(Living Church) Jesse Zink reviews Andrew Goddard's new book on Rowan Wiiliams

Goddard had fewer than four months to research and write the book and acknowledges that his conclusions and judgments are “initial [and] tentative” (p. 8). Each chapter provides a summary of Williams’s speeches, interviews, and sermons relevant to the topic at hand, along with commentary from Goddard and a handful of other individuals whom he interviewed. At times, the chapters feel like little more than lengthy quotations from Williams’s own writing. This is no bad thing, however. To read Williams’s original words in the context in which they were first delivered is refreshing. In any event, their complexity and depth defy easy summation. (At least two other books on Williams, Rupert Shortt’s Rowan’s Rule and Mike Higton’s Difficult Gospel, similarly rely on lengthy quotations.)

Goddard’s tight writing schedule presents other problems, as it causes him occasionally to pass over significant moments too briefly. For instance, he mentions Williams’s “historic meeting with [Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe” (p. 144) but provides no additional information on what made it historic or why it was significant to Williams’s ministry. These are judgments that a tight publishing deadline likely cannot accommodate.

A larger disappointment is that the people Goddard interviewed to inform his judgments seem a limited lot. They are overwhelmingly male and from the Euro-Atlantic world.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books