and are moved to pity even by her dust.”
The Wanderer Observes:
“Thus the Maker of men lays waste
this earth, crushing our callow mirth
and the works of old giants stands withered and still.”
(Poems and Prose from the Old English, Burton Raffel & Alexandra Olsen)
Watching the news from Lambeth could be very discouraging without a historical perspective. Taking the long view will help you not to over-rate the importance and influence of Rowan Williams, the present Archbishop of Canterbury. There have been far worse Archbishops of Canterbury than he, Royal appointees all. Many of them were not brilliant with eternal light. Take for instance Reginald Pole who was the Archbishop of Canterbury (1556-1558) during the reign of Bloody Mary. Pole acted as her chief minister and adviser sharing the responsibility for the martyrdom of 220 Protestant men and 60 Protestant women. Now there was an effective Archbishop of Canterbury! The martyrs included Thomas Cranmer who was Pole’s immediate predecessor and also the primary author of The Book of Common Prayer. Pole is still at Canterbury. He is buried at north side of the Thomas á Becket chapel in the Cathedral. We are wrong to fear the ephemeral parade of those who cast dirt on Cathedral Walls.
viewed from the Castle
In the English city of Rochester when you descend from the crumbling ramparts of Rochester Castle and cross the street to enter the Cathedral, you step into a past reaching back to Norman times. Today its faithful bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is a leader in the Anglican Communion, but have all the bishops of Rochester been faithful? Does it in the long view of history really matter? The ancient stones of the Cathedral reach down into the bones of the earth, its towers reach heavenward in prayer. What matters transient men in such places as these? To those who appreciate history the Psalms are still sung by the mossy stones of the ruins of Tintern Abbey and Glastonbury, as well as by the choristers of Christ Church Cathedral in Canterbury.
We colonists of the new world have barely enough history of our own to give us an understanding of the Faith that echoes down the corridors of time. It is only by surrender of our shallow insolence and humble submission to the past that we will find a place to stand for the future. “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it and find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16).