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Rowan's Rule: The Biography of the Archbishop of Canterbury Hardcover – February 24, 2009
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"Written with the Archbishop's cooperation, this excellent biography of the Primate of all England is theologically heavyweight, psychologically perceptive, and sometimes strikingly critical. Indeed, the fact that Rowan Williams has cooperated with such a warts-and-all portrait tells you a great deal about him."
"An eminently fair-minded biography. . . . Rupert Shortt is exceptionally qualified for the task he has taken on."
John Habgood, former Archbishop of York
"A major piece of work, as acute and well-informed politically as it is theologically. The sympathetic portrait of Rowan Williams as a profound and inspiring man of God is not allowed to hide his practical and political weaknesses and inconsistencies, nor the inevitable conflicts between personal belief and public policy. Rupert Shortt is to be congratulated for this timely assessment of a remarkable, gifted, and much-maligned leader."
John Austin Baker in Church Times
"This biography is timely and welcome. . . . We can be grateful for a work that is strong on empathy, but also balanced and fair in its judgments. The style is eminently readable, without ever being trite."
A. N. Wilson in The Times Literary Supplement
"Rupert Shortt's book triumphantly justifies itself. This is not just an instant biography of someone who happens to be in the news. It is a serious and learned book with a specific theme. That theme is the survival of Christianity in our midst. . . . The voice of Rowan Williams is, for many of us, a very attractive one, and Rupert Shortt has explained why."
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Top Customer Reviews
First among Anglican bishops by rank--attributed to the ancient titular See of Canterbury--intensifies attention to Williams's biographic stout and froth. Shortt provides more stout than froth, and limits affectations with a steady hand. Exploring critical decisions that Williams made from the time of his mid-twenties [66, 72-4], Shortt discloses details from his mentor's developmental years, which tarnished halo's that admirers had projected onto the young Rowan long before his initial episcopacy in Monmouth (1991 at age 41).
Just the same, Williams had earned respect from fellow Anglicans such as a talented "orthodox" philosopher-theologian from Cambridge University--Professor Donald MacKinnon [62-3, 128-9], and Fr. Henry Chadwick [121-2], Dean of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford. In addition, respect came early in his career from Orthodox theologians such as Father Andrew Louth of Durham  and Christos Yannaras of Athens and Thessaloniki [70-1].
Whether blamed or praised, at least Williams "...has not endured public disgrace and imprisonment"  while shepherding his Anglican herd of mavericks.Read more ›
I learned a lot from this book, not only about Williams but about the Anglican church, and to some degree British culture in general (In fact, the author's assumptions about his British audience were quite revealing for this rural-grown American not so used to the implicit value judgments of British academia.)
The author is obviously sympathetic, and I liked the Archbishop a lot after reading this book. In fact, even in the areas in which the author is critical, the criticism is ignorantly made (especially concerning economics and pacifism), so I even ended up likely how Williams come out in those areas as well. The personal insight into Williams is great, though the heavy focus on his poetry could have been supplemented by a little more attention on his theological writings.
Only 3 stars because the author is rude, condescendingly attacking, and simplistic/ignorant whenever he brings up Rowan's critiques of capitalism and military violence. The book was written before Rowan's “rule” as Archbishop had come to a close, so we also miss some interesting potential material from the end, not to mention the ability to reflect on what has happened since he left.