Note: the original thread to which this responds is here. For purposes of clarity I am going to request that any further comments on this thread and that one be made THERE. Anyone wishing to contact Bishop Wright directly please email me off blog and I will forward it to him–KSH).
I confess I had not heard of Colbert and his remarkable show until Harper managed to get me on to it. Since I have always believed in General Booth’s principle that ‘if I could win one more soul to the Lord by playing the tambourine with my toes, I’d do it’, I figured that if I could tell a million youngish people that because of Jesus’ resurrection God will make a new world and that this begins even now… that would be a really good thing to do… Plus, I’ve always enjoyed a challenge of this sort and it seems to me that it doesn’t hurt for the church to be seen to be engaging with popular culture…
So I was surprised at the wonderful puritanism of Chris Hathaway, to be honest. Colbert isn’t deceiving; he spoke to me before the show and told me (what I’d already been told by others) how his ‘role’ works. Perhaps Chris doesn’t like Colbert’s political stance? Certainly it has been said often enough (by Americans) that America is a land with an irony deficiency, and Colbert is doing his best to put that right. There CAN be honest dialogue, as I think I demonstrated. Albeit briefly. The fact that Chris H hates Candid Camera and finds Sasha Baron Cohen as ‘vile’ speaks for itself. To each their own: I wouldn’t watch those myself, but that’s because I don’t see a whole lot of TV at all.
To The Gordian (it would be so nice to know who you really are!): my poor, crowded diocese sees a great deal of me but they know that Bishops of Durham are supposed to be ‘out there’ taking every opportunity to get the word out. And actually I don’t think I’m thin-skinned; I take a huge amount of heat from a large number of people on several fronts all the time, and only VERY rarely do I respond (as now, more from amusement than anything). Thus, I wasn’t going to bother responding to John Piper’s critique of me in his recent book until I saw that some people were saying ‘there, Wright is wrong, Piper says so, that settles it’. Piper says some interesting things but he hasn’t understood what I’m saying so his critique misses the mark. Ditto with the First Things piece: Neuhaus is very influential and his piece was just flat wrong on several counts, and the only way to get the point across was to nail it fairly thoroughly. Of course, the tactic ‘You shouldn’t be defending yourself — you’re too thin-skinned’ is what every bully that ever lived has said. But The Gordian, I’m sure, isn’t a bully, since he also accuses me of not engaging with my critics sufficiently. Hmmm. I have to engage with them but not defend myself. Tricky. I wonder how much scholarly encounter The Gordian has actually witnessed. Try taking on Ed Sanders, for instance.
And as for a personal or political agenda, ‘wanting to be the standard bearer for evangelical scholarship and the ecclesiastical leader of evangelical Anglicans’: little do you know. My aim is to expound the New Testament and get its message into the bloodstream of the church and out in the mission of the kingdom. And as far as I’m concerned if the church wants me to do a job (like my present one) I’ll give it my best shot, but I’m getting on in years and looking forward to retirement . . .
Actually, I’m not sure how careful a reader The Gordian is (what a pity (s)he doesn’t say who (s)he is!) because (s)he says that in writing against ‘Pierced for Our Transgressions’ (which, by the way, IVP USA refused to publish for more or less the same reasons as I gave in my critique; go figure) I completely ignored the fact that I had commended Steve Chalke’s book — whereas I wrote a whole section on Chalke and all that. It’s interesting, in short, that The Gordian seems to have a catalogue of NTW’s errors which come tumbling out all because I appeared on the Colbert Report . . . Hey, Gordian, why don’t you write me some time, say it all straight out and sign your own name? I’m a human being too, often wrong, sometimes right, always enjoy a good conversation
To Driver8 let me say, If you can find one single place where I have referred to America, even in jest, as ‘the great Satan’, I will pay $250 to a charity of your choice. If you can’t, how about you return the compliment? It isn’t language I use, or have used, so far as I know. Of course, I might have said ‘Some militant Muslims think of America as “the great Satan”,’ but that obviously wouldn’t count. OK?
Warm greetings to one and all. I VERY SELDOM even LOOK at blog sites let alone respond but once in a while it can be fun. I love America! Please pray both for GAFCON and for Lambeth and for all that is swirling around us all just now…
(The Rt. Rev. Dr.) N. T. [“Tom”] Wright is Bishop of Durham