Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tony Blair at Yale

January 20, 2009

Neela Banerjee, a former religion writer for the New York Times had published a piece about Tony Blair’s teaching at Yale (along with Miroslav Volf) in the Yale Alumni Magazine (Jan/Feb 2009). As she reports his humble and almost diffident, self-deprecating teaching style, it becomes clear that his Faith Foundation (http://tonyblairfaithfoundation.org/) is another attempt to understand and perhaps harness the power of religious resurgence for good in international issues. Banerjee quotes Sirajul Haq Khan, Secretary for Faith and Interaction with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association UK who believes that Tony Blair and Iraq will be synonymous unless there is some kind of admission of error on Blair’s part and that will render him ineffective in addressing the Muslim World. I find myself bothered by the implicit belief revealed her, but evident in so many arguments of our day, that we have to back away from our own commitments in order to enter a conversation with others who have no apparent intention of backing way from theirs. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of Blair’s position with respect to the Iraq war (more wrong than right in my view) surely any conversion comes in the conversation or in the relationship, rather than as a precondition fro being able to enter the conversation.

Isn’t that similar to the ‘doctrine/relationship’ discussion in any of its forms? Could it be that strength of Anglicanism is precisely that there is not agency that can provide and enforce any particular doctrinal position? And shouldn’t that put us in a strong position to engage conversation with Islam? If this is the case, I note with some irony, Blair’s post-office conversion to the Roman Catholic communion.

1 comment:

Mark Branch said...

Those who are interested can read the Yale Alumni Magazine article at http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/issues/2009_01/blair.html.

(Sorry Fr. Hoare--as a fellow Episcopalian and an editor at the Yale Alumni Magazine, I couldn't resist adding the link!)