The Corner

Exhausted by Obama?

I gather that a very long, tedious, self-absorbed, and self-congratulatory speech was shown on a number of the TV networks last night. Let me offer, as a change of pace, an example of the exact opposite — a succinct, profound, and moving address (audio available here) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was here in New York on Monday to accept the Campion Award from the Jesuits of America magazine. The choice of the leader of the Anglican Church to receive a prize named after a Catholic martyr of the English Reformation has been found scandalous by the sort of people who find that sort of thing scandalous. But the Archbishop’s remarks fit the occasion superbly: He reflected on “the fathomlessness of grace,” martyrdom as an assertion of human dignity and of the limitless nature of human possibility, the Christian life as one of forgiveness and reconciliation — and speculated on the tantalizing (but unproven) possibility of a meeting between William Shakespeare and St. Edmund Campion. All this — in a speech of just twelve minutes. I have had some reservations about some of Dr. Williams’s speeches and writings over the years. His political lucubrations are occasionally untutored; his style of writing, on purely theological issues, is often so clotted as to leave the reader in doubt as to what his point actually is. But I must give credit where credit is due: He certainly rose to this occasion.

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