Thinking Creatively about Europe
Faith in Europe AGM, 9 July 2015
The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams
former Archbishop of Canterbury and now Master of Magdalene College Cambridge
Text compiled from notes by Philip Walters and approved by Rowan Williams
I would like to focus on a number of aspects of European identity. Two obviously important constituents are the Classical heritages of Greece, to which we owe the idea of democracy, and of Rome, which has mainly meant organised militarism. However, it not enough to think of European identity just in terms of these two legacies. There is also the Christian legacy, and other legacies.
There were no weekends in Ancient Rome. This is not a frivolous point: weekends are markers for the passage of time in a religious context. With weekends we mark the reliving of the human story of the life of Jesus weekly and yearly; and this is tied in with the evolution of the European individual. Boris Pasternak said that Christ is a human life printed on the world. Nobody is exempted from this image: slaves, the poor, women. Yes, this legacy lies under the debris of patriarchy; but as Thomas Aquinas said, there are some areas of human life that are ineradicable.
Europe also has its Muslim and Jewish legacies. Christianity, Islam and Judaism are a family quarrel rather than a clash of civilisations. We need to remember that Medieval Catholic theology was crucially informed by influx from the Muslim and Jewish peripheries.Continue reading “Thinking Creatively about Europe”