"In Oxford in recent months, we have had two powerful acts of communal solidarity. A long procession, white balloons floating above us, walked from the synagogue to the major mosque via the University Church, with prayers and reading from the three scriptures. In communities where there is this kind of expression of basic human, inter-religious solidarity, there will be no support for wielders of indiscriminate violence " - The Rt. Reverend Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford and leading apologist for the just-war theory in the Church of England.
The too highly educated and hothouse protected Bishop of Oxford believes the answer to terrorism in contained in the Church. No, not with evangelism, repentance, and conversion but with long processions with floating white balloons. Wielders of indiscriminate violence, or, as they are more commonly called, homicide bombers will not be supported by communites that participate in the bishop's grand scheme. The bishop does not claim his grand scheme will rid this world of homicide bombers just that the community will no longer support them. Note too how he, a Christian minister, places the writings of the Koran on the same level as the scriptures? That is in direct violation of the vows he took to become both a priest and a bishop but, hey, what are vows when you are as brilliant as he is? He does however manage , in a most canny and superior way, to renew the age-old Via Media pledge of the Anglican Church. He told us the procession went from the synagogue to the mosque via the Anglican Church. He believes, as I guess he ought, that the Via Media will solve all the world's problems because it is not as demanding as the Roman or the Orthodox Church. The Bishop's carefully constructed word choices will give the warm fuzzies to those who delight in symbolic gestures as well as having them believe white balloons are a more powerful message to terrorists than daisycutter bombs.
Surprisingly, the Bishop wasn't so careful with his word choices regarding George Bush and certain religious Americans. In an unusual break with the Anglican virtue of unyielding tolerance for others' beliefs, as well as a remarkable moment of candor, the Bishop let everyone know exactly what he thinks. Frankly, the man is quite offensive;
"As is well known, President Bush gets much of his support from a particular Christian constituency with a distinctive slant on what's happening in the world today, based on biblical prophecy. This is a misreading of the Bible. The Left Behind series of novels interprets current events in the light of biblical prophecies has now sold more than 55 million copies. Based on what is termed 'pre-millenialism', whereby we are now going through a series of woes before the second coming of Christ and advent of his 1,000 year reign on earth, the establsihment of the state of Israel and US policy play key roles.
In fact the book of Revelation, on which millions in the United States draw for this kind of theological foundation for its imperial ambitions, is strongly anti-imperial in its thrust; its reveals the God usurping function at the heart of all empires.
On the other hand, it is important to reject the current kneejerk, anti-Americanism. We have to live and work in the real world where American power is a reality, and work in particular for a strengthening of the United Nations rather than its diminishment."
So, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz (sp?) prior to leaving for the World Bank, and the State Department have based our Israel policy based on The Left Behind series but the bishop is rejecting kneejerk anti-Americanism? Save the hot air for your white balloons, Bish.
For those of you living and working in the real world, take a look at what the Muslim Council of Britain developed while the bishop and his pals were busy inflating balloons.
UPDATE: The Telegraph isn't swallowing the Bishop's idea either. Maybe there's hope for England after all.
UPDATE II: Melanie Phillips' understanding on how the bishops think.