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Home > Trend Watch > 2013 > August 19 > Rowan Williams to "Persecuted" Western Christians: "Grow Up"

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Perspective on the buzz

Former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is no stranger to cultural debate. And as Christians work to dialogue lovingly with their neighbors, he's asking us to shed our persecution complex.

"When you've had any contact with real persecuted minorities you learn to use the word very chastely," he said. "Persecution is not being made to feel mildly uncomfortable. 'For goodness sake, grow up,' I want to say."

Perhaps the cleric's reorientation on persecution stems from his refreshing thoughts on true spirituality:

"Speaking from the Christian tradition, the idea that being spiritual is just about having nice experiences is rather laughable. Most people who have written seriously about the life of the spirit in Christianity and Judaism spend a lot of their time telling you how absolutely bloody awful it is."

Williams also took a strong stand on the church's need for distinctive witness in a world waking up to social justice issues. "Can you trace back your attitude to, say, credit unions or the environment to something that is distinctive in the religious heritage? And that means pursuing the conversation a bit … The risk of being reduced to an NGO, another woolly, well-meaning liberal thinktank or ambulance service - that's not a fate I would relish for my church," he said.

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Posted: August 19, 2013; All posts for week of August 19, 2013

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