Rowan Williams is a complex and controversial figure. Widely revered for his personal qualities, he is also an intellectual giant who towers over almost all his predecessors as Archbishop of Canterbury. Among many other achievements he has trounced the atheist Richard Dawkins, and published over twenty well-regarded books, including several volumes of poetry and a major study of Dostoevsky.
Yet he is also one of the most reviled church leaders in modern history. Long before facing calls to step down after his lecture on sharia law in 2008, he had been accused of heresy on account of his pro-gay views, and begged to resign by conservative members of his own flock. He had disappointed many of his own supporters as well. Progressives who expected him to champion the cause of clergy in same-sex relationships were dismayed by what seemed like his ragged retreat on the issue.
So how has high office changed Rowan Williams? Has he been bullied and manipulated? Or is he perhaps playing a long game, obliged to rate church unity above the pursuit of his own vision at a time when the Anglican Communion has looked ever more unstable?
Rupert Shortt, already the author of an acclaimed introduction to the Archbishops thought, now offers answers to these and other questions in this authoritative biography. Written with Rowan Williamss full cooperation, it not only elucidates his ideas, but gives a compelling portrait of a private and in some ways surprisingly vulnerable man.
Rupert Shortt is religion editor of the Times Literary Supplement and a former Visiting Fellow at Oxford University. His books include Benedict XVI (2005),Christianophobia: A Faith under Attack (2012) and Rowan’s Rule: The Biography of the Archbishop (2014).
a major work . . . [a] timely assessment of a remarkable, gifted and much maligned leader.
- Rt Revd Lord Habgood, Former Archbishop of York
This is a remarkable book . . . It is essential reading both for those who seek to understand how a theological vision can still be lived out in late modernity and for those concerned with the future of Christianity in Britain today.
- Peter Sedgwick, Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University
Praise for BENEDICT XVI An extraordinarily informed and intelligent biography. - Daily Telegraph a useful, well-balanced account. - The Times A good read, sharp in analysis and staggeringly honest.
- Church Times